New Products Reviewed Fall 2010

By John Honovich, Published Oct 12, 2010, 08:00pm EDT

In this report, we aggregate all our new products reviews for Fall 2010 announcments.

Products Reviewed

The following new products are reviewed. Links are provided both to the company's website and to our PRO member review.

October 8, 2010 by Scott Oie

ACTi announced a new selection of 4MP cameras. This is ACTI's first line of cameras that support 4MP. Their current megapixel product lineup consist of all 1.3MP cameras. 

The 4MP camera line will consist of day/night box and dome form factors. Two of the box cameras feature integrated lenses with 18x (KCM-5211) and 35x (KCM-5311) optical zoom. The other box (KCM-5111) has a removable fixed focal length, fixed iris lens. Of the dome cameras, one model (KCM-7111) has a fixed focal, fixed iris lens. The other dome (KCM-7211) features a 4x optical zoom, and P-iris lens. The P-iris feature is interesting because currently, only Axis offers cameras with P-iris lenses.

ACTI's current MP cameras are no higher than 1.3MP, and the new models jump the resolution options to 4MP- with nothing in between. This approach differs with most manufacturer's offerings. For example, Arecont offers cameras in 1.3, 2, 3, 5, 8, and 10 megapixel options. This incremental approach allows deployments to be cost efficient while providing necessary resolution requirements for a specific application. ACTi's wide gap in megapixel offerings does not lend itself towards this flexibility.

The marketing material claims ACTi's 4MP cameras have advanced low light noise reduction compared to other 5MP cameras. This can't be evaluated until the cameras get released and tested. ACTi plans to demo the camera at ASIS.

Pricing information has not been released. These cameras will not be available for commercial shipping until April 2011.

Examining American Dynamics' New Client Application: Victor

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October 13, 2010 by Antony Look

American Dynamics will soon be offering The Victor client application as a means to unify video viewing, playback and investigations across multiple DVR and NVR systems.  The application will provide a unified interface to access video from VideoEdge NVRs, Intellex DVRs, and IP Intellex systems. The Victor is intended to replace the Vx-Client (part of the VideoEdge 3.0 application suite) in the new release of VideoEdge 4.0 NVR. The lack of this type of application has been a long standing problem for AD users looking to unify video access across disparate AD VMS systems.

  • Available for purchase as part of VideoEdge 4.0 NVR bundle in two (2) and five (5) user license connection starter packs.
  • Additional single connections can also be purchased
  • The Victor consists of a client and policy database component called Site Manager
  • Software can be loaded on any number of machines to interface any number of supported VMS systems and is limited only by simultaneous user connection licenses
  • Product is planned for launch October 30th 2010 along with the new VideoEdge 4.0 release
  • The application will be supported on 32-bit/64-bit Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems
  • American Dynamics claims the Windows Presentation Foundation software development platform that the application is based on will provide higher performance multi-media functionality and user experience
  • Future releases are to provide growing support for other American Dynamics video recorder products, such as their line of Hybrid DVR systems
  • Will not initially support low-level VMS configurations
  • MSRP per user connection license under $500

The Victor application will allow existing American Dynamics customers to consolidate certain video management activities across distributed analog and IP video recording systems within the American Dynamics family of products. The Victor also looks to include support for Software House's CCURE9000 access control system, as it evolves into the 'ultimate' unifying command and control interface for American Dynamics security applications.

It will be interesting to see where American Dynamics chooses to set pricing for the Victor licenses. Genetec for example charges MSRP $230 for each simultaneous user connection for its client application suite.

Examining Arecont Vision's New Compact H.264 Megapixel Box Cameras

October 11, 2010 by Antony Look

The compact H.264 box style AV1315 (1.3MP) and AV2815 (1080p) cameras are half the size as their AV1305 (MSRP $890) and AV2805 (MSRP $1090) H.264 box camera counterparts. The compact AV1315 (MSRP $690) and AV2815 (MSRP $790) will support PoE powering options only (no ac/dc options) and also will not provide an auto-iris option (unlike their non-compact forerunners). The manufacturer will offer Day/Night models AV1315DN (MSRP $790) and AV2815DN (MSRP $890), as well.

Camera shown (top-left) depicts compact model's smaller size relative to full body model (top-right). Also note the PoE only power option in the compact model (bottom-left) versus the PoE plus auxiliary power options for full box form factors (bottom-right).

The compact H.264 megapixel box cameras will retail at an MSRP $200 (1.3MP) and $300 (1080p) less than their full box H.264 predecessors, creating more pricing pressures on other megapixel camera suppliers. Even suppliers of standard definition IP cameras will likely be affected by this downward price movement, as price gaps between SD and MP cameras continue to contract.

Earlier in 2010, Arecont Vision introduced Compact MJPEG cameras. This new product line will be the H.264 counterpart. The units are available now for commercial shipping.

Examining Arecont Vision's New Day/Night 8MP H.264 Panoramic Cameras

October 11, 2010 by Antony Look

Arecont Vision has announced new multi-imager dome cameras that offer significant enhancements relative to the existing AV8185 (180 Deg.) and AV8365 (360 Deg.) with the introduction of the AV8185DN and AV8365DN day/night models.  The new models will feature the same 4 imager array, 8MP resolution, and H.264 compression as their non-DN predecessors.  However, the new DN models provide improved low-light performance, a significantly smaller form factor and an IP66 rated enclosure. Previous non-DN models were fairly bulky and required separate enclosures for outdoor applications.

Retail pricing for the AV8165DN and AV8365DN will be 16-30% less than the non-DN models (that have an MSRP from $2800-$3000). The new models will be available in heater/blower models for use in adverse temperature environments (AV8165DN-HB/AV8365DN-HB).

