In the contemporary world where insecurity and crime rates appear to be at an all-time high, security cameras are excellent ways to ensure that both the home and workplace are protected. Considering that there are several different types of video surveillance cameras available, it is important to arm yourself with sufficient information before making an investment. Keeping this in mind, we have reviewed and listed some of the best security camera brands to help you make a viable choice.
- What is the Best Security Camera?
- OUR TOP CHOICE- YI Home Security Camera
- BEST VALUE – Conbrov® HD IP Wireless Home Video Surveilance Camera
- LiveWatch Outdoor Video Surveillance Camera
- Amcrest 960H Video Surveliance System
- Foscam IP/Network Security Camera
- How Do I Choose the Best Security Camera?
What is the Best Security Camera?
Video surveillance cameras are essential because they not only provide you with a sense of security, but are great if law enforcement officials require information after an incident. Keeping our buying guide in mind, this review is aimed at helping you with the selection process.
OUR TOP CHOICE- YI Home Security Camera
YI technology is a well known brand of security products. It offers other security cameras, going for different prices to suit your needs. The YI Home Camera 2 is the second generation version of the XiaoYi Small Ants 2 smart camera and has some much needed improvements and some very practical additions. One of its best features is the ability to remotely power the camera on and off using the mobile app. You also have the privacy verification both in-app and on the camera face.
The camera face features an LED recording light which you can leave on as an indication that the camera is live and the LED light will turn off when in privacy mode. Alternatively you can customize the camera so the LED light is always off. With a price of just $129.99 (by the time we checked), there’s no doubt this security camera offers value for every penny.
Here are some more features of this video surveillance camera
- 1080p HD Smart Video Technology;
- First-class Night Vision – Build with best in class Panasonic 1/2.8 inches CMOS sensor with Maicovicon technology for a clear image even in conditions of very low light;
- Two-way audio – Advanced compression algorithms yields even better sound quality, supporting a sampling rate of up to 48 KHz; 360°;
- Noise-canceling, hypersensitive microphone for much clearer voice quality while eliminating excess environmental noise;
- Enhanced motion detection technology reduces false alerts by identifying moving objects with better precision and reducing the impact of light changes and other interfering factors.
Construction and Design
This all-white, shiny, plastic, smart ip camera has some physical features that are very streamlined. It has large circular optics that are surrounded by a ring of blue infrared lights on the front to ensure that the camera can see in pitch-black darkness. At the back, you will find a QR code that’s used to pair the speakers and the microphone. The base is quite dapper and folds up to hold the camera at about 90 degrees straight up, or way back so that it is flush with the wall. The camera’s weight is quite manageable, and of course, the Xiaoyi Smart Camera comes standard with a microphone and a speaker. Also included with the camera are a quick start guide and a micro USB wall-wart charger.
Performance and Ease of Use
It is very simple to initially set up the camera, despite the fact that the Chinese language is used for the instruction manual. You can log into your Mi account though the Xiaomi App in order to access your camera from just about anywhere in the world. The app connects to Xiaomi’s servers while providing protection to the camera using a four digit pin code.
The camera operates with Wi-Fi only, and you will be connected to your preferred access point during the initial setup. Connectivity is very quick, and the quality of the video is excellent, particularly for 720p video from a budget device. The camera has quite splendid optics and enables you to see even in pitch darkness, making everything virtually look like it is daylight. When you have a look at the screenshots throughout the day, you might not be able to tell the difference between 3 o’clock in the afternoon and 3 o’clock in the morning, because it is really that remarkable. You also have digital 4x zoom, which is a great feature as it allows you to pinch and zoom. The camera also has motion detection and will alert you when motion is detected. In case of an intrusion, it will automatically begin recording and taking pictures of whatever is happening. You can use time slots to control this.
This camera also comes with a built-in microphone and speaker, making it easy to use the app to communicate with a person or people in the same room as the camera. The conversation can take a friendly tone or can be a warning to an intruder.
