H.264 Makes Megapixel Go Mainstream (Arecont Vision)

Author: John Honovich, Published on Apr 30, 2008

Arecont Vision's upcoming release of H.264 megapixel cameras will spur adoption of megapixel cameras for mainstream security organizations.

Until now, bandwidth and storage costs were big problems so even if you were willing to pay the premium for the cameras, the total cost of the system was hard to justify. Now, with H.264 megapixel cameras, the total cost of megapixel camera systems drops significantly, making it easier to find the budget and justify the expense.

Advantages:

  • Reduce costs: Lowers cost of storage by $1,000 or more per camera
  • Eliminates barriers: Enables many more networks to support megapixel cameras

Disadvantages:

  • Using analytics with these cameras reduces the H.264 benefit
  • Costs few hundred dollars more per camera

Potential Risks:

  • When will it be available?
  • Will the quality be good enough?
  • Which and when will DVR/NVR manufacturers support the CODEC?

The central advantage of H.264 cameras is that they reduce the amount of bandwidth needed. ArecontVision is claiming a 5x - 12x reduction of bandwidth. So, if your megapixel camera needed 10 Mb/s before (with MJPEG), it might now need only 1.5 Mb/s. So for each camera, you will save a lot of bandwidth. I am going to choose 3 Mb/s to be conservative. (To read the details see footnote #1 at the end)

Reducing camera bandwidth by even 3 Mb/s per second can save thousands per camera.

Let's say you want to record video for 1 month, a fairly low storage duration for today's security manager. That 3 Mb/s would require an extra 1000 GB of storage. Now, storage is getting cheaper but that much storage, per camera, can cost you an extra $1,000. Imagine if you wanted a 16 channel megapixel system, that's $16,000 more just for the storage. Big money for most of us.

You also get a similar benefit on the network side. Most of us are reluctant to spend major money on network upgrades to support video systems. The hope is that you can use existing networks or simply purchase low cost, basic networking equipment to get the video from the cameras. Historically this has been a very tough challenge with megapixel cameras. With megapixel cameras routinely needing 5 Mb/s, 10 Mb/s, 20 Mb/s or more, the load was very high.

H.264 is like getting a free upgrade from dial-up to broadband. The massive savings in bandwidth let's you do things that were previously prohibitive.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

You will get this benefit both for wired and wireless networks. With wired networks, you likely can add many more megapixel cameras without hitting problems. With wireless networks, for the first time you might be able to use megapixel cameras.

So what's the risk and downside?

The Arecont cameras will not support analytics (footnote 2 for details). So, if analytics are driving your decisions, these cameras don't fit. However, for your analytics needs, consider using standard definition IP cameras and using analytics on these. For most scenarios, this will give you the alerting you need, complimenting nicely with your higher definition H.264 cameras.

The Arecont H.264 cameras will be more expensive, likely a few hundred dollars more. However, this should be easy to justify because of the storage and bandwidth cost reductions, your overall installation cost should be cheaper.

The H.264 cameras are scheduled to be released later this quarter. Arecont has been promoting these cameras since at least January. As is common with manufacturers, caution is appropriate in planning when the equipment will be released and how mature it will be.

Perhaps the biggest risk is will the quality be good enough? The quality should be lower than a MJPEG camera with equivalent settings. If it obstructs the ability to identify targets, this will be a show-stopper. Using the 'good enough' test is prudent here: Can you still identify the target with either camera, even if one camera is slightly less crisp or sharp? If so, the camera is good enough and the overall system cost savings should be the deciding factor. However, this is a controversial point as many feel strongly that image quality is paramount

Finally, this is a proprietary adaption of a CODEC. This means NVR/DVR manufacturers will need to support it. Make sure that your video systems vendor will support and determine when they will support it. Given Arecont's wide distribution, low pricing and the economics of H.264, I believe this will happen fairly quickly but it could provide short term logistical problems.

In sum, H.264 is changing the economics of video surveillance system design, enabling security organizations to cost-effectively deploy megapixel cameras. As it is early, be cautious but start evaluating and making plans for deployment.

Footnotes:

1: ArecontVision is claiming an average of 10x bit-rate reduction for their H.264 compared to MJPEG. Let's be conservative and say it's only 5x. So a 2 Megapixel camera using MJPEG that might consume 20 Mb/s is 4 Mb/s with H.264. Let's also assume that different camera settings could reduce the average bit rate to 10 Mb/s for MJPEG. Let's say in both scenarios we other advance configurations that reduce bandwidth equally by 50% bringing us to 5 Mb/s for MJPEG and 2 Mb/s for H.264. Even in this conservative scenario, that's a reduction of 3 Mb/s per camera.

2: Performing the analytics at your NVR/DVR is unrealistic. The processing cost to decode H.264 will be fairly prohibitive. You could consider using multiple streams, 1 with H.264 for recording and 1 with MJPEG for analysis, to get both. The bandwidth is higher obviously but it at leasts eliminates the storage issue and allows for analysis with this camera.

