Pelco's 960p HD Resolution Claim Examined

Author: John Honovich, Published on Mar 09, 2011

In this note, we examine Pelco's 960p HD positioning for its HD Spectra line. In a recent promotional video, Pelco claims the superiority of 960p over 720p PTZ cameras and that they are the 'only' ones to provide this. We agree on the former but the latter is clearly incorrect.

Watch the concise 1 minute Pelco video below to see their pitch:

960p provides greater total resolution and wider coverage than 720p. While 960p is not a commonly used term in the surveillance market, Pelco is referring to 1.3MP resolution.

  • 960p is based on the 1280 x 960 resolution (4:3 aspect ratio) of the Spectra HD camera. 
  • 720p is based on 180 x 720 resolution (16:9 aspect ratio) of common HD cameras (such as Axis or one's home TV).

As the video clearly and correctly shows the 960p video shows significantly more vertical area than the 720p.

While fixed cameras often do not benefit from greater vertical resolution, PTZs usually do. With fixed cameras commonly mounted 9 - 12 feet high and aimed straight ahead, usually the top and the bottom of the video is 'wasted' as it captures the sky or the floor. Not only might you not gain much from 960p over 720p, one could argue that 960p is worse as it increases one's storage and bandwidth costs. By contrast, PTZs will be aimed in many different directions and are often mounted high to look down on scenes. Often, the extra vertical coverage provided by the 960p camera will provide important additional coverage.

On the other hand, we disagree with Pelco's contention that they are the only ones that do this or that you would miss this with other manufacturers. Some of Pelco's largest competitors only offer 720p HD PTZs - Axis, Sony and Panasonic. However, other manufacturers offer 1080p PTZ cameras like Sanyo and the Feb 2010 announcement by Bosch of a 20x 1080p PTZ. Additionally, Canon will be releasing a 1.3MP PTZ this quarter. The 1080p provide even more coverage than Pelco and the 1.3MP PTZ will provide the same.

While greater coverage for PTZs is useful, a number of other manufacturers provide PTZs beyond 720p. Indeed, we see this trend increasing over the next 12 months.

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