Testing Original Dahua HDCVI

By: Ethan Ace, Published on May 19, 2014

Have IP cameras met their first real HD challenger?

Dahua, a major Chinese surveillance manufacturer approaching a billion dollars in annual revenue, is now aggressively targeting a non-IP, coax based HD offering to Western markets, they call HD-CVI.

Coax based, non-IP, HD cameras have been around years (sometimes branded as HD SDI or HDcctv) but the effort has largely failed due to a horrendous marketing effort, weak manufacturer support and uncompetitive prices.

Now, Dahua is pushing hard on HD-CVI, that claims the simplicity of analog plus analog pricing for full HD video.

We bought 3 HD cameras, including 720p [link no longer available] and 1080p [link no longer available] bullet cameras and an integrated IR PTZ [link no longer available], plus 2 HD [link no longer available] DVRs [link no longer available] all for just $1200 total - a remarkably low price for HD cameras and recorders.

We tested those cameras and recorders against comparably low price / entry level IP products.

Our test results answered the following key questions:

  • Image: How did image quality compare for HD CVI vs HD IP? Day and night?
  • Length: How well did HD CVI run over coax up to 1000 feet and with poor connectors?
  • Latency: How much did latency differ between HD CVI and HD IP?
  • PTZ: How well did PTZ controls work with HD CVI?
  • Configuration: How did HD CVI camera configuration compare to HD IP?
  • Value: What is the overall value and potential of HD CVI vs HD IP?

Key Findings

These are the key findings from our test:

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

  • HDCVI cameras and DVR were plug and play, with video streaming near immediately with no connection setup.
  • Image quality of 1080p HDCVI and 1080p IP cameras (both fixed lens Dahua bullets) was roughly the same, with no practical difference in details delivered by either.
  • Image quality and latency were not degraded in our long distance cable tests. Video appeared the same over short lengths of high quality RG59, low quality pre-terminated miniature coax cables, as well as 1000' of RG59 with poorly terminated connectors.
  • Live view latency of 1080p and 720p HDCVI and IP cameras was essentially the same, both low when viewed locally on the recorder.
  • PTZ control was low latency, as well, with no issues following subjects in real time.
  • Up the coax control of camera settings allowed configuration of exposure, image quality (sharpness, brightness, color, etc.), resolution, etc., not typically available on analog and HD-SDI cameras.
  • DVR and client usability was simple, with no major issues in live view, search, or setup.
  • Like Dahua NVRs, the HD CVI DVRs support RTSP out so these recorders could be used as super low cost encoders integrated into major VMS systems.


Pricing on the HDCVI equipment in this test is as follows:

  • HFW2100S [link no longer available] 720p IR bullet: ~$50 USD online [link no longer available]
  • HFW2200S [link no longer available] 1080p IR bullet: ~$77 online [link no longer available]
  • SD6C120I-HC [link no longer available] 720p IR PTZ: ~$455 online [link no longer available]
  • HCVR5104C [link no longer available] 4-channel 720p DVR: ~$55 online [link no longer available], not including HDD
  • HCVR7208A [link no longer available] 8-channel full HD 1080p DVR: ~$250 online [link no longer available], not including HDD

Compared to IP

This pricing is substantially lower than these cameras' IP counterparts. For example, while the 1080p HDCVI bullet sells for ~$50, a comparable Dahua 720p IP bullet is ~$110-130 [link no longer available]. The same is true of NVRs, as well. Compared to the $55 4-channel 720p HDCVI DVR, a 4-channel IP model in the same size and for factor sells for ~$175 [link no longer available].


With similar quality and simpler setup, HD CVI offers substantial savings over comparable IP offerings. As such, we see this as highly attractive to budget conscious buyers. Plus, since Dahua offers RTSP output from their DVRs, this could be an interesting complement to professional / mid-level VMS systems.

Like other Dahua offerings, important limits remain:

  • The lack of direct Dahua technical support (in the US, and other markets) demands forgoing that or buying from an OEM / local re-labeler.
  • The lack of mid-tier / enterprise software features on Dahua recorders limits the sophistication of the user choosing this system (presuming they do not use the recorders as encoders).

The biggest accomplishment Dahua has done is get the price down to analog levels and clearly below even their own very low cost HD IP lines. Given their existing and growing power, if they execute and expand on this, we think it could become a very significant force in the industry, hurting incumbent IP vendors, ranging from the budget oriented (like ACTi / Vivotek) to the high end providers who want the mass market (most notably, Axis).

Connecting Cameras

Connecting HDCVI cameras was simple, simply plugging in the cable to the BNC connector in the back of the unit and plugging in power, the same as an analog camera. The only additional step required was selecting recording resolution, as all channels defaulted to 720p and did not autodetect 1080p cameras connected.

This process is shown in the video below:

The cameras offer up the coax controls for configuration. Here's how it worked:

Cable Quality and Performance

We saw no difference in image quality, latency, and PTZ control performance based on cable type and quality. One of the key benefits claimed by HDCVI is the ability to reuse existing analog camera cables, with Dahua specifying [link no longer available] up to 500m distances.