Arecont Vision is one of only a few providers of panoramic camera offerings on the market, along with Mobotix and Avigilon. Competing panoramics from Mobotix and Avigilon are part of a 'closed' system and only operate using their respective proprietary VMS systems.  The AV multi-imagers have broad 3rd party VMS support, partly because the camera feeds are simpler to integrate (e.g., do not require dewarping). In contrast to immersive panoramics, a downside is that the Arecont video feed cannot be viewed and controlled as a single video feed.

The series is scheduled to start production shipping at the end of the year (2010).

Examining Arecont Vision's New H.264 Megapixel Bullet Cameras with IR LED

October 11, 2010 by Antony Look

Arecont Vision announced H.264 megapixel cameras in bullet style, outdoor rated IP66 form factors. These are the first bullet as well as embedded IR offerings from Arecont. The AV1325DN (1.3MP) and AV2825DN (1080p) MegaView models feature day/night performance and an integrated IR corrected megapixel lens. The cameras are also available as models AV1325IR and AV2825IR, which are equipped with an IR LED array for low-light operation.

The photo depicts the externally accessible adjustments for the integrated 4-10mm vari-focal lens. This is a purely mechanical enhancement. We have not tested the effectiveness of this particular feature.

Incidentally, the market has been catching on to a related trend of providing motorized zoom lenses with auto-focus and auto-iris. This allows total lens control remotely over IP networks. We've evaluated the Axis Q1755 in an earlier report. Sony and Sanyo, among other manufacturers, have similar offerings as well (none of these are bullet form factor):

A search on the camera finder tool for bullet, IP66, IP67 and IR Built-In yields results from Acti, Sony, and Vivotek. The new bullet cameras from Arecont Vision bear 48 IR LEDs and are purported to provide illumination out to a range of 25 meters. In contrast, the Vivotek IP7361 (MSRP $800) maintains 24 IR LEDs, the Sony SNCCH160 (MSRP $1248) has 21 IR LEDs, and the Sony SNCCH180 (MSRP $1748) possesses 27 IR LEDs. Sony specifications claim nighttime viewing out to 15 meters, while the Vivotek IP7361 datasheet specifies a 25 meter nighttime viewing distance. Our tests of Vivotek IP7361 IR capability showed an approximate 50 foot illumination distance. The two ACTi models are priced around $650 MSRP.

Given the new AV bullet cameras will support roughly 2x the number of physical LEDs as its competitors, it will be interesting to evaluate its comparative low-light performance. We have yet to confirm whether the LEDs can be powered over the camera's PoE connection. It would represent a considerable downside to the product if auxiliary power is required for LED functionality. 

The series is scheduled to start production shipping at the end of the year (2010).

Examining Axis New Thermal Camera Offering (Q1921/-E)

October 5, 2010 by Scott Oie

Axis announced the release of the Q1921/-E thermal cameras (where -E is the outdoor model). The new models will be an addition to their existing thermal lineup, which includes the Q1910 (Refer to our review of the Q1910).

In addition, a data sheet [link no longer available] was released. Significant points of differentiation between the Q1921 and the Q1910 should be noted:

Q1921 Q1910
 Resolution 384x288 160x128
 Frame Rate Up to 30 fps 8.33 fps

Supports multiple:

10mm, F1.2, FoV 55°

19mm, F1.0, FoV 29°

35mm, F1.2, FoV 15°

60mm, F1.2, FoV 9°

13mm, F1.25, FoV 17°

Indoor 10mm & 19mm: $3,999 USD

Outdoor 10mm & 19mm: $4,499 USD

Outdoor 35mm: $5,399 USD

Outdoor 60mm: $7,599 USD

Indoor: $2,995 USD

Outdoor: $3,495 USD

Another point of note is the Q1921 supports interchangeable lenses, and individual lenses will be available for purchase.  Although, cameras will not be sold without a lens.

According to Axis, the Q1921 is available for commercial shipping as of September 24, 2010.

A comparative model is in FLIR's fixed F series, the F-348 features 320x240 resolution, 9mm lens, 48° FoV, and an MSRP of $6,575 USD.  The Q1921 is competitively priced when considering the MSRP for the 10mm outdoor model (at $4,499 USD), and the slightly higher resolution.

Overall, FLIR still has an advantage because of their wider support of options like 640x480 resolution, where the new Axis line only supports up to 384x288.

Examining Embedding Briefcam inside Milestone's SmartClient

October 6, 2010 by John Honovich

Briefcam, a specilalist developer of video analytics for searching/investigations has integrated their solution inside of Milestone's VMS systems. The goal of this integration is to make it easier to use advanced investigation directly from the VMS client. Previously, a separate client was required for using Briefcam, forcing the operator to switch between interfaces.

The integration uses a plug-in to the Milestone Smart Client. To accomplish this, an executable is downloaded and installed on each PC that will run the Milestone Smart Client. The plug-in displays in the Milestone setup section, allowing drag and drop placement of the Briefcam viewer into any pane in a layout.

The Briefcam plug-in allows both selecting feeds and triggering video display in the rest of the SmartClient. An operator can scan and select an object of interest from within the plug-in. By double clicking on the object, the other panes in the Smart Client automatically synch up and display video from the time of that object. This provide a relatively tight integration.

No additional charge/license is required to use the plugin. The same licensing structure as previous is required for analyzing video feeds using Briefcam. For background on features and pricing, read our Briefcam product overview.

Advanced search options are limited in video surveillance. While there are few closed solutions (e.g., 3VR), the Briefcam / Milestone combination provides an interesting open alternative.

Examining Cisco's Two New SMB IP Cameras: VC220 and VC240

October 5, 2010 by Antony Look

Cisco is adding two (2) new VGA resolution IP cameras to their SMB IP camera line up. The new VC220 (dome) and the VC240 (bullet) cameras use a different imaging sensor than the previous Cisco SMB IP cameras' 1/4" CCD and CMOS chips. The new additions will use a 1/3.3" Wide Dynamic Range capable CMOS sensor, which is meant to allow improved image performance in more challenging lighting environments.

