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

Video Surveillance Hard Drive Size Statistics 2018 on Nov 08, 2018
What is the most common hard drive size for video surveillance? 150+ integrators answered: What size hard drive do you most commonly use? What...
Kogniz Silicon Valley AI Startup Profile on Nov 07, 2018
Kogniz is a Silicon Valley company that aims to bring AI analytics to security and surveillance, centering on their own smart cameras: We spoke...
Dahua Dual Imager Dome Camera Tested (HDBW4231FN-E2-M) on Nov 07, 2018
Dahua has introduced a dual-imager dome model, the HDBW4231FN-E2-M, with two independently positionable sensors including integrated IR, not found...
Favorite Video Surveillance Hard Drive Manufacturer 2018 on Nov 06, 2018
Who is the favorite hard drive for video surveillance use? 150+ integrators answered: What is your preferred brand/model of hard drive for...
Winter 2019 IP Networking Course on Nov 05, 2018
This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals.  Lots of network training exists but none of it...
Video Surveillance Hard Drive Failure Statistics 2018 on Nov 02, 2018
Hard drive failures can be significant service problems but how common of an issue are they in video surveillance? How long do drives last when...
Building Occupancy Codes and Access Control Tutorial on Nov 01, 2018
A building or room's classification can greatly impact which building codes must be followed. In terms of access control, these 'occupancy codes'...
Cloud Video Storage Usage 2018 on Oct 31, 2018
Storing email and documents in the cloud have long been common, with on-site email or file servers increasingly eliminated. However, what about...
Video Quality / Compression Tutorial on Oct 17, 2018
While CODECs, like H.264, H.265, and MJPEG, get a lot of attention, a camera's 'quality' or compression setting has a big impact on overall...
IACP 2018 Police Show Final Report on Oct 08, 2018
IPVM went to Orlando to cover the 2018 IACP conference, the country's largest police show (about as big as ASIS), examining the 700+...

Most Recent Industry Reports

'Sticker' Surveillance Camera Developed (CSEM Witness) on Nov 16, 2018
The Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) has announced what it calls the: world’s first fully autonomous camera that can be...
ISC East 2018 Mini-Show Final Report on Nov 16, 2018
This is our second (updated) and final show report from ISC East. ISC East, by its own admission, is not a national or international show, billed...
Facial Detection Tested on Nov 16, 2018
Facial detection and recognition are increasingly offered by video surveillance manufacturers. Facial detection detects faces in an image/video...
Throughtek P2P/Cloud Solution Profile on Nov 15, 2018
Many IoT manufacturers either do not have the capabilities or the interest to develop their own cloud management software for their devices....
ASIS Offering Custom Research For Manufacturers on Nov 15, 2018
Manufacturers often want to know what industry people think about trends and, in particular, the segments and product they offer.  ASIS and its...
Hikvision Silent on "Bad Architectural Practices" Cybersecurity Report on Nov 14, 2018
A 'significant vulnerability was found in Hikvision cameras' by VDOO, a startup cybersecurity specialist. Hikvision has fixed the specific...
French Government Threatens School with $1.7M Fine For “Excessive Video Surveillance” on Nov 14, 2018
The French government has notified a high-profile Paris coding academy that it risks a fine of up to 1.5 million euros (about $1.7m) if it...
Integrator Credit Card Alternative Divvy on Nov 13, 2018
Most security integrators are small businesses but large enough that they have various employees that need to be able to expense various charges as...
Directory of Video Intercoms on Nov 13, 2018
Video Intercoms, also known as Video Door-Phones or Video Entry Systems, have been growing in the past decade as more and more IP camera...
Beware Amazon Go Store Hype (Tested) on Nov 13, 2018
IPVM's trip to and testing of Amazon Go's San Francisco store shows a number of significant operational and economic issues that undermine the...

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