Low Cost HD Domes Getting Very Attractive

By John Honovich, Published Nov 09, 2010, 07:00pm EST

In the last year, numerous low cost HD domes have come to market putting intense pressure on SD offerings - both analog and IP.

For aesthetic reasons, domes are the most desirable form factor. However, they are also more challenging to produce than box cameras. Because of this, early in a market's development, you see less domes. As dome models are introduced, the market expands rapidly.

In the last year, 4 manufacturers have announced HD H.264 domes for under $400 (online pricing) including Grandstream, GVI, Sony and Vivotek (all but the Sony are already shipping). Also, interesting is that all of these cameras are supporting ONVIF.

The downside is that these are basic cameras (only one has day/night and IR, the Vivotek FD8134 and only one is IP66 rated, the GVI GV-NC-102-DO). All of them have fixed, non-interchangeable lens.

In the past, most MP domes were loaded with high end features (audio, SD, analytic add-ons, auto back focus, etc.). While this is great for many applications, a big part of the market just needs simple to install, inexpensive video feeds.

Compared to even low end VGA IP domes, these cameras are very attractive. There are hardly any domes less expensive. Only a few are even in the same price range: for example, the Axis 4CIF M3011 and the SVGA Pelco IMSO. For the same price, getting HD (over SD) will be a significant driver.

With analog, while you can get a $50 mini-dome, you still need to encode it (which costs another $50 - $150 even presuming the use of DVRs rather than expensive encoder appliances). For $150 or $200 more then, you get far superior image quality and the ability to cover a wider area.

We think this will be make a lot of sense both in the low end of the market (where 4 of these cameras plus a PC or NAS can provide a full system) or as a nice upgrade to large systems where customers want better image quality indoors to cover rooms, meeting areas, etc.

[Update 2012: Low cost HD domes continue to proliferate and have driven this segment to be the most commonly used of all form factors.]

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