  • Both the VC220 (MSRP $794) and VC240 (MSRP $921) are currently shipping
  • Both models support the same maximum resolution of 640x480 (VGA) and MPEG-4/MJPEG codecs as the existing models
  • Both new models provide a 4x optical zoom
  • The VC240 Bullet camera is outdoor rated IP66
  • Both models are true day/night with IR cut-filters, have integrated infrared LEDs that allow 0 Lux operations (from specifications sheet).
  • The VC220 Dome camera has a built-in PIR sensor for thermal based motion detection 

The new cameras don't support H.264 or HD/Megapixel resolutions. The emphasis appears to be on low-light performance and wide dynamic range scenes with the new CMOS sensor and built-in IR LED illuminators. For price comparison with the VC220, the D-Link DCS-6111 [link no longer available] SMB network camera retails for $659.99 (WDR, D/N, VGA, IR LED Illuminators, PoE). D-Link also offers a 1.3 megapixel D/N DCS-3110 [link no longer available]box style camera at MSRP $549.99.

Examining Cisco's Physical Security Operations Manager

October 12, 2010 by John Honovich

Cisco has announced a Physical Security Operations Manager (PSOM) application that provides a unified interface for Cisco safety and security systems (e.g., video surveillance, access control and IPICS). The PSOM is a Windows only client-server solution that integrates and 'sits on top' of those systems.

While the offering provides PSIM type functionalities it is not a 'true' PSIM in the most commonly used definition because it only integrates with the company's own offerings. The best comparison is likely Genetec's Security Center, a system designed around a manufacturer's own offerings. However, even there, material differences exist.

Key features in Cisco's new PSOM include:

  • Control access control, surveillance and IPIC entities through a singular interface (open doors, etc.)
  • Centralized alarm management pane
  • Built in instructions and incident reporting to enhance user workflow and verify procedures are met

This offering makes good sense given Cisco's ongoing focus of selling bundled packages of its security offerings to high end applications (review our 2009 commentary on Cisco's positioning). For the large projects Cisco targets, integration is an important benefit.

From a broader industry perspective, this fits with the trend of VMS / access suppliers moving upmarket. While it lacks many features of true PSIM, for many Cisco centric facilities this offering may be sufficient for their needs.

Examining Sources of Cisco's PSIM and Video Analytics

October 13, 2010 by John Honovich

At ASIS 2010, Cisco expanded into two major new product categories - 'PSIM' and video analytics. This is certainly a major expansion and raises question of how did Cisco get so far so fast.

While the online releases and documentation do not disclose this, Cisco confirmed that they are partnering with Proximex and ObjectVideo for, respectively, their PSIM and video analytic offerings.

For the PSOM/PSIM offering, Cisco notes in an email that, "Cisco and Proximex have entered into a technology agreement which allows parts of Proximex’s Surveillnt product to be used in Cisco’s new Physical Security Operations Manager Software (PSOM). "Powered by Proximex", means that PSOM uses certain components of Surveillnt to enhance the integration and unified operation of VSM, CPAM and IPICS."

For the video analytics offering, Cisco notes in an email that, "Cisco 4500 cameras feature a DSP for analytics processing. The first company we have engaged with on this architecture is OV. We offer security and counting packages using their SW. The base packages are included in the price of the camera."

Proximex Impact

We think the partnership with Proximex is an important action for both companies. Front end systems (such as PSIM or VMS clients) are critical long term components that cannot be easily abandoned or replaced.

For Proximex, this is a major win, both for its ability to generate immediate revenue and for its long term potential. We believe that Cisco may acquire Proximex in the next 2 years at a healthy, 'IT level" valuation. We have no inside knowledge and base this simply on the fact that choosing a front end forces a company to commit long term.

ObjectVideo Impact

We think the partnership with ObjectVideo has less potential. Edge analytics are a less critical component of systems and can be relatively easily switched to new analytic providers. Lock in to a specific brand of video analytics tends to be low as they are essentially data inputs rather than core management applications.

Also, given ObjectVideo's questionable reputation, we believe that many will be concerned about using their analytics. That noted, the partnership does make sense as it is important for a company like Cisco targeting high end projects to have an analytic offering embedded in their cameras.

Examining GVI's Razberi All in One NVR Appliance

October 17, 2010 by John Honovich

GVI Security has released an 'all-in-one' NVR called the Razberi that integrates an 8 channel PoE switch, a single hard drive and 16 channels of Auto-IP VMS software [link no longer available] onto a server/appliance. The appliance is designed to simplify on-site setup by eliminating common IT administration steps. The appliance also inherits the Auto-IP VMS software's ability to automatically discover and configure IP cameras (as well as update the system firmware).

The MSRP for the appliance is $4,800 including 2TB of storage, integrated 8 channel PoE switch and 16 channels of VMS software. (Note: GVI uses a traditional security integrator dealer discounting structure so comparisons against IT products should normalize for this.) GVI reports that future versions will support both higher and lower PoE/camera counts.

The Razberi does not offer enterprise/centralized management of users/accounts. The Razberi does offer automatic discovery of Razberi NVRs by the Razberi client.

We anticipate that this offering will be most attractive for traditional security integrators who want a system that can be relatively easily deployed by low voltage technicians with minimal IT skills/experience.

For that market segment, there are not many alternative options. Specifically very few offer integrated PoE (see ipConfigure's new hDVR [link no longer available] and Genetec's SV-3200 as exceptions though those units are clearly positioned at the higher end of the market).

