New Panasonic Home Cameras Reviewed

By Brian Rhodes, Published Apr 04, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

Panasonic is aggressively improving their home video surveillance offerings. Continuing the trend of better video performance at a cheaper cost, the company has updated their 'Home Series' cameras with added features and refreshed pricing. In this note, we examine these updated features and contrast them with similar offerings.

Key Differences

The significant features updated in the camera line compared with previous years are:

  • HD imagers (720p)
  • 3rd Party support, via ONVIF
  • H.264 Compression

Below is a snapshot of the Panasonic 'Home Series' on display at ISC West:

The 'Home Series' cameras are notated as 'BL' models in Panasonic's catalog. The cameras are cube form factor, and intended to be located in residential or small office/home office settings. The cameras are rated as 'indoor only'. As we indicated in our 'Beware of Cube Cameras' note, these models are not intended to be used for general duty commerical surveillance. However, due to small size and discrete styling, these camera are a natural fit for residential deployments.

Even though they are positioned at the 'low price end' of the market, the cameras feature 720p resolutions. This resolution is quickly becoming the mainstream preferred image for commercial surveillance, and to find it featured in residential models is uncommon. While the true quality of the image is subject to test evaluation, the fact that Panasonic features it in the BL series is distinctive enough to draw attention.

Another update this year is broad 3rd Party Support via ONVIF. Instead of being locked into a proprietary viewer or recorder, the BL series is now compatible working with a variety of VMS platforms and NAS devices (such as QNAP [link no longer available] and Synology). This again is an ideal attribute at the low end of the market where 'freeware [link no longer available]' or 'low cost solutions' abound.

Pricing

Despite these rather sophisticated features, Panasonic's street pricing for the 'BL' series is aggressive. The six new models and estimated street prices are given below:

  • BL-VP104: $140  (HD cube)
  • BL-VP104W: $185  (HD wireless cube)
  • BL-VT164: $160  (Pan/Tilt HD cube)
  • BL-VT164W:$240  (Pan/Tilt HD wireless cube)

Comparison

This pricing is lower, in some cases significantly lower, than comparable surveillance products.

Conclusion

For the residential market, price is always a key consideration. With the latest releases in the 'BL' series, Panasonic has hit an attractive price point for a strong feature set.

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