Vivotek IP7142 review
Not so long ago external IP cameras commanded a hefty premium, but we’re now seeing many affordable solutions coming onto the market. Panasonic’s BL-C160 impressed with its sub-£200 price tag, although its IPX4 rating does require it to be placed in a fully sheltered location.
Vivotek’s IP7142 has an IP66 rating, which means it can handle the British weather. This rating passes the camera as fully protected against dust, and it can withstand low-pressure jets of water. The last IP66-rated camera we looked at was the Vantage VIPC1431EP, which costs nearly £200 more.
The IP7124 is similar in design to the Vantage alternative, since its innards are protected by a solid aluminium tube topped off with a metal sunshield. However, the camera is shipped with its Ethernet, power, audio and I/O cables already connected and protected inside a 1.5-metre rubber sheath, so it’s ready to go outdoors straight from the box.
The camera employs a standard 1/4in RGB CMOS sensor and it can handle low light levels right down to 0.68 lux. It supports simultaneous MPEG4 and MJPEG video streams at up to 25fps with a top resolution of 720 x 480. Night-time manoeuvres are on the cards as the camera lens is surrounded by 12 infrared emitter LEDs, which claim to illuminate an area of up to 15 metres.
The camera can be powered using the supplied transformer, but it supports 802.3af PoE and worked fine with the lab’s HP ProCurve 2626-PWR switch. Vivotek’s wizard utility neatly handles first-time installation and offers links for accessing the cameras locally, over the internet, and from a mobile via RTSP where it will use a lower resolution of 176 x 144 pixels.
The camera’s homepage opens with a live view where we found image quality to be reasonable, but not up to the standard set by Axis’ IP cameras. The camera comes in for precisely the same criticisms levelled at Vantage as, although colour balance under natural and artificial light is very good and movement smooth, focus was too soft, meaning distant objects such as car number plates will be nigh-on impossible to read.
Objects much closer to the camera are easier to make out, although using the 4x digital zoom results in image deterioration. It’s a shame about the image quality, since the camera offers many useful features. Motion detection can be configured in different windows, with their own sensitivity settings and triggers used to send images to email, FTP or web servers. Server destinations are also supported for Windows shares, and the camera can record directly to these constantly or to multiple day and time schedules.
For night-time operations the camera automatically switches on the infrared illuminators, and as light levels drop further it goes to mono mode. The quoted range of 15 metres is acceptable, and image quality in this mode was good enough to make out facial detail up to around 10 metres away.
If you want a low-cost solution for external surveillance the IP7142 is well worth checking out. Image quality isn’t the best but the IP66 rating, 24-hour operations and features makes this IP camera very good value.
|Warranty RTB years||1|
|Warranty C&R years||0|
|Warranty On-site years||0|
|Warranty extra information|
|Sensor type||1/4in Sony CCD|
|Video frame rate||25fps|
|Wired adapter speed||100Mbits/sec|
|Power over Ethernet||yes|
|Compression scheme||MJPEG, MPEG4|
|Software supplied||ST2402 recording utility|