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IP Cameras: The Dirty Secret About Choosing the Right One for Your Business

IP Cameras: The Dirty Secret About Choosing the Right One for Your Business

4 minute read

Want to know the secret weapon that's driving success for winning companies across nearly every industry? IP cameras. Whether it's manufacturing, healthcare, property management, or space exploration, many businesses are employing IP cameras for more than just security — they're using these devices to gain real-time visibility into their operations and improve faster than ever before.

If you're reading this article, you're probably eager to leverage the amazing benefits of IP cameras. But you may have encountered an all-too-common conundrum: How do you choose the correct IP camera? After all, there are a dizzying array of options. And each one is unique in its own way, right?

The Truth About IP Cameras

We're going to let you in on a dirty little secret about IP cameras — a tiny set of Asian factories actually produces all of them. You’ll often find IP cameras that have been rebranded but usually have the same hardware and similar software. Cloud cameras, as well as the cameras you'd find at your local Costco, are no different.

IP camera prices have plummeted in recent years because their manufacturers have drastically increased production. Why? Simply put, it’s a classic example of economies of scale in semiconductors, image sensors, and electronic gadget assembly; the more these factories make, the lower production costs become.

If you’re feeling skeptical about this, we encourage you to do a quick specification comparison between an expensive camera and a cheap one. For example, when looking at a $30 IP camera and a $1600 one, we found that most specifications were almost identical. They had the same build qualities (e.g., IP67 waterproof), around 80 to 90 feet of night vision, and similar video compression engines.

Image resolution was the most drastic difference between the two IP cameras. The $30 one supported 2MP, and the $1600 one had 5MP. But there are two caveats here. First, IP camera technology has reached a framerate and resolution that’s practically imperceptible to the human eye when examined through a browsing device like a phone or laptop. Second, you must account for other factors when considering resolution, such as network bandwidth and range.

So, how do you choose the right IP camera?

5 Factors to Help You Find the Right IP Cameras

To simplify your selection of IP cameras for your business, forget the brand. They all sell the same stuff. Instead, here's what to look at:

1. Indoor or Outdoor?

This category is self-explanatory; it basically comes down to what type of environment you're monitoring. Do you need video surveillance for outdoor settings? Some IP cameras come in rugged enclosures to weather temperature swings and inclement conditions like heavy rain. If your area frequently experiences rainfall, make sure you equip your cameras with shrouds; these umbrella-like covers stop water from getting on the lens.

2. Night Vision or External Lighting?

Start with your desired use case to determine whether you need night vision. For instance, are you monitoring an area with little light and poor visibility? Then you'll probably want to consider getting night vision. On the other hand, if your facility already has ample external lighting for security reasons, then it may not be necessary.

3. Field of View or Point-Tilt-Zoom?

Choosing between field-of-view (FOV) or point-tilt-zoom (PTZ) is one of the most difficult decisions you'll have to make when selecting IP cameras for your facility. Since you can't travel back in time to change your choice, it may be better to get two cameras side-by-side or opt for a single 360 camera. Remember, PTZ is valuable for a real-time repositioning workflow, but it's not great for a video search workflow.

4. Range AND Megapixel

You should consider range and megapixel together, not one over the other. For example, if you choose 300-foot focal length IP cameras with only 1080p resolution, you won't actually be able to zoom in and see anything useful. Examine the most common scenarios in your use cases and let these insights guide your selection.

5. WiFi or Wired?

WiFi cameras are easy to deploy. But they only work well if you have a robust wireless network and you're not concerned about the impact of video traffic on your regular business activity. Bottom line? If you're looking to install four or fewer IP cameras, then this option could be your best bet.

It's important to note that most WiFi cameras use an old 802.11n wireless networking standard, so even the newest 11AC routers won't help increase throughput. If you're worried about your local network bottlenecks, then we recommend going with wired cameras. For power-over-ethernet (PoE) cameras, you only need a single wire to supply both power and network connectivity.

Want to Know How Winning Companies Are Using IP Cameras?

IP cameras are quickly gaining a foothold in every industry because they empower businesses to rapidly resolve incidents and improve how they operate in myriad ways. Gone are the days when these devices were strictly for security.

Want to learn more about how winnings companies are using IP cameras for more than just security? Try our demo to see how Spot AI’s platform can enhance your organization’s day-to-day operations.

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Ben McDermott

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