Testing Cisco SMB Software and PTZ Camera (PVC300)

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jul 03, 2009

This report examines and shows the abilities and performance of key products in Cisco's emerging Small Business Video Surveillance product line. Specially, we test their IP video surveillance software and their PTZ camera (the PVC-300). For background information, see our recent Cisco SMB product overview and competitive comparison report.

Our key findings from the SMB Video Surveillance software are:

  • The software is basic - good if you want to view, record and export video but not if you are trying to do sophisticated security monitoring.
  • Ensuring recording continues over a long period of time can be problematic.
  • Remote viewing is problematic, if not impossible for most users.

Our key findings from the Cisco's PTZ PVC-300 are:
  • The camera is simple to set up for indoor use.
  • Video quality suffered significantly when viewing bright areas (though indoor/controlled lighting was better).
  • The 2.6 zoom can only cover a small area and should not be expected to monitor large parking lots or outdoor areas.

[Note: As always, the test was not paid by the vendor. They loaned me a camera and provided technical support.]

Download Video Sample of the PTZ - PVC300

Video samples were taken both indoor and outdoor during the day and night. Download a zip file of the 2 videos and 2 images from the Cisco PVC300.

The image quality is OK indoors but problems arise outdoors, specifically when the lighting levels are high (brightness). The brighter the area is, the more 'washed out' the image looked.

Under moderately low light levels, the image quality is OK (see the sample image of the intersection). The PVC300 was not especially sharp but it was good enough to make out the cars and outlines of people (which is not much worse than professional cameras we have tested). At a measured 9 lux, you can make out some details (as we show in another sample image) but faces are obscured. Under 9 lux, the image hardly becomes usable. As 9 lux is still fairly bright, you cannot depend on using this camera to see in the 'dark' or near dark.

Physical Overview of the PTZ

From a physical perspective, the camera is straightforward. There's not a lot of options but it's fairly self-contained and simple to do an indoor setup.

Configuration and Use of the PTZ - PVC300

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

Controlling the camera is constrained to small, incremental step movements (unless you are using a preset or a patrol). As such, monitoring a lobby to get a general overview works well. However, if you are trying to track down a thief moving through a large area, it will be very difficult. This problem is especially acute if the target is far away from the camera. With a 2.6 zoom, you can only zoom in a little bit from where the camera is positioned.

Administration and Use of the Cisco Small Business VMS Software

The IP video surveillance software is simple but the default settings can be problematic. Specifically, recording is turned off by default. Plus, the client viewing software and the server application are combined in a single application. This means if you turn off the client viewing application, the system stops recording. Additionally, there is no thick client or web client for remote viewing.

Outside of the significant admin issues, viewing and playing back video is fairly simple and straightforward.

Bandwidth Utilization

Bandwidth utilization varied between 1 and 4 Mb/s using the defaults of MPEG-4, 4CIF, 15 fps. This is within the range expected for cameras using these settings. As is common with cameras using variable bit rate streaming, outdoors and fast motion drove higher bit rates.

Recommendations

The challenge with evaluating Cisco's products is the level of hype the media places on their video surveillance products. For instance, a few months ago, SecurityinfoWatch claimed that, "this camera is largely the same as we're seeing with the "professional grade" cameras." Ironically, SIW was referring to even a lower cost, simpler model in the Cisco SMB line.

The reality is the Cisco SMB software and PTZ are clearly for the SMB/consumer market. It does not come close to professional grade surveillance (Axis, Genetec, Pelco, etc., etc.). Indeed, from my discussions with Cisco, they clearly know and are positioning this to the small business market.

The SMB software has a number of important flaws that could present major headaches/problems for users/specifiers. As this is early in the development lifecycle, it is reasonable to believe that many or most will be fixed over time. Cisco reports that they are working on many improvements but I cannot speculate on how soon or what exactly will be improved.

The PTZ camera is acceptable for indoor monitoring of small space (like a conference room or a lobby). As we have not tested other SMB PTZ cameras, recommendations on competitive comparison is not possible.

