Admit it. You need extra eyes on your home, both for safety and for your sanity. Home security cameras are an excellent way to keep track of what’s happening indoors or out, and many offer smart home integration. You’ve invested in your home and the things you love, so let’s invest in your security.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite security cameras for this year, and answered a few questions at the end to help you decide what’s right for you. Let’s take a look.
Nest Cam Indoor and Outdoor
Nest Cam fits in with the existing Nest smart home universe. It offers a vast 130-degree field of view and a 1080p resolution.
First off, it doesn’t tilt or pan, but the vast field of vision makes up for that lack. The degree means that all of a room will be in view with the correct placement, plus it has eight times digital zoom, so you get a closer look at something suspicious.
It connects to the Nest app, so you get alerts any time someone enters or exits your home. It’s capable of telling the difference between small movements of someone moving through the house, and more significant changes like someone entering. This feature keeps you from being bombard by the motion detector.
It has built-in two-way speakers, so you can hear what’s going on and give orders when you need to. It integrates with your entire nest home to help keep things running. For example, you can set it to turn on all the lights when a particular type of motion is detected.
You can install Nest anywhere. It’s compatible with flat surfaces, has a magnet for attaching to metal, and can even be removed to set on a tripod.
The outdoor version functions much the same way. It has two-way speakers, HD resolution plus night vision, and can hold recordings and take pictures of suspicious activity when motion or sounds are detected.
Arlo Pro Indoor/Outdoor camera
The Arlo Pro is a wifi connected camera with rechargeable battery that lasts anywhere from four to six months with continuous use. It has a 130-degree viewing angle and can be installed both indoors and out.
It connects to the cloud where it offers free seven-day storage, or you can opt for 30 or 60-day event storage for $10 and $15 a month respectively. It connects to mobile apps. Plus, there’s a web portal.
It has two-way audio so you can both listen and talk through the speakers. There’s an optional 100-decibel alarm that can sound when certain motions are detected. It also integrates with third-party apps like the famous IFTTT and Samsung Smart Things.
It’s an affordable and versatile option. The one downside is that it records at 720p which is fast becoming a dinosaur in a world of 1080p and 4k recording. However, multiple cameras connect to a hub so you can keep all your recordings straight.
Vimtag VT-361 HD Internet Connected Camera
Vimtag’s camera is an indoor only camera that requires a dedicated power source but offers full tilt and pan capabilities plus two-way audio. It’s an unobtrusive camera meant to keep all your indoor balls in the air.
It connects to your home’s wifi so that you can monitor everything that’s happening on a compatible Android or iOS device. It records onto an internal SD card. You can control the tilt/pan feature by using your touchscreen. Plus, it has four times digital zoom.
You can set the camera to alert you to specific movements with the motion detector. The camera comes with night vision, so you don’t lose video quality when the lights are out. The only downside is that video resolution is 720p, a resolution that’s now on the lowest end of the scale.
The company’s goal is five minutes or fewer to set up. Plug the camera in and download the software. In almost all cases, you’re good to go after that.
Amcrest 2K 3MP Wireless Outdoor Security Camera ProHD
If you aren’t interested in smart home capabilities and need a more traditional outdoor security camera, the Amcrest is a strong contender.
The first feature is the resolution. It has a Sony chip and an Ambarella processor that records video in 2304 by 1296p resolution at 20 frames per second. You can see up to 98 feet with the onboard LED lights.
It’s one of the most weatherproof cameras on the list. It has an IP67 rating which means its airtight against dust and can handle severe winds and rain. If you live in an area with terrible weather, this is a good choice.
Set up is simple. Once you install the camera, you scan the QR code with a smartphone, and you’re connected. That’s it. It comes with all the appropriate power cords. Storage doesn’t require a monthly fee for four hours of continuous footage, though you can upgrade to paid services for more extended storage.
You can also choose to record solely to the onboard SD card or your software on your computer. It’s a simple security camera for someone who doesn’t need a lot of connectivity and wants to make sure the camera can withstand any outdoor conditions.
Amazon Cloud Cam
Part of Amazon’s takeover of your home world is their latest device, the indoor security camera. It’s a budget buy for those looking for home security and want integration with existing smart home features.
You get free cloud storage through Amazon Prime where you can store up to 24 hours of continuous recording. You can watch, share, and download all for free.
It has 1080p video resolution, plus motion sensing, and you can set motion detection zones if you’re a subscriber. It comes with night vision, and you can even set up facial recognition for specific people. It also has two-way speakers.
It connects to Alexa so you can watch footage on Amazon Fire TV, Fire Tablet, Echo Show, or Echo Spot. You can also connect it to your own smart devices. The app and video recorder are continually updated with new features.
Set up is simple with full Amazon support if you have a question or trouble. If you do choose to become a subscriber for more storage and features, it starts at less than ten dollars a month.
You’ve seen grainy video footage in detective shows, but many of this year’s security cameras offer high-resolution image quality. 1080p is the new standard for video and the bare minimum.
There are benefits to even higher resolutions. As your security camera ages, it won’t age right out of functionality like it will if you buy today’s current minimum. Higher resolution also gives you more options for features like digital zoom.
The resolution also affects the field of view. If you’re monitoring a broad area outside, for example, the field of view needs to be larger. The resolution can help everything remain clear without too much field distortion around the edges.
Connectivity and Storage
Old cameras connected to videotapes that had someone had to change out or erase. Now, most security cameras work with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and link to your smart devices.
You can connect the camera to your phone and see what’s going on from anywhere. Some have web portals, but many of them operate through an app exclusive to the camera that will give you all your options and customizations.
Others have connections to security device software that you download to your computer or smart device before you can use them, but once the download is complete, they operate like any other app or web program.
Your video isn’t stored on the camera or your smart device, either. Most use cloud storage so you can hold on to specific amounts of footage without overloading your device. The convenience usually costs an extra monthly fee, and many manufacturers offer a tier program, so you can decide how much you want to spend versus store.
Your camera needs to be able to operate in more than one lighting condition. Cameras with night vision offer a better resolution at night when criminal activity is most likely to occur.
Another recording option is sound. Not every camera has speakers to record sound, so depending on your reasons for the camera, you might want one with speakers.
On the other end of that are speakers that project sound. These cameras are capable of projecting audio from where you are, so they function like intercoms as well.
A final consideration is camera motion. If you want to control the field of view after you install the camera, you can choose cameras that pan and rotate so you can take a closer look at something in a different frame as you like.
The Bottom Line
Home security is worth the investment and the latest models offer a lot more ways to monitor your home than the grainy videotapes of those detective shows you watched as a kid. You can get simple cameras with easy setups, or you can invest in the camera as part of an overall smart home collection. You can keep your house safe and at the very least, finally get the dog to stop climbing on the couch when you’re away. Worth it.