Testing Blue Iris VMS Software

Author: 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?

We were impressed with Blue Iris's software. While it certainly lacks many high end and even some VMS features we consider to be fundamental, it is simple to setup and use, supports lots of cameras and could be quite attractive for someone who just needs the basics.

Key Criteria / Decision Points

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.'

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

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.

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 : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Eagle Eye Favorability Results 2019 on Mar 21, 2019
Eagle Eye has been the biggest spender in the cloud VMS market including (via their owner) acquiring Brivo for $50 million and CameraManager from...
Large Hospital Security End User Interview on Mar 21, 2019
This large single-state healthcare system consists of many hospitals, and hundreds of health parks, private practices, urgent care facilities, and...
Silicon Valley Cybersecurity Insurance Startup Coalition Profile on Mar 20, 2019
Many industry people believe cybersecurity insurance is not worth it, as the voting and debate in our Cybersecurity Insurance For Security...
Covert IP Camera Shootout - Axis, Hanwha, Hikvision, March, Vivotek on Mar 20, 2019
Covert cameras were one of the last holdout areas for analog cameras. However, in the past few years, IP / HD covert cameras have become...
Top Metrics For Ensuring Integrator Profitability - Statistics on Mar 20, 2019
How do integrators ensure the profitability of their projects? As part of our profitability study, 100+ integrators answered the following...
Genetec Security Center 5.8 Tested on Mar 19, 2019
Genetec has released Version 5.8. This comes after a wait of more than a year that caused frustrations for many Genetec partners. Our previous...
Large US University End-User Video Surveillance Interview on Mar 18, 2019
Schools have become targets in modern days of active shooters and terrorist fears. The need for video and access security is high. Universities...
Hikvision Favorability Results 2019 on Mar 18, 2019
Hikvision favorability results declined significantly in IPVM's 2019 study of 200+ integrators. While in 2017 Hikvision's favorability was...
ONVIF Favorability Results 2019 on Mar 15, 2019
In the past decade, ONVIF has grown from a reaction to the outside Cisco-lead PSIA challenge, to being the de facto video surveillance standard...
City Physical Security Manager Interview on Mar 14, 2019
This physical security pro is the Physical Security Manager for the City of Calgary. He is a criminologist by training with an ASIS CPP credential....

Most Recent Industry Reports

Eagle Eye Favorability Results 2019 on Mar 21, 2019
Eagle Eye has been the biggest spender in the cloud VMS market including (via their owner) acquiring Brivo for $50 million and CameraManager from...
Large Hospital Security End User Interview on Mar 21, 2019
This large single-state healthcare system consists of many hospitals, and hundreds of health parks, private practices, urgent care facilities, and...
Silicon Valley Cybersecurity Insurance Startup Coalition Profile on Mar 20, 2019
Many industry people believe cybersecurity insurance is not worth it, as the voting and debate in our Cybersecurity Insurance For Security...
Covert IP Camera Shootout - Axis, Hanwha, Hikvision, March, Vivotek on Mar 20, 2019
Covert cameras were one of the last holdout areas for analog cameras. However, in the past few years, IP / HD covert cameras have become...
Top Metrics For Ensuring Integrator Profitability - Statistics on Mar 20, 2019
How do integrators ensure the profitability of their projects? As part of our profitability study, 100+ integrators answered the following...
Avigilon Launches 'Renewed Products Program' on Mar 19, 2019
There are lots of 'pre-owned' cars but pre-owned IP cameras? While such programs are common in other industries, in video surveillance, they are...
Hanwha Tax Evasion Probe, Camera Division Implicated on Mar 19, 2019
A Hanwha group subsidiary was raided as part of a tax evasion probe. While a Korean news media report listed the raided entity as 'Hanwha...
Genetec Security Center 5.8 Tested on Mar 19, 2019
Genetec has released Version 5.8. This comes after a wait of more than a year that caused frustrations for many Genetec partners. Our previous...
Retired Mercury President Returns As Open Options President on Mar 18, 2019
Open Options experienced major changes in 2018, including being acquired by ACRE and losing its President and General Manager, John Berman who...
Large US University End-User Video Surveillance Interview on Mar 18, 2019
Schools have become targets in modern days of active shooters and terrorist fears. The need for video and access security is high. Universities...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact