The Best Home Security Cameras of 2017

security cameras

Security Cameras 2017

One of the biggest benefits of a smart home is being able to know what’s going on when you’re not actually there. Whether you’re checking in on your kids, pets, or an exotic jewel collection, a home security camera is a great tool for keeping an eye on things from afar.

Although capabilities vary from device to device, surveillance cameras allow you to monitor what’s going on in your home through live or recorded video. But not all cameras are created equally. Some have alarms or can send you notifications when they detect activity, some offer two-way audio, some are meant to monitor your baby, and some even double as full-on home automation hubs.

We’ve tested lots of home surveillance cameras over the last few years, so we know what’s important to look for. For instance, you want a camera that’s simple to set up and use. Additionally, one of the very first qualities we notice is an attractive—though discreet—design. It’s important that the camera looks like something you actually want in your home, but depending on your needs, you may not want it to stand out too much.

Device support is critical as well. Our favorite cameras allow you to check in from anywhere, whether it’s an app on your phone or a Web browser. Additional features vary from camera to camera, and each of our top picks offer just enough variety to set them apart from the rest of the competition.

Here are some other important factors to consider when buying a home security cam:

The View

Even though 1080p is generally the standard resolution for cameras we’ve tested, and you won’t find any that stream or record in 4K any time soon, there are benefits to cameras with higher resolution sensors. Few home security cameras have optical zoom lenses, but almost all have digital zoom, which crop and enlarge whatever the camera is recording. The more megapixels a camera sensor has, the more you can digitally zoom in and still be able to see things clearly.

Besides resolution, consider the field of view as well. All security cameras have wide-angle lenses, but not all angles are created equal. Depending on the lens’ field of view, it can see between 100 and 180 degrees. That’s a big range in terms of the camera’s vision cone. If you want to watch a large area, you should consider a camera with a very wide field of view.

Placement

If you want to keep an eye on the rooms of your home, there are plenty of options. If you want to keep an eye on your driveway, backyard, or front porch, you need to be more choosy. Not all home security cameras are rugged enough to be mounted outdoors. You need a camera that’s waterproof and can stand up to rain, snow, and sun, and survive the extreme temperatures of summer and winter. The Nest Cam Outdoor and Netgear Arlo are two models built specifically for use outdoors, while the Nest Cam Indoor and the Netgear Arlo-Q might not survive the next rainstorm if you mount them over your garage door.

Connectivity

Most security cameras use Wi-Fi, but not all rely on it exclusively. Some add Bluetooth for local control and easier setup through your smartphone, while others incorporate separate home automation networking standards to interact with other devices, like ZigBee or Z-Wave. For most cameras, all you need to do is follow instructions on an app to connect them to your home network.

Once your camera is connected, you’ll almost certainly be able to access it through your smartphone or tablet. The vast majority of home security cameras today have mobile apps, and many focus entirely around those apps for doing everything. Some have Web portals as well, which add flexibility for accessing your videos and alerts from anywhere.

Cloud Storage

The videos your camera records probably won’t be stored on the camera itself. Most home security cameras use cloud services to store and offer remote access to footage. Some models have microSD card slots so you can physically pull the video from them when you want to review footage, but this is a rare feature.

Keep in mind that not all cloud services are alike, even for the same camera. Depending on the manufacturer, your home security camera will store different amounts of footage for different lengths of time. This service is often a paid subscription on top of the price of the camera itself, though some cameras offer free cloud storage to varying degrees. Cloud storage service is usually offered in tiers, letting you choose between keeping footage for a week, a month, or more.

Price

As you can see from our picks, most of the top-rated home security cameras on the market are roughly in the $200 range, but some of them also require an additional fee to store recorded video in the cloud. We break down any extra fees in our reviews, so it’s worth taking a look at each to find out which one fits your budget. Then again, you can’t really put a price on peace of mind.

Featured in This Roundup

  • Icontrol Networks Piper nv

    $279.00
    $279.99 at Amazon The Icontrol Networks Piper nv is a unique security camera that doubles as a home automation hub. This time around it offers night vision, a more robust camera sensor, and a faster processor.

  • LG Smart Security Wireless Camera LHC5200WI (With ADT Canopy)

    $199.99
    $199.99 at Amazon LG’s Smart Security Wireless Camera LHC5200WI doubles as a home automation hub and offers contract-free professional ADT monitoring at a reasonable price.

  • Nest Cam Outdoor

    $199.00
    $189.99 at Amazon The Nest Cam Outdoor security camera offers sharp 1080p video, crisp night vision, and motion detection alerts in a stylish weatherproof enclosure.

  • Canary All-In-One Home Security Device

    $199.00
    $149.99 at Amazon The Canary All-In-One Home Security Device keeps tabs on your dwelling with 1080p video capture and sensors for air quality, humidity, and temperature.

