The best home security camera for your smart home

Buyers guide: We review the latest smart home security cameras

The best smart home security camera

It didn’t take smart security cameras long to become a firm fixture of the smart home. Whether it's for security, or just a way to check what's going on at home; a pet camera, or as a supercharged smart baby monitor, wireless home security cameras are a versatile option.

Here, we’ve reviewed our pick of the best smart home security cameras. These are all cameras that we’ve spent time living with, so rest assured that we know them inside out. You can also go check out our roundup of the best outdoor smart security cameras, where we've pulled together our pick of cams for external use.

Smart home cameras: Things to consider

Cost is obviously high on the agenda and smart cameras range from around $150 to $300, but that’s just for starters.

One contentious issue is subscription fees. What you’re paying for is a cloud storage service where you can access and share your video clips from the last week, month etc. After Netflix, Spotify and the rest; do you really need another subscription in your life?

Some brands will offer you a small amount of cloud storage for nothing, others offer nothing for nothing and some get around the problem by recording everything to a local SD card. That comes with its own issues (what happens when a burglar comes in and pinches the camera and the evidence?). Some off-site storage is a must. We've outlined if there's a free storage option and the cost of on-going subscriptions in every review.

What's a little hard to bear is that some manufacturers won’t enable some of your camera’s features - two-way talk, action zones, face recognition - if you don’t pay the subscription. The occasions where these cameras do the real business of recording and catching burglars are, hopefully, few and far between. So what these extras offer is everyday value, two-way talk for a home intercom especially.

The only essential features of these devices is that they can record and live stream video 24/7, that they have a night vision mode, that they can detect when there’s a person, that they’ll record the footage when they do and that they’ll notify you on your phone. Recording and streaming at Full HD resolution is preferable because it means that you can zoom into the footage and get a decent look at the perp.

A wireless device is nice and mobile but, if want to place your camera in a specific spot, then it’s not necessary. If you do go wireless then make sure that the battery life is very good. Now we’ve got that sorted, these are the smart home cameras that we like best and a few reasons for and against each of them.

The best home security camera for your smart home

Nest Cam IQ Indoor

$299, | Amazon

The more advanced version of the indoor Nest Cam, the Nest Cam IQ Indoor, builds on what came before by adding a 4K sensor and HDR imaging. There's also a new speaker that Nest claims is seven times more powerful and three microphones with echo suppression and noise cancellation which really make a difference – the HD talk and listen feature is easily the best we’ve tested (and it’s subscription-free too, which is nice).

Subscription-free isn’t something you’ll hear too often though when it comes to Nest Cams. Although there are a tonne of great features you can tap into without topping up your initial outlay – such as night vision, motion and sound alerts, snapshot history, 1080p live views and a neat close-up tracking view (for that ultimate Baldwin in Sliver surveillance power trip) – you will have to cough up for the extra smarts that set Nest apart.

Essential reading: Nest Cam IQ Indoor vs Hive View

And cough up a fair bit unfortunately; Nest Aware doesn’t come cheap. It’s $10 a month for Basic (10 days of cloud storage), $30 for Extended (30 days), and you get 12 months for the price of 10 if you pay for a year upfront. But that’s just for your first camera. Subsequent cameras will cost you again – albeit not at full price. For that extra cash you’ll get 24/7 recording, sharing of clips and timelapses, activity zones and more intelligent alerts.

Design wise, the Nest Cam IQ is a bit of a hefty beast and there is only a wired-version available, which uses a USB-C cable; so don’t go thinking you can simply swap your old Nest Cam out for the newer IQ model and use your existing wiring.

The Nest app is great and super simple, giving you control over your various Nest devices based on their location. Obviously, the Nest app can ping you notifications as well – such as motion detection – and it can even help to tell the system when you are home or away based on your location. The Nest Home / Away function is superior to anything else we’ve tested too, as not only can your Nest Cam determine when you’re not around for security reasons, it can also do clever stuff like turn the heating off when you leave the house (if you’ve got a Nest Thermostat, that is).

