Arecont Needs a Reset Button and a Clue

Author: Derek Ward, Published on Nov 15, 2013

Given Arecont's horrendous reputation for quality and reliability, you would think they would make it easy to troubleshoot their cameras. Well, you would be wrong.

There's a number of fundamental problems, but it does not get any more basic than lacking a reset button, something most every other manufacturer has.

Why a Reset Button?

Sometimes IP cameras become unreachable. They cannot be found on the network, or they cannot be accessed by their web interface. This can happen to any IP camera from any manufacturer.

The hardware reset button frequently solves this, by erasing any problematic configurations and restoring the default IP address, making it easier to access the camera over the network.

This video shows the reset button in action and how Arecont differs from their competitors:

But It Gets Worse...

Without a reset button, a camera that cannot be reached becomes a paper weight.

In fairness, though, even if Arecont added a reset button, they still have 2 other huge problems:

Arecont cameras have no default IP address so if the camera is not discovered by their tool or the VMS, it can be challenging to find it.

Plus, Arecont is adamant that users turn off their Windows firewall and anti-virus to discover their cameras. It is literally the first question tech support asks callers and their stock excuse when problems finding their cameras occur. Like the absent reset button, this too is a limitation that we have not found in any other major manufacturer.

Lessons Learned

Making initial setup and basic troubleshooting simple and reliable is critical. Reset buttons, a default IP address and a discovery tool that does not force one to change core PC settings is critical to achieving this.

We would hope Arecont actually improves this but with their track record, let's be realistic.

1 report cite this report:

Arecont Stellar Camera Tested on May 25, 2016
Arecont offers:  STELLAR (Spatio TEmporal Low Light ARchitecture) technology that dramatically increases low light performance to capture color...

Comments (38)

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This is such a common place scenario. I had many problems with Areconts. One possible thing to try is to arp the mac address with your desired IP, though this too is resulted in few successful attempts.

...and also assumes the MAC address is readily available.

Arecont is not alone in this design "feature." Claiming it protects users because stolen cameras cannot be repurposed at the push of a button, Mobotix requires you to return cameras to the factory and pay a hefty fee for a reset. Configuration control and good, accessible records are important for installations at any scale, but become absolutely crucial for those who have chosen to use Mobotix or Arecont cameras.

Let's not even get started on Mobotix! No H.264, No ONVIF, really expensive....

Mobotix certainly has many quality products / strong features, but it's really hard to use them outside of a Mobotix only system.

Only need to return camera to Mobotix if you forget admin password.

They have factury IP and reset button on camera.

I considered Mobotix for a while, but eventually balked at the cost. Having never actually touched one of those beauties, I can only go by the manual.

There doesn't appear to be a physical reset button on any of the exploded and detail views from p. 33 to p. 50 of the S15 camera manual.

The S15 camera manual says, "If you lose the administrator password and cannot access the administration menu, the password can only be reset at the factory. This service is subject to a fee!"

The manual indicates that the S15 reset to factory default option is not a physical button -- it's a software selection that doesn't appear to be accessible unless you have the admin password. Again from the manual,

"3.6.5 Resetting The Camera To Factory Settings"

"In order to perform this procedure, you need to have administrative access to the camera (admins group). Open Admin Menu > Reset to reset the camera to factory defaults."

Still, a lot of book learnin' can't hold a candle to a little hands-on. I welcome more enlightenment.

I wasn't aware people still purchase Arecont?

We recently had a big shootout and this problem did come up in the configuration of the AV units. I cannot believe that the largest tech companies in Silicon Valley chose AV. They must have gotten them dirt cheap cause otherwise it simply doesn't make any sense.

See: Why Did Apple And Google Choose Arecont?

As discussed there, a big reason was that the selection was done a number of years ago when the market was far less mature, Arecont had a much bigger cost advantage and was legitimately innovating with H.264. The market has advanced a lot but Arecont not as much.

