Protect your house with the best home security cameras of 2019

Protect yourself with the best home security cameras of 2019

best home security cameras badge After spending 2,500 hours testing smart security devices, our pick for the best home security camera is the Arlo Pro 2 because it has a wide variety of features and plenty of cloud storage.

The Arlo Pro 2 isn’t the only stellar camera we’ve tested. We’ve also included our pick for the camera with the best indoor security camera, the security camera with the best Alexa integration, the best indoor/outdoor security camera, the best outdoor security camera, and for those on a budget, the best cheap security camera.

Best home security cameras at a glance:

The best home security camera: Arlo Pro 2

Why we picked the Arlo Pro 2:

Arlo has always offered the best solution when you need multiple cameras. The Arlo Pro 2 improves on an already great system, upping video resolution to 1080p while maintaining the same seven days of free cloud storage. It is fully weather sealed and ready to be used indoors or out, wired or wire-free. The batteries can easily be swapped and charged separately, so wire-free cameras won’t suffer any downtime while charging.

Unlike stand-alone smart cameras, Arlo’s use of a base station ensures optimized throughput with every Arlo Pro 2. This maintains a stable connection regardless of network load, and it’s also responsible for the Arlo Pro 2’s excellent battery life of up to six months, depending on activity. When plugged in, the camera can be used for continuous video recording — like a traditional security camera — making it useful in a business setting, as well as in your home. (A continuous video recording, or CVR, storage plan, sold separately, is required). The base station also adds a 100-plus-decibel siren and allows for local backup via external USB drive.

The Arlo Pro 2 is also backward compatible with the existing Arlo Pro system, so current users can continue to use their same base station and older cameras alongside the new model. Those customers can purchase a solo Arlo Pro 2 camera. (Note: A base station is required, so new users will need to purchase the multi-camera kit).

Read our full Arlo Pro 2 review

The best indoor security camera: Nest Cam IQ Indoor

Security camera sitting on a desk next to car keys and books

Why we picked the Nest Cam IQ:

Just as it did with thermostats, Nest is changing the game when it comes to home security. The new Nest Cam IQ promises a giant leap forward in smart camera image quality. It uses a 4K image sensor to record dual 1080p frames simultaneously, combining them into one Full HD video that offers greater dynamic range than what would otherwise be possible. Dynamic range is often an issue for home security cameras that have to try to balance exposure between a bright window and an otherwise dark interior. Nest Cam IQ lessens, though doesn’t entirely eliminate, the problem.

What’s more, users will be able to digitally zoom in up to 12 times without completely sacrificing image quality. The camera can even automatically zoom in to an area of the frame when it detects motion, and will stay zoomed in on the subject as it moves across the frame. The full 130-degree wide-angle perspective is still preserved while doing this, so you won’t miss a thing.

Customers who subscribe to Nest Aware cloud storage will also gain facial recognition, so the Cam IQ will be able to tell the difference between members of your family and an intruder.

Read our full Nest Cam IQ review

The best Alexa integration: Amazon Cloud Cam

Why we picked the Amazon Cloud Cam:

Leave it to the creator of Alexa to build a security camera that’s perfectly in sync with your favorite voice assistant. If your family already has an Echo device or Amazon Fire tablet in every room of the house, the Cloud Cam security camera could be the best choice for you. The Amazon Cloud Cam streams in 1080p HD video, and you can ask Alexa to show you the real-time feed on your Amazon Fire TV, Fire Tablet, Echo Show, or Echo Spot devices.

The Cloud Cam includes many other must-have features, including two-way audio, night vision, and even push notifications when movement is detected. In the market for Amazon Key, the smart lock system that lets delivery personnel into your home to drop off packages? The Amazon Key Home Kit includes Cloud Cam, so you’ll get the security camera when you set up Amazon Key in your home.

Read our full Amazon Cloud Cam review

The best indoor/outdoor security camera: Logitech Circle 2

Security camera sitting on a wooden table next to a plant

Why we picked the Logitech Circle 2:

Although the Arlo Pro 2 is our pick for the best overall camera, the Circle 2 is another one of our favorite indoor/outdoor cameras. It’s one of the most versatile home security cameras out there. With an abundance of mounts available, you can place it virtually anywhere. Mount it straight to a wall outlet for compact, cordless, always-on security or stick it right to a pane of glass with the Window Mount to keep an eye on what’s going on outside from the safety of your home.

The camera can be used in all types of weather. Logitech even offers a custom weatherproof extension cable to help with outdoor mounting. The Circle 2 is also available in a wire-free version that uses a swappable and rechargeable battery so you can minimize downtime by always keeping a spare battery ready to go.

What’s really interesting about this smart camera, though, is that it will offer both Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit integration. Other than that, it includes the standard features of night vision, two-way audio, encrypted cloud storage, and 24 hours of free online backup.

Read our full Logitech Circle 2 review

The best outdoor security camera: Ring Spotlight Cam

Why we picked the Ring Spotlight Cam:

The thing that sets the Ring Spotlight Cam apart from other home security cameras is that it prioritizes crime prevention. The built-in motion detectors will immediately start recording video when it senses movement, and it will simultaneously shine lights to scare off any would-be intruders or criminals. You can also sound the 110-decibel siren to warn others about suspicious activity or as a warning to possible lurkers.

