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From the live view you can choose Motion-JPEG playback which allows up to twenty users to access the camera simultaneously. Take care with the multicast MPEG-4 option as although there are no user limits, bear in mind each one will require a valid license. The camera comes with one decoder and encoder license included but beyond this and you’ll have to purchase more to stay on the right side of the law.
Bandwidth consumption can be a concern for administrators but a number of options are provided for limiting the impact these cameras can have on the network. Selecting a lower resolution helps but image compression can be increased and you can also determine the length of time the video stream is active and limit the frame rate for multiple viewers. However, selecting the top frame rate will hit bandwidth very hard. We tested this on a shared Fast Ethernet segment with two clients and used Sniffer Professional to measure consumption. At 60fps one client was drawing around 11 per cent of bandwidth while adding a second client saw this rise uncomfortably to nearly 21 per cent.
Motion detection is particularly good and up to ten custom areas can be specified within the image where motion is to be detected or ignored. You can decide on camera sensitivity and the length of the trigger once it has been activated. Actions extend to downloading images at specific frame rates to an HTTP or FTP server and these can be emailed to multiple clients as well. An infrared sensor is also provided and Axis offers optional IR illuminators as well for discrete monitoring in complete darkness. An IR-cut filter allows colour images to be displayed using IR lighting but you can physically remove this if you prefer higher quality mono images instead.
The price puts the 221 firmly in the professional surveillance bracket but it is offering a lot of sophisticated features for your money. Image quality is extremely good, it can handle any light level and, although bandwidth consumption can be excessive, is does offer some of the highest frame rates we’ve yet seen in a network camera.