When it comes to video surveillance services, you get quite a few options. iSpy and Blue Iris are indeed some of the top options out there. But which one outvies the other?
iSpy has been one of the most loved products in this niche market because it's free! Don't get me wrong, being free doesn't mean it's an inferior product to the premium ones out there.
Blue Iris has often been hailed as the best third-party VMS system, thanks to its no-nonsense UI and smooth streaming capabilities.
iSpy and Blue Iris go toe to toe with each other almost in every single category. iSpy is free, which gives it a slight edge over Blue Iris, which comes at a premium. But when it comes to the fundamentals, like streaming quality, Blue Iris does reign supreme over iSpy.
Here's a more detailed comparison of the products:
iSpy: Free to Use, Short on Compromises
iSpy has been around for a long time and is still one of the most accepted video surveillance applications you can get your hands on right now.
And as a free software, one might be prompted to assume that it must be riddled with bugs and short on features. But of course, you are wrong!
What iSpy really is, is that it's pretty awesome! You get a truckload of premium features coupled with a neat interface.
If you pit it against the heavy hitters in this category, you sure will be surprised to see how well iSpy performs amongst them.
Compatible with almost every single type and make of Surveillance Cams out there, may it be USB, WiFi, Webcams, or the more complex ones like IP and NVR Cams, iSpy fares quite well in this regard.
Another staple of iSpy is its unique streaming features, including the option to stream multiple Cams simultaneously.
The Stream Windows are center-oriented. And if you plan to stream multiple cams, iSpy does an excellent job of distinguishing the Windows with well-defined boundaries.
Setting up Cams to the application is also a breeze, thanks to the onboard IP Wizard to aid in doing so.
Talking about Cams and their setup, one of the crown jewels of iSpy is its compatibility factor. You can add an unlimited number of Cams to the app, and you're limited only by the power of your PC.
Even if there remains a lot to be said about iSpy and its potential, we should also take a peek at its demerits.
A con worth mentioning is the lack of support. iSpy, for now, is compatible only with Windows PCs.
In a world where you can access surveillance apps pretty much from the palm of your hands, this lack of support is a showstopper.
Video quality also takes a hit, especially with multiple simultaneous streams.
And, if you pair a lot of Cams to the app, video streams and playback can get a bit buggy with skipped frames and buffering issues.
Regardless of these minor setbacks, you cannot get a better deal than iSpy for the price range, which is for free.
Blue Iris: The Premium Alternative
Blue Iris ticks all the checks required to be a competent and near-perfect alternative to your Cams proprietary apps.
But unlike iSpy, Blue Iris does cost you a pretty buck to own.
And for the price you pay, you get a truckload of premium features and an intuitive UI.
Blue Iris has often been hailed as the best VMS software for integrating and controlling all your Monitoring systems.
It does support almost every single type and make of Cams, including PoE and IP Cams, unlike NVR systems that tend to prioritize proprietary Cams.
Much like iSpy, you get a center-weighted video stream window system with a bit more screen real estate for accommodating multiple streams than the former.
Custom alerts and trigger mechanisms help you differentiate the Cams and their streams from each other.
Another spectacular highlight of Blue Iris is its video streaming capabilities, especially with premium video surveillance systems like Wyze on Blue Iris.
Known for their buffer-free video streams with minimal to no compromises on video quality pretty much sums up the worth of Blue Iris.
You also don't get to experience much video transmission or reception issues as iSpy on Blue Iris.
Support, similar to iSpy, is limited to Windows systems, but you can access video feeds and streams on pretty much any device if you have enabled web sharing on the app.
One major con Blue Iris is known for is its finite support for cameras. You can only pair up to 64 Cams on the app, and that too with the high-tier package.
With the Basic plan, you get to pair only one Cam.
Enough said about these products. Now let's get on with the comparison:
iSpy Vs Blue Iris: A Comparison
Even if both these applications seem quite similar in hindsight, that's not the case.
They differ a lot when you look into the actualities and under-the-hood aspects.
Pricing would be obvious, but look a little closer and you shall find a few more fundamental differences.
These nuanced little differences make or break the deal with these systems.
Let's take a closer look at them, shall we?
iSpy and Blue Iris excel pretty well with their UI.
Both feature an intuitive interface with plenty of room to accommodate multiple video streams.
And both share a similar implementation of video streams as windows. Stream Window sizes are also configurable to your liking.
To indicate an active event happening with a particular Cam, the stream Window corresponding to the Cam highlights itself with bright-colored borders.
Both the products share this feature, albeit with slight tweaks in the implementation.
But the same cannot be said when you take a look at the other parameters concerning UI.
iSpy features an ever-present quick menu to the side of the interface for users to quickly configure the properties of their Cams.
Blue Iris, on the other hand, has a wider interface capable of hosting more Stream Windows than iSpy.
Coming to optimization, both products are judiciously optimized to account for all the needs and convenience of their user base.
iSpy has a ton of onboard options tiles in addition to the quick menu tabs. Blue Iris features a plethora of drop-down menus for the sake of convenience.
