Testing The Q-See HD IP NVR Kit

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Aug 14, 2013

The Q-See HD IP kit may be the hottest budget product around. At just $699 online for (4) 720p HD IP IR cameras plus a 1 TB NVR with a built in PoE switch, it is an absurdly inexpensive. It is hard to buy a single low cost NVR unit for this price, forget about getting 4 HD cameras thrown in.

But the big question is - how good is it really? How much do you lose by not going for a 'professional offering' like Axis + Milestone or an all Avigilon solution or Arecont + Exacq?

Key findings from this test include:

  • The NVR's built-in four port PoE switch worked, making connecting cameras fairly idiot proof.
  • This NVR supports only four cameras, in any combination of local or LAN, though other models support up to 16.
  • The NVR automatically detected and displayed cameras plugged into the built-in PoE switch (both Q-See/Dahua as well as 3rd party cameras via ONVIF/DHCP ). This was pleasantly surprising as it is an uncommon feature.
  • Motion based recording worked for QSee cameras but not for ONVIF ones. While it is impressive that they can be used on a unit this inexpensive, this means continuous only recording for 3rd party cameras.
  • Local user interface was simple to use for basic setup and monitoring. However, the lack of a local keyboard was a pain, with the mouse being OK to use but the front panel and IR controllers were difficult.
  • VMS Usability: While live monitoring was straightforward, searching had major limitations and some of the language choices are confusing / uncommon.
  • Camera performance on par with other low cost 720p HD cameras in full light.
  • IR illuminator performance in dark scenes was ok without major blooming or overexposure. However, artifacting increased in dark scenes plus edges clearly had lower illumination and captured less details.
  • Q-See's 100 foot IR range marketing claim is unrealistic, both in terms of details and light. Actual performance was closer to ~45'.
  • Bandwidth consumption and compression was on par or better than brand name competitors.
  • Q-See tech support was helpful and responsive for basic installation and operation questions but not for advanced integration questions (like using ONVIF).

Pricing and Availability  

Q-See surveillance kits are readily available on the internet and at warehouse stores such as Costco and Sam's Club. "Normal" price is ~$999 USD, but the four camera kit with recorder can often be found on sale for $699 [link no longer available]. Individual cameras are also available for $150. At $699 for the four camera kit, users are essentially paying $100 for the NVR.

Other kits are also available, including an eight camera bundle with NVR [link no longer available], and a kit with three bullet cameras and a PTZ [link no longer available], all 1080p. NVR models are also available separately, supporting up to 16 cameras.

Recommendations

This is an attractive offering for those wanting small HD systems on a budget. It combines setup simplicity (built in PoE switch / automatic camera connection) with HD video, 3rd party support, and IR illumination at a ridiculously low price. There's no other combination from major brands that we know that comes close to this, either in price or functionality. You could certainly match these features but at double or triple the price. And since Q-See's support is solid, it's not as is you are trading low price for being on your own.

The biggest weakness for mid size security users is the rudimentary search / investigations / export features, which will make the system cumbersome to use if regular incidents occur. 

Beyond that, obviously, as you get to bigger systems that need more complexity functionality, Q-See is harder to justify but for someone looking for a few cameras, this is quite attractive.

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

Physical Overview

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

  • Built-in four port PoE switch in rear of unit.
  • HDMI, VGA, and composite monitor outputs.
  • 16 alarm inputs, 3 alarm outputs, PTZ, and audio in/out connection.
  • Front panel controls for configuration, live view, and playback, as well as optional mouse and IR remote control 

Connecting Cameras

This video shows how cameras may be connected to the QC804. Key points:

  • NVR supports ONVIF, Q-See, Dahua, and a small selection of manufacturers (Axis, Sony, Panasonic, and more).
  • Cameras connected directly to the back of the NVR are automatically discovered, as long as they are set to DHCP.
  • ONVIF cameras on the LAN are automatically discovered.
  • Adding cameras is typically simple, requiring only a driver type, username, and password edit, though discovery may sometimes take a few minutes. Average was about 30 seconds.

NVR Physical Control

There are three methods of controlling the NVR locally: mouse, front panel, and IR remote. Keyboards are not supported.

