Not content with delivering the world's first megapixel network camera to market Axis Communications ups the ante even further by launching the first two megapixel which delivers a remarkable top resolution of 1,600 x 1,200 pixels.
The price tag will certainly cause many a double-take but check out the features list first before judging the 223M. The camera is focused primarily on surveillance operations that require facial identity. We've all seen enough grainy, barely recognisable images on the evening news to know this is a big issue. The camera is a much bigger box of tricks than the diminutive megapixel 207MW and is enclosed in a solid brushed aluminium full metal jacket. The lens is a Computar F1.4 varifocal which screws on the camera body and you plug its cable into a small receptacle to one side to power the iris. The camera targets 24 hour surveillance and can operate in light levels as low as 0.2lux for mono images and 1.5lux for colour. The latter ability isn't anything special so expect most low light images to be in mono. However, the camera can work with Axis' optional infrared illuminators so nothing will be able to escape its gaze at night.
There's much more on Axis's menu as the camera simultaneously supports Motion JPEG and MPEG4 compression. Be aware that although the latter supports unlimited users you only get one decoder license included and will need to buy extra ones for each user. Axis currently sells ten user license packs and these cost around £65. We approve of the support for PoE which means that camera placement isn't constrained by power socket locations and can now be positioned up to 100 metres from a suitable PoE switch. We tested this function with a Hewlett Packard ProCurve 2626-PWR and had no problems powering the 223M over a standard Ethernet cable.
The camera has an internal microphone and sockets for an external loudspeaker and microphone and supports half duplex audio so you can have a conversation with the person on the receiving end. As always, audio lags behind the video feed by around a second but we found general quality to be good with background noise not causing any significant interference. One big casualty is the frame rate which takes quite a nosedive at the higher resolutions. Motion JPEG offers the fastest rates but at 1600 x 1200 this drops down to only 9fps resulting in very jerky movement.