New Surveillance Products Spring 2011 Final

Author: John Honovich, Published on Apr 06, 2011

In this report, we provide a single source listing new video surveillance products announced in Spring 2011 and in conjunction with ISC West.

For each product, where applicable, we provide a link to the manufacturer's announcement on their site and then a link to our original review of the product's feature sets, positioning and pricing:

Directory

Compare this to our Fall 2010 New Product Reviews to see the previous new announcements.

For a directory of access control, biometrics, intrusion and PSIM, see our Security Systems New Products Directory.

Agent Vi's 4.0 Analytics and Auto Calibration Examined

In this note, we review the key features and positioning of Agent Vi's System 4.0 real time alerting release. It includes 2 key features that are major improvements from the previous 3.3 release: (1) Automatic Scene Learning and (2) Repetitive Movement Auto Masking. Both of these address key concerns we had in our 2010 Agent Vi alerting test. At the end of the note we examine competitive positioning and contrast to VideoIQ and ioimage.

The Automatic Scene Learning functionality provides auto calibration, designed to eliminate the need for having a subject walk through the field of view while an operator configures the analytics. Agent Vi reports a few key aspects to this feature:

  • The system automatically detects if a camera is indoors or outdoors (previously the user had to set)
  • The system automatically detects if the camera is mounted at an angle or overhead position
  • Calibrates based on humans and vehicles in the scene
  • The calibration is done on the server side (the system has an 'agent' on the camera being used and a sever side application)

Agent Vi estimates 30 - 90 minutes for performing the auto calibration. While the system is calibrating, alarming is disabled. Agent Vi says that the calibration does not need to be performed each time the camera is rebooted as the calibration configuration is stored on the server.

The Repetive Movement Auto Masking aims to eliminate problems from swaying tree branches, water and other 'noise'. Agent Vi describes this as "based on continuous statistical analysis of movement in various areas of the image and learning of what is “normal” movement in a specific area. It takes about 2-4 minutes to adjust to new areas of repetitive movement. What is exceptional about this feature is that it can still detect moving objects against the background of repetitive movement that is being filtered." Like many analytics we have tested, the previous version of Agent Vi (3.3) experienced significant problems with swaying tree branches.

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From a usage standpoint, a few points to note:

  • The new 4.0 version is commercially available
  • Version 3.3 can be upgraded to 4.0 for users with a Software Ugprade Plan
  • Overall camera computing usage increase is estimated to be ~10%
  • The 4.0 server can support cameras running 3.3 and 4.0 agents (backwards compatability for cameras)
  • No change in pricing / licensing cost

Additionally, Agent Vi has released a new version of their search analytics. For details, see the Agent Vi Search Version 1.2 release notes.

Competitive Positioning

We think these 2 new features are important advances for Agent Vi as they address the two most significant weaknesses of the previous version - setup complexity and false alarms for 'noisy' scenes.

Historically, Agent Vi's biggest strength has likely been its ability to run on different manufacturer's cameras (most notably Axis). This allows using existing IP cameras and the specification of 'regular' IP cameras. By contrast, two of the most common 'smart' cameras used (VideoIQ and ioimage) both require the use of their own IP cameras (note: both have encoders for analog cameras).

If Agent Vi can match VideoIQ's auto-calibration performance and reduce their repetitive motion false alerts, Agent Vi could become significantly more attractive. The combination of that plus their support for multiple camera vendors would be a strong combination against VideoIQ. On the other hand, VideoIQ offers analytics across megapixel resolution while Agent Vi is limited to max SD.

We have not tested the new Agent Vi release. However, we do plan a new round of video analytic testing this spring.

Aimetis NVR Appliance E3200 Examined

In this note, we examine Aimetis's new NVR Appliance - the E3200 series. This appliance extends the trend of VMS software providers offering appliances - including Milestone and Genetec. We examine the key features and pricing of the E3200 and conclude with a comparison to Milestone and Genetec.

The E3200 is a purpose built appliance (i.e., not an OEM from Dell or HP) that supports up to 16 IP cameras. The appliances come with Aimetis Standard VMS version and can be license upgraded to the Professional or Enterprise versions (that add enterprise management and video analytics, respectively). The appliance include I/O inputs and supports DIN-Rail mounting. It does not support analog inputs (i.e., it is not a Hybrid DVR/NVR).

The series has 2 base models and options to add aditional channels. The 4 channel model is $1895 MSRP and comes with 500 GB storage. The 8 channel model is $2,295 MSRP and comes with 1TB storage. Additional channels can be added for the normal IP camera license fees ($99 for standard, etc.) 1 enterprise license is included for video analytics. Each appliance can support a maximum of 2 video analytic channels.

In comparison to Milestone's NVR, the Aimetis offer is cheaper ($2,295 for 8 ch Aimetis vs $2,995 for 8 Milestone, includes analytics and is upgradeable to higher level VMS versions (Milestone is not - Essential VMS version only).

In comparison to Genetec's SV-1600 NVR, Aimetis is cheaper ($2,295 for 8 ch Aimetis vs ~$2,660 for 8 channels). Both allow for upgrading or use of higher end VMS versions. For analytics, Aimetis is easier as it is built in.

The biggest element, regardless of hardware, still remains preference in VMS software / functionality. Whether one is slightly less or more expensive, most purchases are likely to come down to overall preference for the VMS solution.

Aimetis LPR Offering Examined

In this note, we examine Aimetis's addition of LPR / ANPR. This functionality adds to Aimetis's existing suite of built in video analytics. Activating and using LPR will be similar to Aimetis's current analytics. Each channel of LPR requires an Enterprise VMS license and can be can be configured from within Aimetis analytic setup.

The LPR offering includes a built in license plate log linked to video snapshots of the license plate, searching capability and real-time alerting.

The OCR engine is OEM'ed from a third party but the module is embedded within Aimetis's VMS software allowing for transparent configuration. The LPR supports license / number plates from a variety of regions including Europe, Canada and the United States.

