Camera Systems: which one might be better?

I’m not well-versed in IP Camera systems; am wondering if anyone here might have advice. I’ve got 2 options from the company we’re working with for cameras; it’ll be managed by the company that’s–surprisingly–very responsive and very good about handling things so I don’t have to do anything more than provide rack space & a static IP.

I’m looking to choose between Digital Watchdog or Avigilon. I’ve looked thru their websites & they both look…great? Just wondering if there are pluses/minuses I should be aware of before pulling the trigger on one or the other. Each system will arrive with a Ubiquiti PoE switch, required licensing & such. Both come with 16 licenses which is what we’re looking to expand to.

The Avigilon system is about $2,000 more expensive than the Watchdog system…so I’m wondering if those more well-versed in camera systems would be able to tell me what to look out for with each system. I will NOT need to administrate it, so if one system is “easier to use” than the other, that would be appealing to me as our employees here are not…well, “young” and they require a bit of extra training from me that I’m happy to do, but if a system is “easier” to learn and teach I would likely lean toward that one.

Thank you for any help with this!

FWIW we went with ExaqVision system and that works with HIK cameras and others too. It’s on-prem and monitored by our Facilities / Security Director. We have 35 cameras adn are going to be adding more. It also is using our HP POE switches on it’s own VLAN over our network . I have heard about Avigilon and it was all good too.

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Great news! Glad it’s working out for you…I have experience with Exacq. Sadly that’s not an option from the company we’re using. We’d like to stick with the company as they’re (to me) surprisingly good at what they do. They don’t offer Exacq systems unfortunately.

So sounds like one positive for Avigilon…

This may not directly impact private organizations but be aware that the federal government has a ban on using Chinese made security equipment in federal buildings.

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Thank you for that–yeah that doesn’t effect us thankfully.

We installed our security cameras from Supercircuits because I was able to install them myself. The main thing is make sure that they give you a sharp picture and you are able to access them remotely. Think about not only what you want now but may want in the next 5 years and ask if the system they provide does those things. There are a lot of good systems out there.

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Sharp Picture & Remote access are really requirements #2 & #3.

Requirement #1 is that they’re a reputable vendor that will continue to provide security updates through the life of the system (which means, most likely, maintaining a support agreement).

So many security projects I see are focused on the capex side of things they assume that once it’s in they don’t ever need anything from the original vendor again. Avigilon/Exaq aren’t cheap options, but those companies have been around a long time and stand behind their products and that definitely means something.


We started out on ExacVision with Geovision cameras, quality is pretty low. We have now begun to switch to Xprotect with Axis cameras.

ExacVision works and is pretty easy to use but I have found that Xprotect just has a better overall interface and much more intuitive. Axis cameras are a great option and I love the quality they give.

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Thanks again, yeah Exacq was interesting to work with.

Anything additional anyone can offer about just the 2 specific options I have:

Digital Watchdog

…would be welcome. Thank you!

We are also currently looking into a camera system. Two of the standout quotes we are looking at closely are:

  • Ksenos with Vivotek camera’s. (You can use almost any camera manufacturer with Ksenos)
  • Verkada. It is a really slick cloud based camera solution. Verkada offers a 10 year warranty on all of the cameras although the selection is pretty slim.

Ksenos looks interesting except their marketing pages say stuff like
“Unlimited users, servers and cameras, with no ongoing licensing cost!”
and my BS detector goes off… Then I head over to LinkedIn try and get a feel for
the size/age of the company and the best I can figure it’s around ~12
people. Might be a good deal, or you might be ripping it out in 6 months
because they finally ran out of VC money.

Verkada has some pretty good names on their customers page, and a bigger
team, but also a pretty big outstanding VC investment that needs paid back.
Also, given it’s a SaaS product, with custom hardware rather than a more
traditional product you’ve got the downside if they go under / raise
their prices it’s not just a rip/replace on the software side but on the
hardware side as well. You also end up in the business of shoving your
security video across your Internet connection, so you probably want to
budget for that on your bandwidth bill.

As it stand, I’d lean to Ksenos with standards-based cameras because
you’re minimizing long-term risk that way.