Two good comparisons are likely QNAP's NVRs and Milestone Essential - the former representing very low cost NAS appliances with bundled VMS software (under $1,000 total) and the later representing very low cost VMS software to run on COTS PCs ($50 per channel). For more IT focused integrators, both of these represent moderately less expensive options (even after normalizing for the Razberi's higher dealer discount structure). Additional benefits for the NAS approach is redundant storage options while Milestone allows for a variety of advanced options and upgrades.

It will be interesting to see how products like Razberi evolve. As the traditional market moves to IP, simplicity will certainly be a key driver. How cost competitive and how functional those turnkey offerings are will be key determinants in future product adoption.

Examining Genetec's SV-16 'Compact' Network Security Appliance

October 5, 2010 by Antony Look

Genetec is now offering the SV-16 small form factor NVR. The SV-16 NVR appliance is meant to provide a lower cost alternative to COTS server based video management systems for smaller (16 or less) camera deployments. It will also provide Enterprise management functionality in distributed Omnicast environments. However, with no direct analog camera support, users will have to purchase encoders for integration. Another concern with the SV-16 is the limited storage capacity being offered. A continuously recording 16 camera system configured at a 2mbps per camera bit-rate will consume an entire 500GB drive in approximately 1.5 days. Cost considerations for additional storage in larger SV-16 camera deployments must be examined to determine true cost benefit.

  • Base unit (SV-16-Base MSRP $1540) comes with internal 2.5" 160GB Hard Disk Drive; The Plus (SV-16-Plus MSRP $1700) unit comes with a 500GB internal HDD
  • Camera licenses (SV-1C) are purchased individually and separately from the Base/Plus units
  • Supports a maximum of 16 camera connections (32Mbps max.)
  • Same 3rd party camera/encoder support as other Omnicast products
  • Began shipping September 27 2010 (available currently)
  • Extend storage via USB HDD, NAS or iSCSI SAN (USB not recommended due to processor utilization)

The SV-16-Plus has a $1700 MSRP and a per camera license MSRP of $120. A sixteen (16) camera system would cost $3620 (SV-16-Plus + 16 SV-1C). In contrast, a 16-camera Omnicast Standard base package with a MSRP $590 for the software and $150 per camera connection, would cost $2990 (plus additional costs for software installation/configuration). The alternative Omnicast Standard edition software/licenses only scenario provides at least $630 of surplus for an appropriate COTS server platform (The $630 figure would likely increase due to any additional storage requirements for the SV-16 scenario).

Ironically, the relative cost benefit of the SV-16 offering actually decreases as the camera count decreases because of the high initial $1540 base unit cost. Relative savings are realized incrementally on the $120 per camera license ($30 less than the Omnicast Standard) versus the $150 Omnicast Standard camera licenses. Keep in mind, the licensing cost benefit of scaling upwards is offset by increased storage requirements.

**The example comparison uses the SV-16-Plus which includes a 500GB internal HDD. However, even 500GB is not adequate for a 16 camera continuously recording system. Thus, larger SV-16 camera deployments will likely include costs or other provisioning for additional storage.

Examining Dallmeier's Panomera

October 10, 2010 by John Honovich

Dallmeier [link no longer available] has announced a new panoramic viewing function that helps operators monitor large areas on a single screen. The function, called Panomera, is a client application that has a two horizontal panes. The top pane displays live video. The bottom pane displays a merged overview of many continuguous cameras. The operator can move an overlay window over the bottom pane. The area highlighted by that window is displayed in the larger top pane.

The Panomera client runs seperately from Dallmeier's regular Semsy VMS client.

This function will be beneficial for those monitoring large continuous areas such as parking lots, airports, stadiums, etc. Visually, it looks most similiar to DvTel's stitching technology/function. We are not aware of any other product offerings in this category. Of course, there are 3D mapping software options that provide related (though materially different) large scale viewing.

Examining DvTel's 3D HD

October 11, 2010 by John Honovich

In October 2010, DvTel announced an upcoming technology that provides 3D HD analysis as a module for the DvTel VMS.

DvTel's 3D approach differs from traditional 3D use in video surveillance. The most common historical use has been to build immersive 'fly through' maps that allow monitoring large areas (see examples from Boeing VSOC [link no longer available], L3 Praetorian VideoFlashlight and Feeling Software's Omnipresence [link no longer available]). This software takes CAD drawings and aerial photography to create a 'life-like' 3D view of the area monitored. Cameras are then virtually embedded into the 3D view enhancing situational awareness over large areas (think cities, airports, military bases, etc.).

DvTel's 3D approach focuses on enhancing the monitoring of specific areas for both automated and real time monitor review. Rather than pre-build 3D images from maps and photography, DvTel plans to use multiple surveillance cameras (or stereoscopic cameras) to dynamically generate 3D views (traditional surveillance cameras will be required to be deployed in pairs). This will eliminate the need (and expense) of building 3D maps. It will also allow the system to understand the topology and positioning of objects in the scene (not possible with traditional 3D mapping).

DvTel suggests a few potential applications of the technology:

  • Improved analytics as the system can better understand, for example, which luggage is associated with which people
  • Improved tracking as the system can better understand where exactly people are and where they are headed
  • Improved PTZ handoff as the PTZ can more accurately pan, tilt and zoom on the subject being tracked

In addition to the automated applications, operators would be able to view the 3D scenes themselves to better view and understand a given scene. This would require specialized 3D monitors and 3D glasses.

DvTel 3D is not planned for commercial release until sometime in 2011 and, not surprisingly, neither pricing nor detailed product specifications are available. Our gut feel, based on very limited information is that automated applications will have the most practical value but the real time 3D viewing will provide more 'eye candy'.

Given the need for multiple cameras, processing and/or stereoscopic cameras, this will clearly will be an expensive option (thousands of dollars or more in additional costs per camera) best fit for high and maximum security facilities that have the budget and unmet security issues to justify the extra investment.