Like many LPR systems, Aimetis recommends a purpose built LPR cameras for scenes with low light and fast moving vehicles. Additionally, the system can detect license plates with regular surveillance cameras with sufficient light (such as fixed parking scenarios).

The pricing of the LPR module is $5,000 for the first channel of LPR and $875 for each additional channel (this is simply the price of an Enterprise VMS license - similar to their other analytics). Additionally, a hardward dongle is required for licensing.

Axis M50 Low Cost HD PTZ Examined

In this note, we examine the features, pricing and positioning of the newly announced Axis M50 small form factor PTZ / HD PTZ line. We think this series (particularly the HD model) will be very attractive given its low price point, lack of competitive options in its niche and more desirable aesthetic properties.

Let's start with a review of the key details of the line:

  • Two models: M5014 - 720p HD, MSRP $599 USD and M5013 - SVGA, MSRP $499 USD
  • Relatively tiny form factor (see sample M50 picture) - looks more like a fixed dome camera than the turret form factor common with low cost PTZs
  • No optical zoom - it's more of an 'ePTZ' than a true PTZ
  • Pan Range: +- 180 degrees with a mechanical stop - the PTZ can see in any horizontal direction but cannot keep rotating endlessly
  • Tilt Range: 90 degrees - the PTZ can tilt straight down but not back across the other side
  • Supports on-board storage and microphone only audio (listening but no talk back)

Key competitive differences to note:

  • The form factor will be much more attractive than traditional low cost PTZs. The M50 is significantly more discreet as its is far smaller and less obvious where the camera is aimed.
  • Low cost HD PTZs are still quite rare. While there are dozens of low cost PTZs, almost all of them are SD and with the bulkier turret form factor.
  • The premium over HD fixed cameras is fairly modest. For instance, it is $200 more than the Axis M1054, an HD cube camera and only $100 more than the Axis M3014, a small form factor HD fixed dome.

The main practical risk we see is overextending the use of the camera. Since it has no optical zoom and is color only (i.e. no mechanical cut filter), users should be careful about trying to monitor large or dark areas.

Below is Axis's promotional video for the line. While it does show the product, it is light on details and heavy on story telling:

Axis's IR Add-On (T90C) Examined

In this note, we provide a detailed examination of Axis's newly announced T90C, an IR illuminator add on to their P33 dome series. We explore how this solution differs from traditional approaches and how it further signifies the growing adoption of 'easy' IR illumination.

Traditionally, IR illuminators were either built in to the camera (usually a ring of LEDs around the lens) or as a completely external, usually box device, mounted near the camera. Axis's T90C fits in between these two. While the T90C is not integrated into the camera, it is designed to on slide onto the bottom of the dome. The pictures below show the T90C connected to a P33 (on the left) and by itself (on the right).

One of the most significant design differences is that Axis is not putting the LEDs near the imager. While this is common for integrated IR offerings, it is controversial as many claim doing so causes imaging problems. For instance, Axis cites that their solution eliminates performance issues caused by heat generation and reflections of IR LEDs next to the imager. We have not tested this but it is worth considering as we have heard these concerns from a variety of unrelated industry people.

Let's dig into some of the specific features / performance claims of the solution:

  • The T90C is both outdoor rated (IP66) and vandal resistant (IK10)
  • The T90C supports PoE and DC power. For PoE, the IR illuminator requires its own PoE port (in addition to the PoE port required for the camera).
  • The default viewing angle is 120 degrees. This can be adjusted to shift left or right via an internal screw within the illuminator body. The viewing angle cannot be adjusted.
  • The illuminator has its own visible light sensor and, therefore, does not need to be wired to the P33.
  • Axis reports 20 to 25 meter maximum distance in outdoor testing. As with all manufacturer IR specifications, you should test yourself. There is little consistency nor standards about IR distance measurements. See our IR illuminator test report for an example.
  • The unit only has 8 IR LEDs. However, Axis says these are high intensity SMT IR LEDs similar to the T90A / Raytec units.
  • The T90C is designed for wall mounting. Ceiling or pendant mounting will provide substantially reduced performance.
  • The T90C is only compatible with the P33 series but not the lower cost, color only M series domes.
  • The MSRP of the T90C is $349 USD. Given P33 are premium price cameras (around $1,000 online depending on model/resolution, the total cost of a P33 + T90C will be in the range of $1,100 to $1,600.

Compared to cameras with built in IR illuminators, the key challenge will be the additional expense. For instance, our Camera Finder shows about 30 IR domes with an average online price of just over $700. Relative to cameras from similar 'brands' and with similar feature sets, the pricing is closer. For instance, Sony has 4 domes with integrated IR, 2 of those in their high end V series (with WDR, audio, storage, auto back focus, etc.) and 2 in the mid line E series. The Axis P33 / T90C is similar in price to Sony's high end / integrated IR cameras. However, Axis is far more expensive than Sony's mid tier offerings as well as most every other dome with integrated IR.

While the T90C will clearly be attractive for those already using or considering the P33 series, we will need to see more test results / real world use to determine if the premium for the Axis solution over existing IR offering makes sense for switching over from other offerings.

General Trend

Just a few years ago, the consensus was that integrated IR was a low end feature that you would only expect from 'budget' brands.

However, since then, a number of larger brands have expanded IR offerings including the aforementioned Sony, Arecont, Avigilon and now Axis. We are seeing a new outlook on using IR that we expect will continue as other manufacturers see the momentum and add their own offerings.

We see this as a good evolution. While integrated IR has clear distance limits, it does help with low light problems that are common in real world surveillance deployments.

Bosch's New HD Camera Line Examined

In this note, we examine Bosch's new HD camera lineup. One of the last major vendors to release their own H.264 HD camera lineup, the initial entry consists of 6 offerings: 2 box cameras, 2 domes and 2 PTZs.

From a specification standpoint, perhaps the most interesting aspect is the HD PTZs which support 1080p and a maximum zoom of 20x.