It’s that ecosystem that helps to make Nest the heaviest hitter in this bunch. Sure, some of the others can play nicely with Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit (Nest does all but Apple’s platform too, by the way) but the whole Nest in-house system, combined with the expanded Works with Nest portfolio, makes it a superb all-in-one smart home setup.

The best features are reserved for people paying for Nest Aware, but there’s still enough on offer, at a decent price, to make the Nest Cam IQ Indoor a top smart security camera pick.

Oh, and there's Google Assistant built in too - if you live in the US, at least. So your Nest Cam doubles up as a smart speaker.

Feature check: Storage from $5. Full HD streaming, 130 degree angle lens, night vision, three-hour snapshot history, person alerts, facial recognition, HD talk and listen, HDR and 4K close-up tracking.

the ambient verdict
Nest Cam IQ
The Nest Cam IQ is one of the most sophisticated and advanced home security cameras you can buy. Nest has been in the game a long time and it shows – not only does the IQ add a raft of killer features, but it also ties in brilliantly with your existing smart home system.
  • Full Nest ecosystem integration
  • HDR close-up tracking
  • Facial recognition
  • Expensive cloud plan
  • Quite a bulky design
  • Mains only – no wireless option

The best home security camera for your smart home

Arlo Pro 2

$479.99, | Amazon

The Arlo Pro 2 is a serious smart home camera, and one of the most feature-rich set-ups you can buy. Yes, the cost may seem prohibitive, but for the $479 price tag you get two wireless, weather-proof cameras and the hub – which actually represents fairly decent value against the Nest Cam IQ.

It’s 1080p and produces excellent quality footage in daylight and low light. There’s night vision too, and while perfectly usable, this was the only area we felt lagged the competition. Positioning was key, but the picture suffered from blow outs if the IR was allowed to bounce back, so positioning was key.

Read this: A guide to choosing and using the best Arlo camera for you

What really struck us about the Arlo Pro 2 is its versatility. The cameras themselves are pretty slim and compact and suited to indoor and outdoor use. Yes, there are indoor cameras that blend into your home decor a lot better ­­– the Hive View being one – but it’s no-where near as powerful.

The Arlo Pro 2 is completely wireless, running off a lithium-ion battery that will last a couple of months between recharges via a USB-C cable. That’s a bit of a game-changer, and makes it a serious proposition, especially for outdoor use.

And that’s where the hub comes in. While it’s annoying to require a hub to be plugged into your router for a camera, the range of the Arlo 2 Pro is really impressive. We got great signal from the 802.11n hub throughout the garden, way beyond the limits of our Sky Q router.

And the extra features offer everything you need: motion and sound alerts, two-way audio and active motion detection areas within shot (that requires your cameras to be plugged in) are the main events.

Finally, data storage is a huge win. You get free storage from up to five cameras for a week – all accessible within the Arlo app. What’s more, the hub features a USB socket so you can store your clips offline if you wish – a win for data privacy.

Feature check: Free seven day storage. Full HD streaming, wireless, 130 degree angle lens, night vision, motion/sound alerts, two-way audio.

the ambient verdict
Arlo Pro 2
The Arlo Pro 2 is a top wireless indoor and outdoor camera boasting great range, superb battery life and great set of features. It's a great performer, whether you're looking for security or even for spotting wildlife in your garden. It's versatile – and performs in every situation. What's more, the free storage is a big win, and offsets that big price tag.
  • Great quality footage
  • Big wireless range
  • Good battery life
  • Not the best night vision
  • Expensive
  • Can't affect motion sensitivity

The best home security camera for your smart home

Hive View


Most smart home cameras have one thing in common: they’re really obnoxious. Big glass eyes monitoring your every move, and that of your guests. “Welcome to my house, Big Brother is always watching”.

