Hikvision IP Camera Competitiveness Examined

By Ethan Ace, Published Sep 08, 2011, 08:00pm EDT

Chinese manufacturer Hikvision is one of the biggest global surveillance manufacturers and growing extremely fast (as we examined in our 2011 Hikvision financial review). Best known for their analog DVRs, Hikvision is agressively expanding into the IP camera market. In this note, we analyze the competitive potential of Hikvision versus major IP camera providers such as Arecont, Axis, Sony and Panasonic.

Box Camera Comparison

There are multiple models of megapixel cameras in Hikvision's current line. There is some overlap in the line, as well, with multiple cameras at some resolution levels. Additionally, the Hikvision USA website appears to not be current, yet not all products on the Hikvision corporate website are available in North America. 

Note that Hikvision has been cracking down on online sales of their product, instead limiting to a select few security distributors. Thus, pricing for this update is based on our estimate of street pricing, which is calculated based on Hikvision's MSRP minus discount, to roughly compare with other products sold online.

Hikvision's 720p box camera prices out against competitors as follows, all day/night, non-wide dynamic cameras:

  • Hikvision DS-2CD853F-E [link no longer available]: About $400 estimated street price, no lens included
  • Arecont AV1115DN: ~$380 online, no lens included
  • Axis P1344: ~$650, including a 3-8mm CS-mount lens
  • Panasonic WV-SP306: ~$560, no lens included
  • Sony SNC-CH120: ~$550, including 2.8-8mm CS-mount lens

Hikvision's pricing places this camera, after purchasing a lens (approximately $100-150) around or slightly higher than the competitive Arecont, and slightly below Sony's offering. It should be noted that the 853, like much of Hikvision's megapixel line, is only capable of 15 images per second at its maximum resolution. Users should be beware of this fact if higher frame rates are needed.

Indoor Dome Camera Comparison

Comparing indoor dome cameras, another popular form factor, the Hikvision line compares as follows:

  • Hikvision DS-2CD763NF-E [link no longer available]: About $540 estimated street price
  • Panasonic WV-SF335: ~$550 online
  • Sony SNC-DH120: ~$540 online

Hikvision's offering in this case is about equal to other offerings from major name manufacturers with similar featuresets. Note that the 763, like the box camera above, is capable of only 15 FPS at its maximum resolution, however.

Outdoor Dome Camera Comparison

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Finally, Hikvision's outdoor domes compare as follows. Note that the Sony and Hikvision cameras both have built-in IR illuminators, though it is optional in the Hikvision, while the Panasonic does not offer this.

Hikvision is at a slight competitive advantage in the outdoor dome market, being about $130-150 cheaper than the competition. The framerate limitations of the two cameras above also carries through here.

Conclusions

Hikvision has become known as a budget brand. However, like other manufacturers we have overviewed lately (such as ACTi and Vivotek), the current generation of cameras is priced outside of what is normally considered "budget", with prices competitive with the major brands. We feel this could be potentially damaging for these manufacturers, if quality and reliability don't stack up. Users will not be motivated to use a lesser-known or budget brand in deployments, without any claimed or real technical advantage.

Users should also beware that Hikvision cameras have proven difficult to install and set up, according to both our own experience in our test of their 2MP camera, as well as comments from users [link no longer available]. Without considering these issues, material savings may well be offset by additional labor in setup and troubleshooting.

1 report cite this report:

Low Cost Professional IP Cameras Comparison on Oct 23, 2011
"Too expensive" is probably the most frequent complaint about IP cameras....
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