Examining Geovision's Panoramic Cameras

October 6, 2010 by John Honovich

Geovision has announced 2 panoramic camera models including a 1.3MP [link no longer available] and 4MP model. Both models use fisheye lens with dewarping of the video inside the Geovision VMS software. The software can also provide multiple virtual camera views selected from the dewarped image.

The cameras do not have any 3rd party VMS support and therefore must be used with Geovision's own VMS. (Also, 3rd party support for dewarping software is generally rare as it is complicated and not standardized).

Pricing is not yet available. The 1.3MP is shipping now and the 4MP is planned for shipment before the end of the year.

A limited number of panoramic camera (using fisheye lenses) exist (the most well known is likely the Mobotix Q24 at approximately $1000). Given Geovision's relatively inexpensive pricing and their recent version to provide a free 32 channel VMS (when using GeoVision cameras), this could be a useful option for budget VMS applications looking for immersive imaging.

Examining Intransa's New Management, Energy and Availability Features

October 16, 2010 by John Honovich

Intransa has released a series of new enterprise, energy and availability management features [link no longer available], respectively named VSA System Center, VSA Energy Manager and VSA Tiered Availability. All of these features are available as a software upgrade at no charge to Intransa's server and storage.

This update overview each of the three features with commentary on use/application:

  • VSA System Center provides a centralized management interface to view and monitor multiple Intransa servers/storage devices. Specifically, it allows administrators to manage storage capacity across numerous devices.
  • VSA Energy Manager provides an option to decrease energy cost. Specifically, this release allows for a 'cold storage' or deep archive mode where selected drives are spun down to a near sleep mode. Intransa claims that this can reduce energy consumption by about 40%. A downside is that requested video would take longer to access. Intransa claims an average of about 10 seconds. As such, this is likely best suited for video that operators are unlikely to access frequently (most commonly video older than a day or few days). Contrast this to Veracity's COLDSTORE storage solution [link no longer available]. While Veracity is claiming more benefits (greater energy savings, lower appliance costs, etc.), Veracity requires a proprietary interface to VMS systems. We see this area as an interesting and important development for surveillance. However, as we have not tested any cold storage solution, we cannot make recommendations on products or detailed tradeoffs.
  • VSA Tiered Availability provides multiple options for fault tolerance. A new option offered ensures that video is always recorded without being available for playback. This is a lower cost option than 'full' availability. It requires using their Maximum Flexibility line [link no longer available] (i.e., their external storage appliances). Some cameras can be assigned to this 'limited' resilient level while others can be assigned to 'full' availability (achieving different levels or tiers of availability).

We think these features have the potential to be important differentiators for mid to large scale video surveillance systems. Secondly, this release is an important contrast to Intransa's most direct competitor Pivot3 whose Fall release focused on expansion into a new market (hosted solutions) rather than expanded functionality for traditional/mainstream surveillance applications.

Examining IQinVision's Alliance-mx Series H.264 Megapixel Cameras

October 5, 2010 by Antony Look

IQinVision will be offering SD, 720p, and 1080p resolution H.264 IP dome cameras in an all weather IP66 form factor. The Alliance-mx series will be available for commercial shipping November 15, 2010. The new products underscore a notable shift in the manufacturer's historically candid pro-MJPEG position.

Feature Highlights:

  • Only three (3) models
  • Day/Night and Wide Dynamic Range
  • One lens option 3-13mm Vari-focal
  • One form-factor option Vandal resistant IP66 Dome
  • 30fps maximum for SD and 720p; 1080p is 15fps maximum
  • PSIA and ONVIF standards compliance

IQEye Alliance-mx models:

  • IQM30NEB5 - SD (720x480), Day/Night, IP66, 3-13mm vari-focal lens
  • IQM31NEB5 - 720p, Day/Night, IP66, 3-13mm vari-focal lens (MSRP $699)
  • IQM32NEB5 - 1080p, Day/Night, IP66, 3-13mm vari-focal lens (MSRP $799)

IQinVision has traditionally been a firm advocate of using MJPEG compression [link no longer available] for megapixel camera video compression. A look at an IQinVision comparison chart indicates only 3 of 28 megapixel cameras supporting H.264 prior to the addition of the Alliance-mx line (we don't consider H.264 at sub-megapixel resolutions relevant such as in the Alliance-Pro H.264 models). The Alliance-mx series results in the addition of two (2) more units to the IQinVision H.264 megapixel fold, representing a 67% jump in H.264 megapixel cameras within IQinVision's portfolio.

A search, using the Camera Finder tool, with criteria of 720p resolution, 1.3MP resolution, H.264 codec, outdoor rated, and dome form-factor yields 16 results averaging an MSRP $1381. The same search omitting the 1.3MP resolution yields only two (2) results averaging MSRP $800. The Alliance-mx 720p offering is priced competitively within the market at MSRP $699.

Examining Milestone Corporate 4.0

October 16, 2010 by John Honovich

The next major release of Milestone's highest end VMS version, XProtect Corporate 4.0 [link no longer available] is scheduled for the end of November 2010. This update highlights key features and positioning of the new version.

Some of the most important additions disclosed so far include federating access to multiple VMS systems, integrating alarm management into the main VMS client (i.e., Smart Client), edge storage support, multi-stage storage management, extended user rights and centralized customizations.

From a competitive standpoint, the most interesting contrasts are likely Genetec's Omnicast Enterprise VMS version and Milestone's own Enterprise VMS version [link no longer available].

Historically, users choosing Milestone for larger deployments have debated whether to choose the Enterprise or Corporate version of Milestone. While Corporate is the newer version and positioned as the top tier, the features offered were relatively close. With this release, Corporate's advantages over Enterprise become much clearer and more significant.

