Need to keep an eye on your abode from anywhere? Small, standalone Wi-Fi security cameras (also called IP cameras) are easy to set up, can stream video to your phone, tablet or PC, and will send you notifications if they detect motion or loud noises. Most cameras also provide night vision and automatic motion-activated recording.
We tested several of the best IP cameras on the market and rated each based on its performance, ease of use and affordability. Based on these criteria, our top pick is the Netgear Arlo Q ($129 at Amazon). We found that it had the best software, the most flexible options and the most affordable cloud-storage subscription plan of the cameras we tested. Our best value is the Belkin Netcam HD+. Although it delivers only 720p resolution, you can find it for less than $100, and it works with WeMo smart home devices.
Security Camera News (March 2018)
- Canary is offering its View, Flex, and All in One cameras for free or at a reduced cost with the purchase of a one- or two-year subscription to Canary's subscription plan, which costs $99/year. With that, you get 30 days of video storage and two-way talk capabilities. To see how Canary stacks up against its competition, check out our comparison chart of cloud-storage plans.
- Amazon has acquired Ring for a reported price of more than $1 billion. This acquisition adds both outdoor cameras and doorbell cams to Amazon's portfolio; before, the company had a single indoor camera.
- The Nest Cam IQ indoor now has Google Assistant built in; if you update its software, you will be able to interact with Google Assistant through the camera the same as you would with other smart speakers, such as the Google Home Mini.
- Nest has rolled out a new Nest Aware subscription plan. Consumers can now opt for a $5/month plan, which gives you access to five days of recordings for a single camera (the company already offers 10-day/$10 and 30-day/$30 plans), and $3/month for each additional camera. By comparison, Netgear Arlo's least-expensive plan gives you thirty days, or 10GB, of cloud storage for up to 10 cameras for $9.99 per month or $99 per year. Although it doesn't make any indoor-specific cameras, Ring's Protect Basic plan costs $30 per year (or $3 per month), and gives you 60 days of video for a single camera.
- Nest also announced two new features: Person Alerts, which can distinguish between people and non-human subjects, and Familiar Faces (for the Nest Cam IQ and outdoor cameras), which can merge faces of the same person from your photo collection.
- Canary launched an Alexa skill for its cameras, which now lets users view a feed from any of its AIOs and View devices (with firmware v3.0.0 or higher) and the Flex (with firmware v2.3.0 or higher) on an Echo Show or Spot, as well as a Fire TV and Fire TV stick.
How We Test Security Cameras
We evaluate each Wi-Fi security camera's design, setup process, feature set, mobile app, video performance and overall value. In terms of design, we note each camera's aesthetics but pay particular attention to its size relative to other cameras.
We penalize a camera if it requires an excessive amount of time to set up, or suffers from a confusing setup process. We also dock points if a camera lacks important features offered by the competition, such as programmable security modes or scheduled recordings. However, this can be offset if a camera provides other unique or particularly helpful features.
We rate each camera's mobile app for its reliability and its design, and pay particular attention to the intuitiveness of the interface. We gauge performance by the camera's resolution and field of view, the reliability of remote viewing and the quality of the video (colors and detail).
Finally, we factor in whether a camera offers cloud storage for recorded video clips. Although manufacturers charge an extra fee for this service, cloud storage lets you access video without the hassle of removing a storage card from the camera and inserting it into your computer using an adapter. Cameras that use only local storage also run the risk of losing any recorded video if the camera itself is stolen.
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