We say home cameras, because actually, not all smart cameras are used for security. Yes, keeping an eye on your property is great, but the idea is to stop people breaking in, not get a video of them doing it. That’s why most people use their home cameras for keeping up with what’s going on back at the ranch – checking the kids are home from school, making sure the dog isn’t napping on the brand new sofa, that the dog-walker dropped them back safely.

That’s where the Hive View comes in. Light on security features, it’s designed – literally – to fit into your home. The best designed smart home camera we’ve seen, it comes with a black/copper or white/champagne stand. It really blends in. Want the same kind of sleep Hive View look for the outdoor? Check out the recently announced Hive View Outdoor.

In terms of tech you get Full HD recording, with a 130 degree field of view, so you get a lovely wide view. Those are fairly standard specs across smart cameras, but that’s far from the theme when comparing with other rivals. The camera can also detach from its magnetic base to for an hour's recording completely wire-free.

Compared to other home cameras, it’s pretty light on features. There’s no two-way audio, still image taking or facial recognition. You can set motion and sound alerts, but given Hive View can’t recognize people, it makes the notifications very basic. There’s no chance for it to tell you a specific person is home (and not notify you EVERY time they walk past the camera), or alert you to an unrecognized face in your home. That’s a real shame, as it diminishes the usefulness of Hive View.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. You get 24 hours of storage of saved video clips – generated exclusively by motion/sound alerts – free of charge, which is pretty neat. What’s more, at $199 the Hive View has an extremely attractive price point.

If you’re just looking for something you can manually check when you’re away from home, it’s a decent smart home camera which looks the business.

Feature check: Free storage for 24 hours, Full HD streaming, 130-degree angle lens, night vision

the ambient verdict
Hive View
A great-looking smart home camera with an attractive price and free playback of video clips for 24 hours – there's a lot to like about the Hive View. However, no facial recognition or two-way audio means that it's less powerful than rivals, and a lack of integrations (for now) is a black mark against its name.
  • Super stylish
  • Wire-free option
  • Some free storage
  • No facial recognition
  • No two-way audio
  • No integrations

The best home security camera for your smart home

Ring Stick Up Cam

$179.99, Amazon

The new Ring Stick Up Cam is designed t work indoors and out, with an improved design for 2018 to make it both look better and feel more sturdy. It's a much more versatile camera and installing it outside couldn't be easier; everything for mounting the cam comes packaged in the box, including templates and a built-in spirit level to avoid a wonky installation.

If you're using it indoors, you've got Micro USB and Power over Ethernet, so you can (if you wish) connect it directly to your router, which is helpful if your Wi-Fi is at all spotty. If you opt for the outdoor model (and make sure you choose the right one) this runs off a battery and is named, aptly, the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery (the indoor one is called the Stick Up Cam Wired). The other good news is that they're both compatible with Ring's solar panel. For the battery model, you'll get three to six months, depending on how intensively you use the camera, while it takes five to ten hours to recharge.

The new cam is also 1080 HD (the last was 720p) meaning a nice crips image with a field of view that spans 115 degrees horizontally and 65 degrees vertically.The night vision is particularly impressive, trouncing the competition to our eye, and you've also got a built-in siren that's mighty loud - good for scaring off potential burglars. That said, you'll need to pay a monthly fee of $3 if you want to access previously recorded footage (up to 90 days).

For those of you who already use Ring products, adding the Stick Up cam is a breeze. New to this Ring business? Luckily the app is super easy to get to grips with.

And if you have an Echo Show or Spot, you'll be able to give commands like, "Alexa, show me my Stick Up Cam" or, "Alexa, show me the latest event from my backyard" to bring up the feed on your Show speaker. Same for Fire TV users.

