The Most Attractive Mini Dome? (Pulse)

By Ethan Ace, Published Jun 25, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

flash camAn excellent Member's discussion, with over 40 comments [link no longer available], discussed the best options for low profile, high aesthetic cameras. One unknown camera line, Pulse [link no longer available], gained significant attention for its all white, minimalistic design. In this note, we examine the details of the line and the manufacturer, looking at cost, third party VMS support and technical support, concluding with a comparison to other mini dome offerings.

Overview of the Camera Line

The Pulse is made by a Hong Kong manufacturer named I-Flash Technology [link no longer available]. While they include a few box and dome cameras, the standout is clearly their minidome version that they dub the 'UFO' for its shape. The UFO minidome comes in 2 options:

  • Color Only, MSRP - $430
  • IR integrated (with a cut filter for true day/night), MSRP - $480

Both cameras are 2MP (1600 x 1200 not 1080p) with a max frame rate at 15fps at full resolution using H.264.

UPDATE: The manufacturer reports that later this year, they will release a 3MP/1080p, WDR version.

Physical: The camera is ~4 inches wide - roughly equal to other minidomes. However, the camera does not support adjust tilting (up and down) which is unlike most minidomes.

Additionally, two different lens options may be ordered - a 2.8mm or 3.6mm and different colors can be ordered but this requires ordering larger numbers of cameras.

Pricing follows a traditional security discount structure so expect street pricing to be notably less than MSRP. However, these cameras are generally only available by ordering directly from the manufacturer as they do not have US nor European distributors set up.

3rd Party VMS Support

Pulse supports ONVIF but does not currently have any direct integration with major VMS vendors (though they say they are working on this).

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Technical Support

Technical support is based in Hong Kong and is available during Hong Kong business hours (9am-6pm, equivalent to 9pm - 6am ET US).

Pros and Cons

The three biggest advantages we see for the line are:

  • Aesthetics - It is the only line that we have found that is almost entirely white. Most other minidomes have a significantly greater mixture of black and white. Combined with the gentle curve of the dome, it makes for a minimalist design that should blend into the background well.
  • Choice of lenses - The options for two lenses helps in picking the right coveraga area. Most other minidomes only offer a single lens option.
  • Cost - For 2MP, the cost is fairly low and in line with less expensive Asian offerings.

However, there are a number of potential concerns:

  • Track Record - We only know one person who has ever used their products and we have not used them ourselves. We'd recommend to carefully test the camera and check on the manufacturer's ability to support and deliver.
  • Support - Given support based in Hong Kong, it will be difficult for American and European users to get immediate response as they are accustomed to with other manufacturers.
  • VMS Integration - Since it depends on ONVIF, make sure to check integration with your specific VMS and if any needed features are missing.
  • No Vertical Tilt - The same design that improves the aesthetics also restricts tilting of the imager/lens which could create an issue if one needs to adjust the FoV up or down.
  • Camera Specifications - The 1600 x 1200 resolution indicates an older sensor choice as most manufacturers have moved to newer 1080p / 3MP sensors. Plus, the chip size (1/3.2") is somewhat small relative to the 1/3" or 1/2.7" imagers increasingly being used.

If aesthetics are priority, we think this camera line is worth considering but you should do extra due diligence in considering the company.

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