Testing LuxRiot VMS (Version 1.7)

Author: Benros Emata, Published on Feb 28, 2010

As video management software matures, complaints increase about its high price. Even a small deployment of 16 cameras in a single site can cost $1,500 - $2,500 for basic VMS software without any enterprise management. There are free VMS options but those usually restrict support for only the manufacturer's own cameras. By contrast, Luxriot provides an open VMS software supporting broad numbers of cameras at 60% to 80% lower price than most open VMS offerings.

In this test, we examine LuxRiot’s VMS (version 1.7.1.1). The test was hosted on a Windows 7 machine, using the Canon VB-C60 (PTZ), IQInvision Series 4 and Axis Q1755. You may download a 1 channel LuxRiot VMS software to evaluate itself.

Our key findings include:

  • Simple to install but some complexity in configuration
  • Powerful advanced configuration options but limited enterprise management
  • Limits in investigation and some challenges in accessing investigations

Luxriot offers extensive on-line documentation including an A&E specification and user manual.

Computing Platform Support

LuxRiot supports an array of the Windows platform - XP, Vista, Windows 7 (beta version), Server 2008 (beta version), Server 2003 (32 and 64-bit). A single executable will provide installation for both client and server with a file size less than 22 MB.

Third Party Support

LuxRiot offers a broad list of third party IP cameras as well as capture cards (for low cost integration of analog cameras).  Interesting to note is that support ranges from very high end expensive cameras (including H.264 megapixel support) and also to low end inexpensive cameras. This provides a flexible base to mix and match cameras per customer or to vary across different customer's needs.

Key Features

  • Server installation has an option to install as a service, minimizing accidental shut downs
  • Web client for live viewing
  • Limited to one camera investigations
  • Administration has exhausting number of wizards
  • Integration with Google maps (though lacks an address search option)
  • Recompression - LuxRiot will transcode a high resolution camera to a lower resolution for live streaming. In an environment with limited bandwidth, this ensures a cap on the live stream while still recording at the camera's original resolution setting.
Key Limitations
  • No enterprise user management capabilities (lacks universal user management across systems and no Active Directory integration)
  • No enterprise server administration (no mass updating configuration of cameras)
  • No mainstream access control or PSIM integration (only one small access control system integrated with); LuxRiot offers an API but without actual integrations, it is of little benefit for most users
  • No event/alarm management in the client (lacks structured way to review and respond to real time alarms being triggered)

Pricing

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LuxRiot offers five different levels of pricing varying mostly on the number of channels licensed for that package; however, does not charge for software upgrades and only for camera upgrades. The following are sample on-line camera licensing prices:

  • Personal DVR – $89 ($89/ch.) max 1 cameras, 1 remote connection
  • Basic DVR – $269 ($68/ch.) max 4 cameras, 1 remote connections
  • Professional DVR –  $449 ($50/ch.) max 9 cameras, 3 remote connections
  • Advanced DVR – $539 ($34/ch.) max 16 cameras, 5 remote connections
  • Enterprise DVR – $1349, unlimited channels, unlimited connections (single server)

One pricing quirk to be noted is the price jump from 16 to 17 cameras. The per camera price more than doubles at this point (going from $34 per camera to $79 per camera as it requires moving from advanced to enterprise).

While the Enterprise software supports licensing of unlimited cameras, a practical limit of server hardware hosting the software obviously exists. LuxRiot technical support informs us that deployments of a practical maximum of about ~80 cameras on a single server in field deployments.