BEST VALUE – Conbrov® HD IP Wireless Home Video Surveilance Camera
Conbrov makes a number of security cameras, both indoor and outdoor. Although the price differs with each, it is evident that all models incorporate the exclusive features of Conbrov, including great image quality and beautiful design.
One of the things we love about the Knightcam is that it is designed to operate both day and night to ensure your property is protected any time. It has has super night vision up to 30 feet and uses accurate motion detection up to 24 feet, getting clear images of everything that happens without your notice. Many people use this camera not only for video surveillance of their homes, but also as a video baby monitor and/or Nanny cam.
As of the time of this review, the price for this home security camera was $74.99, which is definitely more than a bargain for a security surveillance camera. Some of the other main features of this cam include –
- World’s first 155 degree wide angle lens security camera;
- Remote viewing through Wi-Fi connection;
- Clear two way audio;
- Email alerts and pushes function available;
- G.A/C Power Supply included for mounted installation.
Construction and Design
While installing a home security camera can be costly, not installing one could cost you much more. That’s why you should consider investing in the latest Knightcam HD wireless indoor security IP camera. This camera has a very sleek design and is quite stylish, modern and compact. It is small enough to be inconspicuous and is a clear two-way audio wireless IP camera. It’s a pretty cool camera with a lovely square-face box and rounded corners that are mounted on very fashionable chrome-hinged brackets. The camera is mounted via a hole that is specifically shaped to provide you with a number of mounting alternatives. You can swivel the camera and mount the stand upside down or sideways.
The camera itself looks super high end because of the glossy finish. It has a fixed orientation, but because it fits in the mount at any 90-degree angle, you do have quite a number of options. Also available with the camera is hardware for mounting. The chrome base plate is adjustable and allows a variety of positions. Two very simple sprung latches on the camera body lock the camera into the mount that frames it. An AC power adaptor is included to power the camera, because it does not run on batteries. Though that’s not the intent, it is possible to make it portable with a USB power bank since the AC adaptor output is 5v 2 amps. It’s actually pretty lightweight, so you can set it on a countertop or mount it on the wall quite easily. Because the camera has a sturdy metal base, there are no worries that it could flip over and fall. In the package, you will find the WF90 Cam, an adapter, four screws, a pair of gloves, an installation demo CD, and a user’s manual.
Performance and Ease of Use
Once you get this camera out of the box, it is very easy to set up, and the process will not take you much time. Setting it up with your smartphone is pretty straightforward because there is a QR code for both iOS and Android in the instruction manual. Setup is done entirely from the phone. The camera has its own Wi-Fi signal, and you have to disconnect from your regular Wi-Fi internet connection and connect to the camera’s Wi-Fi. Once the camera has been hooked up to your router, everything is as easy as ABC. You can access the camera and its various functions at any time. By default, it sends a notification to your phone every time the motion sensor is activated. You can check the camera from your phone at any time. You can turn on sound and hear what is going on at the camera’s location.
The camera also has a speaker, through which you can talk remotely, and this makes it useful if you have it mounted on the porch. It can double as a security camera with an intercom, and you can also take pictures and video independently of the camera’s automated recordings. Your access to the automatic security footage is separate in the TF section and you can play back, download and delete individual pieces of security footage. From inside the camera settings, you can create multiple users and have various Wi-Fi, email, and alarm settings, as well as the ability to upgrade the firmware.
The basic camera settings are low or high resolution, 50/60 Hz, which basically means 25/30 frames per second. This camera also has very nice image quality and a wide angle, meaning that it can pick up movement very easily. It is for indoor use only but could be used in a porch entryway.
LiveWatch Outdoor Video Surveillance Camera
LiveWatch has a wide range of security cameras, ranging from indoor models to outdoor models. They come with different viewing angle, features and of course the price. There’s something for everyone. The major advantage with the LiveWatch Wireless Outdoor IP Bullet Camera with Infrared is that it has an autonomous network devices mode. The actual camera can be operated from one or even more processors and an integrated memory capacity. As such, it can be integrated into a network, such as by using a wireless connection, to make your video surveillance effortless.