Two HD PTZs are offered:

  • AutoDome Junior: 10x Optical Zoom, 1080p, IP54 Housing (designed for indoor use); MSRP: $3809; video analytics (IVA) optional - $159 extra
  • AutoDome 800: 20x Optical Zoom (4.7 to 94 mm), 1080p, IP66 (outdoor); MSRP: $5114 includes video analytics (IVA) standard

The Bosch 800 is the highest resolution, longest optical zoom camera on the market now (it is the first 1080p PTZ over 10x optical zoom and the only PTZ over 18x optical - see list of MP PTZ cameras). The closest competitor is the Pelco Spectra HD (1.3MP, 18x optical zoom) camera. We project the Bosch 800 to have roughly the same online price as the Pelco Spectra HD (approximately $3,300).

The combination of higher resolution and longer optical zoom may allow the Bosch 800 to see about 50% further than other high end megapixel PTZs. Note: we base this on specification, not testing. Specifically, the Bosch 800 maximum focal length is approximately 9mm longer than Axis and Pelco's 18x PTZs (94 vs ~85) and the Bosch's horizontal resolution is 640 pixels greater (at 1920 x 1080 vs ~1280 for the others).

In addition to the PTZ are 4 fixed cameras in 2 product families:

  • Flexidome and Dinion box camera include CCDs, WDR and a mechanical cut filter with optional video analytics
  • SMB dome and box camera with a CMOS imager, no WDR and color only

Both series have a maximum resolution of 720p, support audio, on-board storage and ONVIF. Neither series supports Auto Back Focus.

Both SMB HD cameras will have an MSRP around $1100. By contrast, the higher end Dinion HD box camera will have an MSRP of $1210 and the Dinion HD domes approximately $1,500.

The two most notable absences from the lineup are entry level cameras (i.e., no $200 or $300 cube cameras) and no cameras with resolution higher than 1080 (i.e., 3MP, 5MP, etc.).

Previously, Bosch had a very limited megapixel camera lineup, OEMed from Arecont Vision and consisting of MJPEG only cameras. All of these are being discontinued (i.e., NWC-0700, NWC-0800, NWC-0900) except for the Extreme CCTV Integrated IR megapixel camera - the EX85.

Bosch's SMB IR IP Cameras Examined

Well known for their Extreme CCTV Professional IR products, Bosch is expanding its IR offerings with new Small Business/Retail integrated IR camera offerings in its 200 series. In this note, we examine the features, pricing and competitive positioning of the products.

The 200 series lineup will start with a dome and bullet cameras (the bullet version will be officially launched in the Spring). Both of these cameras are SD resolution. Bosch notes that later this year they will add HD resolution cameras to this lineup as well.

In contrast to the Extreme lineup that features advanced IR technology such as Surface Mount Technology LEDs (SMT), 3D Diffuser and Constant Light, the 200 series will use standard IR LED technology. Bosch noted that to minimize issues from the IR LEDs being close to the imager, a rubber donut on the lens is included to prevent IR illumination from coupling into lens. Bosch also noted that they leveraged "expertise from the Extreme team to test and provide direction when it comes to IR cameras. LED quality, how to best drive the LEDs, LED array set-up, IR on/off control, camera IR sensitivity, etc." The cameras are rated for a night vision distance of 50 feet. This is a similar rating to other IP cameras with integrated IR. However, as always, we recommend using caution on all manufacturer distance ratings as they can be subjective or applied using various metrics.

Common to Bosch 200 series cameras, these integrated IR cameras offer on-board storage and free licensing for up to 16 cameras using the Bosch Video Client VMS. Using this allows eliminating a server/PC and buying VMS licenses.

The cameras support ONVIF for integration with 3rd party VMSes. However, with the current ONVIF version (1.0), on-board storage with 3rd party VMSes would not be available.

With an MSRP of $995 for the dome, the pricing looks to fall in the mid to above average range of pricing for similar SD IP domes with integrated IR. Given online pricing is generally 35%-40% less than MSRP for Bosch cameras, we'd expect the 200 series IR dome to have an online price of approximately $625.

Bosch's Thermal IP Cameras Examined

In this note, we examine Bosch's thermal network cameras, the VOT-320 series. This is Bosch's entrance into the IP thermal market and an extension of the IP thermal camera trend (following Axis and FLIR). First, we will review the key details of Bosch's offering and then contrast them to Axis's.

The VOT-320 series has 8 models. All of them have the same resolution (320 x 240) and all are outdoor rated (-50 C to +55 C). The series has 4 lens options, from as wide as 9mm / 48 degree horizontal FoV to as narrow as 60 mm / 7.6 degree horizontal FoV. Each lens option is offered in a 8.33 fps and 30fps option (the 30fps is subject to export laws as all thermal cameras). With the longest lens option, Bosch lists object (e.g., car) detection at about 4km or just less than 13,000 feet.

Bosch IVA video analytics are pre-loaded on all thermal cameras, providing a turn key video detection system. Video analytics should perform better given thermal's inherent advantage in ignoring glare, shadows and other lighting issues.

The pricing of all models is approximately $11,000 MSRP with the full frame rate models at a slightly higher price. Given Bosch's historical dealer discount structure, we expect online pricing to be approximately $7,000 USD. Bosch reports that the cameras are already released and available for general purchase.

In comparison to Axis, Bosch will likely be notably more expensive. Axis offers 2 lines - the Q1910e and the Q1921e. The Q1910e has only 160 x 120 resolution (1/4th of Bosch's) but is about 1/2 the price (~$3,500 online). The Axis Q1921e is more directly comparable to Bosch as this series has the same 320 x 240 resolution and the same number of lens options (4). On the positive side, Axis allows running 3rd party video analytics on their thermal cameras but, on the negative side, they need to be purchased and added to the camera. That noted, the Q1921e's online price, about $4,500 is still significantly less expensive than Bosch's projected street pricing.

A major factor we do not know is the overall image quality / imaging performance. Bosch notes their listed thermal sensitivity is superior to Axis's. Bosch cites ~60 mK while Axis cites ~ 100 mK. The relevant calculation for thermal sensitivity is Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference (NETD). The lower the value, the better the camera is able to detect or 'see' lower temperature differences. We cannot provide gudiance on this as we do not know what practical difference this plays or what variation truly exists between the two cameras (and measurements done by different companies). Testing would be required to properly determine.

