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Best home security cameras of 2021


If you’re looking to keep your home safe and secure, it might be time to invest in a home security camera. There are plenty of excellent security cameras and video surveillance systems to choose from, with cameras that offer features such as two-way communication, motion tracking, night vision, cloud storage, smart notifications, professional monitoring and HD video for top-notch video quality. With numerous options on the market — including specifically indoor, outdoor, wireless or DIY security cameras — it can feel daunting to find a perfect match for the camera system you have in mind. 

We’ve tested dozens of cameras and condensed everything we’ve learned into this best home security camera list. Below, you’ll find the best home security cameras in every major subcategory, from smart doorbells to the models that work well with Google AssistantAmazon Alexa and Siri voice commands. Some are fairly simple, with a motion sensor that sends a push notification to your smartphone when they detect movement, while others come with features such as professional monitoring and cloud storage that prevent you from having to sift through hours of footage. 

If you’re looking for the best home security camera, get ready to dive in. We’ll update this best home security camera list periodically.

Wyze

Wyze disappointed some of its customers when its ridiculously cheap cameras got slightly less ridiculously cheap. But at $30, the Wyze Cam remains a great budget surveillance camera — and a great camera. Period.

The WiFi security camera features HD video quality live streaming, motion detection, night vision, a decent app and, best of all, 14 days of free motion-based cloud storage. This Wyze security camera also features a built-in microSD card slot if you want local video storage rather than relying solely on its cloud service (you have to buy the microSD card separately).

This home security camera works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands and features a motion detection zone and the ability to listen for and alert you to special frequencies, like smoke alarms.

Read our Wyze Cam (2020) review.

 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Now this is a smart security camera. The $150 Arlo Video Doorbell (currently $20 off) has a lot going for it. While 130 bucks isn’t cheap, it’s more affordable than most of the other smart buzzers I’ve tested. As a doorbell camera, it’s built to be an outdoor camera, so you don’t have to ever worry about the elements. Similar to the Arlo Pro 3 outdoor security camera, the Arlo Video Doorbell has arm/disarm modes, two-way audio, motion zones and an integrated siren.

The security camera system also has a competitive cloud storage subscription plan, starting at $3 per month. If you pay for cloud storage, you get access to advanced features like custom person, animal, vehicle and package detection for your outdoor camera video surveillance.

Read our Arlo Video Doorbell review.

 

David Priest/CNET

Arlo’s latest Pro security system series camera is a fantastic home security camera system device with features to spare. It boasts 2k resolution, a 160-degree field of view, 2-way talk, full-color night vision, a built-in siren and spotlight, compatibility with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit — the list goes on.

This powerhouse of a camera costs only $200 — pricier than super-affordable options like Wyze, but easily worth the premium. For $3 per month, you can also get smart alerts, motion zones, 30 days of event history and a few other cool features. In short, the Arlo Pro 4 is a fantastic security camera for most people.

Read our Arlo Pro 4 review.

 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Google’s newest — and smartest — Nest Cam is a specifically-indoor and wired gadget that offers a slew of great features in a pretty package. The wired camera comes in four unique colors too, because who doesn’t love a light pink security camera? This “wired” designation separates it from the Nest Cam (Battery), a heftier Google Nest model designed for indoor or outdoor use, that was announced earlier this year. Armed with the latest software features like object identification, activity zones, and Google Home app viewing and support, this new Google Nest device has both beauty and brains. 

The $100 Nest Cam (Wired) is not only the most affordable Nest camera yet, but it’s also our favorite from the brand. Thanks to the easy set-up, the attractive design and, most importantly, the free smart features, it takes the top spot of all Google Assistant cameras. 

While Wyze currently offers better options for cloud storage and cheaper price tags, the Nest Cam (Wired) indoor security camera is one of the best home security cameras on the market for Google Assistant loyalists.

Read our Nest Cam review.

 

Home security camera FAQs

Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about home security cameras. If you have any others, feel free to reach out on Twitter (@david_p_priest) or you can email me from my author page (just click the little orange envelope).

What’s the difference between security cameras and surveillance cameras?

A lot of the terminology when talking about security and surveillance cameras can be hard to track, not least because people use the terms informally and interchangeably all the time. Basically, surveillance cameras are usually used with CCTV, in businesses and where there is continuous recording. They are meant to record acts as they happen, so they can be investigated later. Home security cameras, by contrast, are often motion-triggered and connected to cloud storage. Often, people install them primarily to deter would-be burglars.

Can wireless cameras work without internet?

Many wireless cameras in 2021 cannot fully function without an internet connection. Some cameras — especially those that are part of a larger home security system — use alternative radio protocols to transfer information. Those cameras will require a separate hub. Other cameras, if they have local storage, will be able to record and store footage — on a microSD card, for example — even if the internet is out. All that said, most wireless cameras will require Wi-Fi to use all their features as intended.

How do you tell if a security camera is watching you?

Cameras can really strengthen your home’s security, but they can also degrade its privacy. Hackers have made headlines by spying on people or using two-way talk features with children in their rooms. So can you easily tell whether a security camera is actively recording you? Well, it depends. Most security cameras will include a small light that will turn on when it’s recording, though that may not be a reliable indicator if the camera has been hacked. Others, like Arlo’s indoor camera, include design features that make it totally clear when the camera is watching and when it’s not. In general, though, devices with physical shields are always a solid option if you’re worried about maintaining your privacy.

When installing wireless security cameras, keep in mind that the smart home camera you buy (and your security system as a whole) will only be as good as the quality of your Wi-Fi connection at the location where you plan to install it. So check your Wi-Fi speed before you drill holes in the walls or otherwise mess up your doorframe, brick or siding. If the connection is spotty on your wireless security camera, you’ll notice significant lag times, pixelation in the live feed and other Wi-Fi delays that make security cameras a pain to use.

With a good Wi-Fi connection, you should be in good shape to use your indoor camera or outdoor security camera without any major camera system issues. Still have questions? Take a look at my home security camera buying guide.

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