Axis expands H.264 network video platform

April 24, 2008 -- At this month's ISC West, Axis Communications introduced a variety of network video products that support the highly efficient H.264 video compression format.

April 24, 2008 -- At this month's ISC West show, Axis Communications introduced a variety of network video products that support the highly efficient H.264 video compression format.

By employing H.264 in all of its new network cameras, video encoders and video management systems, the company says its products can save users up to 50% of storage and network bandwidth as compared to MPEG-4 Part 2 systems, and up to 80% compared to Motion JPEG systems. The company contends that such savings allows deployment of more cost-effective video-surveillance systems, and simplified deployment and management of large-scale video surveillance systems.

"Our new products are the first offerings on the market taking full advantage of a high-performance H.264 video encoder platform with unparalleled image processing capabilities," comments Fredrik Nilsson, general manager at Axis Communications. "Axis products can now deliver superb image quality with higher resolutions, frame rates and multiple streaming capabilities, and with much lower bandwidth and storage requirements using the H.264 compression standard. In addition, there is increased capacity for running intelligent video applications that help users effectively manage large-scale video surveillance systems."

New H.264 products introduced by the company at the ISC West show included the following:

-- The compact AXIS P3301 network cameras are designed for indoor video surveillance systems with demanding requirements. The fixed dome cameras employ the proprietary Axis ARTPEC-3 chip, which incorporates the H.264 video compression standard. The company says the P3301 is specifically adapted for unobtrusive video surveillance in exposed indoor environments, such as retail, banking, government buildings, schools, universities and airports. The camera offers superior image quality with progressive scan capability and wide dynamic range, providing crisp and clear images of both illuminated and low-light areas. Multiple H.264 streams, as well as Motion JPEG streams, can be provided simultaneously either in full frame rate or individually optimized for different quality needs and bandwidth constraints.

The standard AXIS P3301 comes with a tamper-resistant plastic cover; the AXIS P3301-V variant features a rugged, vandal-resistant casing with a metal base specifically intended for environments subject to the risk of vandalism. Power over Ethernet (IEEE 802.3af PoE) technology supplies power to the camera via the network, eliminating the need for power cables. Video intelligence features include enhanced video motion detection, audio detection, and detection of camera tampering attempts such as blocking or spray-painting. Security and network management capabilities include HTTPS encryption with preserved performance, IEEE 802.1X authentication, IPv4/IPv6, and Quality of Service.

Both models of the camera will be available through Axis' distribution channels in Q3 2008 for the suggested retail prices of $799 and $849 respectively.

-- Axis also introduced three new video encoder products that support H.264 video compression via the proprietary ARTPEC-3 chip. The AXIS Q7401 Video Encoder, Q7406 Video Encoder Blade, and Q7900 Rack all enable analog cameras to be integrated into IP-based video surveillance systems.

The standalone AXIS Q7401 Video Encoder is for integrating one analog camera; the Q7406 Video Encoder Blade supports six analog channels; the Q7900 is a highest-density rack that supports up to 84 analog cameras. The video encoders support all types of analog video cameras, converting analog signals into digital streams that are then sent over IP networks for viewing and recording.

Both the Q7401 and the Q7406 blade incorporate an encoder for H.264, which is also known as MPEG-4 Part 10/AVC. Both encoders provide multiple, individually configurable video streams from each channel at full frame rate in all resolutions. Both products include intelligent capabilities such as enhanced video motion detection and active tampering alarm.

The Q7401 also supports IEEE 802.3af PoE, offers two-way audio and audio detection, and has an SD/SDHC memory card slot for local storage.

The Q7900 rack is an expandable system for use in installations with large numbers of analog cameras. The 19-inch rack holds up to 14 hot-swappable video encoder blades. With four ports that support Gigabit Ethernet, it can handle multiple video streams from each analog channel. Redundant power supply units provide reliability; in addition, fan cassettes to be changed without having to cut off power.

The products are available through Axis' distribution channels for the suggested retail prices of $599, $1,499 and $2,999 respectively.

-- Finally, the company also introduced its AXIS Camera Station 3.0 video management software for monitoring, playback and event management of up to 50 Axis network cameras or video encoder channels. The software features an enhanced user interface and support for the H.264 video compression technique, in addition to the already supported Motion JPEG and MPEG-4 formats.

The application is specially designed for Axis network video products, offering automatic camera discovery and an Event Configuration Wizard, coupled with recording and search functionalities, timeline visualization, and export functionality. Scheduled and event-driven recording can be triggered manually, by motion detection or external I/O. The Windows client can be installed on any PC, enabling remote viewing and control from anywhere on the Internet or the corporate network.

This third-generation video management software also offers PTZ and dome camera control via mouse or joystick, along with digital PTZ support in live view and in playback. Security entails multiple access levels and an unlimited recording database that is restricted by disk space only. The open architecture software comes with a well-documented API for easy integration with other systems such as point-of-sales and access control.

AXIS Camera Station will be available through the company's distribution channels in April 2008. Suggested retail price for a 4-camera base license is $649; a 10-camera base license is $999.


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