5 reports cite this report:

Cisco Physical Security Strategy in India on May 06, 2010
A May 2010 interview with a Cisco VP for physical security in India discloses some important insights into Cisco's approach to the marketplace. Key...
Testing LILIN's PTZ (IPS-2124) and ONVIF Integration on Jan 09, 2010
Merit LILIN was the first manufacturer to announce production support for IP camera 'standards' - specifically ONVIF's protocol. In January 2009,...
Testing Canon's PTZ Camera (VB-C60) on Dec 27, 2009
While megapixel cameras are hot, PTZs remain an important part of video surveillance deployments. Probably the most frequently mentioned product of...
Testing EzWatch's Analog CCTV Kit on Nov 17, 2009
The future may belong to IP but the present is still dominated by analog cameras. In this report, we test one of the least expensive analog CCTV...
IP Camera 2009 Mid Year Review on Jul 26, 2009
Megapixel was the most dominant trend in IP cameras over the first half of 2009. So dominant was megapixel, that not only did most manufacturers...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Monitoring

Axis Guardian - Cloud VMS And Alarm Monitoring - Released on Jun 19, 2018
Axis has struggled to deliver a cloud-based managed service video platform. Video service providers have utilized AVHS for over a decade, and have...
Amazon Ring Launches $10 Monthly Professional Alarm Monitoring on Jun 15, 2018
Amazon's Ring has announced an alarm system with 24/7 professional alarm monitoring for $10 per month, a fraction of the $30+ per month traditional...
China Public Video Surveillance Guide: From Skynet to Sharp Eyes on Jun 14, 2018
China is expanding its video surveillance network to achieve “100%” nationwide coverage by 2020, including facial recognition capabilities and a...
Stealth / UCIT - Remote Video Monitoring Provider Profile on May 18, 2018
Can 2 remote video monitoring companies, Stealth Monitoring from the US and UCIT from Canada combine to impact the market and compete in a changing...
IP Network Hardware for Surveillance Guide on May 02, 2018
Video surveillance systems depend on IP networking equipment. In this guide, we explain the key pieces of equipment and features, explaining where...
FLIR Launches Saros on May 01, 2018
Has FLIR solved the video intrusion / remote monitoring problem or have they created an overkill, overly expensive device? FLIR has launched...
Netwatch / NMC Mega Deal Targets Global Remote Video Monitoring on Apr 27, 2018
Big money has entered the remote video monitoring market. While remote video monitoring has been done for more than a decade, the market has...
Amazon Enters Home Security Services on Apr 26, 2018
Move over ADT? It is certainly what investors have feared for ADT, especially since Amazon acquired Ring. [Update: We spoke with Amazon and have...
Global Real-Time Video Surveillance - EarthNow on Apr 20, 2018
A new company, EarthNow, with backing from Bill Gates, Airbus and more, is claiming that: Users will be able to see places on Earth with a delay...
Alarm.com Business Market Expansion on Apr 13, 2018
Alarm.com has millions of subscribers, but the company has traditionally been mostly a residential/home focused offering.  ADC's new Smart Business...

Most Recent Industry Reports

IFSEC Show Report Day 2 Report on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM is live from London reporting on the IFSEC show. The Chinese have taken over the UK, centered on Hikvision, flanked by Dahua, Huawei and a...
Mobotix Releases 'Move' Into 21st Century on Jun 20, 2018
For years, Mobotix stood resolutely against, well, every other manufacturer, selling it as a virtue: MOBOTIX equipment is designed with no...
Cybersecurity Startup VDOO Disclosing 10 Manufacturer Vulnerabilities Starting With Axis And Foscam on Jun 20, 2018
Cybersecurity startup VDOO has uncovered significant vulnerabilities in Axis cameras along with many others not yet disclosed. In this report, we...
July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jun 19, 2018
The last chance to save $50 on registration is this Thursday, June 21st. Register now and save. This is the only networking course designed...
Axis Guardian - Cloud VMS And Alarm Monitoring - Released on Jun 19, 2018
Axis has struggled to deliver a cloud-based managed service video platform. Video service providers have utilized AVHS for over a decade, and have...
IPVM Vulnerability Scanner Released on Jun 18, 2018
IPVM is proud to announce video surveillance's first and only cybersecurity vulnerability scanner. This tool allows quickly and simply...
Hikvision Corrects False Cybersecurity Announcement on Jun 18, 2018
Hikvision has corrected a false cybersecurity announcement that claimed a British government-sponsored program endorsed the cybersecurity of...
The Dumb Ones: PSA's Bozeman On Cybersecurity on Jun 15, 2018
The smart ones are the hundred people who flew to Denver and spent $500+ on a 1.5-day conference featuring Dahua as a 'cyber responsible partner',...
Amazon Ring Launches $10 Monthly Professional Alarm Monitoring on Jun 15, 2018
Amazon's Ring has announced an alarm system with 24/7 professional alarm monitoring for $10 per month, a fraction of the $30+ per month traditional...
Axis Releases First New Access Controller In 5 Years (A1601) on Jun 15, 2018
It has been 5 years since Axis 2013 entry in the physical access control market, with the A1001 (IPVM test). Now, Axis has released its second...

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