  • Logi Circle

    $199.99
    $149.99 at Best Buy The Logi Circle is an attractive and easy-to-use home security camera that lacks a few of the more powerful scheduling and programming features of its competition.

  • Nest Cam Indoor

    $199.00
    $192.75 at Amazon The Nest Cam Indoor is a dual-band Wi-Fi surveillance camera that offers crisp 1080p video, motion and sound detection, and integration with other Nest devices. It’s a snap to install, but you have to pay to view recorded video.

  • Netgear Arlo Q

    $219.99
    $161.66 at Amazon The Netgear Arlo Q is a pricey home security camera that delivers sharp, colorful 1080p daytime imagery and clear night vision video.

  • Netgear Arlo Security System (VMS3230)

    $349.99
    $269.99 at Amazon With Netgear’s Arlo Security System, you can place wireless cameras just about anywhere to keep tabs on your home, but you’re trading some functionality for battery power.

  • Petcube Play

    $199.00
    $179.00 at Amazon The latest security camera from Petcube, the Play, solves all of the issues we had with the original by adding a 1080p camera, night vision, cloud storage, and alerts.

  • Zmodo Pivot

    $149.50
    $99.00 at Amazon Want to keep tabs on what’s happening at home when you’re not there? The Zmodo Pivot camera gives you a 360-degree view, delivers crisp 1080p video, and goes one step further by including multiple security and environmental sensors.

Article Provided By: PC Magazine

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Home Automation: A Beginner’s Guide

What if all the devices in your life could connect to the Internet? Not just computers and smartphones, but everything: clocks, garage doors, speakers, lights, doors, windows, window blinds, door bells, hot water heaters, appliances, you name it. And what if those devices could all communicate, send you information, and take your commands? It’s not science fiction; it’s the Internet of Things (IoT), and it’s a key component of home automation.

Home automation is what it sounds like: automating the ability to control items around the house—from window shades to pet feeders—with a simple push of a button (or a voice command). Some activities, like setting up a lamp to turn on and off at your whim, are simple and relatively inexpensive. Others, like advanced surveillance cameras, may require a more serious investment of time and money.

Still, imagine monitoring your home using an interface on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, or even panels mounted around the house. It’s like going from using the Clapper to beaming up to the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Home automation is going mainstream. Your house is going to get smart, no matter what. Get in on the ground floor and become the family home automation expert. Here’s how to get started.

Home-Automation Technologies

Before you buy a bunch of home-automation products, it helps to understand the technologies involved in setting up and using them. These products use many different communication protocols. Some are wired, some wireless, and some are a combination. Try to stick with one protocol when buying products, or get a hub/gateway that supports multiple protocols.

X10
x10This granddaddy of home automation protocols dates back to the 1970s and has gone from power line-based to wireless. X10 is not known for robust speed or great communication between units on the home automation network. It is, however, typically inexpensive.


ZigBee
ZigBee is a wireless 802 standard from the IEEE, which is to say, a bunch of gearheads came up with it before an outside group (the ZigBee Alliance) made up of vendors created products that use it. One of the key elements in IEEE 802.15.4 (its real name) is that it makes a mesh network so that most of the devices communicate equally. It’s also very low power. (You may also hear about Thread, a new wireless protocol that uses the same radio chips and frequency at ZigBee, and connects up to 250 devices in a home to the cloud.)


Z-Wave
Another wireless home automation protocol, Z-Wave is owned by one company, Sigma Designs, which makes all the chips for other vendors to make Z-Wave-capable products, known as the Z-Wave Alliance.


Insteon
This may be the best of all protocols because it combines a wired power line-based protocol with wireless. Both work as a mesh; all nodes on an Insteon home automation network are peers that can communicate when in proximity. If one fails, the other mesh can take over. You can buy Insteon devices at Smarthome.com, which is run by SmartLabs, the developers of Insteon. It’s compatible with X10.


Wi-Fi
This is the networking protocol we’re all used to for sharing an Internet connection among laptops, game consoles, and so much more. It’s super-fast and ubiquitous. So, of course, it’s inevitable that some vendors would make home automation products to take advantage of it. The other protocols use less power and bandwidth but Wi-Fi’s reach can’t be understated, even if it is overkill to use it to turn a lamp on and off.


Bluetooth
A staple of every PC, smartphone, and tablet, Bluetooth is better known for connecting items at a short range like keyboards, mice, headphones, and earbuds. But a lot of new products use the Bluetooth 4.0, aka Bluetooth Low Energy, aka Bluetooth Smart. It doesn’t require purposeful re-connection all the time, making it a good solution for select IoT items.


Top-Rated Home Automation Products

Just as there are many home automation protocols, there are many product categories, so you can control everything from lights and temperature to locks and security in your home. Here’s a quick rundown of our favorites.