Compared to Genetec, basically all of the new Corporate 4.0 features and functions already available in Genetec Omnicast Enterprise. As such, Corporate does not break new ground but it does significantly 'catch up' Milestone to Genetec at the high end. Nonetheless, Genetec's 2009 release of SecurityCenter maintains Genetec's lead over Milestone with its deeper integration of various security subsystems.

As for the specific features Milestone plans for release in Corporate 4.0:

  • The federated architecture "allow multiple independent Corporate Systems to be accessed with a single username and password" with specific access based on rights assigned. Federation will only work with the Corporate Version of the VMS. For Enterprise systems to be accessed, the Enterprise servers must be first added as slaves to a Corporate system. An additional license will be required for the federated architecture. Pricing is not available yet.
  • "Alarm Manager is integrated with the XProtect Corporate map application and will provide alarm list overview with priorities and instant camera preview and work instructions for the operator." This rectifies a very basic and glaring deficiency in previous Milestone versions that almost all high end VMS systems already support. Additionally, this will eliminate the need to use the add-on XProtect Central application.
  • Edge support will be for fault tolerance rather than permanent long term storage. For instance, if a camera's connection to the Corporate VMS archiver is lost, the camera can continue to record locally to the SD card and then later synch up with the VMS when connectivity is restored. Sony is the first planned implementation. Other IP cameras will need to be added individually as there is no standard for such functionality. This is useful niche feature for high end applications but certainly less valuable than full long term storage on board a camera (which basically is only supported today by proprietary VMS connections - IP camera and VMS from the same manufacturer).
  • A few features will help large scale organizations manage operations. For instance, enhanced user rights can restrict user's access during times of days the operator is scheduled to be on shift. Additionally customization settings for the Client side can now be managed centrally making it easier to optimize the layout and functions for all operators to a given 'standard'.
  • Multi-stage storage management will allow for frame rate reduction over time. This grooming or pruning of frames will reduce storage costs. This is a feature that a number of VMS systems provide (Avigilon, Pelco Endura, ipConfigure, March, etc to name a few). However, it's still a niche feature and provides some differentiated value.

When Corporate 4.0 is released, we plan to conduct a formal test to better understand its operation.

Examining Mobotix's T24M-Sec-D11 and T24M-Sec-N11 IP Door Station Cameras

October 5, 2010 by Antony Look

Mobotix has recently launched two new megapixel panoramic IP cameras, designed to integrate with their various home/building automation modules to create customized IP video door stations. The T24M-Sec-D11 is a 3 MP color IP camera while the T24M-Sec-N11 is a 1.3 MP b/w IP camera with additional low-light sensitivity. The new door station modules are representative of Mobotix's efforts to expand into manufacturing access control systems, cited in a recent update on Mobotix's 2010 Financial Status and Growth Examined.

  • Both the T24M-Sec-D11 and T24M-Sec-N11 have a MSRP of $998 USD
  • Both models come equipped with the Mobotix L11 lens (180 deg. horizontal and 160 deg. vertical)
  • Specifications and pricing very similar to the Q24M-Sec-D11 and Q24M-Sec-N11
  • Managed and operated via MxEasy free software or Grandstream IP Video Phone GXV3140 MSRP $468
  • Available as a bundle MX-T24M-Sec-Bundle-1-PW at MSRP $1712 USD (Camera, Keypad, Door Opener, and Info module)
  • Recording on-board via MicroSD, PC, or NAS

The Mobotix bundle is priced at MSRP $1712. The comparable Aiphone KC series analog solution involves a total hardware cost of $1480. The solution requires at least one door station KC-DAR (MSRP $592), one master KC-1GRD (MSRP $786), and one PS242UL ($120) power supply unit. The analog system requires extensive wiring which increases installation cost and complexity. Additional monitoring stations require KC-1HRD (MSRP $760), and are subject to the same wiring complexities and distance limitations.

The Aiphone JK series  is another analog solution, but provides an option to IP enable door station systems. The JK series provides a 170 deg. color camera, and options for keypad and RFID functionality. One limitation is that the JK series supports only up to two (2) master/control stations and one (1) door station.  Adding up the required components to compare to the Mobotix bundle:

  • 1 Master/Control Unit (JK-1MED MSRP $500)
  • 1 Door Station w/ RFID Reader (JK-DVF-XP MSRP $914)
  • 1 Keypad (AC-10S/F MSRP $179)
  • 1 IP Gateway (JKW-IP MSRP $714)

The comparable JK series solution yields a total MSRP of $1593. Additionally, for IP connectivity the price tag increases to $2307. Currently, Aiphone does not offer an end-to-end IP audio/video door station solution. However, Aiphone does feature an end-to-end IP audio only solution in the AN series [link no longer available]. Sources suggest the future addition of a video enabled IP solution, as well.

Evidently, Mobotix has priced its solution competitively compared to a leading analog solution. For a similar price, the IP based Mobotix solution reduces installation 'head-aches', provides free multiple monitoring/control stations using MxEasy over 'untethered' LAN/WAN topologies, enables video recording, a panoramic field of view and megapixel resolution.

With the camera component of the door station at MSRP $998, Mobotix could better serve the market with a lower cost (less functional) camera component to make the cost benefit over analog rivals unequivocal. Another point to consider is Mobotix's reputation as a company whose products offer poor usability. This can add some level of frustration to both end-user and integrator. We covered Mobotix usability issues in the following reports: Mobotix Software 'Truly Horrible' and Mobotix Camera Configuration Tested

Examining OnSSI OpenSight 'Federation'

October 18, 2010 by John Honovich

OnSSI has announced a new feature for its Ocularis product line called OpenSight. OpenSight enables federated management/access to multiple independent Ocularis systems. It has a similar design goal to Genetec's Federation (see our Genetec test result details) and Milestone's recently announced Federated Architecture.

OnSSI OpenSight supports two of their VMS versions - NetDVMS and NetEVS so long as the Ocularis Base is running 'on top' of either VMS. Ocularis does not support any 3rd party VMS systems (this remains in development).