Blue Iris does get this round since it does allow users to experiment with the UI layout to suit their tastes. A feature absent on iSpy.
And with Blue Iris, you can access everything from the home interface itself, unlike iSpy, which can get tricky with controls.
Now, we're talking business. When looking at the features, you really get the dichotomy of a premium and free service.
Don't get me wrong, iSpy doesn't come short on this department. But the paid alternative carries a bit more punch.
As far as the shared features go, both offer an excellent alert and notification mechanism capable of rivaling anything available on the market right now.
Email and text-based notifications and alerts are available on either of them.
Blue Iris does go the extra mile and offers voice calls and instant message alerts via social media app alerts.
iSpy, too, offers all of the above alert types, but at a cost. You'll have to pay a premium to avail of different alert types other than E-Mail.
Other features iSpy offers are: easy access to recordings, camera grid management, create and configure routine commands, install the necessary plugins to make your camera work, among others.
All these features can also be found on Blue Iris. Included, too, are mobile access through which you can view recordings and control various aspects of the Cam.
You also get superior video and Cam security measures with Blue Iris.
Both services feature Motion sensing and triggering with voice commands and recordings.
But Blue Iris offers Web Hosting capabilities with Web UI to access and view Live streams of your Cam on pretty much any device at any time.
And so, to sum it up, Blue Iris does take a clear leap ahead of iSpy in this category.
Video Reception and Streaming Characteristics
The most crucial aspect of Monitoring Cams and surveillance applications is video reception.
Getting a stable and smooth video playback on your recordings and live streams has to be paramount over every other function of monitoring systems.
And neither of the two products fails to live up to expectations in this regard.
Both services can output multiple Live streams in HD (if your Cam supports it) without much fuss.
But a slight edge, yet again, has to go to Blue Iris.
The problem with iSpy, though it performs extremely well under normal circumstances, is that it can get a bit clunky and choppy with multiple concurrent Live streams.
The playback is known to get unstable with buffering issues and loss of quality with each successive increase in Cam streams.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Blue Iris excels in this regard. One of the USPs of Blue Iris is its exceptional video handling characteristics.
Smooth video playbacks (even under load) and stable live streams are staples of Blue iris.
It even supports DirectX, so the playback looks crisp thanks to the picture-perfect digital scaling it brings on board.
The only time Blue Iris starts to get choppy is when you exceed the limit of the number of Cams that your PC can handle at a given time.
And so, again, Blue Iris takes the W on this aspect.
Compatibility and Ease of Use
Yet another crucial aspect of Surveillance systems is compatibility.
Now, Windows is the OS of choice for these products. Although, with Blue Iris, you can control and view recordings on Mobile operating systems too.
The minimum requirements of your PC for operating them vary according to your use case scenario.
Blue Iris recommended a minimum of 2 GB RAM and Windows 7 for single Cam scenarios. With multiple Cams, you will require a processing power equivalent to an i7 CPU and Windows 10.
Talking about the number of Cams you can use with Blue Iris and iSpy, that's where iSpy gets to shine high and bright above Blue Iris.
With iSpy, you can pair pretty much all the Cams you would want, limited only by the specs of your PC.
With Blue Iris, however, you get to use a maximum of 64 Cams, and that too with the premium plan.
With the base plan on Blue Iris, you get to use only one Cam with the app.
Pairing the Cams to the respective service is quite simple on either of them. Although, iSpy does have an onboard IP Wizard to assist you with the setup.
RTSP has become the go-to sharing protocol for surveillance cams. With more and more manufacturers enabling native support for RTSP on their products, like RTSP on Wyze Cam v3, pairing them with VMS services has never been easier.
Finally, let's get to the type of Cams supported on these products.
iSpy supports almost all the Cam systems like WebCam, WiFi Cams, NVRs, DVRs, USB, IP, and even Smart Cams.
Blue Iris does one better with support for all the systems available on the market, even PoE cams.
Ultimately, Blue Iris does emerge as the clear winner over iSpy. But iSpy did put up a great fight, especially when you take into account that it's free.
For the money you shell out on Blue Iris ($60), you do get everything you're promised - a premium Surveillance service that takes care of the fundamentals beautifully.
And so, to sum it all up, if you want the best of the best, go for the Blue Iris. If you're short on budget and need a decent enough VMS system, definitely look no further, choose iSpy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is iSpy Agent DVR free?
Yes, iSpy Agent DVR is free to use on Windows. However, you can pay extra to avail premium alert services and other exciting features.
How much does Blue Iris cost?
Owning a licensed copy of Blue Iris will cost you about $30 for the basic plan with support for a single Camera. If you want to pair more than a single cam with Blue Iris, buy the premium plan worth $60 to get support for up to 64 Cams.
Can you connect Raspberry Pi with iSpy?
Yes, you can connect a Raspberry Pi system with iSpy. Make use of the onboard IP Wizard to assist you in the pairing process. Go to ispyconnect.com to download a compatible software version for your Raspberry Pi.