7 reports cite this report:

Arecont CEO And President Resign on Apr 18, 2018
This is good news for Arecont. Arecont's problems have been well known for years (e.g., most recently Worst Camera Manufacturers 2018 and starting...
Arecont EVP Schafer Ousted on Oct 09, 2017
Days after IPVM reported Troubles At Arecont Vision, the public face of Arecont and the incoming Chairman of the Security Industry Association,...
Arecont Lowest Favorability Results on Jan 25, 2017
Given Arecont is 3 time defending integrator choice for worst camera manufacturer, it should be little surprise they had the lowest score in the...
Arecont To Release Industries' Best H.265 Support on Sep 30, 2016
Go big, or go home. That seems to be Arecont's philosophy for H.265, they say they are working on the "best" H.265 implementation in the...
History of Video Surveillance on Sep 22, 2016
This is a concise history of video surveillance covering the past decade.  The goal is to help professionals newer to the industry understand...
2010 Spring Surveillance Trends on Apr 01, 2010
Emerging from ISC West, a number of clear trends will likely impact purchasing decisions over the next 12 months. In this premium report, we...
How to Win Deals with Megapixel Cameras on Feb 22, 2009
Megapixel cameras are the key to fast growth and high profits in the face of the recession. If you are in the video surveillance business, it is...

Related Reports

BCDVideo Expansion And Switch From HP To Dell Examined on Mar 11, 2019
BCDVideo says they have more than tripled revenue in the past 5 years and are continuing to grow, powered most recently by switching their lead...
Arcules Favorability Results 2019 on Mar 08, 2019
Arcules has amazing advantages. Tens of millions of funding from Canon. Unlimited access to Milestone's source code (see our test results). But...
Salient CompleteView 20/20 VMS Tested on Feb 27, 2019
In IPVM's last test of Salient 3 years ago, we found various problems and deficiencies. Now, Salient says their new CompleteView 20/20 "unified...
Security Installation Tools Guide - 22 Tools Listed on Feb 19, 2019
In this guide, we cover 22 tools that security installers frequently use. This is one part of our upcoming Video Surveillance...
Sales Cuts At Rasilient on Feb 19, 2019
Over the past 2 years, video surveillance storage specialist Rasilient has expanded its workforce significantly, aiming to build its own branded...
Casino Surveillance Pro Interview: James Lathrop on Feb 15, 2019
James Lathrop has been working in casinos for almost 25 years. During that time, he says he has held "just about every job you can do in the...
Cisco Meraki Cloud VMS/Cameras Tested on Feb 13, 2019
Cisco Meraki says their cameras "bring Meraki magic to the enterprise video security world". According to Meraki, their magic is their management...
Solink Raises $12 Million - Company Profile on Feb 12, 2019
Most industry professionals have never heard of Solink, a company whose tagline is: It's time to revolutionize the way business uses...
Bandwidth vs Low Light Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Geovision, Hanwha, Hikvision, Uniview, Vivotek on Feb 08, 2019
Nighttime bandwidth spikes are a major concern in video surveillance, but do all manufacturers' cameras perform the same? Are some more consistent...
Exacq's Cloud Drive Storage Tested on Feb 04, 2019
Less than a year after acquiring cloud video company Smartvue, Exacq has launched its 'cloud drive storage' offering. We see the VSaaS market...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Avigilon Launches 'Renewed Products Program' on Mar 19, 2019
There are lots of 'pre-owned' cars but pre-owned IP cameras? While such programs are common in other industries, in video surveillance, they are...
Hanwha Tax Evasion Probe, Camera Division Implicated on Mar 19, 2019
A Hanwha group subsidiary was raided as part of a tax evasion probe. While a Korean news media report listed the raided entity as 'Hanwha...
Genetec Security Center 5.8 Tested on Mar 19, 2019
Genetec has released Version 5.8. This comes after a wait of more than a year that caused frustrations for many Genetec partners. Our previous...
Retired Mercury President Returns As Open Options President on Mar 18, 2019
Open Options experienced major changes in 2018, including being acquired by ACRE and losing its President and General Manager, John Berman who...
Large US University End-User Video Surveillance Interview on Mar 18, 2019
Schools have become targets in modern days of active shooters and terrorist fears. The need for video and access security is high. Universities...
Hikvision Favorability Results 2019 on Mar 18, 2019
Hikvision favorability results declined significantly in IPVM's 2019 study of 200+ integrators. While in 2017 Hikvision's favorability was...
ONVIF Favorability Results 2019 on Mar 15, 2019
In the past decade, ONVIF has grown from a reaction to the outside Cisco-lead PSIA challenge, to being the de facto video surveillance standard...
Installation Course - Last Chance on Mar 14, 2019
This is the last chance to register for the March Installation course. This is a unique installation course in a market where little practical...
City Physical Security Manager Interview on Mar 14, 2019
This physical security pro is the Physical Security Manager for the City of Calgary. He is a criminologist by training with an ASIS CPP credential....
US Drafting Separate Rule for NDAA Dahua/Hikvision 'Blacklist' on Mar 14, 2019
The most debated provision of the NDAA ban of Dahua, Hikvision, Huawei, et al. is the so-called 'blacklist' provision which would ban any company...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact