Purchasing Cameras overseas or at a local wholesaler, is it a good idea?
When shopping around for cameras, whether you are obtaining quotes, or simply browsing the web for an all-in-one kit, one thing becomes obvious. Video surveillance pricing is all over the map, and there seem to be no clear guidelines on what might work best for your situation.
The video surveillance market is dominated by a few players, but there are hundreds of companies out there that aim to provide a similar product for a lower price. Oftentimes, however, there are hidden details that will make the product unsuitable for the conditions, or even worse the product might not even work as advertised. There are quite a few reasons as to why we recommend you always find a professional provider for your video surveillance applications. After all, you are aiming to increase your security and maximize the control over your business. Much like having reliable vehicles for your business, a video surveillance system needs to be reliable and always ready at your request.
R&D (Research and Development)
Technology is an unstoppable industry it seems. With computers becoming faster every year, and new technologies being developed daily, we are living in exciting times. This evolution is also noticeable in the surveillance industries, with major manufacturers developing new technologies to allow for better image quality, more versatile cameras and even covert products. For all of this software to be developed, stress tested and rolled out, thousands of hours are invested in R&D.
Now, of course, all manufacturers are going to claim that they have mastered the technology, and they will have their own fancy title for it. Unfortunately, when comparing the image quality between the cameras, the differences become obvious. The more time spent with R&D the better the result, which means the knock-off product oftentimes does not perform to par, or even comparably. The result of this all, is that you are ultimately left with a product that may have been lower priced, but ultimately does not perform to the level that you had expected or would have experienced with the other product. Again, the point of video surveillance is to get a clear picture, whether it is for security or general overview purposes, so why sacrifice the one thing it is built to do by going with an off-label brand?
Upgrades are one of the biggest problems we run into on almost a daily basis. Clients purchased equipment, either overseas or a kit from a store, installed it themselves, but don’t know what they are left with. At some point, we will be requested to quote an upgrade to the system, as additional cameras may be required, or the customer wants to take advantage of new technology. The unfortunate truth, however, is that often these kits cannot be upgraded or require extensive hardware changes.
In one case, we were asked to add two cameras to a very small 4-camera setup. The NVR in place was only a 4-channel device, which would have needed to be replaced regardless, more on that here. But the important part is that the manufacturer of the hardware was a manufacturer from overseas. The lead-time on the equipment would have been one month or more, with the uncertainty that we would receive the correct equipment. The customer had just suffered a break-in, and as a result of that needed the solution quickly. With a turnaround of 2 days, we were able to implement a new camera solution by using Honeywell cameras completely. The only problem was that the entire system had to be replaced by this solution, ultimately costing the customer more money, because of the initial choice of off-brand equipment from oversea’s.
The 4-week lead time above was no joke. Imagine one of your cameras breaks, and it happens to be a brand from China that you had found online. Aside from the potential language barrier, time difference and possibly even the reluctance of the manufacturer to honor any warranty on the product, you are now left with a broken device for a month or longer. Video Surveillance is a security sensitive issue, and as such needs to be serviced quickly and efficiently. In no scenario, should a camera be out for a month or longer, and some facilities cannot afford to have even a few hours of downtime. Quality Control is another factor that needs to be taken into account. Manufacturers will oftentimes test their products before they leave the plant, but others will not. With the right manufacturer, there will be no issues upon install, and if there are, the manufacturer will be there to help and replace any defective units.
With a brand that has been professionally installed, and an integrator, such as ourselves, offering 24-7 support, the camera should be replaced within a few hours, minimizing downtime. The advantage with a reputable brand is that they will have multiple distributors that stock their products, allowing for a quick response on the replacement of a broken device. These manufacturers will also honor their warranties and often even offer extended warranties for their products to ensure the functionality of the devices for the years to come.
What can you do?
The sad truth is that there are integrators out there that don’t have the same view on off-label devices. These integrators will offer cameras at an unbeatable price that promise the world to you. As with everything else, quality will be reflected in the cost of the product. You do however have a few options to ensure your purchase will offer you the best products and service for the budget you have.
We always recommend that you get multiple quotes, again as mentioned above the cheapest may not be the best option to go with. That’s where the research into the products comes in. Reputable integrators should have their products listed on their website, or at least send you the information about all quoted products when requested. PDF documents and pictures can tell a whole story and can make it obvious as to what products will work best for you. The best way to tell if a product is a good match, an integrator is reputable and whether the manufacturer stands behind their product is to arrange a demo. We encourage our customers to have us set up a demo for them, so they can view the products and get a feel for how easy they are to use.
Get in Touch
We hold a wide range of manufacturer partnerships for all of the solutions we offer. With those partnerships we are able to provide demos of the solution you are considering. From trial software to full surveillance setups, we can make it possible. Give us a call at 1-844-230-2730 or email us at [email protected] to learn more or to set up a demo right away.