For related information, see our test results of the 160 x 120 Axis Q1910.

Canon's New Megapixel Cameras Examined

In this note, we examine the announcement of 3 new megapixel cameras from Canon. The release includes a PTZ, dome and box camera as well as video analytics and ONVIF support.

Let's start with the PTZ cameras as this has historically been Canon's greatest strength in IP video cameras (for background, review our test of the Canon SD 40x optical zoom VB-C60). The new camera, the VB-M40 provides a maximum resolution of 1.3MP (vs the 4CIf maximum of the previous generation). The megapixel version has a 20x optical zoom with a focal length range of 4.7mm to 94mm (compared to the 3.4mm to 136mm of the SD model). The two cameras will likely provide roughly the same maximum viewing distance (the higher resolution offsets the lower focal length range) while the MP providing a broader coverage area for recording. The MP model (VB-M40) has an MSRP of $1979 about $300 more than the SD version. Online pricing for the MP model will likely be about $1500.

The Canon MP PTZ will likely fit a gap between expensive $2,000+ outdoor MP PTZs and the very inexpensive but limited range Axis M50 series. The closest comparable MP PTZ is the Panasonic WV-SC385 offering similar overall specifications but a lower price.

In addition to the PTZ, Canon is releasing a 1.3MP H.264 dome and box offerings with an MSRP respectively of $1299 and $1059. The pricing seems expensive for a 1.3MP camera, even with its D/N, full duplex audio and on-board storage support.

Finally, Canon is including video analytics standards in all the new cameras. As Canon describes, "Intelligent Features include abandoned, moving, and removed object detection. User-adjustable in terms of detection area, sensitivity and duration, these features can engage configured alarms and notification functions." Like all analytics, these demand testing to know their limits fully. That noted, we would be skeptical about well these analytics would perform in demanding environments.

Exacq's Entry Level Start VMS Examined

In this note, we examine the new entry level VMS Version from Exacq named Start. Previously, Exacq had only one VMS version - ExacqVision. The new entry level version will be called ExacqVision Start and the existing 'full' version will be called ExacqVision Pro. Let's examine the key features and how Start compares to Milestone Essential.

Start is a license limited version of Exacq's VMS that can be software upgraded to the 'full' Pro version. The key restrictions for Start include:

  • 30 Cameras maximum per server
  • No enterprise management nor monitoring. Only one server can be connected to at a time
  • No maps
  • No 3rd party integration (access control, analytics, etc.)

Client side functionalities and IP camera support are essentially the same (with some niche differences in event handling, storage rules, etc.)

For Start, the licensing price range per camera is $42.50 - $49.95 USD MSRP. A software upgrade to Pro is available. Customers pay the difference (approximately $110 USD MSRP).

In addition to VMS software, Start will be available as a NVR appliance. For example, an EL-Mini NVR with 1TB and 8 IP cameras is $2,225 MSRP and an EL-Mini 2TB with 16 IP cameras is $2,975 MSRP.

Both the VMS software and the NVR appliance are competitively positioned relative to Milestone's entry level offerings. For instance, Milestone's Essential's per camera MSRP is $49; Exacq's is slightly lower. Exacq's EL-Mini NVRs are about $600 - $1000 lower (MSRP) than the Milestone Essential NVR, depending on the camera count. Additionally, Exacq offers a free iPhone client while Milestone only has very expensive options. Both can be upgraded to higher end versions where Milestone has greater strength in 3rd party integrations.

We see Exacq's move as part of a broader trend of vendors responding (matching and often beating) Milestone's sharp entry level VMS price drop from Summer 2010.

Genetec LPR + New SharpX Camera Examined

In this note, we examine Genetec’s newest addition to its AutoVu license plate recognition offerings, the SharpX LPR camera. This unit is a new addition to the existing lineup including the Sharp XGA camera, an IP-based camera and processor unit, and Sharp EX encoder/processor. The EX can be used with 3rd party LPR cameras, such as the Bosch REG and Raytec Voyager, two commonly used examples. All Sharps are made for use Genetec’s AutoVu applications: Patroller, which is used strictly in vehicles for mobile applications, and Security Desk, part of Genetec’s unified Security Center suite. Additionally, while they are capable of sending video and an XML stream to third-party platforms, this typically used for integration with parking control systems but not out of the box with other VMS systems.

Comparison to Existing AutoVu Offerings

The existing Sharp XGA is marketed toward parking enforcement applications and implementations requiring fixed LPR cameras while the new SharpX is currently targeted only at law enforcement. Here are some important differences to keep in mind:

  • While the Sharp XGA builds both cameras and processor into a single housing, the SharpX moves the processor to an external device to be kept in the vehicle, typically in the trunk.
  • Due to this change, when compared to the Sharp XGA camera, the SharpX is less than half the size. Part of this move was to appease law enforcement agencies, who prefer a less obtrusive camera as it’s less susceptible to vandals, and does not block light bars when mounted on the roof of the vehicle.
  • The SharpX utilizes fewer IR LED’s than previous models. This is an interesting move, as an increase in resolution normally equates to a decrease in sensitivity, which would usually warrant the use of more LED’s. However, according to sources at Genetec, the newer CCD camera in use in the SharpX is much more sensitive, more than enough to compensate. Additionally, the lenses used on the LED’s have been reengineered to improve dispersion and the LED’s are 2.2 times more powerful than LED’s used in the past. The combination of these three factors achieves the overall effect of a significant increase in overall readability.
  • The SharpX improves upon the Sharp XGA’s expansion features by building alarm inputs and outputs, as well as 12VDC power into the processor unit. The Sharp XGA had none of these features.

The MSRP of two-camera SharpX system is $16,895, compared to the $22,869 list price of an equivalent system with the Sharp XGA, nearly a 30% decrease.