Feature check: 1080p HD recording, night vision, weatherproof, battery and wired versions.

the ambient verdict
Ring Stick Up Camera
The Ring Stick Up Camera gets an indoor version for 2018 with a powerful set of features and great video quality, including impressive night vision capabilities. If you're already a Ring user, this slips seamlessly into your setup, but if you're not it's a cinch to set up and get going, whether indoor or out.
  • Improved 1080p image with wide FoV
  • Wired and battery options
  • Google integrations are poor
  • Fee needed to view recorded footage

The best home security camera for your smart home

Logitech Circle 2

$179 (wired), $199 (wireless), | Amazon

With 180-degree cover, the Circle 2 has the widest-angle lens of the lot. So, if you’ve an impossibly large space to monitor, then the Circle 2 might be the one for you. Generally speaking, a lens with 110-degrees or more is enough for most situations. 180 is a bit overkill, to be honest, and makes everything look like a skate video – which was actually quite entertaining, if unnecessary.

The standard mount it comes with can be a touch frustrating when it comes to getting a picture that’s straight, but the plug mount and window mount are strokes of genius. The first means you can put it straight onto a power socket without the need for cabling or finding a surface to place it on, and the second is a great way of monitoring the outside without having to use a drill to fix it to a wall. All in all, it makes the Circle 2 one of the most versatile we’ve used. We’ve been living with the wired version, though there is a battery-powered model on offer as well.

The Circle 2 is an all-weather creature and the app experience is very user-friendly. You don’t need to spend hours tinkering with sliders to stop it reporting false alarms. It automatically categorises alerts into low and high-level disturbances, which you may as well re-label in your mind as ‘nonsense’ and ‘actual things happening’, and displays them all in a timeline in different colours. That timeline is a joy to swipe through and most amusing of all is the Day Brief which it creates for you on demand. It’s a timelapse version of what’s been going down in front of the Circle that day and is particularly funny if you have children or pets. Probably not so funny if you’ve got burglars. Speaking of which, the Circle 2 has no siren to scare off intruders which is rather disappointing.

Subscription-wise, things are brighter. You get a day’s worth of video history and unlimited video downloads for free. You can up that to 14 days for $3.99, per month, per camera, or head for the $9.99 package which throws in treats like person detection, action zones and more.

The one area where Circle really wins is with iOS integration. It was the first security camera that tapped into Apple’s Home app (although there are now others, including one later on in this guide). There are certain advantages in having your Circle stream a little more front and centre on an iPhone. Telling Alexa to activate Circle is probably less useful given that Circle 2 does a decent job of geo-fencing and knows whether it needs to be on or off by itself.

All in all, it’s a very decent low-cost option. It’s maybe not the sexiest to look at and you’ll want to fork out for one of the alternative mounts but all the features are there, including Full HD video recording.

Feature check: 24 hour clip storage free.Full HD recording, 180-degree angle lens, night vision, wired or battery (6400mAh), weatherproof, time-lapse mode, talk and listen.

the ambient verdict
Logitech Circle 2
The debut HomeKit smart camera, the Circle 2 ticks a lot of boxes for people looking for their first smart home security camera. It works seamlessly inside and out and the partner app is a breeze to use.
  • HomeKit enabled
  • Super wide angle 180 degrees
  • Fully weatherproof
  • Mounts are a bit fiddly
  • No scheduling on the app
  • Accessories inflate the price

The best home security camera for your smart home

Canary Flex

$199, | Amazon

Canary cams don’t look like cams, and that shouldn’t be underestimated. Whether we’re talking about the comfort of your guests or camouflage so that your cleaner/burglar doesn’t realise that they’re being watched, it’s a very useful thing that people don’t feel like they’re getting surveilled at all moments round at your pad.

Designed to work inside or out, the Flex has a stonking battery life, and a mount with one of the strongest magnets you’ll find which ensures that you can put the Flex, like the name suggests, absolutely anywhere. There are also additional ones you can buy, such as a mount for the soil, so that you can really stick the Flex where no one is going to spot it and have it poised in the foliage like some Viet Cong boobytrap.

