Best Wireless Home Security Cameras 2018

Product Use case Rating
NETGEAR ARLO Q Best Security Camera Overall 9
EZViz Mini O 1080p Best Value 8
Nest Cam Indoor Best Smart Home Integration 9
Netgear Arlo Pro Best Outdoor Camera 9
Ring Floodlight Cam Best Floodlight Camera 9
Canary Best Environmental Sensors 8
Netatmo Welcome Best Facial Recognition 7

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. We found that it had the best software, the most flexible options and the most affordable cloud-storage subscription plan of the home security cameras we tested. Our best value is the EZViz Mini O 1080p ($59); as its name suggests, it streams 1080p video that was good in daylight, and it picked up audio well. You can also choose between having video stored on a microSD card or in the cloud.

Latest News & Updates (July 2018)

  • Amazon's Cloud Cam is currently just $59 for Prime Day, half off its normal price of $119. Be sure to bookmark our Best Amazon Prime Day Deals roundup for the best savings as they pop up.
  • Following a potential security breach, Netgear is advising owners of its Arlo security cameras to change their account passwords. While the company said it doesn't have any reason to believe its systems have been impacted, it is recommending users change their passwords as a precautionary measure.

 

With its top-notch video quality, excellent motion detection, flexible scheduling and intuitive user interface, the Netgear Arlo Q would be a contender as our best security camera even without its very generous basic cloud-subscription plan. That plan gives you the past week's recordings at no cost for the lifetime of the unit (although higher tiers aren't free), and more than justifies the unit's relatively high price. The Arlo Q is the Wi-Fi security camera to beat.

This budget Wi-Fi camera offers 1080p video that's pretty good in day and night settings. EZViz's app also lets you set a schedule for when the camera turns on and off, and lets you set motion sensitivity as well as zones—a feature typically found only on more expensive cameras. The Mini O 1080p has a microSD card slot, so you can save videos locally. If you don't buy cloud storage (which starts at $5.99/month for 7 days of storage), your options are limited to the live camera feed, push notifications with a snapshot and having your device settings saved to the cloud (rather than only locally). You can also control the camera using Alexa and Google Assistant.

The Nest Cam Indoor is the third generation of the celebrated Dropcam, and bumps up its predecessors' video quality to 1080p. It's easy to set up and, thanks to its magnetic, swiveling base, can be installed almost anywhere indoors. The video looks sharp; night vision is clear; the camera can be used as an intercom; and it interacts with the Nest Thermostat and the Nest Protect smoke detector, as well as numerous third-party smart home devices. But to really make use of the camera's features, you'll have to shell out $10 or more per month for the Nest Aware program, which gives you access to cloud storage and much more.

Netgear's new Wi-Fi camera works both inside and outdoors, and is powered either by a battery or a power cord. Like its older sibling the Arlo Q, the Pro has motion detection, night vision and an intercom function, but like the original Arlo, it's weatherproof, has 720p video resolution with a 130-degree field of view, and needs a base station to operate. You'll also get Netgear's generous cloud-subscription plan, which offers 7 days' worth of footage for free.

In addition to a sharp 1080p camera, this camera has two powerful floodlights that turn on when motion is detected. Plus, Ring's app has a neighborhood watch feature, which lets you see what's happening in your hood, and Ring's cloud storage plans—$30/year—is very competitive.

The sleek-looking Canary has environmental sensors that monitor heat, humidity and air quality. It also includes an intercom, a very loud siren that should scare off any intruder, and a geofencing feature that automatically turns on motion detection when the user leaves the house. The Canary can also interact with Wink smart-home devices. The 1080p video looks crisp and clear, the sound quality is excellent, and the mobile app is intuitive.

The Netatmo Welcome is a small, unobtrusive stand-alone security camera with a killer feature: facial recognition that works remarkably well. It quickly learns the faces and names of everyone in a household, and creates personalized user profiles for each of them so that they all can keep track of who's coming and going. The Welcome's mobile app and desktop interface both need refinement, but the actual camera is a solid effort.

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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  • Luke in Texas
    My wife and I went to Scotland, Ireland and England in 2015 and prior to our departure, I purchased 4 of the original Arlo cameras to install at a ranch we have in Texas. I also purchased a Canary to install at a second ranch in a nearby county. Both locations were served by the same internet company. While we were on our trip in the UK, the Canary was basically worthless and about 85% of the time, we were only able to see black images in our well illuminated house. The Arlo cameras impressed me. They were ALWAYS available when I used the Arlo app to view the cameras live.

    I purchased an Arlo Go earlier this month to replace the Canary (which I plan on crushing with my tractor and posting on YouTube) and the Arlo Go, while impressive, has a few problems... #1. Battery life is short, even using their optional solar panel in brilliant Texas sunlight. #2. The cord from the solar panel is very, very short which means the panel can not be concealed very easily. #3. If a tree limb blows, the Arlo Go triggers and then it eats up the data plan. #4. Mounting the Arlo Go on the supplied mount is a royal pain. It is difficult to tighten the camera onto the very small threaded attaching device that screws into the Arlo Go, and to make matters worse, large thumb tabs (for lack of a better word) at the terminal end of the attach rod (about 3 inches long) make it difficult to tighten that too, because they easily come into contact with the bulky camera. The "ghilley" suit is an excellent was to conceal the Arlo Go in a tree, but the fuzzy strings easily blow into the front of the lens and ruin the night vision capability of the camera.

    I like the Arlo products (especially my "old" original Arlo but the Arlo Go has some drawbacks, but it is vastly superior to the Canary. I can hardly wait to upload the Canary being crushed on YouTube.