See why customers prefer Avigilon Alta, formerly Openpath, and the all-in-one Video Intercom Reader Pro over Hikvision’s access control and intercom solutions for their security.
One name that you might come across while searching for video intercom systems is Hikvision. While the products are priced reasonably and are well-known, potential buyers should be aware that Hikvision is currently banned in the US. Aside from the ban, users outside of the US might want to consider the multitude of product limitations before purchasing a Hikvision intercom. In this Hikvision access control review, we take an in-depth look at the ban, disadvantages of the products and how the Avigilon Video Intercom Reader Pro can be a better, more secure alternative for your building security.
Hikvision products are not available for sale and use in the US.
|Voice AI call routing
Avigilon Alta’s voice AI helps visitors connect with tenants or persons in charge.
|Secure access options
Avigilon Alta offers more access methods that are secure and convenient.
Avigilon Alta offers safe, contactless access with the Wave to Unlock technology.
Hikvision requires add-on hardware and additional installation.
In October 2021, the US House of Representatives issued a ban on the import and sale of products from several Chinese surveillance companies, including Hikvision. The restriction on the import and sale of Hikvision products in the US stems from a concern of national security and the possibility of China-based surveillance products exposing US telecommunications systems to vulnerabilities. The products are not currently available in the US, leaving buyers with no way of purchasing Hikvision intercoms. Aside from the ban, however, Hikvision is also problematic from a product standpoint.
Because there are many different versions of Hikvision products, it could be overwhelming and difficult to find which one is right for you. The company offers a wide range of intercoms, but none of the systems have comprehensive built-in features. Some intercoms come with built-in cameras, with resolutions ranging from 1280p to 2MP. Although some models can be easily installed, the installation process for others is quite complicated and requires wiring to a lot of different parts. Access options are adequate. However, some could pose security risks, and the remote unlock mechanism is complicated to set up and use.
Hikvision offers an extensive collection of video intercoms ranging from $100 to $600. Although their products fall under the cost-effective range, there is a lot to consider before choosing this system. The video intercoms serve very limited functions, with most models covering just the bare bones of access control. Additional purchase of hardware and software are required in most cases, as is extra installation. For example, the product touted as an all-in-one indoor station needs to be wired to a door station that is sold separately. For this particular system, other hardware will need to be added on to serve the most basic of security functions.
Unlike Hikvision, Avigilon’s video intercoms come with advanced built-in features, combining a doorbell, camera, intercom and reader into one sleek device. Having different functionalities in one device eliminates the need to purchase and install different access control hardware. Plus, the mobile credentials and backward compatibility with legacy cards cut the costs of maintaining access keys. The software is available in a wide range of packages to suit all security needs, and the pricing plan is scalable. It allows operators to pay for only what they use, depending on the number of users in the system.
Both Avigilon Alta and Hikvision offer cloud-based software options, giving both systems versatility in management and scalability. With Hikvision, access management is relatively efficient, particularly with the all-in-one indoor station. The IP-based indoor device enables users to monitor intercom and CCTV commercial security cameras, control access, manage the alarm systems and check environmental temperature in one screen. In terms of scalability, however, Hikvision is limited. While some systems can accommodate up to 2000 users, others can only support two doors and a handful of users.
Avigilon Alta offers a lot more flexibility with intuitive software. Admins can add users to an intercom directory, configure new locations, add and edit directory paths, control access and monitor entry events in real-time, all in a single dashboard. The remote unlock feature allows tenants and security personnel to open doors for visitors from anywhere, and 100% remote management enables users to oversee multiple locations without being physically on site. Plus, the Avigilon Alta system is infinitely scalable, allowing users to conveniently add locations to a network with a few simple configurations in the dashboard.
For Hikvision intercoms, the level of ease in installation varies widely, from simple to incredibly complex. The IP-based and 2‑wire systems are simple to install, with only two wires that need to be connected for power and video/audio transmission. The plug-and-play function, however, does not extend to other intercom models, like the old-fashioned analog 4‑wire and 8‑wire series. These two particular collections require installation of additional Hikvision intercom hardware to keep up with basic security functions, like granting access.
Most Hikvision intercoms require additional hardware to be added on, as the intercom products serve only small functions of the bigger access control picture. For example, the all-in-one indoor station does not come with a door station, and needs the additional purchase and installation of a reader, network camera, alarm and CCTV to transform the device into a comprehensive system. Some Hikvision models use one PoE cable, and the open integration supports connection with third-party applications.