Those features alone make it a very compelling choice. As with the Nest, the app experience is also very satisfying. It’s a case of good design that flows all the way from the hardware through to the software UX. It’s a hackneyed expression but it’s all very Apple-like. It also has a better system for knowing whether you’re home or not which involves using your phone’s GPS as well as your mobile’s Wi-Fi. The result is that it’s accurate to the front door level. It also has a Night Mode which can override your location according to when you tell the app that you normally go to bed and wake up. That way, it’s armed while you’re asleep even though you might be home.

Where we were less impressed is with notifications. It gets them right but it took a hell of a long time to present us with the video clips from each alert. Many times it never managed to load them up at all, and that’s at odds with the Live View which it didn’t seem to have a problem with. The quality of the footage itself was perfectly reasonable, although it should be noted that streaming is 720p, despite the 1080p sensor.

One of the biggest bugbears with Canary is what you get with the basic package or, more to the point, what you don’t get. Unless you pay a subscription, you can’t use the two-way talk feature and you can’t download any videos. You do at least get a day’s worth of storage and all the smart detection features. That said, there’s no activity zones or facial detection available with the Flex. If you jack it up to $9.99 per month, though, you’ll get everything you need. In fairness to Canary, having a free service at all is relatively costly for them. They’re not a company like Google, Netgear or Logitech that can subsidise this kind of thing, or even leverage back-end systems that already exist.

While the Flex is more portable, wire-free and weatherproof, we’re not convinced that it’s quite as complete a package as the older Canary All-in-One, which just seems a bit more refined. And, even though we understand the need for careful pricing, having to pay for two-way talk and downloads doesn’t feel right.

Better smart home integration would also be welcome – currently the only official support is for Google Assistant; you’ll have to use Wink or IFTTT to get some Alexa action. HomeKit compatibility is coming soon, we’re told.

Feature check: 24 hours of clip storage free, Full HD recording, 116-degree angle lens, night vision, wired or battery (6700mAh), weatherproof, motion detection, two-way talk (with membership).

the ambient verdict
Canary Flex
The Canary Flex is a decent option for people not wanting to have obvious smart cameras on show in or outside their house. It’s feature rich enough to do the job, and the quality is good, but it does fall short of its rivals in many areas.
  • Discreet design
  • Great long battery life
  • Easy to move around
  • Only 720p streaming
  • Notification delays
  • Two-way talk is additional cost

The best home security camera for your smart home

Somfy One


The Somfy One is probably the least well-known option in our list, but it more than earns its place thanks to its extra security smarts. Somfy snapped up security startup MyFox in 2017 and the Somfy One was the first new product out of the door. The good news is that it gets along just fine with any existing MyFox security kit, such as window and door sensors (IntelliTAGs), or alarm systems.

However, the Somfy One is also designed to be an alarm system itself – you don’t need to go out and buy additional sirens. Sure, other security cameras have built-in sirens, but the Somfy One is designed to work together with motion sensors in your house, so it doesn’t just rely on what it sees to raise an alarm. If your Somfy system is activated and someone opens a window or door, your One camera can raise the alarm. Likewise, if it spots motion itself when the alarm is armed, it can fire off its siren too (90+ dB and, believe us, very loud indeed). If an intruder is detected by the camera, a still image is taken and a small video clip is recorded and that’s yours for free – no need for a cloud plan.

A nice touch on the Somfy One is the motorised shutter that effectively turns the camera off, but also gives peace of mind to people that you’re not spying on them. You can set the shutter to only be open when you’re not home, or only when the alarm system is activated.

On to the minus points and the app is a tiny bit clunky – the One isn’t front and centre of the Somfy app, you need to click the little camera icon in the top right corner – and there’s no two-way talk option, just a weird ‘press and hold’ to send your voice, which makes intercom chat pretty impossible (it’s designed to warn burglars, not chat with your family). Activity zones are limited to highlighting squares within a grid and there’s no facial recognition on board, which would be useful in this sort of setup.

