We get a lot of questions regarding the difference between officially distributed English Hikvision Cameras and NVR’s versus Chinese sourced and hacked versions (Grey Market Hikvision). Here we’ll aim to keep you informed of the risks associated with grey market variants and why genuine English (or international market) versions should be your first choice when security matters.
Hikvision is without a doubt the largest, most innovative and best choice when it comes to home security. Their Research and development alone outstrip every other competitor in the market place . This ensures that Hikvision remain at the forefront of the home and commercial security markets worldwide.
With that being said, Hikvision’s market leading equipment can be found from numerous sellers online via eBay and many other e-commerce market places. Usually, you’ll find these merchants selling Hikvision Grey Market IPCam’s & NVR’s that have had their default language changed from Chinese to English and also running firmware versions that are a few revisions behind their official English release. These versions are nearly always models designed for the Chinese domestic market, where the camera or NVR has had its firmware (software) changed to enable us international folk to set them up without learning Chinese.
To do so, the seller must first purchase a Chinese domestic market model (or Hikvision Grey Market version), unbox and ‘flash’ a modified firmware that has been hex edited to allow English language menus and functionality. Common issues with this process are-
- Outdated & modified firmware versions
- Zero official support
- Non-upgradeable firmware
- Buggy menus and performance
- No warranty whatsoever (Our range has a 3-year warranty)
- Malware or backdoors in equipment
In addition to the above issues, a faulty Hikvision Grey Market Camera or NVR will then be subject to-
- Returning the camera to China (at your expense)
- Awaiting a non-official replacement from China
- Storefront may have disappeared by the time a return is needed
To combat this, Hikvision has recently issued a statement regarding this very issue. The full US Hikvision statement can be found here and details exactly what you can expect with Grey Market versions. Hikvision has reportedly started taking action against unauthorised sellers by having their listings removed from many online stores and market places and by the stronger enforcement of their IP.
So, how do you know if you have Official English (CCWR) Cameras or modified Chinese Domestic Market (CCCH) cameras?
In order to find out exactly what camera you have, you’ll need to inspect the camera’s serial number and barcode. If the last 4 letters denote ‘CCWR’, then congratulations- you’re safe. If you see ‘CCCH’ you have Chinese camera’s that are not firmware upgradable.
While the team at CCTVHD has always adopted a neutral stance on Hikvision Grey Market, CCCH, hacked versions we are now beginning to see more and more issues as grey market cameras proliferate the market. Stories of ‘bricked’ (inoperable) cameras litter google results, usually involving even more ‘hacks’ to get them up and running again. The nominal price difference is nothing compared to the risk of a hacked and modified product living on your network 24/7 with full internet access.
If security matters, choose genuine Hikvision equipment from official distributors (like us) and rest easy knowing you can upgrade your firmware at anytime, and have piece of mind with Hikvision’s rock solid 3 year warranty backing you up.