ADI's W Box Camera / NVR Gen 1 (Hikvision) Tested

By Ethan Ace, Published Jul 22, 2015, 12:00am EDT

ADI moves hundreds of millions of dollars worth video surveillance equipment each year.

And now, they are disrupting the channel, cutting out manufacturers.

We bought an IP camera and NVR from ADI's new W Box line to learn more. The products are shown below:

Within minutes of starting our test, it was obvious who they were OEMing and how significantly this is going to impact the industry.

And the OEM Is...

Hikvision.

With just a few changes (reviewed below), W Box is certainly a Hikvision OEM. Camera and NVR performance, feature set, and VMS compatibility are quite similar to equivalent Hikvision models, at similar price points. 

But Better Than Hikvision?

However, there are some potential advantages to integrators using W Box:

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  • Limited online availability: W Box is officially available only through dealers with an ADI account, unlike Hikvision which is widely available online (authorized or not). This makes it more difficult for customers to "shop" an integrator's proposal.
  • Longer warranty: W Box offers a five year warranty on cameras and recorders, compared to Hikvision's three years.
  • More stock: As ADI's "house" brand, W Box cameras are being stocked at local ADI branches, with large amounts of inventory available nationally, similar or better than many premium manufacturers. This makes it far more likely a W Box model can be shipped quickly or available at same day at a local branch, as most Hikvision models are special order from ADI (drop shipped from Hikvision).

Industry Impact

Given ADI's broad reach and aggressive positioning of W Box plus Hikvision's acceptable quality for the low to mid-end, we believe this will be a significant positive for ADI and negative for their branded 'partners' like Axis (M series), FLIR (Digimerge), Samsung, Speco, etc. Even Hikvision branded products will be impacted, though, of course, Hikvision will make it back (at lower sales prices) via the W Box OEM sales. Dahua, though, clearly loses here.

This underscores the struggles the industry is going through as it adapts to the reality of the $100 MP Era. ADI is being undercut by cheap online resellers, and now ADI is striking back by cutting out their branded manufacturers, many of whom OEM Hikvision or other Chinese offerings anyway.

Note: ADI's parent / sister company, Honeywell Security is also OEMing Dahua, providing a one-two mega-Chinese OEM arrangement (see: Testing Honeywell HQA HD-CVI).

Pricing and Availability

W Box is officially available only from ADI, to anyone with an account, though a few unauthorized online sources may be found.

Based on dealer pricing, we expect street price W Box and equivalent Hikvision models to be similar. For example, estimated street price of the 31BF40 is ~$150 USD, similar to the Hikvision DS-2CD2032-I online pricing. However, dealers may be able to purchase these equivalent W Box models for slightly less than Hikvision from ADI.

Estimated street price of models used in this test:

  • 21BF40 1080p IR bullet: ~$130 USD estimated street price
  • 41TP1UN 4-channel PoE NVR (1TB HDD): ~$300 estimated

Recommendations

With similar performance to Hikvision models, W Box is a solid choice on the low end, further strengthened by extended warranty and better stock at ADI.

However, end users and those without ADI accounts may still prefer Hikvision, as it is readily available from other distributors as well as online sources.

One note of warning: Users should be sure to change default W Box passwords, especially when connected to the internet. Otherwise, they are essentially as vulnerable to hacking as pre-5.3.0 firmware Hikvision product.

W Box/Hikvision Similarities

Many features of the W Box camera and NVR are practically identical to 

Web Interface Similarities

The web interfaces of W Box and Hikvision models are extremely similar, seen in the video below. The color scheme has changed, and some menu options have been consolidated/removed, but overall controls function in the same way, with default settings nearly all the same.

 

MAC Address

Moreover, looking up the MAC address of the camera and NVR, the OUI is clearly listed as Hikvision:

VMS Integration

The 21BF40 was detected by Exacq as an ONVIF camera. However, changing the driver to Hikvision, all features functioned the same as other Hikvision models, with camera side VMD available, and no issues changing camera settings via the VMS.

Physical Differences

There are slight physical differences between the W Box and Hikvision models. The housing of the bullet cameras are different, with W Box more square compared to the round Hikvision model, though both use the same LED layout and are approximately the same size.

The NVR front panel is different from Hikvision's, as well, but LED display is the same. 

Warranty and Support

All W Box IP cameras and NVRs come with a 5 year warranty [link no longer available], compared to only 3 years on equivalent Hikvision models. Further, since W Box models are now stocked at ADI, same day replacement is much more likely than with Hikvision.

W Box tech support is provided by the local ADI branch and/or via email, which could be an issue. We have not been able to determine how good or bad this is.

Beware: Old Firmware

The W Box models tested use a firmware 5.2.0, which is prior to Hikvision's "anti-hacking" updates made in 5.3. This means that the camera does not require the "secure activation" process found after this update, and does not require users to change default passwords (nor does it warn them).

It is unknown whether W Box will choose to implement these improvements or not, though they leave themselves vulnerable if not, with only a different default password ("wbox123" instead of "12345") as protection.

Image Quality Comparison

We tested the 21BF40 against Hikvision and Dahua equivalents to compare image quality, in our typical FOV:

 

In full light, image quality is very similar to other cameras, with no notable issues. Notably, the camera's field of view is nearly identical to the Hikvision DS-2CD2032-I, both using 4mm lenses.

 

Low Light

The 21BF40's IR illumination pattern was very bright in the center and dark at the edges, and issue not found in the Hikvision 2032. Our subject is undetectable in the corner of the room in this FOV:

Visibility is drastically improved when turning the camera's digital WDR on, seen below, though visible noise increases, as well, driving bandwidth up.

Using default settings, the 21BF40 provides details of the subject and chart similar to the DS-2CD2032-I, and moderately better than the Dahua bullet, which is much noisier at this light level.

 

Versions Used

The following firmware versions were used for this test: 

  • W Box 21BF40: V5.2.0 build 150416
  • Hikvision DS-2CD2032-I: 5.3.0 build 150513
  • Dahua IPC-HFW1200S: 2.420.0001.0.R  
  • W Box 41TP1UN NVR: V3.0.8

Cameras were tested using default settings unless otherwise noted.

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