It didn’t take smart security cameras long to become a firm fixture of the smart home. Whether it’s solely for security, to act as a dedicated pet camera or even a supercharged smart baby monitor, wireless home security cameras are versatile beasts.
Smart home cameras: Things to consider
Cost is obviously high on the agenda and smart cameras range from less than £100 on the ‘budget’ end to above and beyond £300, for the top-dogs, but that’s just for starters.
One contentious issue is subscription fees. What you’re paying for is a cloud storage service where you can access and share your video clips from the last week, month etc. After Netflix, Spotify and the rest; do you really need another subscription in your life?
Some brands will offer you a small amount of cloud storage for nothing, others offer nothing for nothing and some get around the problem by recording everything to a local SD card. That comes with its own issues (what happens when a burglar comes in and pinches the camera and the evidence?). Some off-site storage is a must. We’ve outlined if there’s a free storage option and the cost of on-going subscriptions in every review.
What’s a little hard to bear is that some manufacturers won’t enable some of your camera’s features – two-way talk, action zones, face recognition – if you don’t pay the subscription. The occasions where these cameras do the real business of recording and catching burglars are, hopefully, few and far between. So what these extras offer is everyday value, two-way talk for a home intercom especially.
The only essential features of these devices is that they can record and live stream video 24/7, that they have a night vision mode, that they can detect when there’s a person, that they’ll record the footage when they do and that they’ll notify you on your phone. Recording and streaming at Full HD resolution is preferable because it means that you can zoom into the footage and get a decent look at the perp.
A wireless device is nice and mobile but, if want to place your camera in a specific spot, then it’s not necessary. If you do go wireless then make sure that the battery life is very good.
Also there’s the indoor versus outdoor option – it’s becoming more common for brands to offer security cameras that work both inside and outside of the house – although there also dedicated indoor and outdoor cameras too. In our reviews below, we’ll make it clear exactly where these cameras are designed to live (and where they live best).