Axis P3344-VE review

£923
Price when reviewed

High-definition IP cameras are the next big step for surveillance applications, and Axis’ latest P3344-VE takes this technology to the great outdoors. It has ease of installation as a top priority and is clothed in a sturdy IP66-rated casing, which means it can shrug off dust and withstand low-pressure jets of water.

The body is constructed of solid impact-resistant aluminium, and a thick polycarbonate dome protects the lens. The camera also has a built-in heater around the lens housing and a tiny internal cooling fan, so it can operate between -40°C and 55°C.

Axis P3344-VE

It supports the 802.3af PoE standard and we had no problems powering it from the lab’s HP ProCurve 2626-PWR switch. The camera and lens housing are in a self-contained unit that can be easily unclipped and removed once the Torx security screws in the outer housing have been released.

There are sockets for an external microphone and speaker, and an SD/SDHC memory card slot. The camera sports the same impressive surveillance features found in other Axis cameras such the M1054. From the tidy web interface you can mirror the image or rotate it in 90-degree increments, improving your placement options. Axis’ pixel counter is a useful validation tool: highlight an area, such as a face, and it shows the height and width in pixels, thus confirming if it’s suitable for facial recognition.

The autofocus function makes light work of installation and avoids the need to take the dome off for manual adjustment. The camera has digital PTZ functions, although there are some major limitations. When enabled, you have to decide on a resolution that will determine the zoom range and pan-and-tilt coverage.

A 1.25x zoom range supports 1,024 x 640 pixels, but if you want 8x zoom this drops the live view size to only 160 x 100. The problem here is the image is so small we could barely see any detail.

We’ve always been impressed with Axis’ image quality and the P3344-VE is no different. At 720p, the image is large, with a sharp focus, good colour balance and plenty of detail. Movement at the top frame rate was also conveyed with little jerkiness.

Axis P3344-VE

Some businesses consider HD IP cameras to be network bandwidth hogs, so we ran some performance tests using Riverbed’s Cascade Pilot monitoring software. With the camera set to MJPEG, 720p and 30fps, we recorded a steady draw of about 18Mbits/sec with one client viewing the feed.

With the camera set to H.264 and 720p, this dropped significantly to only 0.8Mbits/sec with no movement in the viewing area. A quick jiggle in front of the camera saw usage peak at 4.8Mbits/sec, which dropped back as soon as we left the building.

With the Y-Cam Bullet external wireless IP camera costing less than £300, the P3344-VE looks expensive. However, it has a far tougher exterior, and although we didn’t think much of the digital PTZ controls, it offers a massively superior image quality and features list.

Warranty

Warranty RTB years3

Specifications

Sensor type1/3in progressive scan RGB CMOS
Video frame rate30fps
Wired adapter speed100Mbits/sec
Power over Ethernetyes
Compression schemeMJPEG, H.264

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