Milestone 'Smart' Spot Monitor

By: Sarit Williams, Published on Jun 18, 2013

Many users want to avoid dedicating a PC just to watch surveillance video in their store or business. Recently, we looked at general-purpose options from Android Mini PC and Razberi devices. Now, an Italian company, Feniva, has developed a custom alternative for Milestone’s VMS. In this note, we examine its key features, strengths and weaknesses, comparing it to Raspberry Pi and Android Mini PC devices.

Product Overview

The customized SmartAccess appliance was released in May 2013 by Feniva, a Milestone partner. It consists of two main components - a blackberry like handheld, wireless, controller and a mini-PC preloaded with Milestone’s  XProtect Mobile app that connects to a monitor.

Here's Feniva’s marketing demo/overview that shows it in action:

Key features include:

  • Wireless QWERTY Keyboard offers a 2x2 inch multi touch screen for zooming in and out and large letter keyboard; small enough to hold in your hand and type. The remote distance range is between 32-50 feet and requires 3 AAA batteries with an automatic energy saving option.
  • View/manage any XProtect Mobile server/cameras from any HDMI capable monitor (removes need for server, keyboard and video output. This version does not extend or remove any of XProtect’s features.)
  • 24 watts power specification – The device charges via USB and is said to save on power consumption by up to 90% compared to a PC (Android tablet: Samsung, only uses less than 10 Watts of power on average)
  • Connect via Google store account to download other Android capable apps (typical for Android devices)
  • Wireless connectivity (common for Android devices)
  • Support is available via phone call, Skype or an email from 9AM-8PM, which is 3AM-2PM EST.  Feniva states distribution channels and Americas’ presence are in the works.

The price for the whole kit is ~$500 USD. It is sold only from Italy and shipping costs are ~$85 USD. Additional/replacements keyboard controllers cost ~$160 USD.  

Competitive Comparison

The Raspberry Pi and the Android Mini PC are key comparables. Here's how they match up:

  • 512MB of RAM for Rasperry PI Model B, 1GB for Android Mini PC vs 1GB for Feniva.
  • All three support Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Storage - all three devices use 1 SD slot taking cards up to 32GB. (Smart Access has additional onboard storage of 4GB allowing storage to be extended to 36GB total)
  • LAN and Audio ports are built in on the Raspberry – not so on Smart Access. (Using a dongle (USB) it can be run on rj45; Bluetooth is available on Android PC.)
  • Processor- Smart Access (ARM7) and Android PC (Cortex-A8) use similar chips offering 1.6 GHz, Raspberry Pi uses less at 700MHz.
  • Product cost - less than $100 for either Raspberry Pi and Android PC, even with accessories vs ~$500 for the Feniva device.
  • Support availability- none for either Raspberry Pi and Android PC vs. phone and email for Feniva.
  • Installation time / cost - significant for Raspberry Pi as it has to be set up, modest for Android Mini PC, minimal for Feniva.
  • Keyboard / Mouse - Raspberry Pi and Android PC will require them- Smart Access QWERTY keyboard is all is needed for Feniva.

Conclusion

Smart Access has a few advantages; it comes pre-loaded with the XProtect app, no need for installation or configuration, includes support and the QWERTY keyboard, removing the need for a keyboard and mouse. It may be higher cost than the comparables, but time savings on configuration and not having to use a mouse and keyboard (awkward) with a hot spot monitor could be justified add-ons.

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