Testing Blue Iris VMS Software

By: Benros Emata, Published on Jul 04, 2010

What kind of open Video Management Software can you get for $50? Not $50 per channel but $50 for an entire server?

In our first report on 'entry-level' or 'budget' lineup, we test the most inexpensive open video management system we have found, Blue Iris's VMS software (version 2.41). We hosted the test on a Windows 7 system, connecting the IQ42S, Panasonic BL-C210A and the D-Link DCS-920.

With the recent price drop announcement from a major VMS incumbent, end-users will need to analyze their needs more closely than before. What am I giving up? What do I really need? How much can I save? Is it worth it?

When evaluating Blue Iris VMS, the following 10 key criteria / decision points should be considered.

Criteria Strength Description
 Pricing Strong Most inexpensive of our lineup, $50 license for a server
 Simplicity  Moderate Lack of search and multi-camera playback
 3rd Party IP Camera Support  Moderate Support for both high and low-end camerasr
H.264 Support  Moderate Live streaming only
 Analytics Support  None Not supported
Exporting  Strong Provides visual flag in / out and easy to perform
Remote Monitoring  Strong Both live viewing and investigations with limited controls
Run as a service Moderate By default, this is not enabled
Multi-camera playback None

Not supported

Support Moderate Responds to e-mail / forum inquiries but not generally available phone support

Recommendations

In regards to the very small business / home office, Blue Iris provides a very attractive price point if "just enough" and "peace of mind" is the target for the business owner.

If a larger SMB requires additional cameras, Blue Iris can prove troublesome with the lack of some 'basic' features such as:

  • time-based search
  • multi-camera playback for investigations

Considering that the full version provides up to 64 channels for $50 is still an attractive price point, but not if search and synchronous playback are required. We feel that this is the major obstacle for Blue Iris when compared to those within the same market where these items may be provided 'out-of-the-box.'

However, when compared to single vendor VMS systems (even if free), Blue Iris provides an attractive open option that is likely to be simpler to setup and use than most single vendor VMS systems.

Additionally, for a user starting out with IP video, Blue Iris is an attractive option. With its low price, simple use and easy access on-line, Blue Iris is a low risk way to evaluate what you really want without committing to a significantly more expensive and complex system.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Key Findings

Setup:  Within the product line up of our budget / entry-level VMS, it seems common that administration still requires some level of technical / IT knowledge. There's no plug-n-play capabilities within the Blue Iris software to auto-detect and add IP cameras to the system. Your home craft retail store owner, for example, will still need knowledge of what an IP address is, what is the appropriate frame rate to set and why the application should function as a Win32 service

Live Monitoring / Investigations:  Blue Iris' minimal approach to the interface allows the SMB some surveillance insurance. For the users that are generally comfortable with other desktop applications such as Power Point, will find the interface simple to navigate. There's rarely going to be a question on how to access archived video or how to return to the live monitoring mode because the clips sidebar remains on the same page as the live camera streams.

The big contrast here is the lack of a search feature. The operator would literally visually scroll through the clips list and first find the correct date, then camera, time, then scan through potentially hours of video.

H.264:  Blue Iris confirmed that currently H.264 is not used for recording; this feature is supported via RTSP (real-time streaming protocol), generally used for mobile applications. Our tests were a bit troublesome in  getting this to work, so your mileage may vary. Supported for the live stream, however, provides some savings on bandwidth for those users deploying megapixel cameras. Blue Iris has informed us that in a couple months, H.264 will be available for both live monitoring and recording.

Product Overview

Blue Iris provides 'basics' including:

  • multi-camera live monitoring
  • remote access (both live and investigations)
  • motion event and schedule based recording
  • continuous recording
  • exporting
  • visual thumbnails for archived events
  • running the software as a Windows service

The remote access capabilities mimic the minimal design approach so is limited, providing access to archived clips of video, multiplex live monitoring and limited controls. We feel that for any SMB, strong remote access will be essential and Blue Iris provides.

A note to consider for those that may seek immediate technical support - you will notice on Blue Iris' support page that assistance is offered either via e-mail or discussion forum. No phone support is available.

Computing Platform Support

Blue Iris provides their VMS software as a downloadable package on their website, which will include the thick client and components necessary for remote access via the web interface.

Software updates can be downloaded from either the primary site or the support site. To date, version 2.41.06 was released on June 17, 2010.

Third Party Support

Blue Iris supports various high and low-end cameras. For example, the Axis Q1755 and the Mobotix M22 are on the high end compared to the Panasonic BL-C210A, which is a budget camera. The variety in IP camera support should provide choices for both consumer and professional grade deployments. In addition, webcams, analog cards are also supported and a list can be found on their website.

Pricing

Blue Iris offers two tiers of their licensed software:

  • LE version - $29.95
  • Full version - $49.95

As noted on the purchase page, the LE version only supports a single camera and the full version supports up to 64 cameras.