Also, the design is pretty hefty – no doubt due to it packing in that whopping alarm and its only motion sensors (in case someone tries to move it). A couple of people who spotted ours asked us if it was the new second gen Amazon Echo speaker, which we suppose at least shows that the shutter does make it look less camera-like when shut.

Back to the plus points and you can command it using Alexa through an Echo device and it also carries the Works With Nest badge, with some neat home/away integrations available there.

Feature check: Free data storage. Full HD, night vision, 90+ dB siren, motion alarm, 130 degree angle lens, motorised privacy shutter.

the ambient verdict
Somfy One
The Somfy One is a big ol’ unit but it does pack a meaty security punch. It’s light on the smart security camera extras but goes big on focusing on its main job – that of keeping your home secure.
  • Loud siren alarm
  • Teams up with IntelliTAGs
  • Privacy mode with physical shutter
  • No facial recognition
  • App is a bit clunky
  • Limited two-way talk

The best home security camera for your smart home

Honeywell Lyric C2

$169.99, | Amazon

Honeywell is no stranger to the smart home, but it didn't make its smart camera debut until early 2017, releasing both the Lyric C1 and C2.

The latter, as you can imagine, is the more advanced of the pair, offering a 1080p, 145-degree lens to capture the action and two-way audio. It's also compact, making it perfect for hiding on bookshelves or in tight corners. And while it's not the most premium look, the build does feel solid in the hand and also offers some versatility - if you twist the camera it pops out of the stand to allow for wall or ceiling mounting. That's really handy if, like us, you don't particularly have a big space you want to monitor and instead would prefer to hover it over your front door.

Once out of its shell, you can also access the microSD slot. There'll already be a 8GB card inside, and though this doesn't sound like a great deal of storage to work with, the fact Honeywell offers free cloud storage means this on-camera solution is nothing but a backup. It's not common you can escape the clutches of a subscription and still get everything offered out the box, either, so this is definitely a tick in the C2's favour.

However, while your clips are saved to the cloud for 24 hours and retained on the inside (which means your camera can still record when your connection goes kaput), it would be nice to at least have the option to upgrade the amount of cloud footage saved, and also set schedules for the camera. By not, it means you're not able to really decide when it records, and the Lyric will only save clips when motion or sound is picked up.

Those set up with the company's thermostats or other wares will already be familiar with the app, where you can control the device, but even beginners won't have a hard time. Honeywell makes features like turning the camera on/off through geolocation and setting up the four alert zones (and adjusting sensitivity within them) very straightforward. The two-way audio also gets a thumbs up. While it's a fairly elementary feature in the smart cameras on this list, the C2 does manage to offer smarter detection and differentiate between the likes of sirens blaring and, say, a baby crying, meaning you get personalised alerts to your phone.

So, what are the negatives? Well, while the Lyric C2 gives you night vision, we found it to be less than sharp during testing. It's not a huge issue, but those who are expecting the same quality in the night as during the day will be a little disappointed. We also initially had some issues getting the device to make friends with Alexa, and Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit support is unfortunately lacking.

Feature check: Free 24-hour cloud storage, 1080p HD 145-degree lens, smart two-way audio, geofencing, adjustable alert zones

the ambient verdict
Honeywell Lyric C2
This Honeywell smart camera ticks plenty of boxes, despite falling short in a couple of key areas. While those who want solid quality in daytime recordings, easy setup and two-way audio are catered for, night vision and a lack of options within smart assistant link-up and storage slightly limit its appeal.
  • Versatile design
  • Smart audio
  • Great daytime vision
  • Limited smart assistant support
  • Blurry night vision
  • Can't upgrade cloud storage

The best home security camera for your smart home

Ezviz Mini O

$59.99, | Amazon

You don't have to spend big to get a smart camera, and the budget version of Ezviz's Mini O range is a great way to get in on the ground floor. Perfect for smart home starters, or those who simply want to buy multiple cameras without having to take out a second mortgage, there's plenty of the basics covered off here.

