Tim, good question!
As their #1 critic, I'll start by emphasizing some positives - they are among the least expensive big brands out there, their hardware reliability is strong, their image quality matches up well with Western brands and they offer a lot of local support.
I think there are a lot of reasons not to use Hikvision and a lot to use them, so not an easy case.
That said, for any US government facility, I would not spec them unless the client fully understand the government / political background of Hikvision.
Pro Focus LLC | 07/12/16 02:25pm
Tim, I hope you are giving equal pause to Axis as well. Recently, Axis had an issue that they still have yet to disclose. We still don't know what the exact issue was, but we will soon. The person who discovered the exploit is planning on making it public on the 18th of July.
As for why I install Hikvision, we do so because it is hard to justify the price premium for other "Western" brands for most installs. There are occasions where the premium brands have a certain model with specific features that make it worth the cost. But for the average install, 95%+ of the camera locations are well served by the Hikvision line of cameras.
Also, we install Hikvision for the 4 year warranty. This is usually better than other brands. It for sure is the best for the price segment. We also get local (read a few miles from me) support from out Hikvision rep. The product is stocked at numerous distributors and easy to procure. Their accessories are well designed with the integrator in mind. And they have a low DOA rate, in our experience.
Why I wouldn't install them, is a much shorter list. We don't have any Gov clients, so the Chinese ownership isn't really relevant to us. Not only that, but find any brand that doesn't include Chinese made parts. Not as easy as you think.
The other big reason is VMS integration. Their analytics aren't integrated into any major VMS that we are aware of. This will be solved when/if they release iVMS-5200 Pro to the US market. But, for now, if you need reliable analytics and value, Avigilon is the way to go. This will change in time as more analytics become common and integration with VMSs expand.
Chesapeake & Midlantic | 07/12/16 02:45pm
1. They're very, very, very cheap, especially considering the image quality they deliver.
2. Why do you need a second reason?
You should not. Under any circumstances.
Obviously many disagree, but I refuse now and have refused to sell Hikvision for quite some time. The known security exploits, the "ties" with the Chinese government (aka the largest hacking organization in the world), and the poor overall quality (notice I did not say poor quality relative to the price) are not where I want to be and not what I represent to my clients.
Some will choose to play in that area because they think it's the only way they can compete, or because they make so much money with it that they don't have a choice or try to find a way to justify it being OK. For me, it's just not, and never will be. I've lost a lot of projects over the years because I sell value and not price, and I've got no problem with that. On to the next.
The reality for me is that there are phenomenal and competitively-priced alternative products out there that are better quality, more reliable, and I don't have to try and justify the fact that I'm effectively installing malware all over my customer's premises every time I put it in.
My goal with my clients is to build long-term relationships that are profitable for both sides. I'll turn down work if I'm not confident in the solution, and I won't sell a customer something that is poor quality just to sell something to them. I consider my reputation to be about the only thing I have, and I refuse to sacrifice that for a product that I wouldn't install in my own home.
Overall, I view Hikvision as the point where the industry simultaneously was dumbed-down and exposed for what it largely is, which is entirely driven by greed, not what is best for clients.
I'll go ahead and don my asbestos-lined flameproof suit now.
IPVMU Certified | 07/12/16 07:28pm
Tim- Thank you for an excellent question. I am sure as an experienced consultant you know that a camera in a box can transmit nothing. It takes a network and IF you have a properly designed network you can certainly mitigate to a large degree any concerns as far as security goes, security is a moot point strongly emphasized by competitors due the fact Hikvision is the leader world wide in production of IP video cameras, its not even close whoever is second. So ask yourself this: if the cameras are such a major security threat why do 10's of thousands of qualified firms use them every day? Its just like John Honovich said "they do make a product at minimum equal to the best western made products". I have personally installed and/or designed electronic security systems for 40 years, I can use any product I choose, I have made a choice to use HikVision because I understand economics, I am able to purchase the products at a very reasonable cost and just as important as costs receive excellent LOCAL TECHNICAL support (if needed)before during and after the sale. Out of 1000's of cameras we have put into service I can count on one hand the failures.
Can you get hands on LOCAL support for any AXIS camera? Or Bosch? Or Panasonic? Or Longsee?