Usability

The following screencast examines usability highlights of Blue Iris' VMS system. Key points include:

  • No search capabilities (00:30 min)
  • No multi-camera playback (02:27 min)
  • H.264 is for live streaming only (03:40 min)
  • Interface is generally simple to use and navigate (04:46 min)
  • Run the system as a service (06:00 min)
  • Both live monitoring and investigations with remote access (07:07 min)

Administration

The following screencast examines how to configure/setup Blue Iris' system. Key points include:

  • Items included with the install package (00:20 min)
  • Working with camera templates (01:12 min)
  • Schedules can be applied for motion detection (02:11 min)
  • Differences with Store, Protect and Archive (02:50 min)
  • Running the system as a service (03:38 min)
  • Obtaining technical support and NOT over the phone (04:20 min)

Live Monitoring & Investigations

The following screencast examines live video monitoring and investigations with Blue Iris' VMS system. Key points include:

  • Overview of the client interface (00:18 min)
  • Selecting cameras without the traditional tree hierarchy (00:46 min)
  • Single client to access investigation functionality (02:16 min)
  • Investigations without search (02:55 min)
  • Visual flag in / out and working with exports (04:26 min)

4 reports cite this report:

Foscam IP Camera Overview on Aug 25, 2011
In this update we will examine the IP camera line of Chinese camera manufacturer Foscam. Foscam has a reputation for being low-cost and average (or...
VMS by Segment: Small, Medium, Large Camera Counts on Nov 01, 2010
Frequently we are asked what is the best VMS for certain camera counts. For instance, if a project only needs 4 cameras, what are the most...
Testing WebcampXP Pro's VMS on Jul 27, 2010
For those looking for an inexpensive video management system online, WebcamXP Pro has been frequently cited for many years. At no more than $120...
Testing Argus Surveillance VMS on Jul 12, 2010
In this test, we examine Argus Surveillance's VMS, an offering that provides licensing for unlimited numbers of cameras and servers for less than...
Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

VMS 101 on Mar 03, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals about video management software. Inside, we cover: NVR vs VMS Viewing Video - What are common client...
IP Camera Browser Support: Who's Broken / Who Works on Dec 10, 2019
For many years, IP cameras depended on ActiveX control, whose security flaws have been known for more than a decade. The good news is that this is...
Milestone XProtect 2019 R3 'Centralized Search' Tested on Oct 30, 2019
Milestone has had problems over the last few years releasing significant new software. Now, in XProtect 2019 R3, Milestone is touting "one search...
Camera Calculator V3.1 Release Improves User Experience on Oct 17, 2019
IPVM has released a new version of our Camera Calculator, V3.1, with significant user experience improvements, a new development plan, and an...
Genetec Stratocast VSaaS Tested on Sep 05, 2019
The VSaaS market is rapidly expanding in 2019, with Verkada, Meraki, Eagle Eye, Avigilon and numerous startups growing their market share. When we...
Avigilon Blue VSaaS Tested on Aug 05, 2019
Avigilon says Blue is a "powerful integrator cloud service platform", easy to set up and configure, quickly scale business, by leveraging cloud...
Network Optix / Hanwha Cloud Access Tested on Jul 02, 2019
Remote cloud access is becoming a bigger differentiator, as cybersecurity issues underscore the problems of port forwarding and many integrators...
IndigoVision Control Center VMS Tested on May 30, 2019
IPVM's last test of IndigoVision's VMS was in 2010, which found enterprise VMS features and a simple client interface. but no 3rd party camera...
Milestone XProtect 2019 R1 Tested on May 15, 2019
For the past few years, Milestone has released quarterly software updates XProtect VMS platform. What is new and how much impact do the updates...
Verkada Cloud VMS/Cameras Tested on May 02, 2019
Verkada is arguably the most ambitious video surveillance startup in many years. The company is developing their own cameras, their own VMS, their...

Most Recent Industry Reports

USA's Feevr Thermal Temperature System Examined on Mar 31, 2020
This US company has burst on to the scene, brashly naming itself 'feevr' and branding itself as a "COVID 19 - AI BASED NON CONTACT THERMAL...
JCI Coronavirus Cuts on Mar 31, 2020
JCI has made coronavirus cuts, the company told employees in an email that IPVM has reviewed. Inside this note, we examine the cuts made, the...
Add Door Operators To Fight Coronavirus on Mar 31, 2020
IPVM recommends that integrators advocate and end-users consider adding door operators to fight the spread of coronavirus. This delivers...
Video Surveillance Business 101 on Mar 30, 2020
This report explains the fundamental elements of the video surveillance business for those new to the industry. This is part of our Video...
FDA Gives Guidance on 'Coronavirus' Thermal Fever Detection Systems on Mar 30, 2020
The US FDA has given IPVM guidance on the use of thermal fever detection systems being marketed for coronavirus, as an explosion of such devices...
Worsen: Integrators Hit Even Harder By Coronavirus on Mar 30, 2020
Integrator's problems have worsened over the past 2 weeks, according to new IPVM survey results. Inside this report, we share statistics and...
Pivot3 Mass Layoffs on Mar 27, 2020
Pivot3 has conducted mass layoffs, the culmination of grand hopes, a quarter of a billion dollars in VC funding, and multiple failures to gain...
Athena CEO Criticizes 'Deplorable' 'Nitpicking', IPVM Refutes on Mar 27, 2020
UPDATE: NBC News Report Cites IPVM On Coronavirus 'Fever Detection' Cameras Athena Security's CEO Lisa Falzone has strongly objected to IPVM's...
Hikvision Admits Sanctions Harming Its Financial Performance on Mar 27, 2020
While Hikvision initially downplayed being sanctioned for human rights abuses, the company is now admitting a significant impact in a new PRC...