This security camera is feature rich, but some of the main ones include –
- Monitor the outside of your home or business with infrared technology to allow you to see in low light situations;
- Video can be scheduled to record based on events triggered by your home security system;
- Remote viewing through PC and mobile devices gives makes it possible for you to monitor your home or business from any location, day and night;
- LiveWatch alarm monitoring without the need of a DVR;
- You can set up the camera to record when the system is triggered by specific events;
- Because this is a wireless system, it is easy to install, use and even move to another location.
Construction and Design
The LiveWatch wireless outdoor IP bulletproof camera has a sturdy construction that is suitable for indoor and outdoor use. The weather-resistant casing ensures that it is protected from dust and rain. The camera has a weight of about three pounds and dimensions of 3.4 x 9.6 x 11.2 inches. It has a lens and an image sensor, and the equipment packages come with 2 or 3 sensors, a console and keychain remote. You also have one yard sign and some window decals. This camera comes with built-in speakers and microphones with direct connections to the central monitoring station. Included in the package are an automatic thermostat and a motion sensor, a quick install guide, a power adapter, an Ethernet coupler, waterproof connectors, silica gel, and mounting stands and screws.
Performance and Ease of Use
The LiveWatch wireless outdoor IP bulletproof camera uses a DIY installation approach that is very easy to set up because the entire equipment is wireless. It has been designed to see at a distance of over 39 feet in the dark while still delivering true daytime colors because of the mechanical IR cut filter. The recorded video is available through web-enabled computers, cell phone web browsers and also through LiveWatch’s free downloadable app that is compatible with all enabled mobile devices. The device also works perfectly with a Simon XT or Simon XTi, and can be programmed to record video when a door or window is opened or closed. However, to achieve this, the camera has to be connected to a home security system with LiveWatch alarm monitoring.
The major advantage of the LiveWatch Wireless Outdoor IP Bullet Camera w Infrared is that it can be integrated into a network, such as by using a wireless connection or a router through a network cable. You may then assign a different IP address, so your own address within the Internet can be reached online at any time and from any location. This outdoor surveillance camera also has night vision capabilities and a 120 x 800 resolution with 3 compression options.
Amcrest 960H Video Surveliance System
Amcrest HD Series comprises of a number of security cameras that suit different users – both residential and commercial. If you want an indoor option, you can get one. If you want an outdoor model, you can also get one. Or you could go with the model that we are featuring, the Amcrest 960H Video Security System, which is good for both. It provides excellent video clarity and quality, and comes with a pre installed 500 GB hard drive that is also expandable up to 3 TB so that you can have continuous, uninterrupted recording.
For individuals that have no experience handling surveillance equipment and cameras, this system is incredibly easy to install. For its affordable price of $239.99, it offers night vision capability, web and mobile access, as well as a long continuous recording time of about 144 hours at high resolution.
Some of the other noteworthy features of this cam include:
- System comes with 4 high resolution, indoor/outdoor weatherproof cameras (800+ TVL) for excellent video quality and clarity;
- Monitor and view your home or office from anywhere on iPhone, iPad and Android devices using the Amcrest Link app;
- Storage space of 500GB Hard Drive allows for 6 days continuous high resolution recording at highest resolution, or for 30 days if you set for lower resolution or use motion detection to activate recording. Storage is expandable up to 3 TB;
- 24 LEDs for night vision that automatically activate when they detect low lighting conditions. They can see up to 20 meters (about 65 feet) away;
- Easy backup and archiving via USB transfer to flash drive or external hard drive.
Long distance cable run – install your cameras up to 984ft away from your DVR.
Construction and Design
Amcrest’s 960H high-resolution camera model has consolidated its standing in the industry, among professionals and amateurs alike, based on its sleek design and straightforward user interface. Weighing a mere 11 pounds, the sleek and stylish design is only one testament to the system’s extraordinary framework. Capable of long-distance transmission of up to 984 feet, this surveillance system promises a high level of security for your home and workplace. It has a fixed focal length with a 74-degree field of view with four high-resolution 800 plus TVL cameras and a 720 X 480 resolution for excellent video precision and superiority. The cameras are also constructed in a manner that facilitates point-to-point connection to the DVR, resulting in a simple plug-and-play procedure.