Genetec does not plan on replacing the Sharp XGA with the SharpX. The Sharp XGA’s integrated form factor makes it more useful for fixed applications. Since no external processing box is required, equipment at each camera site is simplified. Also, the Sharp XGA currently provides some features the SharpX does not for parking enforcement applications, such as wheel stem imaging used in time-limited parking areas and parking permit enforcement. According to Genetec, these features are planned to be added to the SharpX within the year. Parking enforcement agencies typically do not share the same concerns over size as law enforcement, so the SharpX’s small size is not as much of a selling point in this market.

Hardware Specifics

Let’s examine some of the new SharpX hardware specs and performance claims:

  • A 1024x946 monochrome camera used for the aLPR functions. The previous models featured 1024x768 resolution. This is an approximately 19% gain in resolution, which accounts for some of the SharpX’s improved capture rates and enlarged read area.
  • A 640x480 color camera used to capture overview images. The current Sharp XGA model 2.0 also features this resolution, while the previous generation, had only a 320x240 resolution overview camera.
  • A pulsed 850nm or 780nm IR LED illuminator. According to Genetec, these LED’s are more than twice as powerful as previous LED illuminators.
  • Plate capture across three lanes of traffic.
  • Color context images at night. Genetec’s older models, and all competitive products produce monochrome images during nighttime use.

Grandstream Dome Cameras Examined

In this note, we examine 2 new HD domes from Grandstream, including the recently announced vandal resistant, outdoor HD dome. While Grandstream remains a relatively unknown player in the video surveillance market, over the last 3 years they have quietly but aggressively expanded their product porfolio. Let's first examine the specifics of the new domes and then provide a competitive comparison.

The 2 new domes are:

  • GXV3662: 720p D/N, IP66, vandal resistant, MSRP $499 USD
  • GXV3611_HD: 2MP Color only, indoor only, online price ~$250 USD

Both cameras use ONVIF as their primary 3rd party integration option.

Relative to competitive offering, the pricing on both is quite attractive. For instance, compared to other outdoor megapixel, D/N domes, the Grandstream GXV3662 is one of the cheapest available. The same goes for the indoor model, especially with its sub $300 pricing (see our low cost HD domes note for more on this topic).

Grandstream now has a basic IP camera lineup of box, dome and cube cameras. Combining the low pricing, ONVIF support and a range of product options, Grandstream is beginning to become a vendor to consider for budget options.

The big question remains: Are the cameras any good in real usage? We plan to buy and test a Grandsteam camera in the next few months to better understand this ourselves.

Gish vsCalc iPhone/iPad App Reviewed

In this note, we examine a new iPhone/iPad application from Gish Technologies for calculating video surveillance. The goal of the application is to help designers to select the optimal cameras and lens combination for a given scene's requirements. We start with a review of how it works and conclude with a 12 minute video screencast sharing our experiences using the application.

The applications are based on 2 key elements:

  • 4 pre-defined images/scenes: a face, license plate, car and truck: These images demonstrate potential video quality. Users cannot upload their own, use iPhone/iPad2 integrated cameras, etc.
  • Detailed technical information on vendor's camera lineups: Each version of the application comes prepoulated with a different vendor's camera information, currently Axis, Arecont and Sony

A designer chooses a potential camera, the scene desired (e.g., seeing a face) and the level of visual clarity that is desired. The application then returns how wide a Field of View can meet these specifications. Additionally, the user can enter how far the target (e.g., face) is from the camera. The application then generates the correct lens size needed.

Visual Acuity Index

Perhaps the most interesting and potentially challenging aspect of the tool is its introduction of an new eponomously named index for surveillance video quality. Rather than use pixels per foot (e.g., 48 pixels per foot for clear faces or 10 pixels per foot for detecting a car), the application uses a scale of 0 to 1 to reference video quality. Inside the application, users can choose between .43, .53, .63 and .73 Gish levels roughly mapping, respectively to detection, recognition and identification levels. We found that Gish levels map to pixels per foot and that the pixels per foot doubles for each level up (e.g., if .43 Gish ~ 10 pixels per foot for a given object type, .53 Gish ~ 20 pixels per foot for the same object).

Using a singular quality scale has precedent in other industries (e.g., Mean Opinion Scores in the audio / telephony markets). That noted, it will interesting to see if this catches on in the surveillance world.

Below is our video screencast demonstrating key features of the applications:

For an alternative to this application, you could use Theia's lens calculator that includes pixels per foot calculations and sample quality images (see our related lens calculator training report). While the Theia app provides greater flexibility, it also demands greater expertise and time to look up camera specific details.

ipConfigure's VSaaS Offering Examined

In this note, we examine a new VSaaS offering, called Surveillance Cloud Service from ipConfigure. While most VSaaS solutions are coming from new entrants to the surveillance market, ipConfigure's approach differs. ipConfigure is already an established VMS provider mainly focusing on the enterprise side of the market (review our ipConfigure VMS test results). By contrast, their new Surveillance Cloud offering is meant to be a complement for the smaller scale segment of the market (e.g., 1-4 cameras per site).

ipConfigure's offers its VSaaS in two modes: (1) direct to ipConfigure with the recording/servers hosted by ipConfigure and (2) through their integrator partners who set up their own server/systems and can private label the offering. In the direct to ipConfigure model, customers can sign up online.

ipConfigure is offering 4 packages. The default recording is 6 fps, CIF continuous recording (with motion markers) for all packages though users can elect for higher resolution recording at no additional cost if upstream bandwidth is available. The packages and per camera pricing are:

  • $0.99 for live monitoring only
  • $9.99 for 7 days recording
  • $14.99 for 14 days recording
  • $29.99 for 30 days recording

The pricing is fairly similar to other VSaaS providers. The service does not include on-site storage nor analytics.

The service supports the same cameras as ipConfigure's Enterprise Surveillance Manager offering including Arecont, Axis, IQinVision, Sony, Vivotek, etc. Axis cameras will make use of Axis 'One-click Connection' setup while other cameras will require manual network configuration for remote streaming.

Like ipConfigure's ESM offering, the client UI will be web based. However, the UI will be simplified, offering a live view matrix and thumbnail image/event search with single camera playback; However, no maps or LPR functionality is provided.

