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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Best Home Security Cameras 2018

Best Home Security Cameras 2018

Everyone likes to know that their home is secure and that everything and everyone inside is safe while we’re gone. In years past, that meant using a CCTV system to record, but few had remote access or alerts. Now you can buy a Wi-Fi-connected camera you can view from your phone.

Modern home security cameras are very easy to set up. Some use cloud storage, so any evidence is saved online and safe from thieves who might steal your camera.

1. Netatmo Presence
  • RRP: $299.99
It isn’t perfect, it isn’t cheap and it lacks a few features we’d like to see added to the app, but overall we really like the Netatmo Presence. It doesn’t look like a security camera and the LEDs do a good job of replacing an existing outdoor light. Plus, it’s not difficult to install and there’s no subscription to pay.

2. Ezviz Mini 360 Plus
  • RRP: US$79.99
It isn’t flawless, but for this price the Mini 360 Plus is a very good security camera which records great-quality video. It undercuts all the big names despite offering pan and tilt with motion tracking.

There’s no free cloud storage, but recording to microSD means you get the full quality and not a compressed, lower-resolution stream.

3. Netgear Arlo Q
  • RRP: $219.99
For a camera that costs £169.99, the Arlo Q offers quite a lot – free cloud recording, night vision, two-way communication and a well-designed app available for iOS, Android and FireOS, providing users with basic home security.

It doesn’t feature a built-in siren like some of its competitors, but you have to make compromises at this price point – a camera that features night vision, two-way audio and a siren can cost ~£250.

Other compatible Arlo accessories provide users with a system that can be slowly upgraded over time, allowing customers to start with one fairly cheap camera and build the system up from there.

4. Ezviz Mini Plus
  • RRP: US$99.99
The Mini Plus is a great home security camera that works reliably and offers very good quality video. We’d like to see some improvements in the app both in terms of the interface and also to add some of the advanced options that you get only in the Windows app. It’s a shame there’s no free cloud recording option, but the fact it can record to both cloud and microSD means you have the choice. Ultimately, you’ll struggle to find another 1080p security camera with a similar set of features and diminutive size for less.

5. Ring Video Doorbell 2
  • RRP: $199
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is a great smart home accessory, both to alert you that somebody is at the door when at home and away, and to provide extra security for your home. The ability to communicate with somebody at your door via your phone, tablet or computer is an exciting (and not to mention handy) experience, and the improved charging system makes the Ring 2 almost perfect.

1080p streaming is a welcome addition, providing clearer images than ever before, although we wouldn’t say it’s worth upgrading if you’ve already got a first-gen Ring. If you haven’t already got a Ring doorbell, however, we’d recommend paying the extra £20 and buying the Ring Video Doorbell 2.

6. Logi Circle 2
  • RRP: $179.99
The Logi Circle 2 is a vast improvement on the original Circle, with higher resolution streaming, a wider viewing angle and a range of accessories that extend the functionality of the smart camera. It’s small, robust, and the Logi Circle app is well-built with a range of features and options for the camera.

It is a little pricey, though, and it’s worth bearing in mind that some features (person detection, dedicated motion zones) are locked to the £7.99 per month Circle Safe Premium subscription.

7. Somfy One
Despite a high price tag, the Somfy One offers a decent amount of bang for its buck. The 1080p, 130-degree wide-angle camera is crisp and clear, the motion detection is accurate and the ability to edit motion zones is a nice touch. It even boasts advanced features, like Night Vision, Smoke Alarm Detection and a built-in 90dB siren to deter intruders.

The downside is that the paid plan to access longer video clips is a little pricey (£3.99 to access longer clips from only the past 24 hours), especially when you consider the initial price you have to pay for the camera. There's no angle adjustment either, which can make placement a little difficult. Oh, and the fact that you can’t disable email notifications is bound to annoy some, too.  

Read our Somfy One review.

8. Y-Cam Outdoor HD Pro
It may lack a speaker for two-way communication, but if you need an outdoor camera the Y-Cam is a good choice. The app is one of the better ones out there, allowing you to easily bring up motion events over the last seven days. It's reliable, too.

The only snag is that while rolling 7-day storage was previously free, this now applies only to the first 12 months.

9. Ring Stick Up Cam
Ring’s Stick Up Cam is a great option for those looking for an intelligent outdoor security camera. Thanks to its design, setup is a breeze even for those with little or no DIY experience and the built-in battery means that there’s no need for wires. While video is capped at 720p HD, overall quality provided is great and the night vision is more than enough for most gardens. Ring’s motion detection feature is far beyond what competitors offer with advanced ‘zone’ detection, and alerts you on your smartphone, tablet or PC.

