Big Box Surveillance – The Crap Behind The Deal

Big Box Surveillance – The Crap Behind The Deal

By Christian M Gillman

A lot of big box stores (which shall not be named) offer surveillance kit specials, which for the price can seem like great opportunities. These seemingly cheap and extravagant systems have some flaws that should be noted so buyers can be better informed and aware of what they’re buying.

Product Specs

Most of these kits will come with 4 security cameras equipped with IRs and the capability to be used both indoors and outdoors (they also come with a DVR and cabling). The thing that you won’t realize unless your versed in surveillance technology is that these products are generally inferior in nature to what you could get from a surveillance dealer or specialist for around the same price.

Let’s go over two examples of this; and to begin with we will talk briefly about the security cameras. The quickest and easiest example is the fact that these kits come with CMOS chip security cameras instead of the higher quality CCD security cameras. A CMOS camera will work don’t get me wrong, but for a couple dollars more you can get a CCD chip based security camera that will provide a much clearer image and a better picture overall with less chance of malfunction.

The second example has to do with the advertising used for their DVR’s. They will generally advertise a full D1 DVR, which on paper is great because it means it can handle high resolution security cameras. The thing they don’t mention is the frame rate at which the DVR’s will record D1. Most of the time the frame rate will be far inferior to what a comparable D1 DVR can do for a few dollars more.

Tech Support

Now some of the kits will say that they come with 24/7 tech support and assistance. Now while this may be true there are two hidden meanings behind this.

One is that while they may have 24/7 tech support it doesn’t mean it will be from someone from this country that speaks decent English. So while trying to determine your technical problems you may also find yourself having to translate or have them repeat themselves over and over until you understand what their trying to say.

The second hidden meaning is that while it is tech support you’re calling, it may not be tech support specifically for your product, but more of a tech support in a general sense. This can leave both the tech guy and yourself confused as you try to relate the product difficulties and specs to each other.

These possible hidden meanings are good enough reasons by themselves why purchasing from an in country surveillance dealer or specialist is more preferred. This is especially true as they will most likely have immediate contact with their customer and know exactly what products you bought and how to support them correctly.

Manufacture Quality

One reason that the big box stores can offer these products at such a low cost is their manufacture origins. A lot of the time the products in these kits are of a sub-par quality, and tend to be cheaply made Chinese products that have a possibility of breaking much easier than something you would find at a surveillance dealer.

Now a surveillance dealer may offer this type of cheaper products to a customer if requested, but in general a surveillance dealer or specialist is going to know the type of product they are selling to you and the reliability of said product. This way you’re not taking a risk with your purchase.

In the end not all big box surveillance kits are bad and they sometimes might even serve your purposes just fine; and it’s also true that buying the equipment from a dealer or surveillance specialist might be a little more expensive. The question is would you prefer to spend a little more and get the qualified service and support behind your product, or would you rather take a risk with these different factors and buy a premade kit from a big box store.

Christian M Gillman has worked in the surveillance industry for over 6 years. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, learn more about surveillance, and find great products at

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