OnSSI charges a license fee per 'viewing camera' of $49 MSRP. If an organization wanted to share 10 of its 100 cameras, the charge would be $490 (MSRP), etc.

OpenSight is part of Ocularis 1.1, scheduled for a Nov 12, 2010 release date.

Examining the Pelco Spectra 1.3MP HD PTZs

October 5, 2010 by Scott Oie

Pelco released a line of megapixel IP PTZs called 'Spectra HD [link no longer available].' This marks Pelco's first offering to an already limited pool of megapixel IP PTZ cameras on the market. 

The S5118 will include the following key features:

  • 1.3 MP resolution (1280x960) at 20 fps
  • 1/3" CCD sensor
  • 18x optical (4.7 - 84.6mm)
  • 360° continuous pan
  • H.264 codec
  • Dual streaming 
  • Mechanical IR cut filter
  • WDR

A notable feature is its 18x optical zoom. The current market has a limited number of IP PTZs supporting this level of zoom capability. The P5534 [link no longer available] and the Q6034 from Axis are the only other models supporting 18x optical zooms.

Performing a search for MP day/night PTZs in our camera finder tool [link no longer available], returns a selection of 7 camera models manufactured by Axis, Sanyo, and Sony. The average MSRP in this selection is $3,413 USD.

The S5118 began shipping commerially October 4, 2010, with a MSRP $4,925 USD. Although the MSRP appears high (based on camera finder tool results), Pelco's camera pricing generally exhibits a wider reseller discount structure.


Examining Pixim's New WDR Seawolf Chip

October 5, 2010 by Scott Oie

Pixim released a new chipset called Seawolf [link no longer available] for IP and analog cameras. The company claims that the Seawolf chip provides a 10x improvement in low light performance, improved WDR support, and accurate color representation within a single digital chip.  A technical specification [link no longer available] and board camera brief [link no longer available] is available.

Speaking with Pixim, they clarified the 10x low light performance is from comparing Seawolf to their current Orca/Orca-E line of sensors. The specifications list the Orca having a minimum illumination of 0.8 lux, while the Seawolf is at 0.1 lux. We have not tested this chip, so we cannot verify the validity of this claim.

We asked about the Seawolf chip's WDR performance. Pixim explained that bright areas in a scene will perform similar to Orca, but for dark areas, the sensor's SNR is increased, revealing more details. Like the first claim, the validity of this point is not confirmed- This should be followed closely because of the industry's criticism toward Pixim and its history of poor low light WDR performance.

Pixim also elaborated on these additional points:

  • The Seawolf line is not meant to replace Orca/Orca-E; Both chip sets will run in parallel.
  • Seawolf supports up to D1 resolution.  According to Pixim, they do not yet have MP camera support on their product roadmap.
  • Seawolf chips began volume shipments in June, and Seawolf equipped cameras will be exhibited at ASIS.

Examining QNAP VioStor Pro Series NVR

October 4, 2010 by Antony Look

QNAP now offers an updated alternative to their formerly all 'headless' NVR appliances.  The VioStor Pro Series (firmware version 3.3.0) includes 12 additional models that will support video management activities directly on the appliance itself. The new line is available in two (2), four (4), and six (6) drive bay models supporting between four (4) and twenty (20) IP camera connections.

Earlier QNAP NVR applicances required configuration and management tasks be performed on a seperate PC using an Internet Explorer browser.  Smaller deployments and other environments without an existing PC will experience the most obvious and immediate benefit from this feature.

We covered QNAP NVR appliances in-depth in an earlier report: QNAP NVRs Low-Cost IP Video Examined

Examining Scallop Imaging's Panoramic Analog Camera

October 16, 2010 by John Honovich

Scallop Imaging [link no longer available] has announced a panoramic analog camera called the A7-180 [link no longer available]. While the camera combines mutliple megapixel sensors (effective 6.5 MP), it only transmits video via analog (NTSC/PAL - 640 x 480). It is a much different than available offerings but with important trade-offs.

The key to the camera is that users can dynamically select multiple areas (up to 4) from the 6.5MP captured (5120 x 1280) and then stream those areas as panes or subsections of the NTSC/PAL (640 x 480) output. The camera has an RS-485 output and supports Pelco D protocol commands.

The image below shows a sampling of options:

[link no longer available]

One option not shown that we consider important is the 2 x 2 matrix that allows users to select 4 different areas and stream them effectively as CIF video 'segments' in a 640 x 480 overall stream.

With this approach, Scallop aims to replace multiple fixed and/or PTZ cameras.

With 5120 x 1280 resolution, the camera captures about 8 times wider and 2-3 times higher area than a traditional analog camera. Within that area, the user can select up to 4 subsections and generate 4 'virtual camera'. The downside is that these 'virtual cameras' will each have a maximum resolution of CIF and 15fps.

Relative to PTZ cameras, the A7 allows viewing and recording multiple distinct areas simultaneously (not possible, of course, with mechanical PTZs). One 'pane' could be positioned at an entrance while a guard could be controlling a second pane to track a suspect throughout a lobby. The downsides of lower resolution and frame rate remain. An additional downside is that the effective pan and title range (especially tilt) will be far more constrained than even low cost indoor PTZs.

The A7 camera has an MSRP of $1195. Compare this to an analog fixed camera that would likely have an MSRP ranging from $200 - $400 or an indoor PTZ with 8-10x optical zoom with an MSRP in the $1000 - $1500 range.

We think the A7 could replace 1 PTZ or 2 fixed cameras regularly and in certain niches 3 fixed cameras. Limitations in angles needed or visual obstacles will usually constrain replacing more cameras.

Given the significant cost premium over analog fixed cameras and cost parity with analog PTZs, we think the business case will be modest. However, for those looking for a unique/new analog product, this will be an attractive option.