Battery life isn’t perfect, but you have the option of hooking up a solar panel or plugging it in to a power supply if charging it every 6/8 weeks isn’t an option.

Also check out our Ring Smart Doorbell review.

10. Canary Flex
  • RRP: $199
The Flex is a great security camera. It's simple to set up and does exactly what you want it to: monitors your home and offers good-quality video. There's a problem, though. Despite the relatively high price, you'll still need to pay a monthly subscription to access even basic features. And this means it isn't great value.


How to choose a security camera for home
Most home security cameras perform the same basic functions – they detect an event, record the event and send you an alert – but they don’t all do it in the same way.

Also, there are two main types: those that record only when motion is detected and those that record constantly (like CCTV).

Certain cameras go beyond those basics and some can be mounted outdoors. Don’t forget to read our reviews to find out how well each camera works in practice and whether its day and night video quality is any good: don’t rely on a manufacturer's specifications or claims.

Alerts
You should get notifications on your phone when the camera detects an event. Without watching the live feed constantly, this is the only way to keep tabs on your home in relative real time.

Some can send alerts to multiple people; others will send emails in addition to text messages.

Cloud recording
Many manufacturers now offer cloud-storage plans with their camera. They record video to a server in the cloud and store it for anything from 24 hours to a couple of weeks. Sometimes offered free, these cloud plans typically require a monthly subscription, but may be worth buying for their convenience and 24/7 recording.

Important note: Y-Cam has changed its policy on free cloud storage. Previously it offered seven-day rolling storage for free, which made it the most generous of any smart security camera. Now, it says it cannot afford to do this for longer than one year. After that the storage costs £2.99 per month per camera, or £4.99 per month if you opt for the Plus Premium service (this is a 50 percent discount off the usual price and the deal lasts for one year). 

Facial recognition
Netatmo's Welcome (and Nest with its Cam IQ) offer facial recognition so you can get alerts when certain family members arrive home - or only if an unfamiliar face is spotted. It does work, but not as well as you might hope.

Neither of these cameras makes it into our top chart here, for different reasons.

Local storage
Some cameras include memory card slots so you can store video on the device. We like this option as it can eliminate the cost of monthly storage fees - but if a thief steals your camera they take the evidence with them. Ezviz's cameras let you record both locally and to the cloud simultaneously.

Apps
All the latest cameras can be accessed (some even set up) via a smartphone or tablet app. In addition to offering a way to view the camera’s live feed, apps often let you adjust settings and turn on and off recording, motion detection and more.

Often you'll only be able to customise notifications, adjust motion and sound detection sensitivity, and set detection areas via the web portal, but it's great if you can do this in the app.

Motion detection
Motion detection is one of the most desirable features in a security camera. Built-in sensors (or software algorithms) pick up movement within the camera’s field of view and trigger video recording. Because you're not interested in any old movement, it’s important the system also offers the ability to narrow the range of detection, adjust the sensor’s sensitivity or otherwise customise this feature to cut down on false alerts.

Some cameras can identify people, cars and pets, while others aren't as smart.

Night vision
Most burglaries happen after dark, so this feature is nearly as important as motion detection. Every camera here will switch to night vision automatically in low-light conditions, and most allow you to customise when and how it should be activated. This won't work through windows, where you'll see a reflection of the LEDs - that's why you need an outdoor camera to monitor your garden or driveway.

Pan, Tilt & Swivel
Most security cameras can be manually tilted and swivelled to focus on a certain viewing area. A true pan/tilt camera is equipped with a motor so that you can move its lens using its app or browser-based app, such as the Ezviz Mini 360 Plus.

Resolution
No amount of security video will help you if it’s blurry, jittery or otherwise distorted. Look for a camera that offers the highest possible resolution. However, bear in mind that many 1080p cameras will reduce the quality to 720p in order to upload it to the cloud, so it's not the advantage you might think. In most cases, it's only 1080p cameras with local storage benefit from the extra resolution.

Scheduling
Scheduling features allow you to tell the camera to turn on and off, detect motion, and/or send alerts at specified times. This is useful when you want to be notified only when your children get home from school, or when you’re away. It can reduces the number of false alerts.

Two-way audio
While the idea of a security camera implies eyes-on monitoring, the ability to also hear what’s going on gives you a more complete picture of what’s happening at home. This feature can also allow you to speak through the camera.

Viewing angle
The camera’s field of view determines how much it can see. Some are wider than others: check our reviews for sample images from each camera.

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