Ubiquiti Open IP Cameras Tested

By Ethan Ace, Published Apr 04, 2016, 10:38am EDT (Research)

Back in 2011, Ubiquiti broke ground, offering IP cameras for the then shocking amount of ~$100.

And, for a while, Ubiquiti included 3rd party support but a few years ago they shut it down completely.

Now, in a new firmware version (3.2.0), they have re-opened support.

Inside, we test this to see how it works, what drawbacks it may have, and how it impacts Ubiquiti's market positioning.

Summary

On the plus side, the (re)addition of RTSP streaming to Ubiquiti's UniFi cameras makes them usable with third party VMSes instead of requiring Ubiquiti's own limited NVR offering.

However, there are two key limitations typical of RTSP:

  • No configuration from VMS: Unlike ONVIF or direct integrations, RTSP does not allow any configuration of the stream from the VMS. All configuration must be done in the camera.
  • No VMD: No camera side VMD is supported. Continuous recording is necessary unless server side VMD is used.

Finally, RTSP streaming did not work with Exacq, though we saw no issues with Avigilon Control Center or Milestone XProtect in our tests.

Market Impact

Given the proliferation of lower cost IP cameras with full ONVIF support for less than $100, this move will not have a strong competitive impact but could help loyal Ubiquiti dealers use the UniFi video line with third party systems. 

Version 3.20 Required

Both of these new features are included in Version 3.20 firmware/software and later, available as a free download. Firmware is compatible with all but first generation Ubiquiti cameras.

RTSP Streaming

RTSP streaming is enabled by switching the camera to "Standalone" mode (versus UniFi) in the web interface of the camera, enabling RTSP settings and displaying stream URLs. A full size stream and two sub streams are available for each camera. Note that only framerate and max bitrate are configurable, no other settings.

Stream Compatibility 

We were able to stream to Avigilon and Milestone without issue, with no dropped frames, breakup, or other issues. Note that recording is continuous only for VMSes without server side motion detection as camera side VMD is not supported. In our tests, the stream simply did not work in ExacqVision. VLC Player was also able to properly display the stream.

We show RTSP configuration and streaming examples in this video:

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