Grandstream's New HD Domes Examined


Pelco's Hybrid DVRs (DX4700/4800) Examined

In this note, we examine Pelco's 2 new Hybrid DVR series: the DX4700 and 4800 series. Pelco is marketing these recorders to users who want to add in megapixel cameras to existing analog systems. Pelco reports high interest in this offering with over 500 people registering to attend their webinar. For video surveillance standards, this is a massive amount of people. However, how good or innovative are these new products?

Overview

Previous DX4000 series systems, namely the DX4104 and DX4500/4600s, are strictly DVRs, supporting up to 16 analog cameras. The higher end DX8100 series does support IP cameras but only SD resolution. By contrast, the new DX4700/4800 are Hybrid DVRs supporting direct analog plus up to 2 megapixel IP cameras (up to 3MP resolution each).

Additional features of these DVRs:

  • Front Panel video viewing controls
  • 4 Drive Bays for up to 8 TB recording
  • Looping video inputs
  • The new DVRs can be managed / viewed from the same UI as other DX DVRs.

Note: the main difference between the 4700 and 4800 series is the analog recording quality. The 4700 supports 30fps CIF while the 4800 supports 30fps 4CIF.

Pricing for the series ranges from a low of $4,784 MSRP for the DX4708-250 to $7,404 MSRP for the DX4816-250.

For organizations already invested in Pelco systems who are generally content with analog/DVR technology, this is likely to be appealing. A good example might be those applications that require just a couple of megapixel cameras per location/DVR for critical high definition applications (e.g., to identify human subjects) or large areas (like a parking lot).

Limitations

While these are the first Pelco DX series HVRs to support megapixel IP cameras (DX8100s only support SD IP cameras), they are limited to only 2 IP channels and 4 Mb/s - 7 Mb/s througput (the greater the analog load, the lower the bandwidth available for the IP cameras). The bandwidth limits may impact those looking for higher frame or quality megapixel video.

More importantly, these DVRs will not meet the needs of those who want to migrate many (or most) of their cameras over the expected 5 - 7 year average life cycle of the DVR.

Another limitation is that 3rd party IP camera support for the DX4700/4800 series is currently limited with support for only Pelco and Axis IP cameras.

Competitive Comparison

Of the 'big brand' manufacturers, a close competitor is the Bosch 700 Hyrid DVR series. In general, this line has similar feature sets and price range. Main differentiator is higher IP camera channel count / bandwidth throughput.

In Pelco's home market of North America, one of the strongest contrasts would be Exacq's EL Hybrid series who offers higher IP channel counts at significantly lower prices compared to Pelco. The Exacq 0800-24-0250-ELS, the closest comparison to the Pelco DX4708-250 (8 channel units with 250 GB hard drives) has an MSRP of $3,060 - more than 30% less than Pelco (even after factoring in separate charge for 2 Exacq IP camera licenses). Moreover, Exacq supports up to 24 total IP cameras and maximum IP camera bandwidth of 144 Mb/s, far higher than Pelco's. For significantly less money, this alternative provides a full migration path. However, this Exacq series has 240fps/4CIF max, does not have front panel for controlling / viewing video, only has a single internal drive bay and looping only on the 8 channel unit.

Outlook

While we are skeptical about the competitive value of this offering, Pelco has massive market power plus the ability to provide a single client/monitoring solution to their existing customers. As such, we would expect adoption amongst Pelco's channels but question the overall competitive strength, especially the limitation on IP/MP camera expansion.

Pelco Releases "Free" Video Analytics

Starting with Sarix Release 1.6, Pelco is providing 'free' video analytics for its Extended Platform (EP) models. This is a very interesting move as Pelco has a much publicized relationship / resale of Object Video's analytics. In this note, we examine the features, competitive pricing and positioning of this move.

As a starting point, it is important to recognize that Pelco offers both 'regular' and Extended Platform cameras. Relative to the regular or base offerings, the 'EP' models provide additional processing power for edge-based video analytics and increased frame-rates. As of firmware 1.6 Pelco's full suite of analytics have been consolidated into one suite and is offered 'free' in the price of base 'EP' models. (Object Video analytics will still maintain its multi-suite pricing structure).

While Pelco analytics are free with purchase of the Extended Platform models, those models are only, on average $100 more in online price than the non-'EP' versions. Note that this applies only to the 1.3MP (e.g., IX10DN vs. IXE10DN) models. The 2.1MP models are 'EP' only.

EP vs. non-EP online pricing (1.3MP models only):

  • IX10DN/IXE10DN - $725/$950
  • ID10DN/IDE10DN - $700/$750
  • IE10DN/IEE10DN - $825/$900

Pelco includes eight (8) different behaviors, such as loitering, abandoned object, adaptive motion etc. However integrations are restricted to Pelco's own Endura VMS and a limited number of 3rd party systems that support Pelco's Analytics API. (Pelco did not disclose any 3rd party VMS systems supporting their analytics). The benefit of the Pelco analytics is its inclusion in the cost of all base 'EP' models.

The OV analytics include a total of 11 different behaviors, that have been divided up into 3 separate suites or bundles. The basic OV Security Suite offers 3 behaviors: camera tamper, tripwire, and area intrusion. The OV Security Suite Plus adds multi-line tripwire, object left-behind, and loitering. The OV Event Counting Suite includes behaviors more appropriate for retail/marketing applications. The OV analytics will interoperate with OV Ready systems, such as Genetec.

