September 22, 2011

ADT Hosted Video Service Review

ADT Hosted Video Service is a cloud video security service for business customers. With the service, video security for a business can be setup easily with just IP cameras and Internet connection at the location.

ADT is the largest provider of business and home security services. While its ADT Pulse service provides video security for homes, the ADT Hosted Video service is aimed at meeting the video security needs of businesses. Video security enhances the traditional monitored security services.

With ADT Hosted Video Service video recording is done over the Internet; the service provides a cloud-based security DVR with unlimited storage (more on this later). You can quickly add IP cameras at a location and start viewing and recording the video remotely; all that is needed at the location is cameras and an Internet connection. The live video from the cameras can be viewed over the Internet using any popular browser.

Per ADT, the Hosted Video service is ideal for businesses with smaller camera counts and who do not want to deal with the installation and maintenance of video infrastructure at their location, instead they can use ADT’s cloud service for a monthly fee. Depending on customer needs, ADT also provides traditional systems (large camera counts, higher quality video, local DVR) or hybrid systems (with both cloud and local storage).

So far, so good. ADT Hosted Video seems like a good service for video security. It follows the industry trend of providing a cloud services.

But, as is usual for ADT, no details about the service are available publicly. You have to call ADT to find what equipment is required, what is the pricing, is there a contract, how to add more cameras etc.

The rest of the post should help answer some of these questions, by inference.

ADT’s service is provided in partnership with Axis (for cameras, software for video monitoring and recording) and Iomega (storage servers to store video).

Axis video hosting system

ADT’s service is based on Axis Video Hosting System. It uses Axis IP cameras or video encoders (for use with CCTV cameras) to provide live video feeds and software to record the live video to storage servers managed by ADT. Any camera at the link above can be used; Axis FAQ’s will help setup the cameras. The live video feeds can be recorded on a schedule, e.g. from 10 am to 7 pm each day, or on events, e.g. on motion-detect, sound-detect etc. The length of recording per camera and the number of cameras will determine the total storage required.

Axis M1031-W IP camera

Iomega (an EMC company) provides the storage servers that are used to record the live videos generated by Axis cameras e.g. the Iomega StorCenter Ix2-200 for $210. The Cloud-based storage is provided separately. The storage servers can be placed locally and/or Cloud storage can be used.

IOmega StorCenter Ix2-200

ADT Hosted Video Price
Installation Cost – With the one-click install of Axis cameras, there is minimal work in setting up the camera. If your Internet connection and wireless network are already setup, the process should be quick and very smooth. If you prefer to keep local storage also, there will be work involved in setting up the Iomega’s storage server.

Camera Price – ADT’s service uses Axis IP cameras. These cameras are widely available from Amazon and other retailers and the price for specific models can be checked easily. For example, the Axis M1031-W costs $275. Your total cost will depend on the type and number of cameras installed

Storage Price – If you decide to add local storage for the cameras, expect to pay of the order of $210 for 2TB of storage with Iomega StorCenter Ix2-200. More storage or different storage servers will cost more. Cloud-storage will be included in the monthly fee.

Monthly Fee – Like TerraFox, another Axis reseller, ADT hosted video monthly fee is likely to be $15 per month per camera. The amount of Cloud-storage selected will also affect the fee.

And like ADT’s other services, expect to sign a contract for the service.

Video Quality
Video quality is an important aspect of a video security service. Take a look at ADT Hosted Video Service’s Video Quality to find what factors affect its video quality and what can be done to improve it.

Unlimited Cloud-storage?
While Cloud-storage can indeed provide very large amounts of storage on-demand, in practice the storage will be limited, by costs.  Expect ADT fees to reflect the amount of storage requested e.g. storing 24/7 for 30 days, storing 24/7 for 7 days etc. If video is stored only on critical events e.g. motion detection, the prices can be way lower.

The Good
ADT Hosted Video provides all the goodness of a Cloud service
  • With minimal equipment (cameras) at your location and a good Internet connection, you’ll have access to robust video security.
  • Add additional cameras easily whenever needed (keeping the Internet bandwidth requirements in mind)
  • Add additional storage easily whenever needed
  • No hassles of managing your own security equipment

The Bad
A cloud service relies on a fast and stable Internet connection at your location. If you don’t have a good Internet connection, it will limit the usefulness of this service.

Should I Buy
The ADT Hosted video service is ideal for adding video security at a small business. If the pricing and ADT contract is ok for you then by all means.

Remember, if you need to add lot of cameras at your location, make sure you have a fast Internet connection.

Alternatives to ADT Video Hosted Service
Alternatives to ADT’s cloud video security include Axis’s other resellers in US and Europe e.g. TerraFox that provides video security service for $15 per month per camera.

DropCam is another service that uses Axis cameras and provides cloud storage for
  • $9 per month per camera for last-7 day recording
  • $25 per month per camera for last-30 day recording

DropCam can also be used for home video security.