With an IP66 ranking, the cameras are weatherproof, and should withstand the elements at whatever season. The dimension of the lens is 3.6mm, which allows for a large coverage area. It is also enhanced by a night vision feature, a feature that is necessary for all cameras. The video output on the DVR is available in HDMI, VGA, as well as CBVS, while the DVR is in windows 7, Vista, XP and 8. Although the DVR can essentially control PTZ cameras, the cameras in this model are purely fixed view. A digital zoom option is available in case one needs to zoom in/ enlarge an image. The long-distance cable run lets users install cameras up to 984ft away from the DVR. The DVR is fitted with a 500 GB drive for storage purposes, however, it is possible to expand the storage to a further 3 TB if more storage is deemed necessary.
Performance and Ease of Use
Straight off the bat, users immediately notice that all the various components are packed securely. The system setup is straightforward, especially for new users. To install it properly, one needs to run several cables through the surveillance area, an activity that is likely to involve drilling. Every package arrives with a guide and user annual to make the process easy enough. Additionally, all the cables, connectors and wires are easily identifiable for a seamless installation process.
The controls on the system are instinctive and deliver a high-resolution video. Capable of recording close to 30 frames each second, the quality of images recorded is outstanding for its price range. Additionally, since 960H is typical of surveillance cameras, the images produced are automatically 34% larger in comparison to D1 resolution. The cameras work perfectly in the daytime or nighttime owing to the 24 IR LED lights for proper night vision of up to 65 feet. Users can also back up material on a USB drive, FTP or cloud storage.
It is essential to note that the cameras and cable supplied at point of purchase do not support audio. Therefore, it is imperative for individuals to purchase add-ons such as microphones and necessary cables for connection to one of the 4 audio input ports. Finally, the system has Smartphone features that aid viewing and recording on iPhone, iPad and Android devices in widescreen with remote screening. All in all, the security system is superior in its performance to deliver ample surveillance and security.
Foscam IP/Network Security Camera
Foscam is a renowned brand for DIY security cameras. It offers a wide range of options, from outdoor security cameras to indoor options. Considering that the Foscam FI8910W has a MSPR of well under $60, this device is definitely budget friendly and yet still offers some great features. It’s a wireless IP camera that provides infrared night vision, motion detection, and automatic email alerts in case of any alarms.
Users can monitor and view remotely on iOS and Android devices using the free Foscam app, plus you get Foscam’s management software and cloud storage. Additionally, it can also serve the function of a baby monitor, making it versatile to use. Although it is technically not designed for outdoor usage, it can be mounted in areas that are not exposed to the elements such as rain or wind.
Here is a quick rundown of its features –
- Camera can be installed wired or wirelessly and features 300k pixel high def, with pan and tilt functionality;
- Offers both day and night surveillance, motion detection, automatic on and off, and IR LEDs;
- Receive motion detection notices by email and/or FTP;
- Foscam DDNS service is embedded for no additional cost;
- Camera supports 2 way audio with a mic and speake buit in. There is also an audio jack for external microphones and speakers;
- IR-Cut filter for true color video and images. The IR lights can be turned off manually from the software;
- Audio quality is improved, there will be no noise when speaking into the camera;
- WPA2 Encryption Supported, Light Frequency 50 / 60 Hz or outdoor, IEEE 802.11b/g/n.
Construction and Design
The Foscam FI8910W camera has a pan-and-tilt capability to provide individuals with an unmitigated view of the surveillance. The system is built to last for long periods with strong construction, a wireless 802.11 and IR-Cut filter. The Infra Red cut routinely regulates the lighting to provide the right exposure, thereby ensuring that colored images do not appear washed out. The motion detection feature can be configured to receive immediate notification via email whenever it detects motion. Additionally, the camera records shots of anyone or anything that enters or leaves the surveillance area.
