Most Aggressive Pilot Program Ever?

By Ethan Ace, Published Mar 19, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

For analog holdouts, or those with no surveillance, making the move to IP can be challenging. Typically it involves some outlay of cash for demo cameras or encoders, in addition to VMS licensing, neither of which may be readily available. Rarely, if ever do vendors offer free hardware or long term free trials. In this note, we examine an interesting program by Video Insight offering aggressive terms.


Video Insight has introduced a free pilot program, including hardware  and software, with a 1-year term, the longest standard offering we have seen. The free pilot program [link no longer available] provides Video Insight software licenses, as well as cameras and an encoder, to evaluate for a full year. The demo products supplied are fully operational, not limited in any way. The following are included:

  • 8 x Video Insight VMS licenses
  • 1 x Video Insight VP8 8-channel encoder [link no longer available]
  • 2 x Advidia 2MP dome cameras

At the end of the year-long period (or at any point prior), the user must either pay full system price, or return all equipment.

Full Year Demo Duration

A full year demo period is practically unheard of in the industry. On average, VMS providers with demo programs allow for 30-60 day demos (90 days at most). These durations may be long enough for knowledgeable users to make a decision on software, but in the case of inexperienced or occasional users, one of Video Insight's target markets, longer is likely better. This allows for more time to adjust to the new platform, and its potential complexities before making a commitment, which could sway inexperienced users.

Hardware Included

VMS demo programs very rarely include hardware. Partly, this is for the obvious reason that most open platform VMS providers do not manufacture their own cameras or encoders. Those that do are less likely to give out hardware, regardless, because it is a physical item, and a hard cost, as opposed to software. 

This package also allows users to compare and contrast their existing cameras, via the encoder, with 2MP resolution. Showing this difference in resolution is one of the most compelling demonstrations of the benefits of IP surveillance.


The free pilot program has a longer duration than all of the major VMS providers. OnSSI and Milestone are both limited to 30 days, while Exacq offers 45 days. Genetec's demo program is not published, but is of variable duration, negotiated with their regional sales managers. End user demo programs are rare among camera manufacturers, and typically (as in the case of Axis, ACTi, Bosch, and others) must be initiated by an integrator. 

While this pilot program may be attractive for some users, we expect that it will have limited impact. Video Insight is not a well-known name, especially to those outside the industry, which limits the audience for this program. However, the long evaluation period and inclusion of hardware may attract some users who are looking to get their feet wet in the IP world.

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