In terms of ease of installation and integration, Avigilon Alta stands at the opposite end of the spectrum to Hikvision. The sleek and compact video intercom installs with an easy snap-in mechanism. The all-in-one system also reduces the need to purchase additional hardware and install different parts. Like Hikvision, Avigilon Alta’s intercom uses a PoE cable and standard wiring, with the added benefit of rotating the camera during install for the best viewing angle.
Integration with Avigilon Alta is equally easy. Built on an open API and mobile SDK, the system seamlessly integrates with other hardware, software and apps like property management and tenant service platforms. The ONVIF Profile S and T compliant platform make integration with video security providers easy, and the ACU functionality means the system is compatible with legacy systems and in standalone mode. What’s more, the App Marketplace makes it easy for users to discover new integrations and review over 45 technology partners that connect with the Avigilon Alta system.
When it comes to access methods, the options that Hikvision intercoms offer are adequate. However, not all entry methods can guarantee secure access or convenience. Remote unlock is only available in some intercoms. While mobile capabilities are offered in some models, Hikvision reviews reveal they are not always reliable and often leave users with no choice but to use less convenient access options. Plus, as Hikvision intercoms are modularized in design, additional reader add-ons are needed to allow access to users with credentials.
Visitor access on Hikvision intercom systems is offered in the form of PIN codes and a call made from a directory connected to a door station. While these methods are generally adequate for smaller buildings located in a safe neighborhood, they could leave room for security breaches to take place in a busier building or urban location, as PIN codes can easily be shared with unauthorized users. Unlike modern intercoms, Hikvision does not offer a touchless access option, adding to the list of drawbacks.
The Avigilon Video Intercom Reader Pro offers a wide variety of secure access methods. Mobile capabilities are supported, enabling users to grant access through an app from different mobile devices. The patented Triple Unlock technology allows a fast unlock mechanism, with 99.9% reliability using simultaneous Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular signals. Users have two other signals to rely on when one is experiencing disruptions, so access can be securely granted at all times.
Another convenient access option is the Wave to Unlock, a feature that enables users to open doors with a swift movement of the hand or phone. Visitors can take advantage of the hands-free voice technology to request immediate access without scrolling through a directory. Remote unlock is also available in all Avigilon Smart Reader models. This allows tenants to open doors for visitors from anywhere, using their smartphone or the Avigilon Alta Control Center.
The built-in smart reader in the Avigilon video intercom supports high- and low-frequency key cards, and is also backward compatible with legacy access control systems. When it comes to temporary visitors’ access, convenient options are available. Access can be granted through email, text message or messaging apps like Slack, all accessible directly from the visitor’s smartphone browser. Temporary Guest Passes permit one or more entries with a time limit, and passes are entirely customizable. All entry events are also recorded in real-time.
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Among the list of advanced features in Avigilon’s Video Intercom Reader Pro, the voice AI and call routing technologies are particularly notable. Many video intercom systems offer some assistance to visitors after hours or when tenants are unavailable, but with Avigilon Alta, the many connection options offered by this feature reduce the likelihood of visitors being turned away when tenants are unavailable.
The 24/7 intelligent call routing technology connects visitors to not just one line, but to a wide range of options, from a voicemail, alternative tenant or specific directory path set by the tenant. The responsive voice AI guides visitors to specific directory paths, based on access and door schedules, and tenant availability. This advanced feature is also touchless. The absence of a directory eliminates the inconvenience of scrolling through a huge list of tenants and allows users to keep personal information private.
Among the list of Hikvision intercom features, visitor assistance of any form is not available, leaving guests with no other option but to return to the building when the tenant is able to receive them. Direct connection lines to receptionists or security personnel are also unavailable, unless the door station is specifically connected to a designated personnel line.
Limitations posed by Hikvision may have a severe impact on businesses who choose them for their door intercom systems, from the lack of built-in features to the larger threat to national security. There are more secure options available, such as the Avigilon Video Intercom Reader Pro, if you find that Hikvision is not a system you’d consider using. The all-in-one Avigilon intercom comes with a doorbell, reader, speaker and microphone with automotive grade code and echo reduction for two-way audio, and a super-high definition 5MP camera that supports video calling. Mobile experience is optimized, with credentials that allow a fast and reliable entry using the patented Triple Unlock technology. What’s more, the touchless entry feature is safe and convenient, while the award-winning device is compact enough to be installed in any space.
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