Using the av200 software I always find their cameras even outside the IP range. They have improved in all aspects of their business including tech support, quality and reliability and on their warranty. New generation cameras are very solid and the people at arecont are all there to want to make your experiance a good one. Most complaints today are based on the past which was a one year bad time for them, even they acknowledge. People have long memories and tend to harp on the negative past and not let go. Every camera manufacturer goes through rough periods, no one is immune to this, it is how they come out of that which is important. arecont is on the upswing again and will be for some time to come!

To be very clear, all of this we are reporting has occurred in the last 2 weeks as we have been doing new testing of Arecont cameras - still problems with cameras being undiscoverable, still the same back and forth with tech support, etc.

You did not mention the reset button issue, but I hope we can agree that every camera manufacturer should have one.

"People have long memories and tend to harp on the negative past and not let go."

When one is badly burned by a product, it's not easy to trust the maker when they come back and say, "But we're much better now!" Add to this, the first thing one tends to do is seek out alternatives, the choice of which is usually tempered by that bad experience, meaning when one settles on a different product, it's probably something one is MUCH happier with, leaving even less desire to go back to the previous troublesome product.

Case in point: I had some VERY bad experiences with Arecont a couple years ago (well documented in other forums, not the least of which was two of four cameras on one site being physically broken out-of-the-box due to flawed assembly) and swore them off forever. I've since found other cameras from two or three different manufacturers, that perform much better for me, for an average similar price (some more expensive, some cheaper, but working out to a similar total cost on a site when using a combination of the brands). Given this, what would inspire me to give Arecont another shot?

I was recently given a loaner Arecont from a vendor to evaluate, and frankly, I don't see a lot of reason to go back. I don't know what the price point is right now, but on the whole, it doesn't seem to be any better picture than before, marginally improved low-light... and still seems to suffer from shoddy physical design and workmanship. They've added remote zoom and focus, and it CLAIMS to have autofocus, but I have yet to see it actually function.

Reading this thread, it doesn't sound like they've learned from other, no doubt more widespread and vocal complaints, so why should I feel inspired to go back?

you guys forgot to mentionthat the AV software when installed it defualt to start with windows. after you find and add the camera on the next use of the app its prompts you that you have no license to rcod them in the AV software.

speaking of IP addresses. the cams somehow maciglly route w/o GW defined on many occasions.

also no software reboot when video stream locks up but is pingable.

Come On Arecont get you act together!!

One thing that wasn't touched upon was physical power removal (e.g. unplugging the PoE cable, waiting a minute, then plugging it back in). If it's a simple camera lock-up, 9-out-of-10 times that fixes it.

If it's a network settings problem that's causing the lock up, yeah you need a reset/default button, and it's strange that in 2013, a major manufacturer like Arecont doesn't have this.

Yes, tip #1 in our Top 10 IP Camera Troubleshooting Tips is to reboot the camera, #10 is to reset the camera :)

And it's a good Top 10 list :)

If the firmware is 65218 it may be the firmware ont he camera. this firmware is a huge issue if using exacq!

it almost crippled our installers and tech for a few months untill we finally got them to admit it was thier firmware.

We have boiler plate requirements for all electronic gizzmos that are inserted into our RFPs

There must be a field procedure to access a device whose password has been lost.

Ability to restore all settings to values as shipped when the device was new.

This isn't just for cameras. We use it for everything. "Ship it back to the factory" would disqualify a bidder. We do not require any particular mechanism. A paper-clip internal switch is one popular way to implement a reset feature. We accept pretty much any system that does not include FedEx or UPS.

Good point about the RFP requirement.

One thing about this language: "Ability to restore all settings to values as shipped when the device was new."

Arecont would meet this via the web interface. That said, having a hardware reset button is extremely useful for field troubleshooting.

we were using arecont 360 & 180s quite a bit. now we have migrated to using the immervision lens and a sony 1.3mp camera. this setup blows away the arecont 180&360's. It is sad that they have fallen so far behind other manufacturers.

