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.]

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

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.

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

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

Alarm.com Favorability Results 2019 on Apr 15, 2019
The once dot com startup has evolved to become a core provider for home security and is now expanding into commercial. In their first entry in...
Hikvision AI Problems Criticized By Chinese Publication on Apr 09, 2019
Hikvision's facial recognition works poorly, causes delays and worsens learning, according to a new investigation by one of China's leading...
Casino Security Consultant Carl Lindgren Interview on Mar 26, 2019
For more than 20 years, Carl Lindgren worked as a casino surveillance pro, while being active (and sometimes outspoken) on various online video...
IBM / Genetec Surveillance System Investigated Over Philippines Human Rights Abuses on Mar 22, 2019
A lengthy investigation into an IBM video surveillance project in the Philippines, raising concerns IBM helped local police conduct a bloody...
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...
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...
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

H.265 Usage Statistics on Apr 19, 2019
H.265 has been available in IP cameras for more than 5 years and, in the past few years, the number of manufacturers supporting this codec has...
ACRE Acquires RS2, Explains Acquisition Strategy on Apr 19, 2019
ACRE continues to buy, now acquiring RS2, just 5 months after buying Open Options. One is a small access control manufacturer from Texas, the...
Access Control Course Spring 2019 - Last Chance on Apr 19, 2019
Register for the Spring Access Control Course. IPVM offers the most comprehensive access control course in the industry. Unlike manufacturer...
Riser vs Plenum Cabling Explained on Apr 18, 2019
You could be spending twice as much for cable as you need. The difference between 'plenum' rated cable and 'riser' rated cable is subtle, but the...
Verint Victimized By Ransomware on Apr 18, 2019
Verint, which is best known in the physical security industry for video surveillance but has built a sizeable cybersecurity business as well, was...
Milestone Drops IFSEC on Apr 18, 2019
Milestone has dropped out of Europe's largest annual security trade show (IFSEC 2019), telling IPVM that they "have found that IFSEC in EMEA no...
The Fastest Growing Video Surveillance Sales Organization Ever - Verkada on Apr 17, 2019
Verkada has the fastest growing video surveillance sales organization ever. In less than 2 years, they already have more salespeople in the US...
Door Operators Access Control Tutorial on Apr 17, 2019
Doors equipped with door operators, specialty devices that automate opening and closing, tend to be quite complex. The mechanisms needed to...
Securadyne CEO: IPVM 'Entertaining For An Ignorant Few' on Apr 16, 2019
Securadyne's CEO Carey Boethel is unhappy with IPVM's report - Failed Integrator Rollup, Securadyne Sells to Guard Giant Allied. Indeed, he...
Dahua Repositionable IR Multi-Imager Camera Tested on Apr 16, 2019
Dahua has released their first repositionable multi-imager camera, the Multi-Flex 4x2MP, claiming integrated IR, true WDR, and flexible...

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