Like the Honeywell Lyric C2, this is a palm-sized camera - one that you're probably going to keep on a shelf - with a fairly smooth range of motion. It's not going to win any awards for design or build quality, but it's also not completely ugly, and being able to move the head around the ball-and-socket fit is handy for aiming it up or down at a specific area. The magnet in the base means you can stick it on the likes of your fridge, too.

So, how well does it actually monitor your home? Well, as we say, there are some positives. It'll auto-switch between the day and night, while giving you live streaming and alerts for the activity detection (for which the sensitivity can be adjusted) and even two-way audio. Recording are also stored through on microSD or through the subscription package, which gives you cloud storage.

Naturally, though, it's not all plain sailing - for the price, there's obviously going to be a few concessions. The first we noticed pretty quickly, as setup was a total mess with the Mini O. Syncing to our network took plenty of trial and error with QR codes and manually entering details (we still don't really know how it ended up clicking), and though it offers compatibility with IFTTT (syncing with, for example, a Philips Hue bulb to turn it on when motion is detected) and Alexa, this also posed a few problems.

The video quality isn't the best you can find on the market. Like many capturing at 720p, it suffers with sunlight and brighter rooms, while the night vision range drops off pretty dramatically after a few metres. It's still definitely usable, just don't go expecting Nest Cam levels of capturing and instead look to the 1080p version of the Mini O.

That is if you can tolerate even looking at your recordings through the companion app. After already suffering through some setup issues, we found that looking back through our video history and cloud storage through the app was pretty arduous. Recordings and events aren't presented with thumbnails, making trying to swipe through to the action pretty impossible.

All in, though, if you can handle the limitations of the Mini O, you can eventually get set up with a few and have a second eye glancing over your entire home. And with not that many budget options giving you the same feature set, it's still worth exploring.

Feature check: 720p 111-degree lens, night vision, two-way audio, real-time alerts

the ambient verdict
Ezviz Mini O
The Mini O has its problems, but it's a great way to get started with smart cameras if you're on a real budget. If you simply want something that covers the basics, and can accept there's going to be a few hiccups along the way with setup and playback, it can still do a job within your home.
  • Neat little design
  • Decent feature set
  • Excellent price
  • Setup is rickety
  • Video quality lacking
  • Unintuitive playback options

The best home security camera for your smart home

Netatmo Presence

$299.99, | Amazon

An outdoor specialist, the Netatmo Presence is one of the most straightforward and easy-to-use-out-of-the-box smart security cameras that we’ve tested. That’s not only because there are no subscription plans to worry about (simply fire up the app and you’re away) but because there’s no need for complicated installation and mounting. If you’ve already got an outdoor light on the side of your house, porch, garage or shed, the Presence can simply make use of the wiring already in place.

Thanks to the company's 'deep learning algorithms', that are honed on the popular Welcome camera, the Presence is able to record and analyse, in real time, if someone or something is loitering around your premises. It pings you smart notifications in the simple to use Netatmo Security app, letting you know whether a person, car or animal has been seen. These notifications can also be customised depending on how much detection information you need.

And all of this subscription free. Netatmo offers a record to SD card option but also lets you store your footage to your Dropbox account, or an FTP server. It’s a neat approach that we’d like to see other brands offering up. Why should you pay for server space if you’ve already got plenty free somewhere else?

On to the bad points and the Presence is a pretty ugly camera/light combo that definitely looks more 20th century security than 21st century smart. The built-in floodlight is a pretty unique feature, making it a device with a useful double armoury, but surely it could have looked less blocky?

