Testing OzVision 4-HVR VSaaS / Video Verification

By: Benros Emata, Published on Sep 21, 2010

Using existing analog cameras and implementing a hosted service on top can create a 'comfort zone' for users hesitant migrating to IP.

In this report, we test OzVision's 4-HVR [link no longer available] VSaaS hosted solution. Analog cameras are connected to their on-site encoder that can connect to a central station for video verification as well as stream video off-site for recording. Readers should carefully weigh the tradeoffs of their analog focused approach as it provides an opportunity for existing analog customers to migrate to VSaaS or verification but restricts ability to go 'all IP.'  

Recommendations

We recommend the OzVision 4-HVR hosted solution for deployments that require primarily video verification [link no longer available]. With locked video settings configured for lower quality, OzVision sacrifices video quality relative to almost any DVR (even a low end one). A more expensive 2CH appliance/service can be considered for higher video quality. As such, we think users will have serious reservations using this as their primary recording solution.

Additionally, playback controls such as fast-forward, frame-by-frame or even a jog bar are not provided so detailed investigations could become tedious. Its apparent that the system is not designed for investigations that require more granular controls. 

When evaluating OzVision, the following 8 key criteria / decision points should be considered.

Criteria Strength Description
 Pricing  Moderately Weak Requires purchasing encoder appliance and ongoing monthly service fee
 Simplicity  Moderately Strong  Very limited setup required, (optional) vmd configuration may be cumbersome
 3rd Party IP Camera Support  N/A  Analog camera input only
 3rd Party System Support  Strong  Integration with central station software
 Analytics Support  None  Basic, regular motion detection supported
 Exporting  Moderately Strong  Small file sizes (CIF res) but no granular controls
 Remote Monitoring  Moderately Strong  Users can easily adapt but generally very limited controls 
 Run as a Service  N/A  Server not applicable (hosted)
 Multi-camera Playback  Moderately Weak  Asynchronous playback only

Key Findings

Quality Settings - Customers requiring higher amounts of visual detail (e.g. face) will not be satisfied with the sacrifice of quality for bandwidth savings and smaller exported files. If this is more for video verification, this may be acceptable as re-sellers can provide central station services.

Setup - With existing analog cameras, the 4-HVR provides a simple setup; essentially, plug-n-play. A mom-n-pops shop or QSR owner may find the central station video verification and remote access to meet their surveillance needs. The easy setup and remote access will ease a SMB owner's anxiety migrating to IP.

Live Monitoring / Investigations - For SMD / SOHO deployments that only require very 'basic' controls or utilizing the system for verification will find the Ozvision solution good enough. Without features such as fast-forward or a jog bar, we cannot recommend the system for those requiring detailed investigations. Less controls are more common with hosted solutions but we generally are provided an option to rewind.

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Product Overview

Computing Platform Support

OzVision's 4-HVR is a hosted service and no VMS is managed and no thick client installation is required. Any CCTV analog camera can be used and the unit, essentially, is an encoder and establishes communication with the central station.

OzVision provides reseller opportunities so customer's will register accounts accordingly. When users login, supported browsers are those the support Java, such as:  IE, Firefox, Chrome & Safari (we did not test on Apple OS X). 

Third Party Support

The OzVision 4-HVR is designed to be a standalone video system and does not integrate with IP cameras.

OzVision is designed to integrate with various central station software applications to enable video verification.

Pricing

The 4VR appliance has an MSRP of $700. The monthly service price depends on the price set by dealers. OzVision estimates $10 per month per camera for continuous recorded video stored for 1 month (with the set CIF resolution for the 4VR appliance). The $10 per month fee assumes the use of 4 cameras. Prices for lower camera counts may vary but are likely to be significantly higher per camera. 

Image Quality

We compare an indoor camera (low traffic) and an outdoor intersection camera (high traffic) and observe the varying bitrate due to the fixed high quantization level at 32. With fixed resolution (CIF), 10 fps and H.264 recording, we are able to understand the gain in bandwidth savings with the sacrifice of quality. 

Comparing this to the 2-HVR (2 channel unit), resolution is 640x480 (or 4CIF) and a slightly better quantization level of 30.

Those interested in comparing can download 2 video clips [link no longer available] from the 4-HVR and the 2-HVR.

Physical Overview

The following screencast examines physical and installation highlights of OzVision's 4-HVR unit. Key points include:

SD / USB Storage:  The provided 4GB SD card and front-facing USB port act as a buffer for temporary storage when the communication to the central station is lost. Instead of losing the data completely, the system writes to the SD or USB storage and is synchronized when communication is re-established.

Alarm Board:  4 digital I/O's allow the central station to be notified upon trip of a burglar alarm, for example.

Mounting:  No wall mount bracket or screw holes provided and is likely more suitable for a shelf.

Administration

The following screencast examines administration highlights of OzVision's 4-HVR unit. Key points include:

Limited configurations are required, even excluding items such as camera resolution, frame rate, quality, etc. so is simple. The scheduler is where installers can configure the digital I/O when triggered by a sensor (e.g. burglar alarm) and VMD displays motion blocks in the live view.

Live Monitoring & Investigations

The following screencast examines live video monitoring & investigations with OzVision's hosted service. Key points include:

Live Monitoring -  With hosted solutions, no client installation is required and compatible browsers for OzVision are:  IE, Firefox, Chrome & Safari (jscript based). Motion detection is displayed in live view and investigations is accessed on the same Dashboard screen.

Investigations - Color-coded blocks provide visual aid in the timeline as those with a red stripe indicate alarms triggered by devices (e.g. burglar alarm). Asynchronous playback is the only option and no granular controls are provided (fast forward). The exported files are compatible with COTS media players (WM, Quicktime, VLC, etc.) and provide the motion indicators for 3rd party viewers.

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