Hikvision is the world's leading suppliers of CCTV cameras worldwide. The company is the number one manufacturer and supplier of CCTV security cameras worldwide, far outstripping the competition.
As the world’s leading supplier of security cameras, Hikvision has an enormous range of CCTV cameras. Hikvision products are powerful, featuring many cutting-edge features, such as motion detection, built-in alarms, night vision, low-light technology, and more. They are also comparatively affordable.
Unfortunately, Hikvision is also drowning in controversy and service issues. The company has been banned from the United States market for having links to the Chinese military and human rights abuses being perpetrated by the Chinese government against the Uighur Muslims.
Hikvision has also been accused of leaving backdoor access in its software. This vulnerability gives hackers the ability to view the footage recorded by any Hikvision camera, anywhere in the world. The discovery led the US government to remove Hikvision CCTV from all its embassies and federal buildings.
In this review, we’ll focus on the technology. We will look at the capacities of Hikvision CCTV cameras and compare them to other products on the market. We’ll conclude by examining the accusations against the company, including the human rights abuses, cybersecurity issues, and customer service complaints.
Hikvision Cameras Review
Hikvision built its name by manufacturing high-quality CCTV cameras and selling them at affordable prices. The company's range of cameras includes all the usual CCTV camera models: bullet cameras, dome cameras, turret cameras, and PTZ cameras. They also make many speciality models, along with heat detection cameras there were used to check for covid during the pandemic.
Along with the hardware, Hikvision has developed proprietary software that brings smart features and mobile integration to its camera range. High-tech features such as motion detection that can distinguish between people and animals and colour technology that adds colour even to poorly lit night images are now available on many Hikvision models. Hikvision offers cameras that have two way audio, alarm system options, and other features to meet a variety of security needs. And all Hikvision IP cameras are compatible with the Hikvision app, which allows easy access and control over your camera network from your mobile device.
Hikvision ColorVu Review
ColorVu is Hikvision’s answer to the night. It goes well beyond infrared night vision technology, providing a clear, full-colour image in extremely low-light conditions.
ColorVu combines a large F1 aperture with a high-quality, advanced sensor, allowing the camera to make use of very little light. In fact, ColorVu can provide detailed colour images even in moonlight alone.
What’s more, ColorVu has a wide dynamic range of 130dB, which means it can perform well in a variety of lighting conditions, from extremely low light to a strong backlight.
While ColorVu is impressive technology, Hikvision is not the only one with cameras capable of such feats. Uniview’s ColorHunter offers equally good picture quality, and Uniview is a more reliable company, untainted by controversy. We recommend adding a Uniview ColorHunter to your security system rather than a ColorVu equipped Hikvision camera.
Hikvision DS-HD1 Review
Hikvision’s DS-HD1 is a 3MP smart doorbell camera designed to protect you at your home or workplace.
The DS-HD1 camera uses a Passive Infrared Sensor (PIR) that measures the infrared light emitted from things in its line of sight. This means the sensor can detect movement outside your door and then begin recording. Hikvision has even added a customisable detection area to account for unusual doorways.
In addition, the camera is equipped with infrared night vision technology to give you an idea of who is outside even in the dark. The DS-HD1 can also be connected to WI-FI and the footage is viewable on a mobile device. The camera even has a two-way audio function that can be heard over mobile.
Compared to other doorbell cameras, the DS-HD1 offers very little extra, but it is a decent doorbell camera nonetheless.
Hikvision DS-2DE2A404IW-DE3 Review
This jumble of letters and numbers is the catchy name Hikvision gave to a 4MP, mini PTZ dome camera with zoom functionality.
The Hikvision DS-2DE2A404IW-DE3 is a vandal dome CCTV camera. This means the camera is encased in an IK10 damage-resistance dome. The IK10 rating is part of an international standard that states the amount of impact the casing of electrics can withstand. With an IK10 rating, the casing can withstand up to 20 joules of energy.
Dome cameras, such as Hikvision’s DS-2DE2A404IW-DE3, are great for use in a CCTV system located in a high-risk area. For example, in an area that is easily within reach, or in areas that are prone to volatile situations, such as nightclubs.
This particular dome camera comes equipped with night vision up to 20 metres, a varifocal lens, and point, tilt, and zoom abilities, all in high-definition picture quality. The zoom function combines a four times optical zoom with a further 16x digital zoom, allowing you to see every aspect of every minute detail. The camera can tilt 90 degrees and rotate 355 degrees, giving your video surveillance system an incredibly wide field of view.
The stats for the Hikvision DS-2DE2A404IW-DE3 might sound impressive at first glance, but there are equally good products from other brands. Our recommendation would be the UNV 4MP, anti-vandal, PTZ dome camera. It offers a 25x optical zoom, comes equipped with Lighthunter technology that gives you clear images in minimal light, infrared up to 100 metres distance, and has a built-in alarm system.
Hikvision App Review
The Hikvision app is called Hik-Connect. It allows you access control to your CCTV system via your mobile device. The app is designed to work with all Hikvision NVRs, DVRs, and IP CCTV cameras that can connect to the cloud.
The Hikvision app provides an all-in-one CCTV management hub. The user-friendly interface lists all the cameras in your network, allowing you to access the footage at will. Use the app to add or delete cameras from your network, toggle alarm systems on and off, and receive notifications from your camera’s smart features directly on your mobile devices, such as detected motion and other alarm triggers.