We tested with three different cables to simulate typical (and worse) conditions which may be found in the field:

  • Pre-terminated RG59, high quality: First, we connected a short length of RG59, about 10', with factory terminations.
  • Pre-terminated ultra mini coax/power cables: Next, we used a 60' pre-terminated cable like those found in low-cost DVR kits. These cables use very small gauge miniature coax, smaller than is typically recommended in commercial systems.
  • 1,000' spooled RG59, poorly terminated: Finally, we tested using a 1,000' spool of RG59 with poorly crimped connectors, which crushed the cable at both ends and literally were falling off.

All of these cables functioned essentially the same. Even coupling together the mini coax cable and 1,000' spool, we saw no degradation. This video shows the 720p PTZ operating over 1,000' cable with poorly crimped connectors:

Video Quality vs. IP

We shot out 720p and 1080p HDCVI and IP cameras to look for differences in video quality, but found no practical advantages to either.

Live Latency

First, we checked for latency in live viewing by having our subject walk through a similar field of view in both HDCVI and IP 1080p cameras. In this example, we viewed video locally, via a monitor connected to the DVR in the case of HDCVI, and via laptop running Exacq for the 1080p IP camera.

This video shows this test of live latency:

Image Quality

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

In a dark scene with IR on, HDCVI displays slightly less visible noise than its IP counterparts, most noticeable in the 720p models, with more noise and reduced details in the 720p IP camera. However, details produced in the 1080p cameras are practically the same.


The DVR's user interface, including web client and Windows software, were essentially the same as other Dahua and Q-See DVRs we have tested, such as their NVR and 960H DVRs. The UI is simple, easy to use for both live monitoring and search.

This video briefly reviews the local user interface:

23 reports cite this report:

