Customer Review

19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent hardware defeated by bad software, May 8, 2014
This review is from: Hikvision DS-2CD2332-I 3MP EXIR Turret Network Camera (Camera)
There is a lot to like about this camera and then there are details that can drive you up the wall.

The picture is clear, produces very nice color images with the usual tradeoffs of frames per second vs. resolution. At higher resolutions, the coverage is more picture-booki-ish, while lower resolutions give smooth coverage. Higher resolution images do offer more detail but can have smeared details if the subject is moving quickly. So installation location is important as the closer the subject comes to your camera, the better the camera can capture them.

In night mode (i.e. gray) the images are also quite good. The large IR LED does a really nice job of illuminating nearby objects, even in total darkness, and the camera can switch over quickly, alternating between day mode (color) and night mode (B&W). It gets somewhat warm on a 48V POE connection; and I might look for a gigabit POE injector that uses a lower voltage, so the internal voltage regulator has less work to do (or heat to dissipate) and potentially the images come out better (i.e. more bandwidth).

The hardware supports ONVIF and a number of other standards that allow this camera to be used with other software solutions out there. Unfortunately, you really have to buy an additional set of software to make this camera useful as the supplied software is simply terrible. Let's start with discovering the camera and go from there. Most IP cameras have a built-in web server that allows you to manage the functions of the camera and one can use most web browsers to set it up. Unfortunately, by default, the HiKVision has a pre-set IP address on the 192.0.0 subnet (mine was 192.0.0.26, IIRC) which means it's not on the same subnet as most home networks, i.e. something in the 192.168.1.x or in the 10.0.0.x range.

This makes administering the camera more difficult with just a web-browser, i.e. you will likely have to download a utility first to find the device, re-conconfigure it, etc. Yes, you can manually reconfigure your computer IP address, attach a ethernet cable directly to the camera, 'find' the camera by trying out different default IP addresses, etc. but ultimately, the HiKVision-provided utility is the easiest way to 'find' the camera on your network without all the work described above. Then reconfigure the camera as needed (I prefer mine to pull its IP address from my DHCP server, for example) and you're good to go. But you need to run that utility, and getting it installed is more difficult than usual on a Mac.

The 'mac compatible' utility that is supposed to control this camera doesn't work all that well on a modern Mac. The iView 4200 OSX software I downloaded requires the installation of the X11 X-window environment to run. The latter didn't install well, perhaps because Apple is no longer including it by default with the OS. Using Safari and other browsers in OSX 10.8 it was impossible to get live views while adjusting picture settings, privacy screens, motion detection areas, etc. when connecting to camera via the built in web browser. I thought it might be the firmware and then discovered it is impossible to upload new firmware also using the built-in web server. Many settings, once adjusted would not be saved.

Finally, I downloaded the windows version iView 4200 and was able to update the firmware on the camera. While the windows version of the iView software is at least functional, it's not great either. For example, you can have the camera automatically upload streams to a network drive whenever it detects motion. Yet, the setup software includes no testing function and the process fails silently unless you have the settings just right. Needless to say, I am not impressed. Common installation issues like getting the camera to log in successfully into a NAS and deposit its video there therefore become very frustrating to work through.

This camera basically needs an external software package to do anything useful beyond initial setup. Whether it's a surveillance package on a NAS or something that runs on your computer (BlueIris, SecuritySpy, etc.) you will likely need one of those packages to really make this camera work in a typical network. To me, this is deeply disappointing.
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 6, 2014 7:47:19 AM PDT
ShannonG says:
The SADP "utility" you referenced DOES NOT require your home computer to have an IP on the camera's default network. It communicates to the camera over ethernet network (not over IP) to change the IP to be on your network. Simply plug in the camera to a wired port, run the utility, set the IP (or DHCP) and you can then managed it from the web browser.

Posted on Sep 1, 2014 4:41:23 PM PDT
formortals says:
Even if something is in a different subnet, you don't need to directly connect to it with a cross-over cable. You can simply add a secondary IP address with the same subnet mask but no default gateway. This allows you to maintain your current IP connection and routing while adding connectivity to the secondary subnet. Then you can jump to the IP and then change it to whatever you like.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2014 5:17:13 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 2, 2014 5:18:43 AM PDT
Constantin says:
Ladies/Gentlemen, the issues you raise may all be true, but please consider:

This camera is marketed as a consumer device, not a tool for professionals with training requirements, specialized knowledge, etc. As such, a reasonable customer should be able to set it up without having to engage in IP wizardry. That the utility can avoid the IP subnet issue is great, however, that the utility cannot be installed on my Mac without causing errors (i.e. a hung X11 environment) is a problem that I hope HiKvision is working on, i.e. developing a utility that does not rely on a deprecated environment to run in (X11 is no longer a default part of OSX and hasn't been for a while).

Similarly, I am not impressed with systems where settings do not stick when applied in a web browser. I am delighted the system is working well for you, but on my mac, camera settings that were 'applied' via the web browser/server simply did not take, were not registered, etc. It was only when I used the windows-based utility that I finally got the camera to reconfigure its behavior.

It's also deeply disappointing that the camera does not test a connection to a NAS or other storage device as part of setup. I'm not asking for much, just the usual - 'hey, your login works', 'I couldn't find the directory', etc. Most other devices manage to give helpful error messages to help with troubleshooting, this one does not.

What it comes down to for me is that this device is great for the folk who either use an external software package to control it (thank you, ONVIF) or who are technically proficient enough to work around the many rough software edges of the product using a windows environment to run a browser and the utility in.

