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Every era produces a signature crime. If you were around during the Manifest Destiny days, train robbery was a fact of life and people like Butch Cassidy were folk legends. Prohibition resulted in bootlegging and speakeasies. These days, the rise of Amazon and other online shopping retailers has led to the annoying spread of package theft.
That’s one reason why more people are investing in home security systems and home security cameras. Most security systems today include digital cameras and smoke alarms and can be connected to your phone, so you can be alerted when things are amiss on your property while you’re away. (It can also be a nice way to keep tabs on your pets when you’re on vacation, if you want to put a camera inside your home.)
If you are looking to buy a security camera, keep a few things in mind. Taking measures to secure your home or small business is supposed to bring you peace of mind. Don’t let it make you paranoid, as has been the case for some users. Making an effort to keep your home or business secure is worthwhile, but don’t use it as yet another reason to be addicted to constantly checking your phone.
Gabe Turner, the director of content at Security.org, a website dedicated to reviewing smart home security devices, recommends that before you set up your new devices, you make “sure all ground level doors and windows are secured with entry sensors. Ideally, the security system has cellular backup so it’ll work even during a power outage,” he says. “And with mobile applications, you’ll be alerted if someone opens or closes your doors. Those are the most important aspects of a security system, in my opinion. The rest, like security cameras, are definitely useful but not strictly necessary.”
As part of our ongoing series of product recommendations from experts, we talked to people in the security field for the best systems and cameras to protect your house, and also got advice from business owners about the systems they trust.
Best Home Security Camera: Outdoor/Indoor, Updated September 2020
Courtesy of Amazon
Jayant Gosain, is the founder and Content Creator of the India-based consumer tech website The Tech Boys, and he appreciates a bargain. “For a value for money security camera, I would highly recommend Blink XT2 by Amazon,” he says. “The camera records 1080p Full HD videos that you can live stream on your smartphone as well. Once connected, you can see motion clips and livestream, everything that matters for your security. Amazon is also providing you unlimited cloud storage for free. Powered by Alexa, you can also use voice commands to control the camera, just make sure you have an Alexa powered device with a screen like Echo Show.”
Gosain adds that “for dark and low light conditions, Blink XT2 is equipped with an infrared HD night vision that allows the camera to record videos in the dark or low light conditions. If the camera sees any activity, the app will notify you instantly on your smartphone.”
Logitech Circle 2: $126.85
One of the advantages of Logitech Circle 2 is that it connects to multiple security apps, so you don’t have to feel like you are locked into one particular system or brand. Ludovic Rembert, a security analyst and the founder of Privacy Canada, recommends Logitech Circle 2 because “it’s completely wireless,” with “video recording triggered by motion. These features alone are excellent and are not available from other cameras. Personally, this is the system that I use in my own home and feel very comfortable knowing that I have complete control of my security system from my phone.”
Google Nest Cam – Outdoor: $169.50
Nest Cam is useful, according to Gosain, “if someone is into the Google ecosystem and looking for security cameras powered by Google Assistant.” As a bonus feature, it offers several price options, depending on how serious you want to get about your home security.
The Nest Cam streams video up to 1800 pixels, which is high enough that “you can clearly see the face or the license plate of any car with that resolution,” and for “night and dark conditions, the Nest Cam is equipped with 8 high-power infrared LEDs that can record almost everything in low-lit conditions,” and is also able to capture wide-angle shots.
In addition to a built-in microphone and speaker for two-way communication and the ability to recognize familiar faces, you have the ability to store your footage, for an extra cost.
“With Nest’s free cloud storage, you can store the history of the last three hours only. If you want a recording history of more than three hours, you need to subscribe to Nest Aware. For six dollars a month, you will be able to access event video history of the last 30 days. Event Video History means video recording for those events where the camera detected any sound or motion.” But he adds that “Event Video History doesn’t include 24/7 videos,” which means literally everything the camera caught, not just notable movement. “For 24/7 video history, there is a Nest Aware Plus plan where you will get 60 Days of Event Video and 10 days of 24/7 Video history for 12 dollars a month.”
Best Home Security Camera: Indoor
Ring is one of the biggest names in the plugged-in home security game, and the Ring Indoor Cam is designed to pair with the company’s Ring – Always Home app, as well as, Security.org’s Turner points out, video doorbells. You can even pair multiple cameras together on the app, if you so wish.
“The camera has 1080p HD video display, infrared night vision, two-way audio, and integrations with Alexa and Google Assistant,” Turner says. “Plus, you can buy 24/7 professional monitoring for the camera for only $10 a month or $100 a year, which also includes 60 days of cloud storage and other premium features.”
If you’re not looking to spend too much, Turner calls the Wyze Cam “one of the highest-quality, lowest-cost cameras around.” It connects to the Wyze app, so you can livestream footage and receive notifications when the camera detects motion. “The device shoots in 1080p HD with infrared night vision and two-way audio. That means we could speak to whoever the camera was on through the Wyze app.”
Tend Indoor 2: $59.99
Trying to stay safe on a budget? Wary of getting worked up over false alarms or your brother dropping by unannounced? Turner says that the Tend Indoor 2, which pairs with the TendApp, “is by far the cheapest camera we’ve seen that has not only person detection, but also facial recognition. That means that we weren’t just notified if the camera detected motion, but only people, making for no false alerts.” He adds that “with facial recognition, we could name our friends and family, making the notifications even more specific. The camera also has 1080p HD video, infrared night vision, two-way audio and a week of free cloud storage.”
Best Security Camera System for a Home or Small Business
Night Owl 5MP Extreme HD 8 Surveillance System: Used from $170
Reuben Yonatan is the founder and CEO of GetVoIP, a New York-based digital telephone service. “As a business owner in the tech industry, my recommendation is geared towards small business owners who want an affordable but comprehensive security camera system,” he says.
He likes the Night Owl 5MP Extreme HD 8 Surveillance System, which he calls “ideal for both outdoor and indoor use. It has four wired cameras with a 1080p image resolution. The cameras feature night vision that extends to 100 feet. The system uses smart detection technology which includes motion sensors and heat detection sensors.”
As a bonus, Yonatan points out that “one can monitor the cameras via a free mobile app provided by Night Owl. For storage, the cameras come with an eight-channel video recorder that can store up to 1 Terabyte of footage.”