HD Analog Usage and Rejection Statistics 2015 on May 11, 2015
Non-IP HD cameras are one of the most notable new trends in video surveillance but how much are they being adopted? 150 integrators answered our...
Testing Honeywell HQA HD-CVI on Apr 22, 2015
HD analog support continues to expand, with Honeywell now releasing its own HD-CVI offering, awkwardly named "High Quality Analog [link no longer...
Hikvision HDTVI VS Dahua HDCVI on Dec 10, 2014
With super low cost and full HD video, Analog HD has the most potential to disrupt the surveillance market of any new technology in years. With...
Major Moves - Security Manufacturers 2014 / 2015 on Dec 08, 2014
This guide summarizes the biggest moves of security manufacturers in 2014 and 2015, concentrating on acquisitions, fund raising, significant stock...
Dahua HDCVI 2.0 Tested on Nov 17, 2014
A strong initial reception but can it repeat? Dahua's initial HDCVI analog HD offering, with its super low cost and HD resolution, was extremely...
Hikvision HDTVI Cameras Tested on Oct 22, 2014
HD Analog is the most interesting new trend in the industry now, claiming HD quality over legacy coax, with simpler configuration and lower prices...
The Worst HD Quality Camera Ever (Samsung 1280H) on Oct 15, 2014
Samsung, what are you doing? Their new 1280H offering significantly stretches video and is one of the most bizarre offerings we have ever...
Winners Losers Fall 2014 on Oct 13, 2014
We are all losers, IPVM included. The historically poor new releases for ASIS / Essen make 2014 the worst year for surveillance innovation in, at...
ASIS 2014 - 17 Manufacturer Tech Review on Sep 30, 2014
This long post recaps key findings from IPVM team members meeting with manufacturers at ASIS 2014 including Hikvision, EMC, Pelco, Digital...
Testing AHD 2014 on Sep 24, 2014
This is where the innovation is at. During Essen and days before ASIS, IPVM is leading with a test of an analog (HD) camera, reflecting both how...
Fall 2014 New Products Directory on Sep 23, 2014
New releases are weak this year, and unfortunately, the trend does not appear to be changing this fall. Here is a list of new products released...
The Company Behind HDTVI (Techpoint) on Sep 02, 2014
Analog HD is drawing a lot of attention. First there was Dahua and HDCVI. Now, many are talking about HDTVI. The big name associated with HDTVI is...
Testing Hikvision High End Camera on Aug 27, 2014
Chinese manufacturer, including the two mega ones, Dahua and Hikvision, are best known in the West for super low cost, entry level...
The Bloody HD Camera Wars Are Coming on Aug 25, 2014
The most important emerging trend in video surveillance today is the emergence of non-IP HD cameras. But the conflicting go-to-market strategies...
HD SDI / HDcctv Tutorial on Aug 20, 2014
Want megapixel but don't want IP? That's the promise of HD SDI / HDcctv. In this tutorial, we examine what it is, how it differs from IP Megapixel...
IP Camera Costs Comparison and Trends 2010 - 2014 on Jun 25, 2014
Over the past 4 years, the average price of 100+ IP cameras surveyed has decreased ~25%, at an annual decline of ~5%. In this report, we break...
Why Dahua Should Acquire Pelco on Jun 18, 2014
In 2013, negotiations for mega Chinese manufacturer Hikvision to acquire Pelco broke down. At that time, we argued that it was a bad fit. However,...
Testing Q-See HD Analog Kit (HD-CVI) on Jun 09, 2014
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...
Global Video Surveillance Growth Rates Declining Sharply on Jun 06, 2014
Just a few months ago, recall the hype for the video surveillance market growing 80% over the next few years. Well, not so fast. IMS / IHS's new...
Dahua Integrated IR PTZ Tested on Jun 04, 2014
Integrated IR cameras are growing rapidly in popularity, as they help solve a key surveillance problem - poor low light imaging. However,...
Testing HDCVI Over UTP on May 28, 2014
In our test of Dahua's HDCVI, several members asked how well the HD-over-coax technology functions over UTP. Though the vast majority of existing...
Testing Dahua Cameras 2013 on Jul 08, 2013
You may not know Dahua, but you should. They are the 'other' big Chinese surveillance manufacturer (besides Hikvision) that is aggressively...
Why Consumer Surveillance Will Flip to IP on Nov 19, 2012
The last still strongly analog segment is the consumer market. Cost is king for home use and the marginal increase in value with IP for their needs...
Comments (108) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Axis Launches ~$100 HD Camera on Apr 11, 2018
Chinese manufacturers, led by Hikvision, have come to dominate the low end of the Western market, driven by ~$100 cameras. While Axis has...
Huawei Software Defined Cameras on Jun 25, 2018
Huawei is aiming to break the reputation of Chinese companies not being good at software. The company is now leading their video surveillance...
Chinese Direct Disruptor Reolink Tested on May 31, 2017
Another Chinese disruptor, Reolink, is gaining attention. This one is selling direct from its own website, with fulfillment by Amazon. And a...
TVT / InVid White Light Camera Tested Vs Hikvision ColorVu on Mar 18, 2020
With mega China manufacturers Dahua and Hikvision facing both bans and human rights abuse sanctions, many budget buyers are turning to smaller...
Sunell Panda Cam Body Temperature Measurement Camera Tested on May 14, 2020
Sunell is far less well known than its gargantuan domestic competitors Dahua and Hikvision but the company's 'Panda Cam' is going head to head...
IFSEC 2018 Final Show Report on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM attended the IFSEC show for the first time this year. The Chinese took over the show, centered on Hikvision, flanked by Dahua, Huawei and a...
Huawei Sues US Government Over NDAA Ban on Mar 07, 2019
Chinese telecom giant Huawei is suing the US government over the NDAA ban, arguing that key provisions in it are unconstitutional. NDAA Section...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Jun 18, 2020
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...
Surging Wyze Raises $20 Million, Threat To Chinese Brands on Feb 01, 2019
The Seattle Startup that is disrupting consumer IP cameras with $20 pricing has just raised $20 million dollars (SEC Filing and company press...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Avigilon ACC Cloud Tested on Jul 08, 2020
Avigilon merged Blue and ACC, adding VSaaS features to its on-premise VMS, offering remote video and health monitoring that was previously limited...
The US Fight Over Facial Recognition Explained on Jul 08, 2020
The controversy around facial recognition has grown significantly in 2020, with Congress members and activists speaking out against it while video...
Sperry West / Alibaba Tablet Temperature Measurement Tested on Jul 07, 2020
In April, we ordered a ~$500 temperature tablet from Alibaba. We set it to the side while doing 18 other temperature screening tests but, after...
Facial Recognition: Weak Sales, Anti Regulation, No Favorite, Says Security Integrators on Jul 07, 2020
While facial recognition has gained greater prominence, a new IPVM study of security systems integrators shows weak sales, opposition to...
Video Surveillance 101 Book Released on Jul 07, 2020
IPVM's unique introduction to video surveillance series is now available as a 145-page eBook. Designed for managers, salespeople, and engineers new...
Startup Duranc Presents AI VSaaS on Jul 06, 2020
Duranc presented its system at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. A 30-minute video from Duranc including IPVM Q&A Background on the...
Low Voltage Nation Wants to "Help You Carve Out A Fulfilling Career" Interviewed on Jul 06, 2020
It is difficult to make your way in this industry as there is little formal schooling. However, one person, Blake Urmos, the Founder of Low Voltage...
The Next Hot Fever Detection Trend - $100 Wall-Mounted Units on Jul 06, 2020
The first wave of the booming fever detecting market was $10,000+ cameras, now interest for ~$2,000 tablets is high and the next big thing may be...
Cisco Meraki Unlocks IP Cameras With RTSP Tested on Jul 06, 2020
Meraki opened up its cameras to 3rd party NVRs/VMSes by offering RTSP streaming because of "the need to solve a business problem". We tested...