Axis Q7401 Video Encoder review
A smart little video encoder that can give your old analogue CCTV cameras a new lease of life
Review Date: 10 Mar 2009
Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell
Price when reviewed: exc VAT
When Axis Communications launched its P3301 it claimed it as one the first IP cameras to market to support multiple H.264 and M-JPEG streams. The Q7401 Video Encoder now brings this surveillance technology within the reach of businesses still relying on analogue CCTV cameras for their security.
This slim-line aluminium box takes the feed from an analogue camera and transmits it over Ethernet where it can be viewed from the encoder's own web interface. It comes with a single composite BNC socket for camera connection and the encoder is capable of auto-sensing PAL or NTSC feeds. You get a Fast Ethernet port for the network link and it's also 802.3af PoE compliant so increasing your placement permutations.
A small row of LEDs provide visual cues to operations by showing power and unit status along with network activity. For testing we connected a Sony SSC-CX18VP colour video camera to the server and we found this partnership worked perfectly. Installation starts by assigning an IP address to the server and is achieved easily using Axis' IP Installer utility. Next you move over to web browser access where the home page displays the current camera view. You can choose from H.264 or M-JPEG feeds and choose from four H.264 stream profiles which include an option for viewing the feed with a mobile device.
Essentially, nearly every feature that is available with the P3301 camera had now been extended to our elderly Sony unit. Two-way audio comes into the equation as the encoder offers sockets for a microphone and speakers. There's an I/O connector block next door that can be used to link the encoder to external security devices such as sensors and alarms allowing them to trigger video capture or an external alarm. The encoder also supports the majority of PTZ analogue cameras so they can now be remotely controlled over the network.
Good security can be implemented by creating a list of users and allowing them full access to the encoder's settings or only viewing privileges. For motion detection it supports up to ten include or exclude windows in the viewing area and now offers an even finer sensitivity for detection. Recording triggers are plentiful as along with motion detection you can use audio, the input ports on the encoder or loss of feed and recording destinations include FTP and HTTP servers and email. There's even a memory card slot in the side allowing video recordings to be stored locally and we tested this successfully with a 4GB SDHC card.
Obviously, image quality will be purely down to the capabilities of your analogue camera but you have room to manoeuvre as there are slider bars for adjusting colour balance, brightness and contrast. The encoder can convey its feed at up to 30fps at any of the five resolutions on offer and for ceiling mounted cameras the image can be inverted and rotated. Access controls extend to a username and password list plus an IP allow or deny list and a RADIUS server for external authentication.
The Q7401 breathes new life into your old analogue CCTV cameras. It's a simple solution that allows them to integrate fully into an IP surveillance system and support for the H.264 protocol means it'll go easy on your network bandwidth.
Author: Dave Mitchell
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