Keep a Watchful Eye

Which Smart Security Camera Is Right for Your Home?

Buying Guides By Photo by Canary

It’s 2017. Smart cameras are running home security companies like ADT out of business. Brinks’ home security division went bust a couple years ago, and it all stands to reason — home security cameras are to subscription-based security systems what HBO GO is to cable. There’s no need to shell out a lot for something that you only use one percent of the time. The new generation of smart surveillance cameras are perfect for a modern family smart-home, and these smart cameras make home security both more inviting and more powerful. The only question left is: which one is right for your home?

Logi Circle

Logitech just announced an updated version of its Logi security camera, but the original is still available and has a dead-simple setup (it took our senior editor less than five minutes). Its app interface is sleek and easy to navigate, but it should be noted that its customizability is limited and there are no third-party interfaces. The most attractive feature of the Circle is its 24/7, live streaming HD video. It also offers 30-second video recaps of what’s happened in your house, as well as 24-hour free cloud storage. Consumers looking for a more serious home security system should look elsewhere, but those in search of a high-definition live-streaming monitor will be satisfied.

Resolution: 720p HD
Field of View: 135 degrees
Zoom: 8x
Battery Life: 3-12 hours when unplugged
Data Security: SSL
Connection: 2.4 and 5GHz wi-fi

Belkin Netcam HD+


If you have an ecosystem of Belkin WeMo products, then the Netcam HD+ will satisfy your home security camera needs. Using the smartphone app, you can program the Netcam HD+ and your WeMo accessories to interact in different ways. For example, you can set a rule that if the Netcam detects motion, the WeMo switch will turn on a light. The Netcam will record and store video, but if you want extended access to the recordings, you have to pay for the cloud-based subscription service that will save videos for 14 days before replacing them with newer clips. The Netcam also offers two-way talk — a smart feature that most other home security cameras lack.

Resolution: 1280 x 720
Field of View: 95 degrees
Zoom: None
Battery Life: AC powered
Connection: 802.11b/g/n

Arlo by Netgear


Netgear’s Arlo home security ecosystem offers indoor and outdoor capabilities while recording in 720p in both day and night — all without a power cord. The system boasts an impressive battery life of 4-6 months, rivaling that of the Homeboy. The system works over a wi-fi network and comes with a base station. You can then add up to five Arlo cameras (with the free seven-day recording plan; more cameras can be added with longer recording plans) to the system, placing them wherever you please as long as it’s 300 feet away from the base station. Like most security cameras, Arlo will send you a text alert when the system is armed, alerting you to any motion that the camera picks up. Another upside: Arlo has an IFTTT channel, meaning it can play nice with third-party softwares (like Alexa and Google Assistant).

Resolution: 1280 x 720
Field of View: 130 degrees
Zoom: None
Battery Life: 4-6 months
Data Security: TLS
Connection: 2.4Ghz wi-fi

August Doorbell Cam


See who’s at your door even if you’re not there. The Doorbell Cam by August sends you a push notification every time the bell rings, and allows you to speak with (and see) whomever it is using your smartphone. It even allows you to lock and unlock your door from afar. No need to leave work (or the bar) early just because your roommate forgot his keys. The camera adds a simple measure of security to any home. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have night vision, so it works better at homes with well-lit porches.

Resolution: 1080p HD
Field of View: N/A
Zoom: N/A
Battery Life: AC powered
Data Security: N/A
Connection: 802.11b/g/n wireless

NestCam IQ

The NestCam IQ is an impressive security camera featuring a 4K HDR image sensor and a unique feature called Supersight that allows the camera to identify, track and zoom in on a certain person (or pet) when they enter the frame. Unlike Nest’s other cameras, the Cam IQ will send you personal alerts without a Nest Aware subscription. With the subscription, however ($10/month or $100/year), the camera will identify familiar or unfamiliar faces. It will also pick up sudden noises, like alarms or innocent barking, and intuit which ones to alert you about.

Resolution: 4K, 1080p
Field of View: 130
Zoom: 12x
Battery Life: AC powered
Data Security: 128-bit AES with TLS/SSL
Connection: 802.15.4 at 2.4GHz

Piper NV


In terms of image quality, Icontrol Networks’ Piper is among the top contenders on this list — but the camera itself is only one part of the Piper system. The company is looking to supplant the traditional home security setup with not just a handful of handy cameras, but a full line of door and window sensors and remote light and appliance controls, essentially folding “smart home” convenience and home security into one. The big sell here is that the Piper system utilizes Z-wave functionality, a separate protocol from Bluetooth and wi-fi. This means that the system will function independently from your day-to-day internet activities, and never the twain shall cause a buffering wheel to spin. Up to five Piper cameras can operate in synchronization with Piper appliance controllers and sensors, and Piper utilizes an algorithm that learns what is typical for any time of day as far as motion, the presence of certain family members (according to smartphone syncing), and the use of appliances. Each mode can be customized to send notifications to select family members’ smartphones according to which of those events occurs. Night vision is available in the newest camera model, along with improved resolution.

Resolution: 2458×1382 HD
Field of View: 180 degrees
Zoom: 4x
Battery Life: AC powered; 3 AA battery backup
Data Security: 256-bit SSL encryption
Connection: 802.11 b/g/n wi-fi; Series 500 Z-Wave Controller



Canary lacks the all-encompassing appliance control and sensor system of the Piper NV, but shares common features like facial recognition, environmental sensors (humidity, air quality, temperature), intercom system and siren (90dB here instead of 105). It’s a more sensible option for those living alone or in a small apartment. Canary uses your smartphone to ascertain that you’re home; when your smartphone is out of Canary’s range, it continually uploads video footage to the cloud (users have the option to store or dispose it). One leg-up the Canary has over Piper: infrared LED night vision is standard. Additionally, instead of automatically sounding an alarm upon the detection of unusual activity, Canary notifies you of the potential intrusion and allows you to decide whether or not to sound the alarm based on your interpretation of the footage it sends you.

Resolution: 1920×1080 HD
Field of View: 147 degrees
Zoom: 3x
Battery Life: AC powered; 3 AA battery backup
Data Security: 256-bit AES encryption
Connection: 802.11 b/g/n wi-fi
Additional contributions by AJ PowellTucker Bowe, and Jeremy Fischer

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