Sunday, January 23, 2011
ICOP Model 20/20-W In-Car Video System Review - Updated COMPANY IS BANKRUPT
So one of the agencies I cover is a Police Department. For the in-Car video system they had been using the Flashback system by L3-Communications. The system worked pretty good, but their support was pretty bad, at one time there was a server failure (this is where all the data/videos were stored and get uploaded from the cars) which during this time we were unable to produce DVDs for requests from others and we also had to manually upload all the videos on the cards to a location on a share. This allowed for problems and deleted videos. It took me hassling their support over 3 days at which point on the 3rd day I finally ripped someone up and down before I got someone to take my problem. Sadly this is a case that two other departments in my area have shared as well. Also have had problems with cards corrupting from the units.
So when we had to get 4 recording units for our holding cells and for our interview rooms then I thought it would be a great time to test out another system. The reason why is because it is a costly endeavor, most systems cost a decent price each time and also you have to buy a server, and software so before staking out so much money we decided to try something in a small scale.
So after reviewing a couple of units we decided to try out the ICOP 20W In-Car Video System. I had tried calling their support and they seemed to answer pretty quickly. I had spoken with their sales multiple times. They had demo stands I could use with the units so they could set on the counter. They also said I could extend the Mic and cameras which was good because the install was going to require mounting one the camera and internal mic inside an adjacent room for two of them and for two more about 2 rooms down a hall. Upon receiving the units I saw that the units used standard CAT5 cabling with RJ45 connections, so extending the cameras was easy. I did it myself. The internal mic is just a 3.5mm cord.
One of the things I really like about the units is the standard cabling. It would be a piece of cake to replace any worn or broken cable. Installing them was a breeze. Also the cameras have LEDs on the camera so the officer can easily see that the unit is recording. The simplicity of the units was nice as well compared to the old system they had used.
Interview room systems should be “Stupid Proof” so that an officer can’t delete the video or will know that the system is working. Now here comes my gripes
During install they were to setup the server software on an existing server which was acting as a Domain Controller. Since this was only a test I wanted to keep the cost low. I had explained the server that I had and they said it would work. We paid for on site setup and training. The guy came out and was working on the install on my server for about 2 hours before he realized that their install required Microsoft SQL 2005 Express which couldn’t be installed on a Server that was serving as a DC. So at this point they told me I would have to go with their free software. Wasn’t near as capable sadly, and for uploads to the unit to work it required the user to be running as an Administrator. Something I do not allow.
So after all that I was in a pretty unhappy mood. FIRST rule to any person who is going to sell software, when the person asks if there is anything restrictions you better know all of them. So that was problem number 1.Everything was going ok even though the simplified setup was not as nice. The solution though was to run a virtual version of Server on top of our DC then install the nicer software on it. Not done that yet though due to other issues.
Now this is something of note, not really a problem. After using the flashback unit all parts are contained in one unit. With the ICOP unit you have the actual unit, and a distribution box. Now if you plan on using Ethernet or wireless you are looking at an additional 1 to 2 boxes, for a total of 3-4 boxes. Personally I like less parts, but some people may like the modularness of the system.
Next issue, I didn’t want the officers to accidentally mute the units on accident. So I used their configuration tool to disable the ability to mute the internal mike. So configured the units and then pushed the settings to the units. Later on I got an officer saying they couldn’t hear any audio from their recording. I checked and sure enough the audio didn’t work. I also checked multiple recordings and they all from a certain point had no audio from all the units. So it clicked this was the same time I disabled the mute. The lights on the unit indicated the audio was on though. After working with it I realized that the first time you disabled mute, it was also turning off the audio although the light showed differently. This you could tell because when you re-enable the ability to mute, the light for the audio recording would turn off. You turn it back on and all the recordings would work. Worked with support and this was an issue with the current version of the firmware. YAY I found a bug, not something I wanted to do. So problem number 2.
The 3rd issue is that recently we had some questions we needed to answer. I called support stayed on hold for about 12 minutes and left a message. Two days later no response. So I call in and leave another message. This happened for a total of 4 messages across about a week and a half. Each time I left a message my cell number and was on hold from 12 minutes till the max when it would transfer me to a machine. That is the 3rd and final problem. I will no longer use or recommend ICOP solutions.
Sorry support is a major thing for me. I can’t recommend this solution to anyone at this point. I really like many things about the system, but currently the product still has issues and bugs, I can’t afford, nor anyone else to beta test their product to find all their errors. Also they need to hire a lot more tech support people, because even without bugs you will have calls to support and no one should wait even more than a day not even talking about weeks for a response back from tech support.
Just called sales to see if I could get through to support that way. No go. I couldn't even get a person through sales, and to top it off it said that persons mailbox was unavailable. That is sad if you don't even have people to talk to potential clients you know the company isn't doing so hot.