Overview of the VMS System

The following screencast provides an overview of the LuxRiot VMS system and key highlights include:

  • Server installation as an application or service
  • Orientation of interface layout
  • Accessing administrative tasks
  • Accessing advanced features
  • LuxRiot's emphasis of set up wizards
  • Accessing archived video

Usability

The following screencast provides usability highlights of LuxRiot's VMS, in addition to items we found challenging. Key points include:

  • Server installation as a service minimizes accidental shutdown
  • Use of Google Maps for custom maps but lack of full integration with the live view
  • Useful batch exporting option
  • Recompression feature provides the capability to limit the bandwidth use for live streaming but still records at the original camera settings
  • Challenge:  configuration emphasis on wizards but fragmented amongst many
  • Challenge:  tedious investigation workflow
  • Challenge:  limit to one camera search
  • Challenge:  lack of event notification integrated with video

Administration

The following screencast examines how to configure/setup LuxRiot's VMS system. Key points include:

  • All servers and cameras are listed in the structure tree
  • Camera discovery tool finds cameras on the network
  • Using several wizards for system set up and configurations
  • Prioritizing motion detection to the camera or server
  • Bulk security - a more efficient tool for applying permissions
  • Applying memory caps to maximize server stability

Live Monitoring

The following screencast examines monitoring live video with LuxRiot's VMS software. Key point include:

  • Use of on-screen displays that provide technical information of a live stream
  • Viewing motion detection in real-time
  • Using Google Maps for visually referencing camera locations for live viewing

Investigations

The following screencast examines how to conduct investigations with LuxRiot's VMS software. Key points include:

  • Several options to access archived video
  • Smart Search using regional search
  • One camera investigations

VMS Questions - Basic Use (Live and Recorded)

How do I watch live video?

The default view will always display the live camera matrix on the right with the list of servers and associated cameras on the left structure tree. The structure tree on the left will allow the user to drag and drop cameras into the live viewing pane.

What ways can I monitor many video feeds simultaneously?

Numerous layouts are provided, such as 2x2, 3x3, 2x8, etc. The toolbar icons are representative of the layout so simply clicking on the different buttons will change the view in real-time.

How can I be notified and review alarms?

Without loading the client application, the administrator can use the Windows tray icon to view LuxRiot server events. This launches a window showing logged events. Additionally, there is an Events pane at the bottom of the software interface to provide information logged by the system.

What ways can I search multiple video feeds?

LuxRiot does not allow an integrated option to multi-camera searching. Within a single interface, only one camera can be searched.

How do you share images from video

With the Archive open, use the "Save Current Frame As..." button at the bottom left, represented by a film strip.

When in live mode, right-click on the live and choose "Save Current Frame As..."

In both modes, the use can go to the main menu Video > "Save Current Frame As..."

How do you share video clips from recorded video?

With the Archive open, use the top main menu Edit, then choose Export Wizard...

The wizard will walk the user through exporting video, choosing compression settings, etc. Optionally, there is a batch export feature allowing the investigator to queue multiple exports.

To allow exporting of video, the user must first access the 'Archive.' When in the Archive window, the layout is different. Additionally, the UI displays a timeline at the bottom so is visually clear that this is the archived mode.

How do I know if I am in live or recorded video mode

When viewing archived video, the user is directed into a completely different window - the layout is significantly different as well.

How do you switch between live video, investigations and configuration?

All are done starting with the single client interface.

How can I conduct searches from video feeds stored in different appliances/servers?

The investigator must access each server individually and conduct isolated search on each. There is no feature that provides enterprise level searching.

VMS Questions - Administrative

Administrative duties (i.e. adding cameras, servers, etc.), recording parameters, etc. are conducted all through wizards. The default view will load the live video. An investigator must use one of three ways to launch the Archive to view archived video - right-clicking on the camera window or right-clicking on the structure tree and choosing 'Open Archive' or the toolbar button also provides access to the Archive.

How do I add/setup a camera?

Using the "Camera Setup Wizard..." option via r-clicking on the server, choose Tasks.

In the structure pane, the user can also r-click on "Video" and initiate the camera wizard.

How do you restrict access to the system?

Via username/password. 

The "Server Security Setup Wizard" provides checkboxes that allow high level permission settings (i.e. "privilege to access server archive" or "privilege to connect to server remotely")

How can you setup the VMS to handle failures to servers/appliances?

Within a single server, the admin can add additional hard drives or a shared path for external storage. Each drive can also be specified a priority to indicate which records first.

How to provide server failover?

LuxRiot does not have any failover options.

How can you access reports or alerts on the health status of the servers/appliances applications?