Examining Toshiba's 2MP Outdoor Dome Camera

October 7, 2010 by Scott Oie

Toshiba [link no longer available] has released a 2MP dome camera model (IK-WR12A) [link no longer available]. The unit features an outdoor rated (IP66) enclosure, integrated heater/fan, IR LED array, IR cut filter, 3-9mm lens, on-board storage (SDHC), two way audio, and dual streaming.

The listed MSRP of $654 USD is a competitively attractive price point. The closest competitor 2MP outdoor dome model is Vivotek's FD8361, which has an MSRP of $920 USD.

The discounted price brings a few trade-offs: the camera does not support H.264- only JPEG and MPEG4, and there is no option for lens variations- the specified (non-removable) 3-9mm lens is only available.

We are still verifying 3rd party support options.

The IK-WR12A 2MP dome camera was made available for commercial shipping as of October 1, 2010. 

Examining Theia's SL183 Lens

September 7, 2010 by John Honovich

Theia has announced a new addition [link no longer available] to their ultawide angle lens lineup - the SL183 [link no longer available]. This note examines its positioning and differences from Theia's existing lenses [link no longer available].

  • The SL183 is Theia's first varifocal lens offering a focal length of 1.8 to 3.0 mm providing a Horizontal FoV of approximately 85-110 degrees (depending on imager size of camera). The varifocal capability allows for optimizing the specific field of view for customer's preferences.
  • The lens is designed to stay in focus even if you change the magnification/zoom. They are referring to this as Truezoom (and is similar to SLR zoom lens functionality). The lens is not motorized and cannot be controlled remotely by the camera.
  • The lens is moderately shorter than other Theia lenses (50mm vs 54mm or 59mm for other Theia lenses). Theia reports that this will allow the lens to better fit in some dome housings.
  • The SL183 is rated for 5MP resolution.
  • The SL183 is positioned as a complement to to their existing lenses. While those lenses provide wider FoV, this lens provides varifocal capability and a smaller form factor.
  • The MSRP of the SL183 is $299. The SY110 [link no longer available] has an MSRP of $248 (similar max focal length but fixed focal length). The SY125 [link no longer available] has an MSRP of $440 (widest FoV offered).

For more information on Theia, review our test results on their widest lens - the SY125M.

Examining Vivotek's Supreme Series

October 7, 2010 by Scott Oie

Vivotek released a 1.3MP day/night box camera (IP8151) as their first model in the Supreme series, with 2MP, 3MP, and 5MP cameras yet to be announced.

Marketing materials claim the Supreme series of cameras have better low light clarity by using Sony's Exmor CMOS sensor. We have tested the Sony SNC-CH140, which features an Exmor CMOS chip, but since we haven't tested any Supreme series cameras, we cannot comment upon the low light performance claims of Vivotek's offering.

Warranty for IP8151 Supreme camera is covered for 3 years, where most Vivotek cameras standard warranty is only for 2 years.

The MSRP for the IP8151 is $870 USD. This price is on the lower end when compared to competitors with similar specifications: the StarDot SDH130BN at $899 USD, and the Arecont AV1305 at $1040 USD ($890 cam + $150 lens).  Although, within Vivotek's own lineup, the IP8151 is one of the most expensive non-vandal cameras in their selection.  This makes it a strange addition to a marketplace where consumers associate Vivotek with a reputation of lower cost camera hardware.

The IP8151 Supreme series box camera is available now for commercial shipping. The other cameras in the Supreme series will be announced at ASIS.

Examining VideoIQ's 1080P Megapixel Camera

October 7, 2010 by Scott Oie

VideoIQ [link no longer available] released new models in their iCVR dome camera line- The iCVR-HD [link no longer available]. This offering bumps up the resolution options from D1 to 1080p.

The iCVR-HD's analytics functionality is discussed in detail on VideoIQ's blog. The site claims the iCVR-HD analytics processes is run using the full megapixel image on-board the camera. Contrast to ioimage's ioicam mmp100dn. This camera has a 3MP sensor, but it is only used to implement picture-in-picture functionality. The analytics processes is run at 4CIF.

Another claim is that the iCVR-HD provides 3X greater horizontal coverage than an SD camera.  Our test of the VideoIQ iCVR-SD analytics detected people up to a 170 ft wide field of view. If their claim of increased horizontal coverage holds true, then the HD camera should be able to cover 450 - 500 ft wide field of views.

Unlike the iCVR-D1, the HD line does not have multiple lens options, so the camera will be limited to a small range of wide angle views. Also, the HD release is limited to dome cameras only, where the D1 line features box and dome form factors. Further key points of differentiation between the iCVR-HD and iCVR-SD include:

iCVR-HD Fixed Dome iCVR D1  Fixed Dome
 Resolution 1920x1080

Indoor Model(CID series): 640x480

Outdoor Model(CRD series): 704x480

 Environmental 1 option: IP66, vandal proof Multiple options: 1 indoor, 4 outdoor, and 1 low temp outdoor

Models only have 1 option: 3-8mm lens

Indoor/Outdoor/Low temp outdoor: 3-10mm lens

Outdoor: 18-50mm lens


250GB: $1,945 USD

500GB: $2,225 USD

Indoor, 160GB, 3-10mm: $1,119 USD

Indoor, 500GB, 3-10mm: $1,399 USD

Outdoor, 160GB, 3-10mm: $1,805 USD

Outdoor, 160GB, 18-50mm: $1,875 USD

Outdoor, 500GB, 3-10mm: $2,085 USD

Outdoor, 500GB, 18-50mm: $2,155

VideoIQ also has a model with no hard disk drive, but shares the same HD specifications. This model is in the iCST line, and the MSRP is $1,763 USD. 

The iCVR-HD and iCST-HD are both available now for commercial shipping.

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