Should Manufacturers Publicly Share Technical Docs?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Feb 01, 2010

Technical documentation is important for evaluating products and learning how to optimally use them. User manuals, training materials and videos are some of the most critical. Despite this, a significant number of manufacturers provide no on-line access to this information or only after becoming a registered partner.

The question we examine here: Should these materials be made publicly available?

What Do You Think?

Sharing Publicly is Essential

We believe sharing technical documentation publicly on-line is essential for integrators and end users to effectively evaluate and use products. With today's technology, it's simple for manufacturers to not only share all their user manuals but their training materials as well.

Those Who Do Not Share Are Often Hiding

While manufacturers often talk about 'protecting' this information, we believe the most common reason is that manufacturers are:

  1. Hiding how difficult their products are to use or
  2. Hiding that their products cannot meet their marketing claims in 'normal' production environments.

While some manufacturers may have 'forgot', we have seen a high correlation between not providing this information and hiding problems. Lack of publicly available technical documentation is a 'yellow flag' or warning sign for our analysis.

Examples of Sharing Documentation

Most of the large manufacturers provide extensive documentation. Here are a few quick examples:

  • Bosch's IP cameras offer A/E specifications, CAD drawings, Installation Guide, User manual, Technical Service Notes, Selection Guides, etc.
  • Pelco's IP cameras offer A/E specifications, CAD drawings, Installation Guide, User manual, Quick Start Guide, safety instructions, etc.
  • Axis's thermal cameras released just last week already have Installation Guide and User Manual, etc.

Most manufacturers offer extensive technical documentation available for immediate access and download. These 3 are simply to provide reference to those who might be unfamiliar with this type of material.

On the other hand, quite a number of providers share very limited or no technical documentation publicly including Firetide, Genetec, DVTel and BRS Labs (who amazingly does not even provide a data sheet).

Benefits and Use of Providing This Information Publicly

Here are a few common benefits/use of publicly providing information:
  • A technician is in the field encounters a problem. It is after the manufacturer's business hours, the technician can simply go to the website, download the documentation and find an answer.
  • A technician has not been to training and has been assigned to install or service a product. He does not know the login to the manufacturer's partner portal nor does he have time to track this down. Again, he simply goes to the website, downloads the documentation and finds an answer.
  • An integrator or end user is evaluating different products and are checking for a few key features that are must haves for their use case. Without having to attend sales calls or fill out applications, they can quickly go to the website and learn for themselves.

Unlike brochures or marketing propaganda, technical documentation is generally quite accurate and reveals important limitations. This is a key reason we find technical documentation to be so useful in our analysis.

Recommendations

We recommend you look for technical documentation on all products you are evaluating. If you do not find them publicly on-line, be careful (especially when the company boasts aggressive marketing claims).

1 report cite this report:

Manufacturer's #1 Complaint: Integrator Errors on Jan 28, 2012
I have never seen manufacturers so passionate nor united than on the topic of integrator error. In our recent debate about manufacturer product...

Related Reports

Door Fundamentals For Electronic Access Control on Sep 20, 2016
Assuming every door can be secured with either a maglock or an electric strike can be a painful assumption in the field. While those items can be...
Camera Course September 2016 on Sep 15, 2016
This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth product and technology testing. Lots of manufacturer training exists...
PTZ Camera Guide 2016 on Sep 15, 2016
Pan/Tilt/Zoom cameras remain critical parts of many surveillance systems, especially in large security operations. Because of this it is important...
Camera Roof Mounting / Parapet Mount Installation Guide on Sep 14, 2016
One of the most common camera mounts are parapet mounts, and they can be found on the roofs of all types of buildings; old and new, used to hold...
Strong Poles Examined on Sep 06, 2016
One of the trickiest places to install surveillance cameras is on poles. Common issues like pole vibration, sway, and even mounting the camera...
How To Become an 'Expert' In An Hour on Sep 02, 2016
If you want to be perceived as an expert in your market, speak at every event possible... the math is simple: when someone stands in front of an...
Axis Takes Over Canon Surveillance Sales and Marketing on Sep 01, 2016
The wasteful Axis / Canon conflict is ending. After more than a year of Canon's video surveillance group competing with Axis, Canon...
How Much Axis and Avigilon Pay For Sales And Marketing Per Camera on Sep 01, 2016
When you buy an Axis or Avigilon camera, how much of that goes to pay sales and marketing expenses? Is it trivial like $2 or $3? Or is it far...
Get End User Leads for Just $997 A Month on Aug 31, 2016
Scam or opportunity? As trade mags continue to suffer from the decline of print media, they are scrounging for new ways to make money. Rather than...
Panoramic Camera (Fisheye / Multi-Imager) Guide on Aug 31, 2016
Panoramic cameras, including fisheyes and multi-imagers, have become increasingly widespread, with most manufacturers offering fisheyes and an...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Nest Cam Outdoor Tested on Sep 23, 2016
After years of claiming an outdoor model was "coming", addressing their biggest user demand, Nest has finally released their Outdoor Camera, an...
ACTi Refuses Race To The Bottom, Shifts To Solutions on Sep 23, 2016
The original low cost IP camera disruptor was ACTi. Back in the 2008 - 2010 time frame, Taiwanese manufacturer ACTi challenged the Western and...
You Get Robbed, Canary Will Pay You Up To $1,000 on Sep 22, 2016
Canary is trying to break the status quo in DIY security, first by raising over $40 million, and now a revamp of their monthly services package...
Milestone Ends Development of "Enterprise" VMS on Sep 22, 2016
Milestone 'Enterprise' was one of the first enterprise video management software offerings, selected by many early adopters of IP video. However,...
History of Video Surveillance on Sep 22, 2016
This is a concise history of video surveillance covering the past decade.  The goal is to help professionals newer to the industry understand...
Access Control Course Fall 2016 on Sep 22, 2016
IPVM offers the most comprehensive access control course in the industry. Unlike manufacturer training that focuses only on a small part of the...
Totally Wireless IP Camera (IPVideo Corp NomadHD) on Sep 21, 2016
Wireless battery powered cameras have been a surveillance pipe dream for years, limited by camera power consumption, battery technology, and...
Axis Launches IP Speakers on Sep 21, 2016
First, Axis introduced an IP horn, then it was video intercoms, and now it is Networked Speakers? While IP-based Public Address systems are not...
Tagged RFID Object Search Recorded Video on Sep 20, 2016
Video analytics has gotten fairly good at tagging people in video, but it does not solve the problem of finding items like specific merchandise or...
FLIR and Geovision Join the Hikvision Price Cut Race on Sep 20, 2016
Hikvision's price cuts are clearly a trend setter. After numerous and increasingly large cuts, the destructive cycle is accelerating. Last month,...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact