So you have decided to secure your home with a Smart Home Camera. But how do you choose?
Fortunately, after testing numerous Smart Home Cameras from various brands for countless hours, I can help you zero in on the Camera you need.!
Wired or Wireless Camera? First Decision to Make
If you are in the market for a new Smart Home Camera, you might have come across a ton of different options, each different in shape, size, function, or even how they are powered.
But when you look at the root level, modern Smart Home Cameras can be primarily distinguished based on how they are powered and connected - Wired or Wireless.
Here's a brief comparison of the two most basic types of Smart Home Cameras:
|Mode of Power
|Active power supply
|Primarily through batteries but some makes also support wired power supply
|Ease of Setup
|Smart Home features
|Cost (including additional peripherals)
As evident from the table, Wireless Cameras may seem the way to go, at least in the case of Residential setups, thanks to the minimal setup costs and wide range of features on offer.
But Wired Cameras are better when you factor in longevity and overall security.
The price of setting up a surveillance camera doesn't end with just acquiring the Camera itself. The additional peripherals required to complete the setup may rake in a price magnitudes higher than the Camera. NVRs and surveillance software like Blue Iris don't come cheap.
The diversification doesn't end there, as closing on a model based on how it is powered alone won't cut it.
For that, you have to factor in where you would place the Camera. Based on this crucial aspect, Smart Home Cameras can be further divided into Indoor, Outdoor, and Doorbell Cameras.
|Where to place
|Inside the premise
|On Doors, the Camera facing the front
|Range (Detection and Connectivity)
|Ease of Setup
Now that you know which type of Smart Home Camera works best for you, let's take a deeper dive at the many nuances that constitute a good Smart Home Camera.
What Range and Does it have Motion Detection?
Motion detection has become a staple with Smart Home Cameras of the nonce.
The idea behind the same is simple - once the Camera detects a motion activity (thanks to advanced AI mechanics and precise sensors), a motion clip is recorded for a short interval.
Now, the principle behind motion detection is quite uniform amongst most brands. What sets them apart is the execution and the range the Camera can detect motion.
Brands like Wyze, Blink, and Arlo are not just limited to person detection but support Animal and object detection.
Vehicle Detection on Wyze is something worthwhile to check out.
Coming to the effective range a Camera can detect motion, anything beyond 20 ft is acceptable. The Arlo Pro 5S can detect motion up to 50 ft with an active power supply.
Another thing to keep an eye on is the Field of View offered by the Cam. 130° of FOV should suffice, with 180° being the max limit.
What Connectivity Does it Offer?
Connectivity is key to everything a Smart Home Camera can do, especially if they utilize cloud storage to store clips.
Wireless connections are the predominant mode of network access on Smart Home Cameras.
Most Smart Home Cameras rely on the 2.4 GHz band to operate. But more and more manufacturers have moved on to provide support for the 5 GHz band like Wyze with the WYZE Battery Cam Pro.
Some manufacturers, like Blink, rely on an external hub to facilitate network access and communication with their Cams. Blink calls it the Sync Module, an instrumental cog in how Blink Cams work.
Also, Ethernet ports on Smart Home Cameras are a welcome addition. This addition acts as a fail-safe when WiFi access is limited.
Coming to the Power aspect of Smart Home Cameras, most of the Cams of the present are battery-powered, with some having the provision to be actively powered as well.
Various factors like the frequency of activity detection and the recording interval govern battery life on Smart Home Cameras.
Generally, a battery life of about 8-12 months is acceptable. Also note that most battery-powered Cams, like Blink, do not accept rechargeable batteries.
Though passive power supply through batteries has dominated the Smart Home Camera market, select models, like the Blink Mini, are solely powered through a wired supply.
What are the Important Features to Look for?
This is the fun part. Features on Smart Home Cameras, though may not sound as interesting as with other gadgets, are still worth looking at.
That said, here are the most desirable features to look out for in a Smart Home Camera:
★AI-based Detection Features: Person, Vehicle, Package, Pet, etc. are a few things motion detection on Smart Home Camera has evolved to include thanks to AI.
★Two-Way Audio: This feature effectively transforms your Smart Home Camera into an Intercom device to converse with entities in front of a supported Camera.
★Night Vision: A mainstay among most Smart Home Cameras nowadays. Although, the implementation varies from make to make. Some even provide color night vision!
★Voice Assistant Support: Though not the most charming of features, AI voice assistants pretty much are the namesake of Smart Home Cameras. Most Cams support one voice assistant or the other.
★Weather Sealing: Noticeable with Outdoor Cams, water/dust resistance has become a norm with Smart Home Cameras. Having some form of weather sealing is a great addition.
Some other desirable features include Pan/tilt support, like with Ring Pan Tilt Stick Up Cam, and inherent alarm mechanisms.
Does it Offer Subscriptions and What About Storage?
Subscription services have become the bread and butter of the Smart Home industry. And Smart Home Cameras are not averse to this reality.
Brands like Blink and Wyze have gone big with their subscription services, so much so that most of their premier services are solely available through premiums.
But opting for a Subscription service may not be a simple task, heck, you might not even want to get one.
So, be cautious while choosing a subscription plan and ensure it caters to all your needs, especially the number of Cameras supported on the plan.
Take Blink for example, they provide two plans - the Blink Basic and Plus - one suited for single-camera users and the other capable of housing multiple Cameras.
Storage is yet another crucial aspect to not turn a blind eye to.
Almost all Smart Home Cameras provide cloud-based storage services nowadays (of course at a premium).
But some makes opt for a more rational approach to this matter, like providing in-house storage options through SD cards and USB drives.
The WYZE Cam v3 is a prime example of the same as it allows users to store clips on microSD cards installed right on the Cam.
Local storage is indeed a very welcome addition to Smart Home Cameras, as some brands also provide continuous recording via this option.
Other Important Factors in a Smart Home Camera
Apart from the things mentioned above, which are crucial, there are quite a few minor things to consider as well when shopping for a Smart Home Camera.
Check them out:
|Preferred quality: 1080p or above
|Ease of Setup
|Quick and easy; probably around 10-20 mins from mounting the Cam to syncing with the app (more time for Outdoor and Doorbell Cams)
|Frequency of updates and how quickly the support team can address your issues. Faster response and frequent updates appreciated
|Security and Privacy
|Look for advanced security measures like two-factor authentication
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is it better to have wired or wireless security cameras?
Wireless Cams provide better versatility and can easily be set up. They are best suited for indoor use. Wired Cams provide a more stable connection, and you don't have to worry about the batteries running out.
What is the difference between CCTV and home security camera?
Closed-circuit Television Cameras are professional heavy-duty security cameras used to survey a large area. They also require substantial ancillary equipment to be set up. Home security cameras are much more suited to residential security and are much easier to set up.