Testing Q-See HD Analog Kit (HD-CVI)

By Derek Ward, Published Jun 09, 2014, 12:00am EDT

This kit is so inexpensive we could almost not believe it.

8 HD IR cameras plus an DVR with a 2TB hard drive for $499 total. Here's what it looks like, laid out on our table:

$499 is so incredibly low you can barely buy a single integrated IR camera from Axis or Avigilon for that price. And here we have 8 times the number of cameras plus a recorder and storage thrown in.

New lost cost options are the major trend in video surveillance right now, addressing the top integrator concern in using IP. For instance, recently, we tested Dahua's HD CVI, an emerging offering that aims to solve this.

Now, Q-See, a Dahua OEM, has released this $499 HD CVI based kit that is even less expensive.

We bought the kit (from Costco) [link no longer available] and put it to the test comparing it to HD IP cameras and Dahua (original) HD CVI cameras.

Should you be switching to this? What is the competitive potential? Find out inside.

Key findings from this test include:

  • Q-See cameras and DVR were plug and play, with near immediate video streaming and no connection setup.
  • Successfully and easily connected Dahua HDCVI cameras to Q-See DVR, and vice versa.
  • Live view latency of 720p Q-See and Dahua HDCVI cameras were about the same, both low when viewed locally on the recorder.
  • PTZ control was low latency as well, and added to the Q-See DVR without issue.
  • No OSD menu on Q-See cameras, but OSD menu works for Dahua cameras on Q-See DVR.
  • Functionality is the same as other Dahua recorders, such as Dahua's NVR, 960H, and HDCVI recorders. No major issues in live view, search, or setup. However, none of those features are strong / above average. See past reports like Testing The Q-See HD IP NVR Kit
  • The kit includes everything to connect and power the cameras and DVR, such as 4 100' and 4 60' white siamese cables, power supplies for DVR and cameras, 4 720p IR Bullets and 4 720p IR Turret Dome cameras, and a 2 TB hard drive installed in the DVR.
  • Cloud: Unlike the Dahua recorder, the Q-See one comes with free cloud based access.
  • Free phone tech support was readily accessible but techs appeared to be reading from a manual / script in answering questions.

Pricing and Availability

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Q-See surveillance kits are available on the internet and at warehouse stores such as Costco and Sam's Club. MSRP is ~$999 USD, but the kit we purchased was $499 USD online [link no longer available].

Recommendations

The limitations of the recorder / software, like other Q-See / Dahua offerings, limits its application to simpler / lower end applications.

However, the video quality was solid, comparable to Integrated IR IP cameras, and better in low light than many of the 'budget' offerings from major brands who lack IR.

Given the steep price drop, about half of even the lowest cost commercially available HD IP kit, and the solid video quality, this will be highly attractive to anyone who just wants HD video, simple setup and desires to save $500 to $1000+ for HD IP offerings.

More importantly, the ability to offer this kit so inexpensively is a bellwether for the emerging competitive force that HD CVI is becoming in the video surveillance. 

Connecting Cameras

Connecting cameras was simple, requiring the user to plug in the cable to the BNC connector in the back of the unit and plugging in power. We also demonstrate PTZ functionality on both DVRs, and we found no issues connecting or controlling the PTZ in either.

Q-See Kit Contents

Here, we show what was included in the kit, which contains:

  • 8 cameras, 4 720p IR bullets and 4 720p IR turret domes.
  • DVR with pre-installed 2TB HDD.
  • HDMI and 8 video cables (4 60' and 4 100' length cables).
  • Power cables and adapters for the DVR and cameras.
  • Inclosed instruction materials.

Physical Overview

Q-See Analog HD DVR Overview

This video reviews the physical layout of the Q-See recorder. Key points:

  • Very similar in design to other Dahua and Q-See DVRs.
  • HDMI and VGA monitor outputs.

Q-See Analog Camera Overview

We review the bullet and turret dome cameras that are included in the kit in the video below. Notice the similarities between the Q-See and Dahua models of each form factor.

Camera Teardown

Next, we took an inside look at a Q-See QCA7201B 720p IR bullet in this teardown video. Users get a good look at the cameras lens, image sensor, camera chip, power supply board, and IR led ring.

We took photos of the front and back of the camera chip and compiled them into one image for readers to see more clearly than what could be seen in the camera teardown video. While it is hard to discern from the image, the Dahua chip reads:

  • DH9801
  • MQFN68-TX
  • 201410 HongZhou

For a full size image, please click on the image below.

Image Comparisons

In full light, ~160 lux, we found details delivered by the Q-See, Dahua HDCVI and IP at the same resolution are similar, with no advantage to either.

In a dark scene with IR on, both Q-See and Dahua HDCVI displays slightly less visible noise than its IP counterparts. The Q-See HDCVI is sharper than both the Dahua HDCVI and Q-See IP by default, and this makes characters on lines 5 and 6 both easy and hard to read.

Web Interface

In this video, we take a look at the web interface for the Q-See HD Analog and Dahua HDCVI UI. The biggest difference between the two is that a QR code is available for the Q-See, which allows us to connect to a free cloud monitoring service.

Cloud Setup / Use

Next, we demonstrate the setup process for Q-See's free cloud service. The only difference between the cloud based web UI and local web UI is the load time between operations. We did not have to port forward or setup UPnP in order for the unit to be access through the cloud.

Tech Support

Costco Concierge Services (tech support) is included free of charge for Costco members. An image of the magnet on the DVR upon unboxing is attached.

We called Costco tech support in the middle of the day and, after a few menu options and a ~2 minute wait time, we connected to a technician. They were able to answer basic installation and operation questions without much delay, but there were times when it seemed like they were flipping through a manual or looking something up online.

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