After its all said and done what about exorbitant licensing fees? Has anyone mentioned that HikVison takes the stance ZERO LICENSE FEE. NO IP Camera licensing fees, no software fees. Ask your next client would they like to pay or not to pay? Do more homework, ask more dealers that actually use Hikvision instead of complain about Hikvison before you finalize any decision.
Thank you for reading.
Ill chime in on this as well, If you were to ask me 3 years ago what I though of Hikvision I would have told you cheap Chinese crap... today I am a Hikvision dealer. I install these cameras on the shores of Lake Superior, these things are buried in snow, in temperatures that would give a snowman shrinkage and we have not had a single failure. The exterior grade cameras are rock solid, image quality is there, WDR performance is there, price point is there. I also agree I wouldn't use them on a Gov't facility, but I have no issues installing them on customers facilities, and we ensure the network is locked down. We also scan our customers networks quarterly with a Nessus scan and have only had one vulnerability that was resolved with a firmware upgrade, so that makes us look good in the eyes of network auditors.
IPVMU Certified | 07/12/16 08:31pm
We have installed MANY Hikvision cameras over the last four years and have had no issues; we hold licenses in 13 states and have been in business for 25 years. We're far from being truck slammers. We use Hikvision because they have a broad range of high-quality, low-cost cameras and professional grade cameras. Most people only look at the value series cameras and forget that Hikvision has a smart series line of cameras.
Our customer base is RX, Fuel Stations, Manufacturing, Retail, high-end residential, distribution centers...thousands of random SMB's.
Do I have concerns about the Chinese government involvement? Sure I do. But at the end of the day, I save my customers a lot of money and most of the time they could care less. I don't know if this wave we're on right now selling Hikvision will last, if it doesnt. We'll go back to selling Bosch or look at other options.
I think HikVision makes good products but I don't agree with the fact that they are backed by a Communist government that injects money into them so they can disrupt markets overseas. It's ridiculous, you can buy a HikVision 4MP dome of Bullet style camera with true WDR for $150. That's insane. A couple of years a go dealers were loving the pricing because they could go out and make juicy profits. Now every dealer is flogging the same Hik product and dealers are saying is getting tougher to make money. This also because you can buy Hik OEM kits at Costco dirt cheap and since Hik is being promoted by everyone it's easy for savvy end users to search for pricing online.
Id like to think that this model is unsustainable but when you're backed by a communist Chinese government this might become the status quo.
Hik makes good products, but I wouldn't specify them for any jobs. You're putting your reputation on the line.
I'm concerned about the value of the dollar and that Chinese partially government owned corporations are buying American assets.
I'm concerned about re-selling a product whose profit aids not a corporation but a Chinese owned and controlled business.
I'm concerned about a manufacturer that makes hundreds of different cameras all with different firmware when all we really need in the American market is a couple of quality cameras at various resolutions etc. - again not countless cameras all with one feature different etc.
I want a partnership between a camera manufacturer and an open VMS - one in which every feature of said camera is controllable through said VMS, I don't care about ONVIF support - it doesn't work.
I don't want an IP camera whose features are only accessible through a browser interface and can only integrate with the same manufacturers NVR.
I don't want to sell a $100 camera - I get nothing out of the sale - it turns into only risk for me with service - we roll the truck to warranty a $100 camera and guess what we lose money.
I think about when I was young, my politics and business ethics have evolved, the world is smaller now and gets smaller every year but we can choose to do business with any company we want and any manufacturer with Hikvision's history and how that company is run and who they primarily do business with and who owns the company - yes it does have significant pull on whether we choose to do business with them. Its not always about how cheap the product is and can we make money selling it.
Nelly Security | 07/13/16 01:49pm
To give your clients an affordable and reliable solution.
I agree with Undisclosed 5 Integrator. I just don't trust Hikvision and I really don't want to support their business practices. That being said we do sell it but I feel uncomfortable doing it.
IPVMU Certified | 07/13/16 06:09pm
Great information indeed but I have one question please:
Could you give me a list of all of those manufacturers that claim they will be responsible if the system is hacked?
Really, do you think that Hikvision is the only company that has inadvertently had Malware creep into some not all products? What about the clock radios or a million other devices we buy from China everyday?
What about the I-Phone its made in China? Should we all ditch our phones just because it is made in China?
Marty Calhoun so when all of your all of your competition is bidding on the same projects as you with the same Hikvision equipment at the same price point. Is Hikvision going to be the one that is laughing all the way to the bank?