Smartvue Cloud Connected $299 NVR

By Sarit Williams, Published Jun 24, 2013, 12:00am EDT

NVRs typically cost thousands of dollars. Now one manufacturer has released one that costs less than $300 plus offers a cloud connection. Is this too good to be true? What's the catch? In this note, we review the key features and pricing of the Smartvue S9i [link no longer available], and compare it to other Cloud based comparable options.

Release Overview

The new Linux based appliance from Smartvue includes the following key features: 

  • 20 camera licenses included, supporting ~250 different camera models, 2 way audio and I/O as well as 8 [link no longer available] different encoders. However,  breadth of camera support is far behind industry norms and is further limited by lack of ONVIF support.
  • SSD local storage only, ranging from 16GB (base $299 version) to 256GB (for $599). The appliance does not support hard drives but does allow connecting to a NAS. However, you cannot search or view archives stored there from the Smartvue client. 
  • Web client only that does not require ActiveX installation
  • Mobile apps for Windows 8, iOS, and Android. Support for Windows mobile is uncommon.
  • VMS Software offers searchable bookmarking and commenting features, 10 concurrent client connections for viewing live and recorded video, SHA 256 bit Watermark, recording scheduling, PTZ, and built in users / groups management. (The software lacks enterprise level features such as mass camera changes, and Active Directory)
  • Only 1.55 x 4.59 inches and 1lb, this is small and light even compared to entry level NVR appliances.

Subscription Offering

Without a subscription, remote access is available via mobile apps or a manual network connection to the web client.

With a subscription, remote access is available via publicly accessible web portal with no network configuration on-site. Additionally, videos can be shared via email to a secured cloud space, multi-server management, troubleshooting and alerts are included (via Sharevue and Commandvue [link no longer available]). This costs $25 per month for 100GB of storage and 10GB video downloads. Additional storage is $25 for each additional 100GB and additional downloads are $10 per 10GBs.

$25 monthly for cloud access to a 10-20 camera NVR is not that expensive. However, given the lack of on-site storage and the incremental cost of $25 per 100GB, storing even 1TB, a modest amount, could become very expensive. For instance, the monthly cost of storing 1TB is nearly equal to the cost of the appliance itself.

Here is an overview video of the S9i:

Other Smartvue Options

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Smartvue offers three other lines of hardware: S9Q [link no longer available], S9Z [link no longer available], and finally S9R [link no longer available]. They range in prices from $899-$59,999 and include between 10-100 channels.  Onboard storage ranges from 1TB- 144TB; subscriptions rates are the same as the S9i and the basic Cloudvue account is included (without storage).

Competitive Comparisons

For small camera count, turn key solution, NAS appliances like Synology or QNAP are fairly common (or the recent iomega / Milestone offering). The SmartVue has a much lower starting price ($299 vs $500 - $1000). However, the NASes offer multi-TB integrated storage, while the S9i has significant restrictions / incremental costs to get storage anywhere close to the NASes.

Conclusion

Such a low cost NVR appliance with third party support (albeit limited) is rare and attractive. However, the storage restrictions will drive up the cost or restrict the usability for most users. While it has potential, users should carefully consider these key tradeoffs.

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