Hikvision Cloud Service (Ezviz / HikConnect) Tested

By Ethan Ace, Published Aug 05, 2016, 08:37am EDT (Research)

Hikvision has built out cloud services for their cameras / products, adding cloud access and recording.

Hikvision markets cloud under Ezviz (not to be confused with their Ezviz direct to consumer offerings, which is a product line that supports cloud services) and, more recently, Hik-Connect.

We tested these applications with a variety of Hikvision cameras to determine what worked and how well it did. Inside, we report on:

  • Cloud device compatibility, including Hikvision OEM offerings
  • Cloud limitations, including specific advanced features not supported
  • Cloud connection via AWS
  • App access to cloud
  • Web interface access
  • Using the Ezviz Mini with the cloud

Summary 

Hikvision's cloud services (aka EZVIZ, aka Hik-Connect) worked well in our tests, with simple setup requiring no port forwarding or manual router configuration and live/playback use functioning well.

However, only low end models (Value/Value Plus) support these services, while higher end Smart/Pro models (including Darkfighter, 4K, etc.) do not. Additionally, some advanced functions such as on board analytics, or advanced VMD setup are no supported at all, while others, such as Hikvision's H.264+ Smart CODEC, do not work properly. Users desiring these functions or cameras would need to use port forwarding, VPNs, or other remote access means. 

Cloud Fees

Hikvision's cloud has no recurring charges for live viewing or accessing video stored on edge devices. Seven day cloud recording (EZVIZ branded cameras only) is free for one year, then $5 per month per camera.

This cloud recording plan is less expensive than many cloud camera options (e.g. Nest) which charge $8-10 per month for 7 day recording and do not offer local SD card access, with trials typically limited to 10-30 days.

Compared to Axis Companion

Hikvision's cloud services are comparable to Axis' Companion VMS, as both offer free cloud access and edge storage support. However, Axis Companion is supported by nearly all Axis cameras, while many Hikvision models do not support cloud access (see below).

Axis also does not support any cloud recording, while Hikvision does offer 7 and 30 day plans. However, these plans are limited to EZVIZ branded models only, not Hikvision cameras. 

Device Compatibility

Hikvision's cloud services are mainly intended for use with their own cameras and those in the EZVIZ brand. EZVIZ is supported in the majority of the Hikvision Value/Value Plus line, but not 4 or 6 series models. Likewise, lower end DVRs/NVRs (7 series) are supported, but not the Pro line (9000 series).

Additionally, many of Hikvision's OEMs support EZVIZ, including LTSNorthern Video, and others, support access via EZVIZ.

Enabling Access

Devices which support Hikvision cloud services include an additional menu tab not found in others, typically titled "Platform Access", located under Advanced Network Settings. This setting may or may not be enabled by default, depending on the camera.

Cloud Connection via AWS

When enabled, the camera or recorder initiates a TLS connection to Amazon Web Services (AWS), making the device available via EZVIZ. Viewing network connections via a terminal session (using netstat over SSH), only two connections are shown, one to AWS, the other to our local machine:

App Access

Hikvision's cloud is accessible via their own dedicated mobile apps (EZVIZ and Hik-Connect) as well as iVMS desktop and mobile apps (iVMS-4200 and 4500). Additionally, some OEMs offer relabeled version of these apps, such as LTS' PT Cloud. 

In iVMS-4200 for Windows, users simply log in using their cloud credentials, and cameras are available for live viewing and playback.

Note that mobile apps are essentially clones of each other, with slight cosmetic differences and different names. For example, Hikvision themselves offer two apps, EZVIZ and Hik-Connect, with the main different being color scheme.

Web Interface

Cloud cameras are also accessible via the EZVIZ web interface, using Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox (plugin required). Chrome is not supported. The cloud interface offers single camera live view and playback via a timeline (with motion event markers as well as continuous video). Up to four live cameras may be viewed simultaneously in a 2x2 split view, but playback is limited to a single camera.

Note that cloud recording is unavailable for DVRs, with video stored locally only. Additionally, no export is available from devices which record locally, such as DVRs or cameras using SD cards.

We review the web interface in this video:

Cloud Limitations

Hikvision's cloud supports many camera features, including motion detection, audio, built in PIRs, etc. However, there are two key limitations:

  • Analytics not supported: Camera analytics such as intrusion detection and cross line are not supported by EZVIZ, though simple motion detection and alerts from on board PIRs (such as the 2CD2432) are. Analytic events are simply ignored, with no alert sent.
  • Limited motion setup: VMD setup is limited to a single zone with no sensitivity adjustments in Hikvision cameras. Multiple zones and adjustable sensitivity may be set via the camera's web interface, but in our tests these settings were lost when switching alerts on and off in EZVIZ/Hik-Connect settings.
  • H.264+ limited support: In some cases, H.264+ caused cameras to fail to stream live video or take several seconds to load. Turning off H.264+ provided better stability but increased bitrate.

Users looking to implement any of these features will most likely need to use port forwarding or VPNs for remote access. See our Remote Network Access for Video Surveillance guide for more information on pros/cons of these methods.

EZVIZ Mini Camera

In addition to serving as a cloud interface for Hikvision devices, the EZVIZ brand also offers cameras and IP/TVI kits (see our test of their 4-channel TVI kit).

The EZVIZ Mini is their lowest cost IP camera (~$70 online), made to compete with typical wireless consumer offerings. Unlike typical Hikvision cameras, the Mini has no web interface and cannot be used with VMSes/ONVIF, only connect to the Hikvision cloud service. 

As a comparison, we shot the Mini against a Hikvision 720p camera (2012) and the Nest Cam in full light and low light.

In full light (~300lx), the Mini is noisier/more pixelated than others, though details of the subject are similar. Chart text is more legible in the Nest Cam and Hikvision 720p model.

At night, the Mini performs moderately better than the Nest Cam, though the Hikvision 720p bullet performs best in this scene due to its better IR illumination.

 

Firmware Versions

All Hikvision cameras used in this test were updated to version 5.4.0. EZVIZ Mini firmware 5.1.6. was used.

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