3 Key Surveillance Product Shifts For 2014

By John Honovich, Published Dec 24, 2013, 12:00am EST

Three surveillance product shifts are changing the market and what you should expect from quality products. We discovered these from over 70 unique IPVM tests in 2013.

They are:

  • Mainstreaming of True WDR and Super Low Light
  • 'Dropcamming' Consumer Surveillance
  • Turnkey HD IP Kits
  • Until this year, very few HD/MP cameras offered true WDR (i.e., multi-exposure) or super low light performance. Equally important, the cost premium was typically significant, with products $800 or up. 

    In test after test this year, we have found new products consistently offering strong WDR and low light performance (often both in the same camera). This has been the case for big Western brands as well as lower cost Asian ones.

    This does not mean that all cameras are suddenly the same. Indeed, almost all entry level cameras will still have significantly inferior low light and WDR performance. However, what it does mean is that you are not limited to a few providers anymore (such as Axis 'Lightfinder' for low light or Sony's most expensive cameras for WDR, etc.) There are now many choices, even in the $500 range.

    Equally importantly, we expect this trend to continue in 2014, driven by much improved components that all camera manufacturers can access.

    'Dropcamming' Consumer Surveillance

    Dropcam has proven that consumer surveillance can truly be 'plug n play'. All the way from the buying process to setup and recording. While many other manufacturers made noise about doing so, Dropcam has made it dead simple. See our Dropcam tests and compare to Axis continued problems.

    Core components that make this significant:

    • No need to buy from a dealer / 3rd party etc. (Offered online from the same company on their website)
    • No need for port forwarding, unrealiable UPnP or manual setup, phones home automatically
    • No software to install at all, even to setup the camera
    • No need to know any IP addresses or any networking
    • No network cabling / wireless

    It is really opening up the consumer surveillance market for those who want 1 or 2 cameras, but lack the time, interest nor technical aptitude to set up servers, routers, etc.

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    This has established a new benchmark and measure sticking for rivals.

    The good news is that what Dropcam has done here is not rocket science and can certainly be matched by much bigger incumbents. The question for 2014 is will they or will they allow Dropcam to further penetrate this market?

    Turnkey HD IP Kits

    Over the past 5 years, one of analog's key strengths in the lower end of the market has been the predominance of turn key kits - 4 analog cameras and a 500GB DVR for $399 or 16 cameras and a 1TB DVR for $1499, etc. One supplier, all bundled together, just connect the cables and get video.

    IP has not had this. The 'open'ness came with the downside of buying from multiple manufacturers, loading software, getting switches, doing network administration etc. Fine for someone wanting a big complex system but a deal breaker for the simpler needs of the mass market.

    Over the last year, finally turnkey kits have become common for HD IP (see our test results). It's just like their analog predecessors but with higher resolution. Indeed, a key component is the PoE switch embedded inside the NVR, a critical component to cut out IP networking expertise and separate purchase of core parts.

    We expect more options to proliferate in 2014 but be careful. Many vendors will simply package existing parts at high prices and without the embedded PoE switch, which will be little more than an easily seen through marketing gimmick.

    Conclusion

    The video surveillance market is not in a golden age of innovation but these three drivers are changing what buyers should expect and can get from the market - all of which is good news for users.

    Related - Trends 2014

    See: 7 Key Surveillance Trends for 2014

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