Pelco Sarix TI Thermal Cameras Review
The UK's favorite camera this year [link no longer available] is from an American subsidiary of a French conglomerate. So what makes Pelco's thermal cameras so special and worthy of the IFSEC award? In this note, we examine the details of the Pelco Sarix TI series [link no longer available], contrasting to FLIR and Axis and examining Pelco's key differentiator claims.
[UPDATE 2013: See our Pelco Thermal test results.]
Based on a detailed discussion with Pelco, we see 3 major differentiators claimed:
- All digital processing: Sarix keeps the thermal video feed digital for the entire process. By contrast, some thermal manufacturer, most notably FLIR, converts the thermal video feed from analog to digital in their thermal IP cameras. Pelco contends that the lack of encoding increases image quality and detection range. Specifically, Pelco says this enables their 384 x 288 cameras to deliver equivalent performance as rival's 640 x 480 cameras. The image below is taken from one of Pelco's marketing materials to show the claim:
- Built in analytics for free: Unlike most manufacturers, not only does Pelco support video analytics, they pre-load their own analytics and offer them at no additional cost. Axis does support loading 3rd party analytics on their cameras (e.g., Agent Vi) while FLIR requires a separate encoder/processor (e.g., VideoIQ). The video below shows 3 analytics type in action on a Pelco thermal camera:
- Thermal analytics optimized: Pelco says their thermal cameras can use temperature range information to improve the accuracy of their video analytics. Specifically, by measuring the temperature of objects, Pelco says they can eliminate more false alerts by better distinguishing between the temperature profile of a person vs a car or other object. We are not aware of any analytic vendor who supports this feature.
Thermal Line Overview
Beyond those 3 key features, Pelco's thermal camera lineup is fairly standard. They offer fixed and PTZ models with resolutions ranging from 240 x 184 to 640 x 480. All models are outdoor - no indoor options are provided.
Pricing for the line starts from $5,000 MSRP for the entry level 240 x 284 fixed model to $12k+ for the 640x480 line. Given that Pelco uses a security dealer discount model, that makes it moderately more expensive than the Axis Q19 line, though Pelco includes a broader variety of video analytics.
Questions / Competitive Issues
The two big questions coming from Pelco's claims are (1) improved video quality/detection and (2) improved analytics. Both are impossible to assess without testing. We are looking at a shootout later in the year to better understand actual performance in a market that is heating up with bigger claims (e.g., Pelco's performance claims, DRS's super low pricing, etc.)