  • Mouse control: Using a mouse is by far the easiest method of local control. Though it requires typing via on-screen keyboard, operation is much simpler than using arrow keys to navigate options via the other two methods.
  • Front panel/IR remote: The front panel controls and IR remote operate essentially the same, with arrow keys, as well as enter, function, and escape keys. We found these difficult to use because it was not immediately clear or intuitive which key moved to a specific field, and on-screen cues were not clear.

This screencast reviews these methods:

General NVR Usability

In this video, we review key usability issues, primarily in search / investigations:

Camera Competitive Comparison

In order to test the performance of the included 720p bullet cameras (Q-See QCN7001B), we shot them out against competitive low cost models, including the ACTi D11 and Pelco Sarix IL10. We also used the Axis M1114 to provide readers a familiar baseline.

Full Light, ~160 lux

In full light, the QCN7001B performs similarly to other low-cost cameras, such as the ACTi D11 and Pelco Sarix IL10. Details are clear, with little artifacting.

Lower Light, ~30 lux

Lowering lights to about 30 lux, the Q-See camera remains relatively unchanged, while artifacting and noise increase in the D11 and IL10, reducing details somewhat.

Dark, <1 lux 

Finally, in our dark, <1 scene, the QCN's IR has activated (other cameras were color only with no illumination), easily illuminating the subject at ~35' without severe blooming or overexposure. However, the increase in artifacting around the edges of the subject is notable, though the chart is still legible to line 3.

IR Illumination Performance

The QCN7001B's IR illumination pattern is poor at the edges of the FoV, resulting in a drastic performance reduction from the center to the edge, as seen in the comparison below. Illumination at the edges was approximately half that of the center, resulting in greater artifacting, obscuring subject and chart details:

Q-See claims "100 feet of night vision" in their marketing for th QCN7001B. However, we found performance was closer to about 45', similar to other Dahua bullets we have tested. Notably, Dahua claims only 20m IR range on the HFW-2100N, the model Q-See relabels as the QCN7001B.

At 100', the subject is only minimally illuminated, at best, with only detection possible. No details are visible, only a moving object in scene.

Only at ~45', less than half the claimed range, does the subject become clearly illuminated. 

Bandwidth and Compression

Q-See's camera compression levels were consistent with major brand IP cameras. Bandwidth consumption was similar in well lit conditions but superior (lower) in low lit conditions, helped by their integrated IR.

  • In full light, the QCN7001B had average bandwidth consumption similar to the low cost ACTi D11, but substantially higher than the M1114.
  • However, lowering the lights to ~30 lux, prior to IR turning on, its consumption is nearly equal with Axis, and almost 1 Mb/s lower than the D11.
  • In the dark, the QCN7001B's IR illumination keeps its bandwidth relatively low, while the M1114 jumps substantially (at this light level, the D11 was nearly black, so its bandwidth remained low).

Note that these measurements were taken with default settings, using VBR compression with no cap and one I-frame per second. Compression levels were left defaulted, as well, and all averaged between 26-28.

Q-See Technical Support

Since quality of technical support is a key concern when dealing with OEM products, we contacted Q-See technical support multiple times, with questions ranging from basic to advanced. On simpler questions, such as how to export video or upgrade firmware, their support was helpful and fast, and followed up via email quickly. On more advanced topics, such as connecting ONVIF cameras or connecting their camera via ONVIF to a VMS, they were less helpful, though level one tech support rarely knows answers to these detailed questions. For the target market of the QC804 kit, Q-See's tech support is likely more than sufficient.  

8 reports cite this report:

Low Cost, Low-End Competitors Challenge SMB Surveillance Market on Sep 01, 2017
SMB video surveillance systems are a tough market. From IPVM's new survey results of 135 integrator responses, we have identified the key...
Selling Low Cost Kits on Jun 29, 2016
Low-cost kits have become a direct threat to security integrators. These kits offer a drastically discounted alternative to professional brands,...
Selling Low Cost Kits on Jun 29, 2016
Low-cost kits have become a direct threat to security integrators. These kits offer a drastically discounted alternative to professional brands,...
FLIR / Lorex and Hanwha / Samsung Groundbreaking Low Kit Pricing on Jun 06, 2016
Less than 3 years ago, the big news in low cost kits was a $699 Q-See package including (4) 720p cameras and a 1TB NVR. At that time, it really was...
Q-See Company Profile on May 17, 2016
Q-See is a direct-to-consumer camera system reseller that was ranked on the Inc 5000 list. This report is based on a conversation with a Q-See...
Samsung AHD 720p Kit Tested on Aug 11, 2015
Not long ago, an individual MP camera was commonly $300 and a DVR was commonly $300. Now, Samsung is offering (4) MP cameras plus a DVR for...
Super Low Cost Chinese Camera Shootout on Feb 25, 2015
The 'Chinese' are the industry's #1 threat (or opportunity depending on one's perspective). IPVM has extensively covered the rise of Dahua and...
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...
Comments (15) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Mobotix Move OEM Camera Line Tested on Feb 25, 2019
Mobotix has long been criticized for not offering integrated IR, mechanical cut filters, varifocal lenses, optical zoom and other features that...
Speco Ultra Intensifier Tested on Apr 22, 2019
While ISC West 2019 named Speco's Ultra Intensifier the best new "Video Surveillance Cameras IP", IPVM testing shows the camera suffers from...
Axis ~$150 Outdoor Camera Tested on May 21, 2019
Axis has released the latest in their Companion camera line, the outdoor Companion Dome Mini LE, a 1080p integrated IR model aiming to compete with...
Verkada Video Quality Problems Tested on May 23, 2019
Verkada suffers from numerous video quality problems, not found in commercial IP cameras, new IPVM testing of Verkada vs Axis and Hikvision...
Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) Guide on Oct 01, 2019
Understanding wide dynamic range (WDR) is critical to capturing high quality images in demanding conditions. However, with no real standards, any...
Hikvision ColorVu is Smart Marketing on Oct 03, 2019
Hikvision ColorVu (see IPVM test results) is smart marketing, a lesson to be learned by competitors and a rising trend. Inside this note, we...
Axis HD Analog Encoder Tested on Oct 11, 2019
Two years after declaring "Everything is IP", Axis has released their first HD analog encoder, the P7304, with support for AHD, CVI, TVI, and SD...
Integrated IR Camera Usage Statistics 2019 on Oct 21, 2019
Virtually every IP camera now comes with integrated IR but how many actually make use of IR or choose 'super' low light cameras without IR? In...
Budget Covert Cameras Tested on Nov 26, 2019
Covert cameras under $100 are widely available online but are they any good? To see how these models really work in the real world, we bought...
IP Camera Browser Support: Who's Broken / Who Works on Dec 10, 2019
For many years, IP cameras depended on ActiveX control, whose security flaws have been known for more than a decade. The good news is that this is...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Every VMS Will Become a VSaaS on Feb 21, 2020
VMS is ending. Soon every VMS will be a VSaaS. Competitive dynamics will be redrawn. What does this mean? VMS Historically...
Video Surveillance 101 Course - Last Chance on Feb 20, 2020
This is the last chance to join IPVM's first Video Surveillance 101 course, designed to help those new to the industry to quickly understand the...
Vulnerability Directory For Access Credentials on Feb 20, 2020
Knowing which access credentials are insecure can be difficult to see, especially because most look and feel the same. Even insecure 125 kHz...
AI/Smart Camera Tutorial on Feb 20, 2020
Cameras with video analytics, sometimes called 'Smart' camera or 'AI' cameras, etc. are one of the most promising growth areas of video...
China Manufacturer Suffers Coronavirus Scare on Feb 20, 2020
Uniview suffered a significant health scare last week after one of its employees reported a fever and initially tested positive for coronavirus....
Cheap Camera Problems at Night on Feb 19, 2020
Cheap cameras generally have problems at night, despite the common perception that integrated IR makes cameras mostly the same, according to new...
Milestone Launches Multiple Cloud Solutions on Feb 18, 2020
Milestone is going to the cloud, becoming one of the last prominent VMSes to do so. Milestone is clearly late but how competitive do these new...
Video Surveillance Architecture 101 on Feb 18, 2020
Video surveillance can be designed and deployed in a number of ways. This 101 examines the most common options and architectures used in...
UK Stands Behind Hikvision But Controversy Continues on Feb 18, 2020
Hikvision is exhibiting at a UK government conference for law enforcement, provoking controversy from the press, politicians, and activists due to...
IronYun AI Analytics Tested on Feb 17, 2020
Taiwan startup IronYun has raised tens of millions for its "mission to be the leading Artificial Intelligence, big data video software as a service...