The watchdog performance options provide specifications for maximum allowed resources. This includes 'committed memory' usage, 'pool nonpaged memory, 'server private memory' and 'server virtual memory' usage.

The events pane on the client software, which is displayed at all times, will also notify the user of issues in real-time.

Lastly, from the server tray icon, the administrator can view events without loading the client software.

How can you upgrade the VMS software?

The software is updated outside of the interface. More specifically, the admin will shut down the software and launch the install, conduct the upgrade process and re-launch the software.

VMS Questions - Usability

What, if any, VMS functionalities regularly take more than 10 seconds to load?

The system is very responsive and have not yet been able to find a function that requires long load times.

What options does the VMS provide to reduce storage consumption?

The admin can first specify the certain percentage of a drive that will be dedicated to recording. Additionally, the 'duration quota' allows global preferences on how long the recordings are kept in archive (set in days).

Configuring the duration quota can also apply on a camera level to prioritize lower/higher risk cameras.

What help functionality does the VMS provide while using the client?

The Help main menu provides several options for support:

  1. Quick Start Guide is available from a directory within the software installation
  2. Direct link to the website on the full user manual
  3. 'LuxRiot' DVR Problem Report Wizard also provides a messaging system to send inquiries to LuxRiot support. Through the wizard, the admin can attach log files and additional system details to provide support for troubleshooting.

An auto-notification is sent to the user to verify the inquiry was received. During our tests technical support responded with a phone call under 30 min.

How similar is the use of the VMS client to a DVR?

The use is significantly different from a DVR and more similar to Microsoft applications (Word, Excel, etc.). Unlike a DVR which generally has a few key buttons (e.g., live, recorded, configuration), Luxriot offers a series of drop down menus and contextual menus (i.e., right clicking) to access functions.

Live monitoring is most similar to a DVR while investigations is most dissimilar (due to the absence of multi-video playback and the discrete access points into the investigation mode).

How simple is it for an untrained operator?

Installation is simple for an untrained operator. With a small executable and no requirements for third party installations, the system can be downloaded and installed within minutes.

Configuration can be complex as the system provides multiple wizards with a variety of advanced configuration options that can confuse untrained operators or those without sufficient IT/video backgrounds.

Live monitoring should be simple for untrained operators as they can select video feeds from the tree on the left and display them in the panes on the right. Investigations will be harder as it can be difficult for an untrained operator how to determine accessing playback. Also, it is not possible to play back multiple videos simultaneously.

How powerful is it for the expert operator?

Throughout the wizards, advanced options are provided for fine tuning performance or configuration. We think this will make it quite powerful for experts to adjust the system to their preferences.

VMS Questions - Scalability

What ways can I add/setup many cameras at the same time?

The wizard provides a discovery tool and proceeds to walk through camera settings. However, it the camera settings cannot be configured globally or even copied over.

Multiple cameras can be discovered in a single instance but will still require a level of individual attention.

How do you restrict access when using multiple servers/appliances?

Multiple servers can be restricted via user/group permissions. To be clear, there is no enterprise wide user management option - each server must be configured individually from the left side structure tree.

Enterprise users would need to be added to each server.

How can I watch live video feeds from different appliances/servers?

In the structure pane, with multiple servers, cameras can be dragged and dropped into different video channels.

Recommendations

LuxRiot VMS is a best fit for users who value a broad choice of camera support, advanced configuration options and a low price. However, this is not a fit for users in high or maximum security deployments with large number of sites (due to limitations in investigations, event management, third party integration and enterprise management).

Key elements that may impact your purchase decision:

  • Positive - Wide range of third party camera support. If you want or need to use cameras from multiple manufacturers but do not have significant security needs, LuxRiot can be an attractive low cost option.
  • Skills - The greater a customer's technical skill level (e.g., IT admins or IT savy end users), the more LuxRiot will be appreciated.
  • Negative - Enterprise functionality: If you have pressing security needs or large numbers of sites, saving a thousand dollars per site on VMS software licensing fees may not sufficiently offset the limitations that Luxriot VMS has.

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