Avigilon and Digital Watchdog cameras are both ONVIF compliant, so they
could be moved to another system if needed and they both support
standard ONVIF cameras from other vendors so you’re at minimal degrees
of lock-in so the main difference is probably that Avigilon is owned by
Motorola and based in Canada and DW is an independent company
headquartered in SoCal with engineering based out of South Korea.

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I’ve got clients with both avigilon and digital watchdog. They’re both pretty solid. From a usability standpoint I’d say avigilon probably has a bit of an edge. And as Alex mentioned, they’ve been around a long time. Heck, I even noticed one of our Dallas airports is using their stuff. Yeah, their stuff is pricey which is why most of my clients shy away from it. But for costs being so close, I’d probably lean in that direction if I were you. But you really can’t go wrong with either of these imho

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Thank you Travis–what you said is super-helpful!! And thank you all so very much for ALL of this great info! It is a HUGE help to me as I begin learning these systems. Really invaluable.

Going to meet with the decision makers at the end of this week with a recommendation.

We run 4 Avigilon servers right now over 2 sites with over 200 cameras. Licensing is expensive, but we’re able to compensate that some by buying cheap cameras for most places. We don’t have any issues with it and actually love what they’ve done to reduce server resource needs. Support has also been great although it sounds like you wouldn’t have to deal directly with their support in your situation. Its also really easy to use once its all set up. We’re actually thinking about moving to their access control as well to have integration with the video security

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Just navigated through this myself.

Exacq has been our system. Licensing was expensive and the interface has seen no improvements in years. Also, the mobile app is a dumpster fire.

My criteria was that the mobile app had to be solid. Most of our use is from mobile and the reality is that exacq, milestone, avigilon, and the other two I checked out were terrible.

Also, the system had to not have recurring licensing costs. At least, it had to be reasonable. Milestone, Avigilon and Exaxq were not affordable. In fact, from a pricing perspective they were kind of extreme in my budget.

I also did not want a windows box running it as a server. I want that overhead for mobile encoding and what not. Plus, it’s less to worry about.

I needed to also not have to go through an intermediary for support and licensing.

Last, ports through firewall. Only one system accomplished this without poking holes.

DW Spectrum.

I’m running 18 cameras through a Xeon 2.4 quad core with 24gb of ram on Ubuntu server. There’s no recurring costs and if you buy DW’s ONVIF cameras there’s no licensing costs at all.

The interface is excellent on both desktop and mobile. It’s way more intuitive to set up than exacq and milestone. Our facility director was able to navigate it without any instructions.

I like that they separate systems from servers. A system (licensed) can have multiple servers. They share licenses across the system. Licenses are acquired through bhphoto who also sells their cameras.

Honestly, I don’t think I’d recommend anything else for medium to large installation unless you have the budget, then it’d be Avigilon. But I’d give DW serious consideration even then.

Thank you Kjell!

Of the two offered, we’re going with Avigilon…or at least, that’s what I’m going to recommend to management. Of the 2 choices, Avigilon appears to offer the best options for what my company wants: mobile access, app ease-of-use and future-proofing. Since we’re mostly outsourcing all of this & the most I’ll need to do is give some rack space & and a static IP, I’m happy with choosing this option.

Thank you all for your insight and help with this!

We are in the process of deploying Verkada cameras,, to our 2nd campus. We currently have Avigilon and TruVision installed at 3 of our campuses with a 100+ cameras. From a cost/support/usability standpoint Verkada is head and shoulders above Avigilon. No software & servers to maintain, all web based. Each camera stores 30 days, by default, of video. Alerting and viewing of video is done thru an Android/IOS app or via web browser. They have several different camera models to chose from, 4way/ultra wide angle, 2 different domes, outdoor dome and a new 4K camera. They are great about sending you a demo for 30 days to try. Just connect it to your network, configure from a web browser and add a couple firewall rules and you are up and running. They have and are currently deploying at several churches, schools, municipalities and large corporations. They have demo cameras on their site they you can try out, they are truly a market disrupter. I anticipate that they will be attending the Roundtable in October.