I can answer each point here including the ridiculas statement regarding the ImmerVision lens with sony 1.3 mp camera, but I am not sure this will change anything. I have many happy Arecont customers including a major airport that chose Arecont after a major shootout they did. That will turn into 1200 cameras over the next couple of years.

Regarding the original question of a reset button, ok that might be handy and I will agree to that but my experiance has been that I have not had these issues that would need this. Take a look at their new 12MP 180/360 WDR Camera just to name one of the new recently released Products.

Thank you

I certainly agree with you that an Arecont multi-imager camera is going to deliver a lot more details (in daylight or WDR scenes) than an Immervision lens with any camera. Indeed, the Immervision lens performed relatively poor in our panoramic shootout, and that was just against fisheyes. The new 3MP Immervision M mount lenses (like on the Brickcom) performed better in our tests. That said, I do not believe any fisheye or panomorph lens would beat an Arecont 360 (nor certainly a 180) in day light, even lighting.

"I have many happy Arecont customers including a major airport that chose Arecont after a major shootout they did."

The customers being happy doesn't really tell you anything other than they're satisfied with the final image. It says nothing to any problems the integrator or installer(s) may have had making them work in the first place.

If you open up four camera boxes in the middle of an overnight install and find two cameras with physically broken innards because they were assembled or packed improperly, let me tell you that makes for a very FRUSTRATED installer. Or would you consider that frustration "ridiculas[sic]" as well?

Matt, I do think it's entirely reasonable that Arecont has some happy dealers and end users. Not everyone has a 50% failure rate with Arecont cameras obviously.

And I do agree with undisclosed about the overall attraction of their 180s / 360s.

That said, overall, despite Arecont's claims to have gotten a lot better, they still have quite a lot of flaws. Plus, Asian competitors have really caught to Arecont in terms of low price. A few years ago, price was a major advantage of Arecont, now that is not the case.

"I do think it's entirely reasonable that Arecont has some happy dealers and end users."

Oh, I don't doubt it... my point was that just just because CUSTOMERS are happy, doesn't mean the cameras didn't have a whole lot of problems; it may have been good, trouble-free product, or it may have just been a really persistent integrator who busted his butt to make it all work.

"may have just been a really persistent integrator who busted his butt to make it all work"

unlike Matt Ion :) BAM!

Oh, we MADE the Areconts work... had to do some field repairs and a bit of fabrication, cursing them all the way, and it meant we had to come back an extra night to complete the install... but we MADE them work.

The slow live display, lack of control settings, and horrendous config interface were just previous annoyances, but getting a bunch that were put together wrong meant that was the last time we ever spec'd them.

Yeah, I am just teasing you...

There are so many competitive IP / MP camera options now that there is little need to have to deal with poor quality nor poor setup.

Btw, Arecont's web config interface has substantially improved and is now fairly similar to other manufacturers (reviewed in our Arecont WDR test report).

Yeah, I noticed it was... well, I don't know if it's IS actually better, but it at least LOOKS friendlier on this AV5255-IR I'm testing. A lot of the actual underlying controls still seem, I don't know, clunky? they've just added pretty sliders and such rather than having to manually change numbers. It SAYS it does auto-focus, at least there's an "auto focus after zoom" option, but it didn't do anything, and I had to rely on their goofy manual-focus buttons, in -20, -5, -1, +1, +5, +20 incremements, and the numerical focus meter that gives no indication of where in the image it's actually reading. It DOES seem to auto-focus after switching the ICR, but it sure is clattery and noisy in doing it.

Of course, my biggest beef was still the physical construction, and they don't seem to have improved that much... still a nearly identical flimsy plastic yoke, still with the locking setscrews on the yaw ring (we had two or three previously where these screws were drilled, but not stamped for a hex key, making it impossible to loosen them to adjust the camera angle!)

