Quasar Smart HD Cameras Examined

By John Honovich, Published Jun 15, 2011, 08:00pm EDT

In this note, we examine DVTel’s announcement of their Quasar line of HD cameras [link no longer available]. This release includes multiple models of fixed and minidome cameras: The CF fixed camera models, and the CM minidomes. Each of these is available in either 1.3 megapixel/720p or 1080p versions, with true day/night and wide dynamic range functionality in all models.

Compared to Existing Line

Compared to the current generation of DVTel's HD cameras, the HD Classic [link no longer available] and Elite [link no longer available] models, the Quasar lineup features multiple improvements, such as improved nighttime sensitivity and digital noise reduction, and increased frame rates while dual-streaming.  Continuing in the tradition of the previous generation of cameras, Quasar CM minidomes will be part of their Snap-In Camera System. This allows dome housings to be reused simply be replacing the camera module with a new electronics package. This functionality is found in some competitor's cameras, such as Pelco's Spectra PTZs [link no longer available]. This reduces overall cost by eliminating some hardware cost, and reducing installation labor. The CM series domes are also available with motorized lenses which enables remote zoom functionality.  

New Features

DVTel also claims the Quasar line improves performance thanks to two proprietary features: Scene Adaptive and Smart Picture Quality algorithms. These algorithms adjust picture settings such as gain control, sharpness, and contrast as well as auto-iris and exposure controls based on user thresholds to maximize picture quality and reduce bandwidth needs. DVTel claims these features provide a competitive advantage. Since they are not yet released and we have not tested them, we cannot provide an opinion.

All Quasar models also feature an on-board SD slot for local recording. Video clips stored on the SD card may be emailed or uploaded via FTP upon event, or accessed via the camera’s web browser interface. Once downloaded, users of DVTel’s Latitude VMS may also access these video clips for use in CaseBuilder, their investigative and incident reporting tool.  While not as full-featured as edge storage functions found in other VMS's (see Genetec, March Networks, Axis, or Mobotix), this support for edge storage is an improvement over many manufacturers, which require users to at best, access the camera via web browser, and at worst, remove the flash card from the camera, in order to view stored video.  

Introductory Quasar models will support current ONVIF specifications (version 1.02.2). When ONVIF 2.0 is adopted, all Quasar models will be updated to the 2.0 specification through firmware. Moving from an end-to-end software and camera supplier to a more open supplier of devices which may be used on third-party ONVIF-compliant systems should serve to strengthen their position in the industry.  However, being a DVTel-only dealer line limits how many integrators will choose to use these cameras with third-party NVR's.  We imagine most DVTel integrators with access to these cameras would choose to use them with DVTel's own software.

Pricing and Availability

The Quasar line will be available in Q3 2011. The CM-3211 indoor 720p minidome will have a $719 MSRP. Quasar CF fixed cameras range from $849 to $995 (720p and 1080p, respectively), not including a lens. 

Pricing Comparison

The pricing will likely be fairly competitive to cameras with similar feature sets (megapixel, WDR, D/N, SD card support, etc.). DVTel uses a traditional security dealer discount structure so street pricing should be notably lower than MSRP. We suspect the overall pricing, after adding in cost for lens for the fixed cameras and factoring in discount structure will be similar to Axis P series pricing.

[Update 2012: See our test results of the Quasar 1080p camera.]

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