Milestone 'Smart' Spot Monitor

By Sarit Williams, Published Jun 18, 2013, 12:00am EDT

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 [link no longer available] 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 [link no longer available] 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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