WTH - $180 4 Channel Surveillance Kit?

Scanning through Amazon, the #1 selling surveillance DVR kit and the #3 overall surveillance video equipment (behind only 2 baby monitors) is a 4 channel kit for less than $180.

I know prices continued to decline but I did not realize anyone was selling such kits for under $200. It also "includes 4 indoor/outdoor night vision cameras with 60ft of cable per camera, a pre-installed 500GB security hard drive."

This makes the low cost QSee HD kit a high roller package at $699.

The manufacturer of the $180 kit is Zmodo, a Chinese company I have not heard of before that is evidently marketing/selling directly in North America.

Anyone have experience with this company or their products?


Zmodo isn't THAT new - just google the name and you'll find videos from 2011 on setting up their systems. I'm sure I've seen the name around long before that, too. A quick search on another forum finds 22 pages of posts with "Zmodo" dating back to June 2009.

Yes, I know CCTVForum 'specializes' in this type of gear.

Beyond the company, what surprises me is the price. I don't regularly check for analog 4 camera kit pricing, but I remember it being ~$299 the last time I checked. $178 is outrageously low.

Well, to be accurate, Amazon does list that as a "sale price" marked down from $250.

Still... that is pretty cheap.

Oh, and Zmodo has a 4 channel HD IP kit for $480 on Newegg. It's the same basic setup as the $699 QSee one but does not include a hard drive.

Oddly enough, I'm in NC visiting family and my father-in-law setup this same system (but it appears under a different brand name). Overall it has a "decent" image. The cameras are larger than neccessary by modern standards, but actually produce an adequate image. The little DVR has a direct TV interface and a web UI as well. For $200 it's really a solid little DIY system.

Zmodo are the SEO champs... some of the links I found below are heavy into Google AdWords and keyword search listings right on each of their respective splash pages.

These sites are all owned/operated by Zmodo:

This wayback link shows they had at least 2 US 'offices' in the US on 8/8/2011:

STE A,1401 Interstate Dr.
Champaign, IL 61822
Tel:217-903-5674
Fax:217-351-2929
Toll Free:866-551-6881

and

17870 Castelton St., Suite 200, City of Industry, CA 91748

This wayback link (about page) shows another US office around the D.C. area (no address; see map at bottom)

This wayback link (from this year, though when i go to zmodo.com it doesn't show this page) shows they use InstallerNet to handle local installs... :)

Also, it appears that EP Technology Corporation is their actual US entity... I imagine the other US addresses are probably just fulfillment centers.

Nice work, Marty!

Is EP Technologies one and the same as Zmodo or are they are a partner? From the link Marty shared, an interesting tidbit about EP:

"According to the magazine (Inc 5000), EP Technology had $28.7 million in revenues and 70 employees in 2012. In last year's survey, the company was listed as having $18.6 million in revenues and 65 employees in 2011."

Ok, EP and Zmodo both have the same CEO, so that answers that.

Also, $28.7 million is pretty decent, especially when the average camera they sell is $17 :) Indeed, according to Inc, 2009 revenue was only $5.2 million, so that's some pretty sizeable growth.

When EP Technologies cracked the INC5000 list last year according to their HR Director:

-------------------------

"We're very excited to debut at No. 636, and we hope to crack the top 500 next year," said Patrick Rietz, EP Technology's director of human resources.

Rietz said the company hopes to get to $50 million in sales this year, but he's not sure whether that goal will be met.

-------------------------

And that was last year, so maybe they are there by now?

That same article also states:

"Rietz said the company still intends to bring manufacturing to the United States and has discussed that notion with state and local government."

Below is Michael Myers reaction to that last claim:

Missed two: Zmodo Direct and Zmodo Security

ZmodoDirect? - that's the most literal name since Ocularis Media Server!

This is what happens when a factory sells direct with little markup. I heard that they don't make everything themselves but a good portion of it. I guess low overhead in NA

Undisclosed, good point. This is text book disintermediation. Cut out the OEMs and sell direct in key foreign markets like US.

Saw them on woot.com several times last year.

http://www.wootstalker.com/recentw.php?type=Woot&search=zmodo

Interesting. I wonder how much they sell in each event/ offer. Interesting way to sell to the consumer market.

Good luck with the PSU units on these POS kits. I used to have a retail store and sold various cheap DIY kits. The most common brand we stocked was the Vonnic brand. While they are a good value for the DIY guy that just wants to keep an eye on his driveway and front porch or what have you, they just don't last long. If you were for some reason looking to purchase one, try to get the type without a hard drive pre-installed. They use the cheapest of desktop hard drives inside those kits. Heck, a good AV hard drive would cost about half of the kit purchase price alone!

Anyways, I would highly recommend anyone buying these kits to "86" the wall wart / power brick PSUs and upgrade to a better one, like a cabinet style with fuses. Figure 1.0A per camera if they have IR. You can get away with 500mA per camera usually if they don't have IR.

Do you have specific experience with Zmodo or are you making a generic observation about low cost Chinese made equipment? If it's the later, is it fair to include QSee/Dahua?

I honestly see a wide gap in quality between the cheap Chinese crap like Vonnic and the top tier Chinese brands like Dahua and HikVision. I know that Vonnic has since changed to Korean based manufacturing, but they just don't have the support that a US based manufacturer/OEM can provide.

You know that I have used a lot of Dahua products and think they are good for value based projects, but I would not use any of the cheaper Chinese units. The cost difference just isn't that much different for much better products with familiar UI and apps.

"I know that Vonnic has since changed to Korean based manufacturing, but they just don't have the support that a US based manufacturer/OEM can provide."