Every camera includes a network video server that directly links the camera to whatever viewing gadget is used, be it the television or phone. In this light, using the Foscam Surveillance Pro or any IP cam viewer for Android, individuals can stream any content. All images and videos recorded are automatically stored to the user’s personal computer or NVR (network video recorder), and the built-in speaker and microphone allow users to keep in touch with others without the need of a computer. The Foscam FI8910W supports dynamic IP (DDNS) and UPnP LAN and Internet (ADSL, Cable Modem).
Performance and Ease of Use
Much like previous Foscam surveillance models, the Foscam FI8910W has maintained various signature elements such as reliability and dependability. Its interface is extremely easy to use, serving as one of the most sought-after IP cameras in the market. The wireless security IP camera features high quality from both the video and audio recordings, as well as a built-in network video recording system. The camera also features an unproblematic graphic interface that can be accessed from any browser in any region of the world. The interface can be password protected, but it can also give access to multiple users.
The infrared night vision capability works a little too perfectly. The picture quality and functionality are great, with the motion operating as expected. It is worth noting that the camera is a little tricky to set up if the user is not familiar with port forwarding. The frame rate and the resolution are sufficient, considering how affordable the camera is. Overall, given the features and specs offered for the price, this surveillance system is difficult to beat. Lastly, the user maintains complete control over all the content recorded, which eliminates the expenses of monthly fees. Users that opt to store their recordings on third-party servers or various other network storage devices can do so at their pleasure.
How Do I Choose the Best Security Camera?
So, you have decided to get a security camera for your premises but do not know where to start. Well, don’t worry- we will help you get the perfect security camera for your needs. But before we can look at some of the factors to keep in mind as you go shopping, let’s first look at what video surveillance entails, and of course, some of the common types of video cameras to install in your home. For example, you do not want an IP camera on your patio, because it is not built for outdoors. You must get it right the first time to make sure your property is well protected.
- Bullet Cameras – First, there are the bullet cameras. Now, these are the cylindrical cameras you are probably familiar with. They may resemble a small tube, though there are some more robust models that can be the size of a soda can. The bullet cameras are usually wall mounted and can work perfectly outdoors.
- Live Streaming Cameras – These are great for unmanned monitoring. You can place them anywhere, even on a piece of furniture, where they feed the signal to your computer or Smartphone for live viewing. Most of them can be tilted or zoomed remotely for a closer view.
- Dome Cameras – These are the ceiling-mounted type. They are known as “eye in the sky” cameras. While some can be fixed in a specific place, others can be controlled to pan, zoom or tilt from a remote place.
- IP Cameras – These are the quick plug-and-play type of security cameras. People love them simply because they can be easily integrated into your existing home automation system. The Nest Cam is a great example of this category.
In general, a surveillance system does not just involve cameras. If you are looking to install the entire system, here is some information to enlighten you if you want to go a step further to protect your home or business premises.
- Video Surveillance System – A video surveillance system is basically a system that allows for embedded image capture, extracting video images and compressing them before storing the information in a digital tank link. Sometimes the information may be programmed to be transmitted over communication networks. The system comes with a wired or wireless security camera and digital video recorder. These gadgets are mostly used in synergy for monitoring.
- Security System – A security system is one that is designed to detect any intrusion or unauthorized entry onto your property, triggering an alarm. Think of the security alarms that are installed in military properties and industrial and commercial premises for protection against intruders. These include motion sensors and even outlet timers.
- Fire and Carbon Monitoring Systems – Fire and Carbon Monitoring Systems are built to detect fires and CO2. In this category, there’s the traditional detectors that were built just to activate when there’s smoke. These days, the system is built in a way that it alerts the emergency team so that the situation can be contained before it gets out of hand. Whether you are at home or not, and cannot hear the alarm, your property will be in safe hands.
Without further ado, let’s now take a look at some of the consideration factors when purchasing a security camera.
