Extremely easy to set up with 1080p HD video quality, wide 130° view, and great night vision. Cameras are waterproof and wired, so you don't have to worry about charging batteries. App is clean and easy to use.
Requires an expensive subscription to use (starting at around $100 per year for a single camera). Wireless connectivity may drop outside your house and since the cameras must be plugged in, placement is limited.
1080p HD quality video with night vision. Watch footage on multiple devices via the SmartThings app. Two-way audio and a built-in mic to communicate with family and pets. Footage is stored in the cloud. Able to differentiate between human and object movement and alerts your synced devices. Easy install and setup.
For indoor use only. Works seamlessly with Samsung TVs, refrigerators and other devices but may not be compatible with all devices.
Very easy to set up and has great wireless connectivity up to 100 ft, so you can place cameras in the most effective spots. Features 2-way audio, rechargeable batteries, and comes with free 7-day cloud storage for five cameras.
Motion sensor does not always trigger quickly enough to capture useful video unless the person or object is moving across the field of view. 750p video quality is adequate, but not as great.
Comes with two cameras and is easy to set up. Small and wireless, so you can place the cameras anywhere indoors. No monthly fees.
No local storage. Since the units are wireless, you'll have to replace the batteries. 750p video quality is not top-of-the-line (but should be clear enough for most uses). A few users report reliability issues.
Records 1080p HD video Picks up motion well and offers the ability to adjust sensitivity.
No local video storage, so you must pay for cloud storage plans. No internal battery (in case of power outage) and you must manually trigger the alarm – so nothing happens if you miss the alert.
Security cameras can fill a wide variety of use cases — while they’re intended to make your home or business more secure, you don’t have to use a security camera for security alone. If you want a camera that can store data remotely, or that can allow you to watch its video feed in real time, a security camera works well.
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We never accept free samples from manufacturers, meaning you can feel comfortable that our selections and product reviews are free of bias. We’ll help you find the right security camera kit for your needs.
When considering security cameras, make sure you look for one that has the features you need most. Because cameras with more features will cost more, make your wish list carefully. Don’t pick an all-around camera if you just need one or two features, or you’ll pay far more than you need.
Indoor or outdoor: Most security cameras will be rated for either indoor or outdoor use. An outdoor camera will be sealed and protected against weather and the elements. Most outdoor cameras automatically have night vision capability, too. You can use an outdoor security camera indoors, but you cannot go the other way — your indoor camera may not last long when exposed to the elements.
Motion detection: To avoid storing a bunch of video data that shows nothing, you may want a security camera with motion detection. The camera will not begin recording until it detects movement in the viewing area. You also may receive a smartphone alert when the camera detects motion, if desired. Typically, cameras with motion detection allow you to adjust the threshold for recording. This allows you to adjust for local conditions. For example, an outdoor camera with too high of sensitivity may alert you every time the wind blows the branches on a nearby tree!
Movable vs. fixed: You will be able to control some cameras remotely, panning up, down, or slightly right and left. This allows you to see areas of your property or room that may not normally be visible. Some security cameras are fixed in place, and those cameras are quite a bit cheaper than cameras that can move.
Nanny cam: A security camera sold as a nanny cam functions as a simple indoor security camera. Usually those listed as “nanny cams” are designed to fit in with the decor of a nursery, and some are even hidden in everyday objects.
With security cameras, you’ll typically pay more for a camera with higher resolution and video quality. Understanding different video qualities that are available will help you find the right camera to fit your budget.
Full 1080p HD: A full HD video quality should allow you to identify faces and objects in the video. Full 1080p video has1920x1080 resolution, which yields roughly 2 million pixels per frame. This means you’ll need a lot of storage space and internet bandwidth to handle this video resolution, but you’ll get excellent footage from your security camera.
720p HD: This resolution still qualifies as HD, but it needs less storage space and bandwidth. Some faces will be clearly identifiable, as long as you have adequate lighting available.
VGA: If you want to limit the storage space required, VGA resolution gives you a great option. It translates to 640x480 resolution. However, faces and objects will not appear very clear on your video. This resolution works better when you just need to monitor movement, or perhaps see when there’s a delivery person at your door.
Some people don’t need the highest video camera resolution. If you’re only looking to keep an eye on your kids at home, you may not need the greatest detail. If you think you may need to identify a person’s face with your video though, a high quality will be needed.
Additionally, pay attention to the number of frames per second (fps). A video feed with only 3 to 5 fps will be choppy, while a feed with 30 fps will look smooth. However, you need more storage space to handle more frames per second.
Security camera systems can be expensive, especially with features like higher quality video, wireless communication, and mobile alerts.
Additionally, think about how many cameras you want. Don’t buy more hardware than you need to do the job, as you’ll end up overpaying. Most systems allow you to buy and add more cameras to your setup later, if you didn’t buy enough cameras initially. Before purchasing, though, check whether your system allows for expansion.
Under $100: Any security camera kit you find for less than $100 probably will feature older technology. It probably won’t have high-quality video, and it won’t offer any high-end features. Simple, low resolution nanny cams are most likely to fit in this price range.
$100 to $250: If you just need one camera and a base unit, you’ll probably fit in this price range. These single cameras can give you live video monitoring and full HD in most cases. Occasionally, you may find a two-camera kit in this price range, but it probably will have lower quality video.
$250 to $500: Two- and three-camera kits often fit in this price range, along with a base station. You should expect full HD video quality when you pay this much, along with data storage. Some manufacturers will even throw in free cloud storage for 24 to 48 hours of video with a kit in this price range. You may be able to adjust the position of the cameras remotely for this price, too.
More than $500: These kits will include high-quality components that you may need for business surveillance. Such security camera setups may have an onsite DVR or hard drive to store the video. Some systems aimed at business owners can cost far more than $500, running a few thousand dollars.
Q. Will I be able to install the cameras myself?
A. Security cameras have become easier to install over time, particularly as battery-powered, wireless cameras have become more common. A camera system intended for home use, with cloud storage and a smartphone app, should be relatively easy to install. A more sophisticated system that requires running wires through the walls or ceiling might require professional help.
Q. What do I need to view my security cameras remotely?
A. Most modern security camera setups connect to a WiFi network to make the video signal available anywhere. You can use an app on a smartphone or tablet to view footage, or access it via a web browser.
Q. How can I store data from my security cameras?
A. Some security camera kits do not store data, only presenting a live feed. However, most setups do store data in some manner. Storing video data to a computer hard drive is a common method. Others will store data using technology and hardware similar to a DVR. Older and cheaper security camera systems may make use of a VCR. More current systems send data directly to a cloud storage system, making the video easily viewable from any location. Cameras that run from a battery in a remote location may use a memory card to store data.
Q. Do I need a special camera to use for night vision?
A. Most security cameras have some sort of low light capability, but some will do better at night than other models. If you want a security camera that excels at night, look for one with near-infrared capabilities. You also can make use of a camera equipped with bright LEDs, that activate at night whenever motion is detected. If you need really clear video at night, look for a security camera that excels in this area, but you may have to sacrifice a little bit of video quality during daylight.
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