New in version 3.3
Version 3.3 is a bit different to normal updates. Most of the changes are internal rather than new functions. And the big internal change is that we've added support for H.264 cameras. This is a big deal..
Why is H.264 so important?
H.264 is the new standard for IP cameras. It gives much better image quality than MPEG4 and much much better performance than MJPEG
To give one example, we have been testing with an Axis H.264 camera and we are getting 30 frames per second at 1024x768 (that's better than 720p). BUT THE CAMERA WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD!! That's right...30 frames per second, HD video across the internet!
So, H.264 is much smaller, frame for frame, than MJPEG. And v3.3 records in H.264 format (for H.264 cameras) so that makes the disk usage much smaller.
Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP)
Version 3.3 also supports RTSP. This protocol is designed for high speed video streaming, often in conjunction with H.264. It allows faster transmission than normal http
Limitations of v3.3
Adding H.264 and RTSP turned out to be a much bigger job than we anticipated. This is why the functional changes and additions we had planned had to be pushed back a little. We are planning an additional update soon, v3.31, and this will contain a number of important functional additions.
Also there are some issues we have not been able to solve yet, but rather than wait, we wanted to get the update out:
-- Playback Speed for H.264 is limited to real time (or a little slower). The software we use to playback H.264 has this strange limitation on the playback speed. We're working on ways to increase the speed. But you can always drag the progress bar and move to another part of the file..
-- Recording before motion is not supported. Most of the time this function is not needed anyway.
Limitations of RTSP
If your camera uses RTSP then you need to be aware that it is not an error-free protocol like http. What this means is that frames can be dropped or corrupted if your PC or the network cannot keep up. If you are using a LAN and a fast PC then this will not be an issue. But if you try to stream at (say) 2000x1000 over the internet it's likely that you won't succeed. You may get an initial image but the video stream may become unstable and break up. This is not an error or bug. It's simply that the network cannot keep up.
If you experience this problem, the easiest solution is to slow the frame rate down. Cameras will normally let you slow the frame rate and/or the bit rate down so that the network can cope.
If you have a camera that can support H.264 then you might find that Netcam Watcher does not yet have a camera definition that allows this. We are working on adding H.264 cameras as fast we can. If you can help by making your camera available to us for testing over the internet then we will be able to add your camera much faster. Often in a day or two.
What was new in previous versions: