Vivotek may not have such a high-profile in the IP camera market as specialist vendors such as Axis Communications but even a glance at its enormous range of products shows it’s keen to change this balance of power. A key feature of its cameras is their low prices and the PT7137 aims to deliver a very affordable pan and tilt IP camera with wired and wireless networking.
Design is very unusual as the camera lens is mounted in a golf-ball sized housing at the end of a swan neck of plastic. The lens mounting provides vertical movement for tilt operations and the whole assembly rotates about its base to provide panning movement. It may look odd but this design provides good coverage with a horizontal range of 350 degrees whilst vertical movement covers 125 degrees, putting it on a par with similar products from Axis and Panasonic.
At this price you don’t get any optical zoom and the camera only offers a 4x digital zoom which delivers a substantially inferior image quality. The camera uses a standard 1/4in RGB CMOS sensor and it can handle low light levels right down to 1.5 lux. It supports MPEG-4 compression, offers four different resolutions and can deliver a maximum speed of 30fps up to the top resolution of 640 x 480. Motion detection is on the menu and there’s also an internal microphone allowing you to hear what’s going on in the area under view. No audio output sockets are provided so this is a one-way trip only. Unlike Axis’ cameras, the PT7137 doesn’t offer an I/O connector block so can’t operate external security devices.
Vivotek’s wizard utility makes light work of installation as it searches the network and displays discovered cameras automatically. Obviously, you need to start with a wired connection to the camera but from the wizard you can modify network parameters, secure administrative access, set up the wireless access point and also upgrade the camera’s firmware. Wireless access can be secured as the integral access point supports WEP and WPA encryption and it can operate in Ad-Hoc and Infrastructure modes.
The web interface is nicely designed and opens with a live view along with sets of camera controls alongside. The keypad can be used to control pan and tilt functions or you can simply point and click in the viewing area to move the lens. Sets of predefined pan and tilt positions can be created and each one accessed quickly from the home page. The pan function sends the lens through a complete horizontal sweep or it can patrol across selected positions. For manual operations, the pan and tilt speeds can be adjusted as can the speeds for pan sweeps and patrols.