Today we’re going to review two of the world’s most popular CCTV camera brands: Uniview and Hikvision.
Together, Uniview and Hikvision account for a huge chunk of the CCTV surveillance technology market. Hikvision is the global market leader, while Uniview stands in fourth place by most accounts.
However, there are many reasons a company can become a market leader, not all of them reflect well on the products they produce. Hikvision, for instance, has managed to supply high-quality CCTV cameras at low prices thanks to financial backing from the Chinese government, which is the majority owner of Hikvision. As we will see, this support has come at a price, leading to Hikvision being banned in the USA. But more on that later.
Hikvision and Uniview Cameras Compared
Let’s begin by comparing the technology on offer from Uniview and Hikvision. Both companies offer a wide range of high-tech IP CCTV cameras that come packed with Smart features and innovative hardware.
Night Vision and Low Light CCTV Cameras
Illuminating low-light settings is a top priority for CCTV camera manufactures. The majority of criminal incidents occur at night, which means CCTV cameras need to be able to detect and record activity in darkness and low light situations to be effective. Alongside traditional infrared tech, Uniview and Hikvision offer several models of CCTV cameras that are specially designed to function in low and ultra-low light environments.
ColorHunter v ColorVu
Both Uniview and Hikvision offer powerful, proprietary solutions to low light situations that can give your security system a real edge.
Hikvision and Uniview both offer a low light camera with full-colour capabilities. In virtual darkness, cameras equipped with these technologies can provide clear, colour images that allow you to see exactly what’s going on. Hikvision’s version of this technology is called ColorVu. The Uniview equivalent is called ColorHunter.
Both use a large, high-quality sensor and powerful, F1.0 lens to provide high-definition colour images in extremely low light situations. The results of these two technologies are fairly similar.
LightHunter V Starlight
Once upon a time, Starlight was the technology of choice for ultra-low light Uniview CCTV cameras. That was until Uniview released its Lighthunter technology that can capture four times as much light.
LightHunter cameras come equipped with an F1.2 aperture, a multi-layered varifocal lens all supported by enhanced signal processing algorithms.
The result is high-definition clear images in near-total darkness.
DarkfighterX v LightHunter
Hikvision’s answer to Uniview’s LightHunter technology is DarkfighterX. Also aimed at ultra low-light situations, DarkfighterX uses two sensors, one focused on night vision the other on capturing colour and detail. Once again, the two technologies are fairly similar and offer comparable results.
The key difference between DarkfighterX and ColorVu is the range each technology is capable of. ColorVu can cover a range of 20m, anything above that and DarkfighterX performs better.
Bullets, Turrets, Domes, and PTZ Cameras Compared
Uniview and Hikvision both supply a wide variety of CCTV camera models, including the usual favourites, bullets, turrets, domes, and PTZs. We could spend all day going into the details between all these cameras, instead, we’ve selected a few of our top picks to explore and compare in detail.
UNV's New TriGuard Cameras
The new TriGuard series of CCTV cameras from Uniview is one of the most technologically sophisticated options on the market right now. The TriGuard equipped turret is perhaps the most comprehensive, feature-packed turret CCTV camera available. If you’re looking for a CCTV camera with all the bells and whistles imaginable, the TriGuard should be your first choice.
Uniview TriGuard cameras will take your IP security system to the next level with crystal clear super HD images, two-way audio, Smart IR and white light for deterrence and surveillance at night, literal bells in the form of motion detection alarms and prerecorded messages, and flashing lights to scare away intruders and alert security guards. TriGuard also includes ColorHunter technology, giving full colour, detailed images even in the dead of night.
The TriGuard series also includes UNV's Active Deterrence PTZ, this comes with all the same features as the turret but with the added abilities of panning, tilting, and zooming.
Hikvision 2MP Mini PTZ Dome v Uniview 2MP Internal Mini PTZ
If you’re in need of something smaller, more discreet than the standard-sized TriGuard cameras, both Hikvision and Uniview make mini PTZ dome cameras that are ideal for use in offices and retail environments.
Both feature 2MP definition and built-in microphones, but from there these two neat little cameras differ in several respects. Hikvision’s mini PTZ dome features two-way audio and a night vision range of 15m. Uniview’s camera, although lacking two-way audio, has much more power IR night vision, extending 30m. For a warehouse or large storeroom CCTV installation, the Uniview camera’s extended night vision range could be a deciding factor.
