Uniview (UNV) IP Cameras Tested

Published Feb 22, 2017 17:14 PM

"We're #3," in China says Uniview (UNV). While the company significantly trails Hikvision and Dahua in total sales, one notable difference is that Uniview is owned by Bain Capital, the American investment firm.

In the past few years, Uniview, has been quietly expanding their international distribution, aiming to take market share from their domestic rivals.

We tested two Uniview 4MP cameras against competitive models from Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, and Hikvision, testing low cost dome models and motorized zoom models in full light, low light, and WDR scenes, as well as bandwidth consumption, physical features, configuration, and more.

Competitive Comparison

Given Dahua / Hikvision's image quality advantages, aggressive price cutting, and extensive International sales and support, unless one really values a protected channel and non-Chinese ownership, Uniview is going to be a tough sell.

Summary Test

In our tests, the two Uniview models offered solid full light images, with slight to moderate increases in subject details compared to competitive 4MP models, as well as competitively low bitrates due to their U-Code smart codec (comparing H.264 smart codecs).

Additionally, smart H.265 encoding may further reduce bitrates compared to smart H.264, up to 30% in our tests (measured in both Uniview cameras). Most competitors predominantly offer H.264 (aside from Hanwha in this test). 

However, there are two key limitations:

  • Below average WDR: Compared to Dahua, Hikvision, Hanwha, and Axis, Uniview's WDR performance was poor, with subjects washed out by strong backlight.
  • IR overexposure: The Uniview 4MP zoom camera (IPC314SR) exhibited moderate to severe IR overexposure, especially with subjects at close range. This could be improved somewhat via smart IR modes, though at the expense of severe darkening of the rest of the scene. These issues were not seen in the compact dome IPC3424, nor competitive models.


We believe pricing of both Uniview cameras tested here is similar to competitive models.

  • Uniview IPC314SR-DVPF28 (4MP compact dome w/2.8mm lens): ~$150-200 USD estimated street price
  • Uniview IPC3234SR3-DVZ28 (4MP motorized zoom dome): ~$300-350 estimated street price

However, Uniview's distributors that we talked with would not be clear about what pricing actually was. We have heard reports that Uniview has been aggressive in cutting individual ad hoc deals / pricing with integrators.

Protected Channel

Uniview offers a low cost competitor to Hikvision, Dahua, and Hanwha, with an aggressively protected channel. Uniview does not allow online sales or pricing (even MSRP), with a limited number of distributors [link no longer available], unlike most other brands which can be found practically anywhere. Searches for Uniview product turn up only a handful of models via eBay, Alibaba, and other sources.

No Direct Local Support

Uniview does not offer North American support, which may be an issue for some users. Uniview's distributors [link no longer available] serve as their first line technical support, though global support is also available via email

Physical Overview 

The Uniview cameras tested are physically similar to typical compact dome and/or motorized zoom models, with cast aluminum/polycarbonate construction, IP66 rated, etc. 

Construction was solid, but with two issues:

  1. One negative issue was the gimbal of the motorized zoom model, which felt loose compared to competitors, with no way to lock it in place.
  2. When opening the zoom dome, the weather gasket fell off completely when the dome was removed, though this is a notable issue in many cameras.

We review the physical features of both domes in this video:

The IPC3234 minidome is slightly larger than the Hikvision 2542, shown below:

While the motorized zoom IPC314 is about the same size as competitive zoom models:


The current Uniview web interface is predominantly unchanged from previous versions (see our original Uniview test), requiring IE/ActiveX for proper operation/live video.

The Uniview web interface was simple to use, with settings logically laid out in multiple menus. Most configuration options are found on the Image (exposure, image adjustments, WDR, etc.) and Video (CODEC settings) tabs, shown in our overview from our test of their 1/2" starlight model.

One area with new options is the Video tab, which now contains menu items for H.265 (in addition to H.264 and MJPEG) as well as U-Code, Uniview's smart codec (discussed below).

4MP Fixed Lens Minidome

We tested the Uniview cameras against competitive models from Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, and Hikvision to see how they compare in well lit, low light, and WDR scenes, in this indoor field of view:

In full light (~300lx), the Uniview camera produced clearer details of the subject, with his features more discernible than in other cameras. However, text legibility in Uniview was worse due to slight overexposure.

Low Light, ~0.1lx

In low light with IR on, the Uniview camera again produced better images than others, with more legible text than the Hikvision 2542. The Axis M3046 is nearly black in this scene due to its lack of integrated IR. 

Wide Dynamic Range

Finally, testing WDR against an exit door with strong sunlight behind, the Uniview camera performs worse than Axis and Hikvision, with his features washed out until he is fully inside the door.

4MP Motorized Zoom

We tested the Uniview IPC3234SR3 against competitive 4MP zoom models, starting in this indoor field of view:

As with the compact minidome models, the Uniview camera produces moderately clearer facial details of the subject in this scene. Text legibility is similar in all models tested here.

Low Light, ~0.1lx

In low light, the Uniview camera washes out more of the test chart and subject details than others, despite the inclusion of smart IR (see below).

Using the default smart IR mode, called "Global", the subject is overexposed at all ranges, with his features unrecognizable as he approaches the camera, despite the camera reducing IR LED power, seen here:

With "Overexposure Restrain" mode on, subject details are visible as he approaches the camera, though still slightly overexposed at the furthest range. When the subject is very near the camera, IR is near totally off, with the scene almost completely dark, which could obscure other subjects in the scene if they entered behind him.

Wide Dynamic Range

As with the compact dome cameras, the Uniview 4MP zoom model is overexposed in our WDR test until fully inside the door, with subject details washed out.

Bandwidth Comparison

Uniview's bitrates were similar to most other 4MP models tested, and substantially lower than the Hanwha QNV-7080R at night, shown below. Note that these comparisons were performed with H.264, though the camera supports H.265 (see below) because no third party VMSes support Uniview's H.265 stream at the time of testing.

H.265 bitrates with U-Code enabled were about 30% lower than H.264. With U-Code disabled, H.265 was ~20% lower, shown below.

Test Parameters

The following firmware versions were used in this test:

  • Axis M3046-V:
  • Dahua IPC-HDBW5421E-Z: 2.400.0000.30.R
  • Hikvision DS-2CD2542FWD-IS: V5.4.3
  • Hikvision DS-2CD2742FWD-IZS: V5.4.1
  • Samsung QNV-7080R: 1.00_160804
  • Uniview IPC314SR-DVPF28: IPC_G6102-B5012P30D1607
  • Uniview IPC3234SR3-DVZ28: IPC_Q1201-B5017P20D1607LJ01
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