Considering just the technical aspects of the Hikvision app it sounds convenient. However, customers have not always found it so.
Customer reviews of the Hikvision app are rather mixed. One reviewer wrote, “every update makes the app worse”. Another described the Hikvision app as a “terrible piece of software”. On JustUseApp.com, the app has received a 60% disapproval rating.
On the other hand, some customers claim that the 2021 update to version 14.15.1 has resolved many of the previous problems: “version 4.15.1 is good to go,” wrote one customer.
Hikvision NVR Review
The final piece in a security system based on IP CCTV is a Network Video Recorder (NVR). The NVR’s job is to record and store the footage captured by the security cameras. NVRs store the data they record on a local hard disk or upload it to a cloud-based server, or both.
The Hikvision NVR series comes in five categories: The Pro Series (with and without AcuSense), Ultra Series, DeepinMind Series, Value Series, and Special Series. All Hikvision NVRs use at least H.265+ compression, which ensures your bandwidth is used efficiently and storage requirements are manageable. Hikvision’s high-end NVRs can handle up to 32MP resolution and all models can handle at least 4k output resolution.
The DeepinMind NVR series is perhaps the most innovative and interesting of all of Hikvision’s NVRs. It uses machine learning to analyse data extracted from the footage collected by the IP CCTV security system to boost the efficiency of smart features. These features include line crossing detection, facial recognition, and perimeter protection. It claims to reduce false alarms by up to 90%, and this figure will improve as the NVR gathers more data to learn from.
The DeepinMind NVR also comes equipped with a searchable database that can carry out quick target searches. Hikvision describes this NVR as having a “mind of its own”.
Meanwhile, the Ultra Series is designed to handle very large numbers of cameras and is suitable for a large security operation inside a big building or covering an extensive terrain. The Pro Series offers high compression rates that are ideal for managing a small to medium-sized area involving multiple cameras. But to make use of all the bells and whistles available with IP CCTV cameras, the Pro Series with AcuSense is needed. The ProSeries with AcuSense is able to distinguish between humans and vehicles and use the data to make rapidly searchable databases.
For home installations, a Hikvision Value Series NVR might be all that is necessary. It records and stores footage, and is WI-FI compatible, which makes installation easy.
Yet, while Hikvision NRVs have some high-end features, more and more installers are complaining about the functionality. Time and again reports are coming in about malfunctioning Hikvision NVRs.
Given that UNV makes comparable NVRs that do not have the same malfunction issues they appear as the obviously better alternative. UNV NVRs feature H.265+ compression, multiple channels, 4K output, and huge amounts of encrypted data storage capacity. As with Hikvision NVRs, UNV NVRs come in several ranges, with something suitable for every security setup.
Hikvision Customer Service Review
Hikvision security cameras and NVRs are by no means the best on the market, but in terms of specs they do stand up to scrutiny and could potentially be part of a functioning security system. Unfortunately, the main problem with Hikvision is not the issues with its products but the way the company is run. Alongside the cybersecurity and human rights issues, Hikvision is known for having atrocious customer service.
Hikvision’s current rating on TrustPilot is one point six out of five, unsurprisingly, it is a rating that is categorised as “bad”. Most of the reviews focus on faulty equipment and poor customer service. One reviewer wrote, “I have never come across such poor customer service”. Another agreed, writing, “very bad customer services”. A third said, “[Hikvision] online customer service is bad”.
Many reviews claim Hikvision customer support simply refused to help them in any way. Customers seeking help were either told to refer to the retailer for help or that it is Hikvision company policy not to help. It makes you wonder what Hikvision thinks a customer service helpline is for.
Cybersecurity and Human Rights Issues
Since being exposed as complicit in human rights abuses against the Uighur Muslims in China, Hikvision has faced mounting pressure from governments around the world. The United States in particular has taken stringent measures against the company in light of the abuse allegations, going as far as to ban all Hikvision products from the US market.
Due to cybersecurity risks, the US government also banned the use of Hikvision cameras in its embassies and in federal buildings in the US. Members of the CIA suggested Hikvision had access to all the footage being recorded by all Hikvision surveillance cameras across the globe.
The combination of human rights issues and cybersecurity threats also led to the US banning American companies from working with or supplying Hikvision. This led to Hikvision stockpiling parts in the months prior to the ban coming into effect. The lack of parts is likely to have serious implications for Hikvision production moving forward. The loss of the US as a market is also likely to be devastating for the company financially.
What’s more, there is the real danger that other governments follow the US’s lead and also ban Hikvision. With the possibility of an outright ban hanging over Hikvision, purchasing its products might be convenient now but it is not a future-proof option.
Uniview, while also Chinese, is a private company with no connection to the Chinese government or military. As such it has avoided being slapped with the same penalties. Uniview is still able to trade in the US and purchase parts from American companies. Therefore, Uniview is a far better option for the long term.
Hikvision CCTV Review Conclusion
Hikvision cameras offer some high-tech perks and quality features at affordable prices. However, the company faces serious challenges in the immediate future as a result of its involvement in human rights abuses, its inability to adequately resolve cybersecurity risks, its poor customer services, and its increasingly faulty products.
We recommend choosing Uniview CCTV cameras and NVRs instead.