That's not to say that I won't buy more of these or other HikVision products, but a external software purchase may well be considered a requirement for most consumers, especially Mac users, and the additional purchase cost should be integrated into the system cost. Hence my review.

I look forward to the day that HiKvision releases a utility that no longer relies on a deprecated environment on the Mac and which is more helpful when setting up the device. If and when it's released, I'll be more than happy to adjust my review accordingly. However, that ball is in HikVision's court.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2014 9:16:57 AM PDT
ShannonG says:
Hikvision does NOT market their cameras to consumers. That's why you have to buy them from unauthorized dealers on Amazon with no warranty from the manufacturer. That's why they're not for sale on their website.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2014 11:51:06 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 5, 2014 11:51:56 AM PDT
Constantin says:
Interesting. The only reference to the above that I found on the official Hikvision website was "Hikvision does not warrant to provide the after-sale services or support for any of the Hikvision products purchased through any channels other than Hikvision's official website or the local authorized retailers." (see Support>Notice on Hikvision top-level web-site page)

That statement suggests that their website is expected to or does sales. I wasn't able to find that outlet, however. Google also seemed to come up dry, as the sites that popped up on the first page seemed unaffiliated. However, note that the statement did not discourage consumers from purchasing a system or to rely on installers / dealers to set them up.

Additionally, all the support software, manuals, etc. are available without the need for a password or other registration credential. Most companies I know who try to avoid the ability of consumers to bypass dealers and / or installers, eliminate casual access to downloading those resources. See Honeywell Touchscreen thermostats as an example of this practice.

So regarding Hikvisions stance re: consumers, I guess you know something that I don't? Perhaps you work for them or a official dealer? Anyhow, it's good to know that Hikvision won't supply customer support on this product for a Amazon-sourced device. Perhaps Quantum Wireless would? Cheers.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2014 12:13:18 PM PDT
ShannonG says:
So reverse the question. Where did you find that they specifically market themselves to end consumers?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2014 1:03:59 PM PDT
Constantin says:
See above. Trade-only products usually do not allow everyone to download the software to configure them. No way to upgrade if one is a not a registered installer, and so on.

Take the Honeywell thermostats as am example: Honeywell explicitly classifies thermostats as trade-only vs. DIY. Only some thermostats can be upgraded, and then only after registration at Honeywell.com.

Unless Hikvision makes statements on their site that direct-to-consumer sales are not allowed, I presume they are OK with consumers being able to buy their product, albeit without a warranty.

Similarly, Hikvision could limit its distribution to only sell to distributors that adhere to Hikvision policies re: consumers buying product directly. That does not seem to be the case.

Thus, I conclude that Hikvision is having it's cake and eating it too by disallowing a warranty while also allowing its distribution partners to sell to companies that sell to consumers directly.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2014 1:14:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 5, 2014 1:15:12 PM PDT
ShannonG says:
But you specifically said they "market them as a consumer device". So where is the marketing you'r referring to? It doesn't exist. If it does, why not post some links? All circumstantial evidence points to the contrary.

You're making assumptions and presumptions without and specific content to justify that. Yet you're also saying they should do a better job enforcing their distribution channels, which is a contradiction to your original statement. Perhaps they should do a better job with enforcing distribution. But you're 100% wrong that the cameras are marketed as end consumer products by Hikvision.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2014 6:22:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 6, 2014 8:52:58 PM PDT
Constantin says:
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

To me, a manufacturer that makes its product literature broadly available, firmwares accessible, and downloads searchable signals a manufacturer that wants anyone who wishes to use their product to have a go at it, including consumers. Unless a manufacturer puts up a specific sign 'not for consumers' like Honeywell does for it's trade-only devices, consumers are implicitly included in the potential customer base.

You are misinterpreting my point re: distribution channels, BTW. Let me emphasize: *If* Hikvision were interested in not allowing consumers to get their hands on these devices via a unauthorized reseller then they would enforce a strict distribution policy. *But* Hikvision does not seem to be doing this - their products are widely available from lots and lots of resellers. Hence, HikVision is signaling that they want their products to be sold as widely as possible - including directly to consumers.

Similarly, Hikvision currently offer unrestricted access to various configuration tools, manuals, firmwares, and other valuable information on their website. Other manufacturers do not make this sort of data available for trade-only devices, I mentioned Honeywell, but I can also think of others.

For example, many consumer durables like boilers, cars, appliances, etc. are meant for consumers to buy but not to service (beyond a very superficial level). In order to properly diagnose and troubleshoot a problem, the technician has to rely on training, advanced tools, and / or software. Manufacturers who care about who gets to work on their products restrict this data/training/tools and the distribution thereof is tightly controlled... Hikvision imposes none of those restrictions. Whatever the official policy may be, their actions speak louder than words.

As I see it, HikVision is seeking a broad appeal / distribution reach for its products, including marketing them to consumers through its online product descriptions, manuals, and other tools that they make available to anyone. If this were a trade-only type product, it would not be logical for the company to make its data this widely available. However, I speak as nothing more than a consumer inferring the above from Hikvisions web-site and the data hosted on it. You may have much better knowledge re: Hikvisions intentions/strategy/etc. Cheers!

Posted on Sep 16, 2014 8:53:02 AM PDT
Good review. You seem technically proficient. These cameras (the bulk of IP cameras), unlike those by Dropcam, do as you've noticed require some technical effort. I suspect you could have done better overall without the Mac situation, which adds an extra layer of struggle.
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