Testing Viaas Hosted Video / VSaaS Offering

By: Benros Emata, Published on Apr 06, 2010

With all the hype growing for managed/hosted video, a key question remains: How well does it actually work? To answer that, we are starting a series of in-depth tests to examine the functionality and performance provided in these systems.

In this report, we test Viaas, an end-to-end solution that provides its own camera [link no longer available] and hosted video system [link no longer available] at a fairly low price [link no longer available].

Key findings include:

  • Install did not require IT expertise
  • Focusing vari-focal lens can prove challenging
  • Advanced VMS functionality for home/SOHO user but simplistic for professional use
  • Video quality average at day, superior at low light (<1 lux) for home/SOHO use

Important points to note for the use of the service include:

  • Non-technical setup of camera that automatically connects to hosting service (i.e., the camera 'phones home' to Viaas hosting system): No configuring of router, DDNS, firewall, etc. necessary
  • Video displayed in web browser using Flash allowing for cross browser compatibility with no modification (we conducted test using Chrome and FireFox)
  • Resolution at 4CIF H.264, with a non-configurable framerate of 20fps during the day, 8fps at night
  • Motion triggered recording, no continuous recording offered
  • Using an optional MicroSD card, bandwidth shaping functionality limits bandwidth consumption and smooths out 
  • During network outages, records video to MicroSD card and then re-synchs when network connectivity resumes
  • Device is powered through PoE only: Kit does not include PoE injector
  • Stock, non-removable 2.8 - 12mm varifocal lens
  • Fixed exposure settings:  Max 1/30 sec, 1/8 sec at night
  • Mechanical IR cut filter
 
Pricing
 
Viaas directly sells their product over the Internet in their company store [link no longer available].  The MSRP for the Camera One is $99.95 USD, and the subscription to the hosting service (which includes 4 weeks of archiving) is $9.95 USD / month.  The Camera One does not include a PoE injector.  If you do not have a PoE appliance on hand, Viaas offers a PoE injector for $16.95 USD and a 4 port PoE switch for $79.99 USD.  In addition, a MicroSD (MicroSDHC) can be purchased separately if you want to enable 'bandwidth shaping. A 2GB card is sold in their on-line store for $10 USD.
 
Support
 
Viaas provides direct phone and Skype support for users. The information is publicly and prominently displayed [link no longer available].

Physical Overview

This screencast describes the Viaas Camera One's physical form factor and the components that are included with the system.  Key points include:

  • Form factor design allows for heat dissipation and ease of handling
  • Kit includes wall mount and ceiling mount hardware
  • Kit does not include PoE injector / switch
  • LED lights function as a status indicator and is also used in focusing the camera
  • Micro SDHC slot supports cards up to 16GB
  • User manual includes camera activation information: Do not discard

Installation and Configuration

In this screencast, we discuss the brief installation procedure and focus on the web based configuration options to optimize the Camera One. Key points include:

  • Not much installation steps to get the camera running: Just plug the device to your network
  • All configurations are performed at Viaas's webpage, after logging in to your account
  • By default, the motion capture preset is set to 'Normal' mode, which is highly sensitive
  • Change the motion capture mode to match the general environment in the scene
  • Camera does not support direct access: Focus adjustments must be performed by reading a long instructional procedure while synching with the LED readouts on the camera body 
  • Bandwidth shaping function can coordinate with network environments that have limited bandwidth

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Live Monitoring and Investigation Usability

In following screencast, we examine the web based recording and investigation functionalities of Viaas's hosting service. The key points are:

  • System UI supports multiplex camera views up to 8 cameras
  • The initial camera views on screen are not 'live' views, but a thumbnail of the most recent captured image
  • 'Go Live' button is obscured, it may be missed
  • System does not support simultaneous viewing of multiple cameras
  • Recorded clips can be tagged as events and organized by adding descriptive titles and keyword tags
  • System does not have an option for continuous or manual recording
  • Thumbnail view allows user to visually search for an event over a period of time
  • Moving mouse to bottom of screen reveals a function to search through longer periods of time
  • Features case management tool via the 'View Saved Events' button

Mobile Usage

The system supports viewing live and recorded video from a web browser on mobile devices. The screencast below examines:

Image Quality

In the screencast below, we examine the image quality of the Viaas camera. The most noteworthy aspect is that the low light performance is quite good for a camera with this low a price. The inclusion of a mechanical cut filter and automatically extending exposure to 1/8s contributes to that.

Download a 12MB sample video package to view for yourself.

Recommendations

Viaas offers a solid system for the home or SOHO user at a fairly attractive price point, especially since many offerings are charging significantly more both for the camera and the monthly service. For lite monitoring and investigations, the VMS offering should be sufficient. Both the camera quality and search functionalities will compare favorably to cube cameras and simple time interfaces common in a number of competitive offerings.

The most important risks/limitations include:

  • For organizations with 'real' security needs or larger camera counts than 4 or 8, limitations on multi-pane simultaneously live and recorded video playback will be a significant problem.
  • Viaas does not integrate with 3rd party systems (access, PoS, etc.).
  • While Viaas calls some of its features 'intelligent', it does not offer any truly intelligent or professional video analytic features.'
  • They only offer a single camera so if you want to support existing analog cameras or use PTZs, dome form factors, etc., you will not be able to do so.

1 report cite this report:

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