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The iPads Have Landed – Popular IP cameras viewed on the iPad

iPad

It’s official; the invasion of the iPads has begun.

Actually, who are we kidding? The invasion is already over and Apple have moved on to their well deserved victory lap, their latest innovation having taken the world by storm in what seems like the blink of an eye.

But what impact will it have on the IP Camera industry? How well do products from the likes of Axis, Panasonic and Y-cam interact with the world’s latest ‘must-have’ gadget?

To find out, we looked at cameras from these companies using our own shiny new iPad (any excuse!) Here is what we found:

We began with the Axis M3011 and found that we immediately lost our snapshot and full screen options, the latter of which could have been particularly useful on a screen as small as the iPad’s, though admittedly, turning the iPad to landscape provided a perfectly adequate viewing window.

iPad screenshot - Axis camera settings view

This exodus of functions wasn’t entirely surprising as the iPad doesn’t support the camera’s ActiveX, or Java requirement for its advanced features, leaving it without the software necessary to perform most of them, but knowing this was scant consolation, as we were left with only the live image itself and had to open a separate window and make adjustments without being able to see the image, which made things a little trickier.

The Y-cam Knight we tested next was no improvement; once again all features were lost and, once again, we found ourselves having to make adjustments in a separate window. The camera’s specialised ‘mobile’ site didn’t fare much better, offering only a static image updated every few seconds.

iPad - Panasonic IP camera view

Eventually however, we found a user interface which did translate well onto the iPad; the Panasonic BB-HCM511CE (and, it follows, all other BB- and BL- range cameras) allowed for extensive control of the camera, allowing us to toggle backlighting, resolution, compression rate, and image quality. Of course some features were still lost, such as the digital zoom, but overall the camera was far easier to interact with and offered far more comprehensive control.

Admittedly some of the controls, particularly the ‘scan’ controls, having been designed for a mouse, can be a bit fiddly on the iPad’s small touch-screen but in most cases there are drop down menus available to get you around this problem, though the iPad’s MultiTouch pinch-to-zoom capability makes zooming in to areas on the screen easy.

iPad - Panasonic IP cmaera full screen viewUnfortunately, this generally user-friendly interface was let down slightly by the display itself. The image was penned into one corner at the top of the screen and we had to adjust the resolution manually to 640×480 pixels and turn the iPad landscape again before we could really make out detail. Hardly a burden but it’s still work that the other cameras don’t ask you to do. It’s also worth noting that, while the full screen option is retained, it doesn’t really add a great deal. This ‘feature’ behaves in the same way on the iPad as it does on any desktop browser, so no loss there.

On the whole though the signs here are encouraging; the iPad’s barely been with us ten minutes and already Axis and Panasonic have shown that it is possible to transfer both image quality and a user-friendly interface over to it. All we need now is someone to put it all together, and that, surely, is only a matter of time.

In fact, we’re aiming to be that someone. Our Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS) product already works on the iPhone and iPad and we’re building an iPad-specific interface as well.

Published on July 6th, 2010 by Kevin Bowyer

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