What that blocky box does offer is a Full HD camera with 100-degree field of view and a 20 metre detection range. An Alert Zone mode lets you set up specific zones for detection and the app sends out notifications based around those zones. Up to four Alert Zones can be set up with a single system. Video footage supports pinch-to-zoom to zone in closer to suspect objects and a time lapse mode where the camera will collate one minute of photos compiled from the last 24 hours filmed by the camera.

You can choose how you want the smart floodlight to operate within the app – for example coming on at a certain time of day or just firing up when it detects a person, car or animal.

The Presence joins the Logitech Circle 2 in the Apple HomeKit club but, annoyingly – especially given that other Netatmo devices do work with Alexa and Google Assistant – it is just Apple’s platform that is officially supported for now.

Feature check: Free data storage and SD card option. Full HD recording, 100-degree lens, night vision, connects to regular light wiring, weatherproof, smart motion detection, SD card recording, third party cloud recording, floodlight.

the ambient verdict
Netatmo Presence
The Netatmo Presence is a pretty unique offering that definitely screams “security” but at the same time taps nicely into Netatmo’s ever-growing portfolio of smart home products.
  • Subscription free model
  • Uses existing light wiring
  • Netatmo ecosystem is strong
  • Only HomeKit for now
  • Ugly design
  • Ethernet would have been handy

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

The best home security camera for your smart home

$349, | Amazon

A second entry for Nest, but the Google-company is probably the biggest player in the business so we'll allow it. And, of course, it makes the cut because it's an awesome outdoor camera - albeit with those same Nest Aware caveats we mentioned above for its indoor brethren. Like the Indoor, the IQ Outdoor features a bunch of advanced tracking skills, with a focus on recognising and tracking people around your property.

It's noticeably bigger than its Indoor equivalent and the non-IQ Outdoor Nest Cam. But potential burglars will definitely notice it - measuring in at 12.8 x 9.3 x 9.3cm.

Installation, as with any outdoor bit of tech that requires wiring to the mains, is a bit of a faff. Essentially, you're going to have to drill a hole through the wall in order to get it plugged in. If you've got outdoor power, that'll work, but you'll have a job hiding the 7.5m cable.

The camera on the IQ Outdoor has a 1/2.5-inch, 8-megapixel (4K) colour sensor, with 12x digital zoom and enhance, close-up tracking view and a 130° diagonal viewing angle. Like the Indoor variant, the camera actually zooms in and follows people around automatically and you'll also get all the people and familiar person alerts too.

In order to deter any unwanted lingerers around your property, the IQ Outdoor features Nest's Talk and Listen HD audio tech, so you can shout at any strangers you don't like the look of – and they'll hear you clearly thanks to the big speaker on the base. You'll also hear their reply as a result of an upgraded 3-microphone array. When you talk through the Cam IQ Outdoor, the RGB light around the edge will also glow blue – much as it does when using Google Assistant on the IQ Indoor. Google's Assistant isn't built in – for obvious reasons – but you can control on/off switching, and viewing the Nest stream on a Chromecast-enabled device through a Google Home speaker. Likewise with Alexa and an Echo device with a display.

The IQ Outdoor has an IP66 weatherproof rating – which means -40°C to 45°C (-40°F to 113°F) operating. It works on Wi-Fi at 2.4GHz, so make sure you've got a strong signal where you're planning on putting it.

Feature check: Storage from $5. 1080p streaming, IP66 weatherproof, 130 degree angle lens, night vision, person alerts, facial recognition, HD talk and listen, 4K close-up tracking.

the ambient verdict
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
Nest's top outdoor camera is one of the stand-out performers in an ever-growing market - even though many of the features that set the IQ apart come at an additional cost. Those quibbles aside though, if you're looking for the most feature-rich camera on the market, tied into a superb ecosystem, then the Cam IQ Outdoor is a top choice.
  • Packed with intelligent tracking tech
  • 12x HDR zoom
  • HD 2-way audio
  • Expensive
  • The best features cost more
  • Installation requires DIY skills

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