Network Video Recorder (NVR) Shootout
Hikvision offers six types of NVR: Value Express, Q Series, 76/77 Series, 96 Series, Super NVR, and DeepMind NVR. Their top-of-the-range NVR, DeepMind, is compatible with 12MP cameras, uses H.265+ compression, and can handle facial recognition. The Value Express, by comparison, can only manage 4MP and does not support the latest Smart features.
The Uniview NVRs comes in four categories: Easy, Hybrid, Prime, and Pro Series. The Pro can process footage up to 12MP, has up to 128 channels, and supports Ultra 265, H.265, and H.264 video formats. The Easy series can also support 12MP resolutions, giving it an advantage over the Value Express range from Hikvision. What’s more, it supports human body detection, motion detection, and audio detection.
Uniview and Hikvision Cameras and NVRs Conclusion
As you can see, both companies offer excellent cameras with comparable specs. Uniview does have a slight technological advantage over Hikvision in terms of the quality of its NRVs and the range of functions included in some of its camera ranges, particularly in its newer ranges.
Both companies provide solutions to the most common CCTV situations, such as low light, license plate recognition, people counting, strong backlight environments and so on, and both offer a range of camera types.
While Hikvision’s cameras and NVRs might be up to scratch, purchasing Hikvision products come with a whole host of risks and drawbacks that will make you think twice.
Could be Banned
The first, and perhaps most concerning issue, is the fact that Hikvision has been banned in the United States, and American companies are no longer allowed to sell parts to Hikvision. Not only does this put them in a difficult position regarding their supply chain and access to American tech, there is the risk that other countries follow America’s lead and also ban Hikvision products.
There have already been rumblings in the EU, which recently voted to removed all Hikvision cameras from the parliament, and a group of MPs in the UK have been pressuring the British government to implement a ban.
Linked to Human Rights Violations
The main reason Hikvision has come under scrutiny is the company’s involvement in building and running concentration camps in northwest China. Millions of Muslims from the region are being arbitrarily detained by the Chinese government and Hikvision, along with building and running the prison camps, is the main supplier of surveillance equipment used to oppress the population. You may want to consider whether you are willing to purchase products from a company that is so blatantly involved in severe human rights violations.
Poor Customer Service
If humanitarian issues don’t concern you, then perhaps Hikvision’s Trustpilot rating will. The company scored just 1.5, with most reviewers claiming to have never experienced such bad customer service. What’s more, many reviewers claim the Hikvision NRVs are overly complicated and generally do not work well - so much for all the impressive stats!
One reviewer said of Hikvision NVRs, “they are overly complicated, do not work well, and forget about remote access via Web.” Now we all know that one-off reviews are not much to go by, but numerous reviews note the “extremely poor customer service” provided by Hikvision, while others state that Hikvision customer service is pretty much non-existent.
Along with atrocious customer service, Hikvision’s cybersecurity failures have also been exposed on several occasions. In fact, in 2021, multiple sources alerted the world to a serious security vulnerability in Hikvision products that allowed backdoor access to all their cameras. In effect, anyone capable of hacking Hikvision could take complete control of the cameras. The implication was that the Chinese government might be able to see what you see on your CCTV camera.
Unlike Hikvision, Uniview is not owned by the Chinese government and has no links to the Chinese military. For this reason, the United States has refrained from banning Uniview cameras in the USA. This means it is extremely unlikely Uniview will be banned in other countries, certainly no one is calling for it right now.
What’s more, Uniview does not participate in serious human right violations, nor is their customer service atrocious.
The only real drawback to Uniview is that they don’t manufacture a doorbell camera. These days, doorbell cameras are popular for both commercial and residential installations and it is something of an anomaly that Uniview don’t produce any.
Conclusion: Uniview v Hikvision
Considering Uniview cameras are a cut above Hikvision’s in a number of ways, and since Uniview faces none of the geopolitical issues hanging over Hikvision, it seems that choosing between the two CCTV camera brands is simple: it’s got to be Uniview every time!
If you’re new to Uniview, we recommend their TriGuard series. Packed full of high-tech security features, supported by powerful hardware and easy to install, these cameras are ideal for securing your property.