There are very few US based, nary even N. America, based OEMs of video surveillance equipment and several of those get ripped apart for lacking quality/support on a routine basis. Many of the overseas brands do quite well, so it's not simply a geography thing.

This discussion is about Zmodo so I remain confused why you are using your experience with Vonnic to disparage Zmodo. Your bad experiences with Vonnic is worthwhile to the group. However, your insinuation that Zmodo is just as bad because of its low price and similar geographical origin is unfair.

Actually, you mentioned a few brands in the OP and mentioned cheap Chinese in specific, so I thought my reply was on topic. Add to that the Vonnic 4CH kit was similarly priced and it is even more relevant IMO.

I understand and this is your site and you have control of the content here, but your brashness isn't very welcoming to people trying to simply add to the discussion. After all, isn't that what you were asking for? Even yourself said it wasn't a brand you knew of, so did you expect a bunch of professionals to have used a DIY kit of that level?

I really am not trying to stir the pot here, so I will refrain from posting my opinions here.

Jon, you can't fairly criticize a product simply because it shares a similar price point and geographic origin. Do you not understand that's what you are doing? As a bonus, you exclude the brands you sell / promote.

Rather, you issue a derogatory comment, calling products like Zmodo a piece of shit ("Good luck with the PSU units on these POS kits") without ever having used them.

If you don't like my brashness when you make unfair comments that misleads our readers, that's fine. Better for other members that you refrain from posting such opinions here.

For the record, I have hands on working knowledge of about 6 different "brands" of low end kits that would appear to be similar in specs and cost to the specific kit you posted in the OP, although admittedly, not the exact one you listed.. I am unsure as to how many of them you have personally tested, so I guess I can't critique your experience with them. My general experience with similar kits, both in respects to specifications as well as value segment, I would think would be relevant.

They might "appear to be similar in specs and cost to the specific kit you posted in the OP" but so too are the QSee/Dahua ones which you continue to praise. The point is product quality can vary even with the similar manufacturer specs and price levels.

I am not going to let people make blanket statements that products they have not used are pieces of shit and have power supply problems. It's far far too specific and damaging criticism to make without any direct evidence to back it up.

In fairness, I asked a trusted colleague who has used the Zmodo product, as well as other kits like Dahua, QSee, Vonnic, Swann, etc, and his opinion was it was on par with the Vonnic kits I sold him. He said they lacked documentation, the menus were not in clear English (what we call Chinglish), the cameras were very substandard, even for cheap OEM kits, and that the recorded quality was on par with the Vonnic. He also noted that the PSUs were substandard and he replaced them with better units.

I am not sticking up for QSee, as you like to point out. They source from various manufacturers and you never know which one you are going to find. They do, however, seem to document their products better and have tech support options. I would never sell their products though, but might suggest it for a DIY guy.

Dahua, on the other hand, is a manufacturer, so when I buy from Nelly's, QVIS (defunct?), or other OEMs, I know what I am getting. Their menus are always the same. They have one set of apps for their entire product line, analog and digital, camera and recorder. And the quality is even amongst their product lineup. The feature sets are obviously varied, as you would expect. But I've never had QC issues with Dahua products. As far as support, I don't know of anything more I could ask for than what Nelly's supplies. Sean is just a great guy to work with.

Finally, a specific concrete claim based on someone who has used the product. That's far different from your opening blanket Piece of Shit claim based on nothing.

As for Nelly's/Sean, it's way off topic, and it's getting promotional. Please do not comment on this thread again.

I'm new here. Sorry if this is in the wrong forum, but I'm just posting it for an FYI.

Just installed a Zmodo ZMD-DD-SBN8 system (purchased from Amazon.com - 24 out of 27 five-star reviews) at a small not-for-profit (503c) company because we had homeless people and others climbing the back fence and stealing "stuff". We did catch someone last week. The cameras work ok, given the price of the unit, but the dvr software leaves a bit to be desired in terms of setup and use, in my opinion.

In my research, I found a comment that Zmodo was one of 26 brands manufactured by a "Ray Sharp Company in China".

I haven't been able to find that exact comment, but here is a link to one that is very similar.

This article mentions that there are 18 manufacturers, including Zmodo and Swann, that are using firmware from Ray Sharp Company.

I don't know if Ray Sharp manufacturers and markets these units under different names, or they are just licensing their firmware.

Again, just an FYI. Any clarification appreciated.

Terry, welcome and thanks for the input. RaySharp appears to be a DVR manufacturer (factory). My guess would be they are manufacturing the entire recorder, including the firmware. I doubt that they are just licensing firmware. It's more likely that the firmware is highlighted in that article because it is discussing a software issue (not the hardware itself).

There's a lot of reselling / OEMing amongst and from Chinese surveillance factories so that would not surprise me but it can be hard to tell who is getting from whom and when they change.

Zmodo is claiming they stop using RaySharp in 2011. Zmodo's revenue has been shooting up (just over 5 million 2009, now almost 30 in 2012). As they got bigger, they might have started manufacturing their own or switched suppliers. I am just guessing.

I sell surveillance products direct to end-users via a website. We did carry Zmodo for a while, but dropped them as a brand, due to unacceptable lelvels of DOA (dead on arrival) product, and zero customer support. A shame, really. I thought the products that didn't die right away gave pretty decent pictures.

For the record, the cheapest 4 camera kit we sell that isn't utter garbage and has a decent chance of surviving for 2 or 3 years is $250, and that's before Black Friday deals and specials.

But, yes, Zmodo is known in the direct-to-end-user-surveillance-website-sales community as the lowest price product on the market. Expect a $99 kit in the next 12 months.

$99 kit in the next 12 months? Any idea how they could possibly make any money off that? I am confused.

I don't even know how you make money selling a kit for $250.