Consumer IP Camera Analytics Shootout - Arlo, Google / Nest, Amazon / Ring, Hikvision / Ezviz

By: IPVM Team, Published on Aug 27, 2018

Consumer IP camera usage is growing significantly driven by large companies including Google (with Nest), Amazon (with Ring), Netgear (with Arlo) and Hikvision (with Ezviz). Plus, analytics are an increasingly standard component of such systems but how well do they perform?

IPVM has already shot out professional IP camera analytics including Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, and Uniview. Now we turn to their consumer counterparts, as we purchased and tested outdoor offerings from:

How well would their analytics perform? And would the significant cost savings of the Hikvision Ezviz provide just as good quality as the much more expensive alternatives?

In this report, we share our results including:

  • Analytic performance rankings
  • False alert resistance versus foliage, shadows, animals, rain, lights, and more
  • Fast moving vs. normal speed object detection
  • Detection distances/PPF levels
  • Configuration/zone creation for each
  • How pricing compares, for cameras and cloud service

Camera Selection

For this test, we bought the newest and highest performance outdoor models as specified by each manufacturer. Arlo and Nest offer person detection analytics, while Ezviz and Ring offer motion detection (though Ring calls theirs "Advanced Motion Detection"). The Ezviz EzGuard camera is notably less expensive than others, detailed below, but is their current highest performance model.

Summary

Our testing demonstrated three tiers:

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  • Top Performers: During testing, Nest performed the best using its person detection analytic, avoiding false alerts on all common sources such as swaying brush/foliage, small animals, shadows, and rain. Nest did have some shortcomings though, missing people detection when subjects ran through the scene (though subjects at normal walking speed were detected without issue). Also note that Nest's motion detection (non-people) suffered from many false triggers which person detection avoided.
  • Middle Performers: Ring and Arlo performance was solid, managing to avoid false alerts on all common sources noted above although Ring alarmed constantly during heavy rain and Arlo's detection distance was half of all other cameras tested. Ring and Arlo also had trouble detecting the subject running through the scene, while walking subjects were reliably detected.
  • Low Performers: Ezviz was the lowest performer in the test, alerting on all sources listed above, although it did not miss the subject running through the scene like the other consumer offerings. Reducing sensitivity decreased the severity of false alerts, but also resulted in missed detection of subjects at close range moving at normal walking speed, not seen in any other model.

Results Overview

The chart below shows a summary of key differentiators of tested cameras/analytics:

We look at these factors in more detail below.

Arlo, Nest, Ring: Solid False Alert Resistance

In our testing, Nest, Ring, and Arlo consistently performed well outdoors, avoiding common false alerts such as swaying brush, shadows, small animals, and lights which frequently triggered many commercial analytics in our testing.

Nest Motion Poor Performance Vs. Nest Person Detection

While Nest's person detection performance is strong, with no false alerts during our tests, their generic motion detection triggered frequently on various objects, such as foliage, animals, and rain (discussed below) which person detection ignored.

Because of this, users desiring alerts for more than just people (such as vehicles or animals) are likely to experience a considerable number of nuisance alerts.

Ring/Nest (Motion) Rain Issues

In our tests, while Ring did not alert on common sources like brush or animals, it had significant issues during rain storms, alerting almost constantly during heavy rain. By contrast, Arlo and Ezviz did not alarm on rain at all. Nest person detection did not trigger at all in rain. However, motion detection triggered frequently, similar to Ring.

Running Subjects Not Detected: Arlo, Nest, Ring

Unlike commercial models, all cameras except Ezviz and Nest motion detection (but not person detection) failed to detect subjects running through the scene, even at close range, on repeated attempts. Note that Nest's motion detection triggered on the subject, but those receiving person alerts only would miss these events.

This is shown below, with the subject running from ~100' directly past the cameras. By contrast, cameras did not fail to detect subjects at normal walking speeds, day or night.

Hikvision/Ezviz: Frequent False Alerts From Common Sources

Unlike Arlo, Nest, and Ring, the EzGuard camera frequently alerted on nearly every source in the scene, including foliage, bugs, and light changes, when set to default sensitivity.

Turning sensitivity down nearly eliminated false alerts, but drastically reduced detection, as well, with the camera failing to capture even slow moving subjects at close range.

Detection Distances

The cameras consistently detected at the following PPF levels:

Note that Arlo detection is triggered by its built-in PIR, which has a specified range of 23', so PPF does not change day or night, while others use only video for detection/VMD.

Compared to commercial analytics, these PPF requirements are average (Ring/Nest) to high (Arlo), with high performing analytics such as Bosch and Avigilon requiring 5-6 PPF for daytime detection, and most averaging closer to 12-15.

Cloud Versus Local Processing

Of the cameras tested, Arlo and Nest send video to the cloud for analytic processing prior to alerting the user. Ezviz and Ring perform processing locally on the camera.

Both Arlo and Nest warn users that processing may take longer when using person detection, though we saw little difference in time between event and notification on all cameras tested, with all taking 1-2 seconds to notify users of detection.

Note that all platforms tested require cloud connectivity for alerts, with none sending push notifications over the local network.

Motion/Analytic Configuration Differences

Analytic/motion configuration varies between cameras tested, but is limited to a zone (if full screen is not desired) and sensitivity settings in Arlo, Ezviz, and Ring.

Nest includes zone setup, but no sensitivity, with only options for detecting people vs. general motion, but no specific sensitivity.

Zone shape was flexible in all cameras except Arlo, which used only rectangles, making it difficult to fit to odd shaped scenes without overlapping undesired areas.

By contrast, Nest and Ring use eight sized polygons, while Ezviz uses a more flexible grid style zone setup.

Camera/Service Pricing

All the cameras except Hikvision/Ezviz require a monthly subscription in order to receive analytic/event alerts and/or view alert video, ranging from ~$3 USD per month per camera for Arlo Smart through $5/month per camera for Nest Aware. Pricing is detailed below:

  • Arlo Smart: Arlo person detection analytics require a subscription to Arlo Smart, starting at $2.99 per camera, including 7 days storage, and up to $14.99 for 60 days storage. Arlo cameras and base station start at $179 for the original 720p Arlo to $300 for the 1080p Arlo 2 tested here.
  • Nest Person Alerts: Nest's person detection analytics do not require a subscription to receive alerts. However, alert video playback is unavailable without a Nest Aware subscription, ranging from $5/month per camera (5 days) through $30/month for 30 days. The Nest Outdoor IQ is available directly from Nest for $349.
  • Ring Advanced Motion Detection: Ring's "advanced motion detection" motion detection does not require a subscription for motion alerts, although a subscription is needed to view recorded video starting at $3 per month. Ring Spotlight Cam retails for $199 and can be purchased from the Ring website.
  • Hikvision/Ezviz EzGuard: Ezviz motion detection does not require a monthly subscription, it is available for free on the camera. Ezviz does not require a subscription to receive alerts, with recording direct to local SD card. Cloud subscriptions (called CloudPlay) start at $5.99 per month per camera. Hikvision's Ezviz EzGuard camera retails for $109, significantly less than competitive cameras and can be purchased from the Ezviz website.

Country of Manufacture

The following list shows each cameras country of manufacture:

  • Arlo Pro 2: Made in Vietnam
  • EZVIZ ezGuard: Made in China
  • Nest Outdoor IQ: Made in China
  • Ring Spotlight Cam: Made in China

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