Any camera that requires sending back to the factory to reset should be disqualified from any RFP. To charge to reset it is just salt in the wound. Manufacturers need to realize that saving a dollar in the building of an item that sells for one hundred dollars is stupid if it causes the buyer (the integrator) problems in the field. Part of the manufacturer's job is to make the installer look good in the field; forget that at your own risk, because you may not get a second chance.

I'd rather pay ten dollars more for something that installs smoothly. I've done some manufacturing of alarm panels and as a forinstance I made sure when we designed control panels we spent for enough room for field wiring. I'm not impressed with companies like DSC that cram everything into the smallest container they can just to save a buck. Arecont needs to realize that in most cases it doesn't get sold to the end-user unless the guys specing the job want to use it. Add the field reset button and charge a buck or two more if you must, the switch and the PCB real estate isn't that expensive.

I'm not sure if this is true statement.

"Sometimes IP cameras become unreachable. They cannot be found on the network, or they cannot be accessed by their web interface. This can happen to any IP camera from any manufacturer."

Remember that Arecont cameras 100% designed by Arecont.. And Arecont cameras got watch dog timer inside. Timer resets cameras automatically if camera is frozen by any reason. So if Arecont camera becomes unreachable, it means that reset button would not help.

And indeed, my experience tells me that arecont is unreachable only if something totally wrong and reset would not help...

However I agree that it's nice to have a default IP address, and for the sake of convenience have a button to reset camera to it's default ip and pass.

However not having that button makes camera cheaper.

Sergey, interesting feedback.

As you mention, one of the things it would certainly help is restoring the default IP address, if Arecont actually had a default IP address.

"my experience tells me that arecont is unreachable only if something totally wrong and reset would not help..."

Maybe that literally is the case but it sure seems to happen a lot to us (and evidently others here).

I have over 200 Arecont cameras that were installed 3 years ago. Not a single failure.

Same problem with Mobotix, not possible to master reset. You need to send it to Mobotix and pay 130USD + freight to get it done.

we install 90% of them system wide in 12 states, and other than the firmware 65218 (see above post)

it is normally easy. the Ip address is not an issue if the Mac is avalible thier IP config thur mac program works like a champ! the rest of the propritary is well at times iffy.

Someone said they had a bad year. That was longer than a year; we had several "bad years" with them before we started looking elsewhere. Now we pretty much only use the multi-lens panoramics because they're one of the few who do them. When other manufacturers start releasing multi lens panoramics (besides the Hikvisions or Avigilon with their JPG200), then we may drop them altogether. Arecont's poor reliability cost them a lot of faith. Their poor and obnoxious service earned them a lot of negative yardage they still have to crawl back from. We'd have to hear a lot more accolodes from other integrators about improved quality and support before we take them seriously again.

And praise form end users doesn't do it; because as has been said, that doesn't tell about the work that had to go in by the integrator to make them work. A happy customer with Arecont cameras to me is more a testament to the integrator than Arecont.

I fully believe that there should be a reset button, DIP switch, or some mechanical method to return a unit back to factory defaults. However, I'm on the fence about default IP addresses, unless your installed base has used them with your products for a long time.

Link-local addresses, combined with popular discovery methods like Zeroconf or UPnP, are better in my opinion than default IP addresses. Generally you have to temporarily change the network settings on your laptop because the default IP address is outside of your visible subnet. And if you have more than one unit on the network in this state you're screwed anyway (though I suppose you only do this directly connected to the unit off the network).

We'll see what happens in the future, but I suspect in the long run default IPv4 addresses will give way to link-local.

I think the best approach, and not many use it, is to set the camera to DHCP. My problem with link-local addresses is that it takes time for laptop and camera to fail and get an address, and it's not ideal if you're doing numerous cameras at once. The quickest way I've seen to IP address multiple cameras is for them all to grab a DHCP address, then use manufacturer tools to address in bulk. I wish there were a quicker way.

BTW, Arecont cameras won't work with Zeroconf or UPnP. They simply never get an address. Which makes them the worst of all possible scenarios.

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