A couple of weeks ago I got a look at some of CSD’s new Hikvision solutions, including a surveillance kit incorporating four HD 3MP IR cameras and a dual-switch PoE NVR all at a very sharp price.
INSTALLERS still buy analogue because it’s affordable and plug and play but increasingly, quality IP manufacturers are muscling in, pressing hot buttons like ease of use, self setup, cost effectiveness, quality and long warranties.
Hikvision is such a manufacturer, building systems that cram pretty much every possible feature into a compact form factor with excellent performance. In this case, the vandalproof cameras are 20m IR, IP66-rated, have onboard storage and digital WDR. The NVR is capable too, with twin switches ensuring only one IP address needs to be programmed, while a very simple interface belies the unit’s underlying capability.
Before I get a look at the hardware, CSD’s Ilya Malkin gives me a run down on a recent trip he took to HikVision’s Hangzhou head office. His enthusiasm for the brand is infectious and as he talks I start to understand why the big Chinese manufacturer took its turnover from $US832m in 2011 to $1.16 billion in 2012 – a 38 per cent increase.
“It’s easy to underestimate Hikvision but it is an impressive company,” Malkin tells me, as we run through his engaging presentation.
“There are 8000 staff and 3000 of these are inhouse R&D engineers – that’s heaps,” he explains. “Hikvision has 422 patent registrations, they have 161 software copyrights and their R&D spend is 7 per cent of turnover – around $US80 million dollars a year.
“Standards of manufacture are very high. The factory floor is automated, there’s a culture of quality, everything is systematised. There’s a huge clean room for assembling products involving expensive components like the CMOS and CCD chips. To protect electronics, everything is anti-static in multiple layers, mats, shoes, wrist straps ground workers in workstations.
“Something else I noticed when I was staff uniforms – shift managers, assembly line and warehouse staff. The workers in pink are quality control and these quality control staff are absolutely everywhere,” Malkin says.
“And these high standards are reflected in the warranty on all products – it’s an excellent 3 years.”
According to Malkin, Hikvision has invested heavily in its manufacturing plant. There are 8 fully automated Siemens SMT lines and the company has a huge new facility under construction nearby. Only admin staff will move to the new facility – manufacturing will expand to fill the old building.
“Yet for all this size, the company will still customize for a market as small as ours,” he says. “For instance, we had a bracket our installers were uncomfortable with as it was polycarbonate and unlikely to survive the high UV levels of the Australian sun – we spoke to Hikvision and in 3 weeks they’d made a sample in aluminium.
“That’s smart – they know that getting feedback from happy customers is what allows them to improve their equipment – engineers can have amazing ideas but it’s examples from the field that make these ideas efficient.”
CSD’s Ilya Malkin
Hikvision analogue busting solution
The solution I’ve come to look at is that dual-switch PoE NVR which ships with four 3MP IP66-rated cameras and as Malkin explains to me, this system needs to be contrasted with the analogue alternative to fully appreciate its capabilities.
“In the past you would connect the cameras to the switch, find the cameras using a searching tool on your laptop, configure all the IP addresses from default, then configure the cameras one by one. When you were finished you would go to your NVR and start enrolling cameras one by one – it takes a long time to go through all this and that time costs you money. That’s why a lot of integrators have resisted going to IP.”
This is where Malkin says Hikvision offers differentiation. HikVision’s NVR is PoE with cameras that hook directly to the NVR. Simplifying the process, the NVR has 2 switchers, one is for the cameras, the other for the local network connection. The great thing is that they are totally isolated from each other.
“This means there can be no conflicts of IP addresses on data networks,” Malkin says. “As soon as you create conflicts of addresses you are in trouble but here there is no such thing. You have to configure 1 IP address only, the rest are distributed by the system. The surveillance cameras don’t talk to the system – never – they don’t see the network at all.”
Hikvision’s new GUI was designed by an American gaming design company and it’s very user friendly, very simple to navigate, yet fully featured. Malkin uses this GUI to set up the system. The setup wizard takes 5 clicks to complete an installation. It’s very simple.
First, there’s admin password, next there’s time zone, then there’s the only IP address config you have to do. After that there’s the storage option selection – though the system ships from CSD with pre-formatted storage so it’s not an issue. You then nominate whether or not you want cameras to record constantly or by motion detection. You copy this instruction to all the cameras and that’s it. The system is ready to roll.
Fronting the system is Hikvision’s DS-2CD2132-I 2.8mm 3MP (2048 x 1536) fixed dome camera with dual streaming, day/night function, 3D DNR, digital wide dynamic range, BLC, power over Ethernet, IP66-rated housing and IK10 rated housing to protect the camera from vandal attempts.
Backing this camera up is the DS-7600 Embedded PoE NVR series which offers data and power connections over one cable to allow a plug and play installation. It has 4 PoE ports, which saves time and money. With HDMI/VGA output at HD1080P and 5 Megapixel resolution recording, the DS-7600 series NVRs offer complete HD surveillance experiences.
Another slightly more expensive camera option is the Hikvision DS-2CD2332-I 3MP external mini dome. This unit is rated to IP66 and utilises the latest EXIR technology meaning this camera effectively has a night visibility of up to 30m. Also sporting an inbuilt 4mm fixed lens, this camera is great for covering a wide area so you can focus on the detail you really want. There’s also the Hikvision DS-2CD2632F-I, 3MP bullet camera, which offers IP66-rating and 30m IR performance, as well as 3D dynamic noise reduction and other features.
Hikvision’s NVRs come in 4, 8 and 16 PoE inputs, which is noteworthy given the fact not many competitors offer a 16 inputs of PoE. NVR options include 40, 80 and 160 Mbps input for the cameras so the math shows you can configure all those 16 cameras at 10Mbps, which is more than you would ever need. The NVRs work with any browser.
Meanwhile, Hikvision’s cameras have quality digital WDR, 3D noise reduction that reduce noise without loss of the fine detail in the back of a scene. The cameras are PoE class 2 and 3 so they are energy efficient and they are IP66 so they can be installed outside. Importantly, there offer a pair of signal streams, with the second stream used for mobile applications (iOS and Android).
“It’s a very simple solution for small retail or domestic applications,” Malkin says. “The 3MP cameras give image quality higher than Blu-Ray, while the NVR has 4 PoE inputs, 40Mbps, 2TB drive, HDMI and VGA output with 1080p resolution. The whole system thing comes with 3-year warranty and it’s only $A1750 mark, which is very competitive.
“Customers shouldn’t be scared of IP with this Hikvision system,” says Malkin. “You hook up the cameras, power up the NVR, do 4-5 clicks and it’s plug and play – a lot of people say they have plug and play but this really is plug and play. There’s no need for a laptop, you don’t need a switch, you save money on the power supply, and there’s no annoying process of programming addresses.
“It takes longer to explain the setup process than to run it but that doesn’t mean this is a low end system. It’s simply easy to use, easy to install, is cost effective, high quality, has a great warranty, and there’s an easy-to-use wizard that really saves you time and money.”
“We had a bracket our installers were uncomfortable with as it was polycarbonate and unlikely to survive the high UV levels of the Australian sun – we spoke to Hikvision and in 3 weeks they’d made a sample in aluminium”