Not surprisingly, the more one spends on any product, typically, the better the quality and the more enhanced features one gets. For security cameras, it is no different. The cheaper option may not have the image clarity you want or have the smart features you are looking for. Factors that affect the price include motion detection, night vision, resolution and storage capacity, as well as the smart options embedded in the system. In general, security cameras can go from a few bucks to a couple of hundreds of dollars. If you are looking to get the more enhanced option, then you may be forced to dig deeper into your pockets and pay thousands of dollars. However, we have included a flexible price range (from $56.50- $349) just to make sure you get what you want.
The features of any product affect how that product performs and are, therefore, relevant to the purchase process. The modern home security system has not only improved in efficiency, but has become smart as well. Some of the features to consider include:
- IR (infrared) – If you need to protect an area with poor lighting, invest in an IR (infrared) camera system that can shoot and record in complete darkness, and they’re necessary tools in many surveillance situations.
- Wireless Option – Wireless security cameras and their receivers run on different frequencies that will be listed on the package. Ultimately, a wireless Internet access point is required for wireless systems.
- Night Vision – Of the high-end features in most video surveillance cameras, night vision would be the most significant. This is because most crimes conventionally occur at night, and it is vital to consider such elements before deciding on a particular model.
- Motion Detection – The motion detection element is also crucial, however, individuals should make certain that they can regulate the sensitivity and contracted range of the scan for whichever model one selects. This eliminates confusion or instances when legitimate moving objects such as blown debris are in the shot.
- Storage Capacity – Another important feature to consider before purchasing a security camera is its ability to save any recordings or videos. Reason being, if a crime does occur, a user should be able to play back any recordings for law enforcement agencies. This function should work seamlessly, whereby recordings can be manipulated to move at high speed or slow motion in order to identify and understand a specific incident.
- The Pan-and-Tilt Capability – This gives individuals an unmitigated view of the surveillance
- Audio Support – This determines the quality of the audio in all recordings, and whether or not the unit records audio (check the local laws to see if it’s legal in your area to record conversations).
- Resolution – The resolution affects the quality and precision of images and recordings acquired from the system.
- The Wireless Feature – Wireless video surveillance cameras are not necessarily wireless, however, it is important to identify whether one is wireless or not, depending on your needs.
Construction and Design
The construction and design of any model is vital, because it helps in determining what a user needs, visually and technically. As more and more products are made available on the market, manufacturers have to make every effort possible to keep up with the competition by introducing different series and models that differ in the construction and design. It is, therefore, important to keep up with these changes in order to meet the needs of your security. Below is a list of elements that you should consider:
- The design and color – Each system is designed differently, where some models have sleeker designs than others. It all depends on the user’s preference, as well as the ambience of the surveillance area and the general aesthetic that one wants to achieve in the surveillance area.
- Range of transmission – The distance covered matters. Obviously, larger surveillance areas require longer ranges of transmission to provide users with higher levels of security.
- Point-to-point connection – Is the system a simple plug and play; does it connect to the DVR? Higher-end models are also available with a separate DVR that records video, which is paramount if a user intends to keep surveillance running at all times.
- The dimensions of the lens – The dimension of the lens affects the coverage areas.
- The digital zoom option- Owners should be able to enlarge/ zoom in on images when necessary.
- The graphic interface – This allows users to access their systems that can be accessed from any browser in any region of the world. The interface can be password protected, but it can also give access to multiple users.
- Weatherproof – Outdoor surveillance security cameras should be protected from damage, particularly from natural elements such as the wind, rain and sun. Indoor security cameras are safe from damage, for the most part.
Performance and Ease of Use
Most surveillance cameras encounter some form of delay versus real time, a feature that is to be expected from most brands, whether expensive or not. Lag is especially common in motion detection cameras, with high-grade models only experiencing a five to ten minute lag, whereas cheaper products could experience longer delays. The system setup should be straightforward, especially for users of entry-level security cameras. All surveillance packages arrive with a guide and user manual to make the process easy enough. Additionally, all the necessary cables, connectors and wires should be easily identifiable for a seamless installation process. The picture quality for each model varies depending on the resolution and price point of different products. All in all, a good surveillance system should meet your needs, regardless of the price or the different specifications of each product.