The camera is compatible with iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as Mac and Windows PCs. So regardless of what kind of device you have, you’ll be able to download the app and tune in anytime to see live footage of your home. No matter where you are, you can check to make sure the kids came home from school or to tell Fido to get off the couch. Set-up is quick, and the camera comes included with all the tools you’ll need to get the camera situated in your home.

Read our full Ring Spotlight Cam review

The best cheap security camera: Wyzecam 2

WyzeCam hands-on review angle
Daven Mathies/Digital Trends
Daven Mathies/Digital Trends

Why we picked the Wyze Labs Wyzecam:

Wyze Labs was founded by ex-Amazon employees who are now bringing the online retail giant’s high-volume, low-margin approach to smart home security. Their first product is the Wyzecam, a tiny, cubical smart camera that costs about as much as two large pizzas. At that price, it could very well disrupt the industry.

As for features, it’s no surprise the Wyzecam is not up to par with the likes of the Circle 2 and Arlo Pro 2, but it isn’t bad. It offers night vision, motion detection, and two-way audio, and includes 14 days of free cloud storage. Motion- and sound-triggered video clips are limited to 12 seconds, which may or may not be enough time to get a good look at someone breaking into your home, so we don’t recommend relying on the Wyzecam if you need a robust security solution.

Still, as an affordable entry point into the world of smart home cameras, it’s hard to find anything that competes. We have tested nothing else that offers so much for so little.

Read our full Wyze Labs Wyzecam 2 review

Research and buying tips

Who installs home security cameras?

You can self-install most home security cameras. But, if you want to hire a professional, you can hire a home security or home surveillance professional to install your cameras.

How long do home security cameras keep footage?

It depends. The amount and length of storage you get depends on factors like the specific model, whether it supports SD card storage, and whether you have a paid subscription plan or if you use the free plan.

Can home security cameras be hacked?

Technically, yes. Customers have reported instances where hackers accesses their home security camera’s audio feed. To help protect your home security camera from hackers, use a strong non-default password, use two-factor authentication when available, secure your wireless network, and buy your home security camera new from a trusted source. You can learn more about how to protect your home security camera from hackers here.

How do home security cameras work?

Most home security cameras stream video feeds using your home internet network. They use an app as an interface where you can do things like view live video feeds, communicate using two-way audio, set up motion zones, and access cloud storage (or the camera’s internal storage or SD card storage).

Do home security cameras deter crime?

Yes. The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of North Carolina Charlotte asked burglars their most effective deterrents. Just over fifty percent said the presence of outdoor security cameras was an effective deterrent (they’d seek another target if the home had security cameras outside).

Where do I place home security cameras?

The best place to put security cameras is at common entry points — the front door, back door, garage, and lower level windows. However, you should also consider your area, your property, and any special circumstances that may require different placement. For instance, if you have a lot of expensive automobiles on your property, you may want to have an outdoor camera covering your vehicles. Or, if you live in an area where there are a lot of second floor break ins, you might want security cameras covering your second floor.

Do all home security cameras require a subscription?

No. A subscription is not required for all home security cameras, however many home security cameras provide more features if you purchase the subscription plan and without the subscription plan, your features may be limited.

How do I choose a home security camera?

Consider the features you want, your budget, whether you want the camera to plug in or have a battery, and any potential extra costs (like a subscription plan). Also, the camera’s app is just as important as the camera itself. If the app is difficult to use, it runs slow, or it crashes a lot, you probably won’t be happy with the camera because you’ll have trouble using its features.

Are home security cameras legal?

Yes. Home security cameras are legal to place in your own home. If you’re using home security cameras in a rental property (like an Airbnb home), they are typically legal provided you are placing them in common areas, and the rental guests are aware of their presence. It is not legal, however, to place a home security camera in a place like an Airbnb rental bathroom. Plus, that’s just creepy anyway.

Do home security cameras record sound?

Yes. Most modern home security cameras record audio in addition to video.

What is the best brand of home security camera?

Some of the best brands include Amazon, Arlo, Ring, Nest, Kasa, Wyze, Logitech, and Blink. However, while it’s wise to buy from a trusted brand, it’s also a good idea to research the individual model (it’s features, app, subscription plan, etc.) before making a purchase.

How does Digital Trends test security cameras?

This is by no means an exhaustive list of home security cameras, but these are a few of our favorites that stand out for various unique reasons. Smart home cameras are at their best when they stay out of your way and offer worry-free operation and streamlined apps so that when you do need to interact with them, it doesn’t cause a headache. Good image quality is nice, but it’s not the most important feature when it comes to keeping your home safe or checking in on your kids or pets.

We look for cameras that offer a great combination of features — night vision, battery power, alerts, two-way audio, integration with other services, etc. — in determining the best ones. Obviously, we also take price into account, and there is quite a range of pricing in the current smart home camera market.

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