Quality security software is essential for keeping your property and possessions safe.
After all, what good is having a high-quality camera on every corner if you can’t access their footage in a precise and efficient manner?
So, to help you choose the best system for your security needs, we’re going to be pitting Blue Iris and iSpy against each other in a head to head review.
Let’s jump right in and look at the pricing of these two security software systems.
iSpy is famous for being the best completely free security software available, and despite the fact that It won’t cost you a dime, it’s a fairly expansive system.
Blue Iris is not a free service. To secure one of their software packages requires a one-time payment. The starter system called Blue Iris LE costs around $30 and the full package will set you back roughly $60.
iSpy is super impressive on this account. You can hook this free software up to as many cameras as you want.
There is probably a limit at which it becomes hard to moderate, especially from a small phone screen, but hypothetically, you can hook it up to an unlimited amount.
With Blue Iris’ LE software, you can only access a single security camera which is a little disappointing considering you’re paying for the privilege.
If you’ve forked out for their full service, you can access the footage of 64 cameras from one remote location, which is probably plenty for most of their customers.
It is a little bit disappointing that there’s a free alternative out there that can connect to even more cameras, but the benefits of Blue Iris start to emerge when you consider other aspects of the service.
iSpy is compatible with a variety of different hardware and brand models. You can hook it up to internet protocol or IP cameras, DVRs, NVRs, webcams, mobile phones, and USB cameras. This gives it a really wide range of applications.
Although iSpy is incredibly versatile for free software, Blue Iris has them beat on this front.
If you choose Blue Iris for your security needs, you can expect them to work with pretty much any kind of camera. 360 degree fisheye, PoE, USB, IP, and wifi cameras are all compatible with Blue Iris software.
The iSpy interface is really intuitive and easy to use and understand.
Your footage is presented in large windows in the middle of the screen. If you’re monitoring multiple footages, the windows will appear smaller so they all completely fit on the screen.
You can shrink or expand each window by clicking and dragging from its edge or corner. As soon as your cameras detect movement and begin recording, that particular window will be highlighted with a red border.
Beneath the main viewing window, you’ll see lots of smaller squares. These are all little clips recorded by iSpy that you can review at any point.
The main menu is ever-present above the footage, giving you easy access to the main functions.
From there you can connect another camera, access recordings, build camera grids, configure commands, control online settings, add plugins to your interface, or browse the general settings of the software.
There’s nothing critically wrong with the iSpy interface, but it definitely doesn’t have a streamlined feel to it. It’s all quite basic, which may well appeal to some, but in most cases, it’s not going to be quite as functional or versatile as a bought service.
Blue Iris on the other hand is famous for its interface. The onscreen design is largely what draws in so many customers as a seamless interface is the most essential part of security software.
As soon as you open the program, you’re presented with everything you need in an incredibly user-friendly layout. You’ll get the central live streams as you do with iSpy, but thanks to a highly organized and nifty display, far more screen real estate is dedicated to the footage.
Everything you’d ever need to tweak can be found in clearly labeled drop down menus that help to keep the screen as neat and tidy as possible.
Whereas the clips on iSpy are collected at the bottom of the screen, Blue Iris does a good job of making a more distinct separation between them and the live streams by locating them to the right-hand side of the interface.
If you aren’t happy with the default layout for whatever reason, you can switch it up in the menu and find what works best for you and your camera network.
Quality of Playback
iSpy does function fairly well, giving you a relatively smooth live stream and playback, but quite a few users claim it can be a little bit unstable, especially if you’re monitoring 10 cameras or more.
Video quality won’t just come down to the software. It will also be affected by the cameras themselves and the device you’re using the software on, but iSpy is known to be a little bit glitchy if it’s pushed. It is free after all. You shouldn’t expect the highest possible service.
Blue Iris has exceedingly good video quality. The Direct X integration offers near perfect digital scaling, so unless there’s an issue with your cameras or console, smooth live streams and flawless playbacks are pretty much guaranteed.
iSpy is really easy to download and install, and it’s relatively simple to hook it up to a webcam and start observing. It’s when you try and configure it to work with other cameras that it can become quite tricky.
There is an onboard ‘IP Wizard’ helper that offers some guidance through the process, but it’s worth consulting someone who knows how it works to help you out.
Blue Iris Is also incredibly easy to set up. It’s known to be a simple process even for relative technophobes.
This is where money comes into play with iSpy. If you really like iSpy in general and have gotten used to the interface, you can pay for upgrades rather than buy new software.
One of these upgrades is an email alert when motion is detected. Unfortunately, the free open source version of iSpy doesn’t include alerts.
Blue Iris lets you choose between a number of different alerts. You can set it up to trigger an email, a text, a voice call, or an instant message.
Let’s pit these two against each other in a simple pros and cons format.
- You can pay to upgrade certain features
- Reasonable quality live feed and playback
- Can hook up to an unlimited amount of cameras
- Intuitive interface
- Simple to set up with webcams
- Expansive for free software
- Capable of audio recordings
- You have to pay for alerts
- Interface isn’t particularly streamlines
- Video quality can be a little rough at times
- Setting up to track IP cameras can be difficult
- Seamless digital scaling gives you perfect video quality
- You can choose between a number of alerts
- Full version can monitor up to 64 different cameras
- Compatible with most brands and models of camera
- Really easy to set up
- The interface is well designed
- Capable of audio recordings
- You can easily change settings to suit your needs
- You can choose between LE and full version
- Has advanced features
- The software is updated regularly
- Great value for money
- They’re paid services
- The LE version only monitors one camera
- The full version has a camera limit
Both of these security programs are really great tools.
Blue Iris is definitely the more impressive and professional option, but that’s to be expected from a more costly system.
Even putting some money into iSpy won’t bring it up to Blue Iris’ level, but it shouldn’t be discounted altogether.
If you’re new to this sort of software, why not give iSpy a shot and see what you think.
You can always set up Blue Iris as and when you feel it’s necessary.