Smart Home Camera Review

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Adding a security camera to your list of smart home devices opens up some interesting possibilities. Users can remotely know what’s going on in their home, see if a package has been delivered, and even have some handy video evidence in case that package goes missing. There are, however, a huge number of manufacturers to choose from. If you’re interested in adding a security camera to your list of smart home devices, we go through some of the most popular choices below.

Blink Home Security Camera

The Blink Home Security Camera System features a battery-powered wireless camera that you can place anywhere in your home without worrying about cables. Instead, the device operates on two AA batteries for up to two years. The device is specifically for use indoors, but Blink has announced a doorbell camera coming in 2018 for outdoor use. The device captures video in 720p and the features include motion detection, push alerts, a 110-degree field of view, a 3x digital zoom, an IR LED for night vision up to 20 feet, motion and temperature sensors, and a microphone. While the cameras communicate with the sync module exclusively over wireless, the sync module itself will connect to your home network either via wifi or ethernet. The kit linked above includes two cameras, the Sync Module, and a mounting kit for hanging each camera on a wall. Additional cameras and sync modules can obviously be purchased.

The Blink camera only records 10-second clips, and there is no way to record video on demand. These 10-second clips are stored automatically in a free cloud-based environment supplied by Blink, but the clips can be downloaded or deleted by the user by accessing the service. Of course, this means that the devices are somewhat at the mercy of continued manufacturer support. No third-party integrations are offered by the manufacturer, but some users have taken it upon themselves to integrate these devices into their systems, and those integrations can be found online (e.g., SmartThings, Home Assistant).

Nest Cam

The Nest Cam is Nest’s obvious entry in this list, and it certainly has some of the best performance of the bunch. It is, however, a very different product class. While the blink camera is a cheaper, wireless implementation — and has a number of related limitations, such as the 10-second video recordings — the Nest Cam is a plugged-in, always-on camera that offers a number of integrations with other services, including other Nest Products. It also has more features, including 1080p video, night vision, two-way talk, and sound and motion alerts. The trade-off for this additional features is a higher initial price-point and a recurring subscription fee (“Nest Aware”) that is required in order to use many of the most useful features of the device. In fact, without Nest Aware, the camera is hardly usable, only providing the last 3 hours of alert-triggered recordings.

When you buy the camera, you will receive 10 days of access to Nest Aware, but after the trial period, you’re be paying approximately $10/month to continue using the service. As previously noted, the device is so limited without the service, that if you don’t intend to purchase the service, the device is probably not a recommended purchase.

Arlo Q Camera

The Arlo Q is very similar to the Nest Cam when it comes to features. The camera provides 1080p video, night-vision, two-way talk, and sound/motion-based alerts and recording triggers. It also supports (at least indirectly) a number of third-party integrations, including SmartThings, Home Assistant, and IFTTT. It also comes with a mostly-mandatory cloud-based service with two different tiers – free and a monthly subscription, but unlike the Nest Cam, the device is still mostly useful without the paid subscription. While the Nest only offers 3 hours of recordings, the Arlo offers 7 days of recordings. Unfortunately, you will have to pay the monthly subscription if you want continuous recording instead of just the motion/sound triggered recordings.

While the Arlo will initially place all of your videos online, there are some community-created options to automatically download the video clips to your own local storage so that they can be maintained even after the 7-day period offered via the free cloud-based app.