|At a Glance|
|Product||Iomega Video Surveillance and Mindtree SecureMind [Website]|
|Summary||Two options for video surveillance bundled with Iomega NASes|
|Pros||• Complete solution, no server needed
• User-friendly intuitive layouts for both solutions
• SecureMind motion detection area is highly configurable without being too complicated
|Cons||• Additional cameras can get expensive with SecureMind Surveillance Manager
• Limited vendor support for other cameras in both the built-in software and SecureMind
• SecureMind motion detection sensitivity could benefit from a threshold meter like the Axis cameras have
Installing a video surveillance system used to be an expensive proposition. Analog cameras needed AC power and coax cabling and the record / playback / monitoring systems that went with them were not cheap, either.
Fast forward to the present, where (relatively) inexpensive, HD-quality IP-based network cameras are plentiful. These cams can be powered by the same cable that connects them to the network (via Power over Ethernet) or completely untethered (except for power) via 802.11n wireless. The missing piece, however, has been more affordable backend systems to capture all of this cheap, high-quality video flitting around your network.
NAS makers QNAP and Thecus have long had dedicated Surveillance products; QNAP with its VS series and Thecus' VisoGuard. But these systems are overkill (and over budget) for small businesses with only a handful of cameras to monitor. Fortunately, virtually all NAS makers with business-grade products have woken up to the opportunity to expand NAS sales by incorporating video surveillance features. So SmallNetBuilder is commencing its coverage of this market by looking at the video surveillance features built into Iomega's StorCenter NASes.
Tim has already reviewed Iomega's StorCenter ix2 -dl Network Storage, which comes with three video surveillance options. The first is the Axis Video Hosting System, which we won't be reviewing, since it is a hosted service, with Iomega only providing a client hook in its NAS OS. But I will be looking at the other two options: Iomega's home-grown Video Surveillance feature; and MindTree's SecureMind Surveillance Manager software.
Video Surveillance - Setup
For our testing, Iomega sent the StorCenter ix2-dl NAS, two Axis M1031-W network cameras, an Axis M1054 network camera, and a four license pack for SecureMind Surveillance Manager. I will be reviewing both Axis cameras in the coming weeks.
The setup of the NAS and accompanying cameras couldn't have been simpler. Basically, all I did was plug each of them into power and the network without running any sort of setup software for the NAS or the cameras. Once booted up the ix2, I grabbed the IP address of the NAS and brought up the StorCenter's front page in my web browser.
Under the NAS Media features I found the built-in Video Surveillance software. Since the StorCenter ix2-dl came to Tim without disks installed, the SecureMind software was not initially installed. I ran through a quick install of it and was ready to go.
I was surprised and delighted to see that the software had automatically found the three Axis cameras that Iomega had provided. From the main screen (Figure 1), I had the option to record live video, to stop that recording, to see the live video, look at how much space each camera's recordings were using and to delete the camera. Very simple, but adequate.
Figure 1: The main screen of the built-in Video Surveillance software
Note the option to Add a video camera in the screenshot above. Having several IP cameras around our house from different manufacturers, I attempted to have the Iomega find them. Unfortunately, Iomega's built-in video surveillance feature supports cameras only from Axis, Bosch, D-Link and Panasonic.
This is somewhat understandable, since quality control and support are easier to manage when you're not supporting a whole host of vendors. Even still, it would have been nice to have the option for generic RTSP to have existing cameras monitored.
Looking at the target audience, a small office/home office with a surveillance infrastructure already in place probably won't be able to replace all of its IP cameras to install Iomega' solution. The SecureMind Sureveillance software expands on this, but is still limited in camera support.
Figure 2: Camera options including supported vendors
Video Surveillance - In Use
Settings for the cameras within the built-in software allow selecting the destination folder on the NAS (Figure 3) and includes a link to each camera's web-based configuration page. Additionally, you are able to set either a maximum number of days to keep the recording or a maximum amount of space. Recording is either done manually via the Video Surveillance page, or on a schedule specified per camera.
Figure 3: Configuration options of the built-in Video Surveillance software
The last two options in the built-in Video Surveillance application are the Video Wall and Alerts. The Video Wall is as it sounds, a matrix of all cameras in the Video Surveillance software (Figure 4). However, features such as recording, which were on the main screen, are conspicuously absent.
Figure 4: Video Wall of the built-in Video Surveillance software
The main "Cameras List" tab allowed me to watch live video of multiple cameras (after clicking on each) and to manually record from them. The Video Wall had a nicer interface, but was missing these features. I felt the two tabs could have been combined for a more user-friendly interface.
The Alerts tab simply showed warnings about the Video Surveillance software. I couldn't find the exact specs as to what was reported on this tab. My guess is warnings about disk space and the like are supposed to reported here. But I even unplugged one camera and saw that it still reported operating normally.
A key feature missing from Video Surveillance is triggered recording AKA motion detection. For that, you need to turn to SecureMind.