EP base models with Pelco Video Analytics:

  • IXE Box - 1.3MP (online $950) or 2.1MP (online $1250)
  • IEE Outdoor Dome - 1.3MP (online $900) or 2.1MP (online $1400)
  • IDE Indoor Dome- 1.3MP (online $750) or 2.1MP (online $1300)

Each base dome model is available in 4 different SKUs (excludes SKUs for lens/bubble options):

  • 3 OV SKUs - OV Security (OS), OV Security+ (OSP), and OV Event Counting (OCP)
  • 1 Base Model SKU (Pelco Analytics)

Each base box model is available in 8 different SKUs (excludes SKUs for lens/bubble options):

  • 3 OV SKUs - OV Security (OS), OV Security+ (OSP), and OV Event Counting (OCP)
  • 1 Base Model SKU (Pelco Analytics)
  • Each in either D/N or Color

For example the IXE20DN-OS (online $1300) is a 2.1 MP D/N box with OV Security Suite. OV and Pelco models do not provide for simple licensing/firmware to migrate from one analytics package to another. An OV Security model, for example, can not be changed to an OSP, OCP or Pelco analytics suite.

Pelco's base EP models include all eight analytic behaviors and is roughly $200 less online than the basic OV suite and $400 less online than the advanced OV analytics. Note that Pelco does not offer analytics for retail/marketing applications. On the other hand the OV Event Counting Suite provides behaviors such as Occupancy Sensing and Dwell-Time Monitoring for non-security or marketing/retail.

For 'greenfield' deployments Pelco's analytics may be considered the more cost-effective solution provided a supported VMS is specified. The cost difference between the Pelco and OV analytics can become significant over a large number of cameras. For existing systems looking to add Pelco's EP analytics, the OV suites are more widely supported by 3rd party (OV Ready) VMSes.

Here is an online pricing comparison with the Pelco analytic version first, followed by the OV analytic options:

  • IXE20DN (online $900), IXE20DN-OS (online $1300), IXE20DN-OSP/OCP (online $1500)
  • IEE20DN (online $1400), IEE20DN-OS ($1600), IEE20DN-OSP/OCP ($1800)
  • IDE20DN (online $1300), IDE20DN-OS (online $1500), IDE20DN-OSP/OCP (online $1700)
  • IEE10DN (online $900), IEE10DN-OS (online $1000), IEE10DN-OCP/OSP (online $1200)
  • IDE10DN (online $750), IDE10DN-OS (online $900), IDE10DN-OCP/OSP (online $1000)

Pelco expects their analytics to perform comparably with leading analytic providers. However, we have tested neither Pelco nor Object Video analytics and can provide no feedback as to their quality of performance. Obviously, any use case highly reliant on analytics should consider testing the candidate offerings (e.g. a pilot, proof-of-concept etc.).

Can Milestone's NVR Appliances Compete?

Surprisingly, Milestone is entering the hardware business. After years of warning the industry about the dangers of proprietary jail and emphasizing how it does not compete with its partners, Milestone will begin selling NVR appliances. In this note, we examine the move's competitive positioning and market impact.

The first phase of Milestone NVRs will consist of 2 NVR appliances: an 8 and 16 channel Mini Tower PCs OEMed from HP, running Milestone Essential. The MSRP of the appliances is projected at $2,999 for the 8 channel, 1TB unit and $3,999 for the 16 channel, 2TB unit. The appliances provides support for a fixed number of channels and do not require the traditional DLK licensing process. The appliance will be optimized for running Milestone Essential, eliminating setup time and potentially improving performance. Finally, by using HP, Milestone can take advantage of common HP benefits - large scale, name brand hardware, rapid replacement, etc.

Important limitations to consider in analyzing the competitive positioning:

  • Only supports Milestone Essential, no support for higher end Milestone VMS versions eliminating access control integration, video analytics use, enterprise management, etc.
  • No integrated video encoder / capture cards: if existing analog cameras are to be used, a separate encoder appliance will be required
  • No pricing discounts for using less channels than the appliance provides, i.e., the price is the same for using 6 or 8 cameras, etc.
  • Separate PoE switch required for powering cameras

Contrast to Software Only Milestone Essential

The first and most basic comparison is to simply buy Milestone Essential VMS software and set it up on a COTS PC. Building it oneself will certainly be significantly cheaper. Given Essential costs $49 per channel, a comparable 8 channel self-built system will likely run $1,200 to $1,500 ($400 for the 8 channel licenses and $800 to $1,110 for a PC including setup). For a comparable 16 channel self-built system, the cost will run likely $1,900 to $2,200 ($800 for the 16 channel licenses and $1,110 - $1,400 for a PC including setup). The cost savings are even greater if an installation requires less than 8 or 16 channels as the exact number of licenses can be purchased with the software option rather than the hardware one.

Contrast to Competitor's NVR Appliances

Almost every VMS software provider now offers NVR appliance options so a wealth of potential options exist. Let's start with Genetec as they are Milestone's most direct competitor.

In 2010, Genetec introduced the SV-16, a micro form factor PC designed to run Genetec's Omnicast VMS. The pricing is segmented into the hardware costs (about $1700 MSRP) and the software licensing costs (ranges from $120 to $250+ depending on the VMS verion). Compared to Milestone's NVR appliance pricing and features, Genetec's will be moderately higher (a few hundred for the 8 channel version, a thousand or more for the 16 channel version). However, relative to Milestone, Genetec's main tactical advantage is allowing support for any of their VMS versions.

In the US, Exacq is a common alternative for VMS software and NVR appliances. The closest comparable is the Exacq EL-Mini which is a small form factor NVR appliance with a single drive bay supporting up to 24 IP cameras. An 8 channel 1TB Exacq EL-Mini has an MSRP of $3,025 while a 16 channel 2T Exacq EL-Mini has an MSRP of $4,575. While the pricing is similar, this offers Exacq's 'full' VMS version supporting 3rd party integration, enterprise management, etc. Exacq notes that an upcoming entry level VMS version will provide significantly lower prices with comparable functionality to Milestone's Essential NVRs.

On the low end, the key direct competitors are NVR NAS providers (QNAP and Synology being the two most commonly cited providers). The two core advantages for NVR NAS is (1) low price and (2) storage management. 8 channel NAS NVRs under $1,000 and 16 channel NAS NVRs under $2,000 are common. Additionally, a core feature of nearly every NAS appliance offered is storage redundancy (RAID 1, 5, 6, etc.) and multiple accessible drive bays (offering easy drive replacement). By contrast, the key downside will be the poorer quality of the software provided by these companies.