 

Hubs

Samsung SmartThings Hub

Samsung SmartThings Hub / Home Automation


Our current Editors’ Choice for home automation hubs, the Samsung SmartThings Hub$99.00 at Amazon box works with devices that use Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. It got major improvements after Samsung bought SmartThings, including support for video surveillance cameras. Get it as a standalone box or as a $249 starter kit with monitors for temperature and vibration. There are 200 products that work with SmartThings.

 


 

Surveillance Cameras

Icontrol Networks Piper nv

Icontrol Networks Piper nv Security Camera

Piper nv$272.98 at Amazon is surveillance camera you can watch remotely from an iOS or Android device, perfect for keeping an eye on the house, the pets, even as a baby monitor. But it’s a lot more than that. It’s also a Z-Wave controller, monitoring all sorts of sensors to give you household control no matter where you are. The camera is excellent, with pan, tilt, and zoom functions plus sharp night vision and two-way audio.

 


 

Controllers

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

Is this Bluetooth speaker really all that when it comes to home automation or controls? It can be, and will only get better. Echo$179.99 at Amazon, Amazon’s voice-controlled audio concierge, pair with Web automation service IFTTT to control home devices like a thermostat or lights, via recipes you can create yourself. It might take a little work, but soon your house could be entirely controlled by the sound of your voice.

 

Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home

Harmony Ultimate Home

Don’t like talking and prefer to push buttons? Our review calls the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home$215.99 at Amazon the “ultimate universal remote” for a reason. It controls a lot more than just TV and stereo. The pricey unit connects with the included Harmony Home Hub that talks via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or infrared (you pay a little more to add ZigBee and Z-Wave connectivity).

 


 

Heating and Cooling

Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest Thermostat

The Nest Learning Thermostat $195.99 at Amazon is like a piece of digital art that controls your temperature. It was, after all, designed by the guys who created the iPod. It has built-in Wi-Fi so you can remotely control the temperature from phone, tablet, or PC. It’s not cheap, but Nest will look right at home in any smart house. Plus, Nest Labs (owned by Alphabet, parent company of Google), also makes networkable smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors$99.99 at Best Buy that talk to you rather than blare alarms.

 

Ecobee3 Smart WiFi Thermostat

Nice as the Nest is, it’s not our top pick. The Editors’ Choice goes to theEcobee3$249.00 at Amazon. It’s a stylish device you can control remotely. Best of all, it’s not dependent on just monitoring home temperature from one spot—it checks multiple sensors in multiple rooms.

 


 

Lighting

Philips Hue Connected Bulb

Philips Hue Lux

Want complete wireless supremacy over the lights in your home? Philips Hue $154.99 at Amazon delivers with bulbs that you control not only the intensity of the light, but also the color. It’s expensive to be sure, but the Hue ecosystem has been around long enough that it works with just about every other system out there, from Amazon Echo to IFTTT (If This Then That) to Siri (using the Philips Hue Bridge 2.0). If you want a cheaper price of entry, try the off-white-light only Philips Hue Lux Starter Kit $79.99 at Dell for half the price. The Hue apps can even control third-party smart bulbs. Philips sells a number of other Hue products, including table lamps, a suspension lamp, and the interest Philips Hue Go portable smart light.

 


Locks and Home Security Systems

Schlage Sense

Schlage Sense

There are a lot of smart locks/deadbolts on the market now, but our favorite is the newSense$209.99 at Amazon from longtime lock maker Schlage. It’s pricey, but easy to install, works with iPhones (via Siri voice control), and will let in only who you specify. You can also just use the touchpad on the front to unlock the door.

 

Vivint

Vivint Line Up 2016

Vivint used to be APX Alarm Security Solutions, but now has a cool name to go along with expanding beyond security into home automation. We gave four stars to its Vivint Sky$49.99 at Vivint, which includes subscription-based remote monitoring by pros that costs from $50 to $70 per month and a panel in your home for controlling it yourself. It doesn’t beat our favorite self-installed home security system (the iSmartAlarm Premium $299.00 at Amazon), but if you want pro-installation and an extra set of eyes, Vivint is an excellent choice. It can even be controlled with the Amazon Echo.

 

SimpliSafe Home Security System

SimpliSafe Home Security System Keypad

If you prefer to stick to a DIY approach to smartening up the home, check out the SimpliSafe system $259.95 at Amazon. While it lacks a camera, it makes up for that with reasonable prices with monthly monitoring of a wide range of sensors. It comes in five different packages, so you can get exactly what’s right for your home.

 


Outdoors

Rachio Iro Smart Sprinkler Controller

Rachio Monitor

It’s not much to look at, but the Rachio Iro Smart Sprinkler Controller $249.00 at Home Depot can make sure you water your lawn only when needed—even if you’re not home. It works with IFTTT to make sure the droplets only come out when the weather calls for it.

Article Provided By: PC

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