Market Impact

At least initially, we anticipate the market impact of the new NVR appliances to be minimal. Given the limited options for the appliance (restriction on VMS versions, no integrated analog encoding), we expect a limited market for the offering. Additionally, since Milestone integrators can almost certainly build a Milestone Essential COTS systems for significantly less than the appliance price, we expect demand to be low.

The two key immediate benefits we anticipate is expansion for the low end of installers and users. As Milestone continues its quest to build the industry's most enormous channel base, many of the dealers will have difficulty using software only VMS systems. This appliance makes it easier for those dealers to take advantage of the Milestone brand without having sufficient IT skills to deploy a software only system. Additionally, if these appliances are available for sale online (like Milestone Essential VMS licenses are), this could help expand Milestone sales to users who want to do it themselves.

Going forward, what will be most interesting is how far Milestone goes with their appliance. Is this a 'one off' low end offering or is it the start of a full line of Milestone NVR appliances? We cannot tell and we would suspect that this is a debate within Milestone currently.

Milestone Strategy / Partner Impact

Finally, this is interesting because it represents such a sharp departure from Milestone's historic marketing position and philosophy.

While Milestone marketed strongly for the 'freedom' to choose your own hardware, it is becoming increasingly clear that the 'market' is demanding NVR appliances as an option. Especially as IP cameras expand to the broader market, more users want simpler, more turnkey choices. While we do not see appliances replacing software only, having appliance options will become increasingly important.

Milestone will now be competing with some of its hardware partners - most notably JVC and Intransa.

For a number of years JVC has been offering 9 and 16 channel Milestone NVR appliances. From what we can tell, success has been limited. We suspect that JVC's relatively low profile and the fact that a 3rd party was selling it limited appeal. The Milestone NVR will likely be far more attractive with the key JVC benefit being the support for Milestone Enterprise VMS version.

Intransa has focused on developing itself as the NVR appliance provider for the VMS software market, including Milestone, Genetec and many other VMS providers. With Milestone limiting its appliances to 16 channels and Essential only, this is unlikely to have a significant practical impact on Intransa. Most Intransa deals with Milestone are for greater camera countrs and higher end VMS versions. However, if Milestone eventually expands their appliance offering, we think Intransa would have great difficulty competing.

Examining Pelco's New Sarix IM Series Domes

In this note, we examine Pelco's expanded mini-dome line. In their announcement, Pelco is emphasizing that this provides for 'any environment'. We believe the most important aspect of the release is that it eliminates a major gap in their product line-up for more affordable dome cameras.

Previously the IM series consisted of only two models that were quite basic/limited:

  • IM10 - 1.3MP Color-only Dome (online $435)
  • IMS0 - Standard Definition Color-only Dome (online $354)

Now, four additional models have been added:

  • IM10DN-E - 1.3MP Outdoor Dome D/N, IP66/IK10++ (MSRP $1170)
  • IM10DN-V - 1.3MP Rugged Dome D/N IP56/IK10++ (MSRP $1079)
  • IMS0-E - SD Outdoor Dome (D/N or Color) IP66/IK10++
  • IMS0-V - SD Rugged Dome (D/N or Color) IP56/IK10++

A key improvement with the new models is the true D/N stock feature in the MP models (D/N is optional on SD models). However, the IM series continues to lack full frame-rate H.264 at full resolution, and only provides one SKU for a 2.8mm - 10mm integrated lens. 30fps is achievable at 720p but only with MJPEG. At 720p/H.264 the maximum is 12.5fps.

Both varieties of the new models offer impact resistance ratings of IK10++ (note IK10 denotes an impact resistance up to 20 joules; IK10++ denotes 50 joules). The outdoor model features IP66, while the ruggedized model is rated IP56.

A search on our camera finder reveals that online pricing between $650 and $750 is cost competitive for 1.3MP, D/N, IP66, H.264 domes. For example both Sony (SNC-DH160) and ACTi (TCM-7411) produce a model with these features for roughly $650 online. Note that the Pelco -E model features a high impact rating of IK10++, and also offers auto-focus and auto-iris - the ACTi TCM-7411 offers none of these. On the other hand the SNC-DH160 does provide an IK10 rating, built-in IR, and a powered zoom/focus, placing it very high in price/performance. There is currently no online pricing available for the IM10DN-E, but we expect pricing to be quite competitive, around $600 online.

Pelco's higher-end equivalent, the IE10DN-E (online $850) is roughly $250 more in projected cost than the IM10DN-E. The IE version offers interchangeable lenses, on-board storage, auxiliary 24VAC power, i/o for input/relay, and a basic camera sabotage analytic. If these features are not necessary the IM version will present a more cost-effective option still providing key outdoor ratings (IP66) and day/night capability.

Texas Instrument's DM81xx Examined

In this note, we examine the DM81xx, a new chipset and camera reference design from Texas Instrument. The two most important additions to this release are likely to be 10MP resolution and SVC codec support, both feature sets that are currently rare within the surveillance industry.

The specs of this new reference design include:

  • Aptina 10MP CMOS sensor
  • DC-Auto or Manual Iris
  • H.264 / MPEG-4 and MJPEG support
  • H.264 1080p 60fps
  • H.264 10MP 12fps
  • Video analytic support through built in DSP

According to TI, open order entry starts today with an 8 week lead time. Given the development needed by TI's OEM's, significant production release of cameras using this solution will likely start in 2012.

Currently, Arecont's 10MP is the only CMOS 10MP surveillance camera on the market (note: Arecont does not use TI). We expect this release to significantly expand competitive offerings in 2012.

Additionally, SVC codec support is interesting. SVC is a variant of H.264 that allows for scaling or dynamically adjusting the size and bandwidth consumption of the camera. It will be interesting to see if TI's support leads to production offerings from IP camera manufacturers. If so, it will likely also be dependent on VMS manufacturers for adding support to stream and management SVC feeds. Alternatively, TI is also incorporating SVC into its DVR reference design. For analog cameras, this may provide a fairly straightforward path to using SVC.

5 reports cite this report:

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