Best Security Cameras for 2020: 14 Makers Compared | Digitized House

Guide to the Connected Home

Best Security Cameras for 2020: 14 Makers Compared

Best Security Cameras for 2020: 14 Makers Compared
Ring Stick Up Cam (top), Amazon Cloud Cam (lower left), and Kasa Spot (lower right). Image: Digitized House.
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Home security is more important than ever. But traditional security cameras can only let you know when a crime has happened after the fact. You can’t keep an eye on your home 24/7—or, at least, you can’t do it all by yourself. That’s where the latest genre of DIY home security cameras come into the picture, and in this comparison guide we cover the best security camera options out there for 2020.

(Editor’s Note: This article was revised on 26 November 2019 to reflect the addition of August Home video doorbells.)

While You’re Away, Burglars Are at Play

According to a recent burglary victimization survey, the most common burglaries happen during work hours, while crimes at night were 17% of all burglaries. Your home is more likely to be invaded during the day when most criminals know you’re away.

In addition, more residents today are reporting stolen packages right off of their doorsteps. In fact, about 8% of Americans have had a holiday package stolen from the front of their homes. And when you don’t have a home security camera, the perpetrator will likely be long gone before you even know what’s happened.

Fortunately, there are more home security options than ever before. You can use smart home security to network cameras with a devices like door sensors and smoke alarms, or get a live stream of your home—indoors and out—with the touch of a button. 

But not all home security cameras are made equal. And not every feature or option will be right for everyone. Here is a rundown of some of the most popular home security cameras and systems, presented in alphabetical order.

[1] Amazon Cloud Cam

Amazon Cloud Cam (Key Edition). Image: Digitized House.
Amazon Cloud Cam (Key Edition). Image: Digitized House.

Best For:

Indoor security for those with an Amazon Alexa already in the house. A special version is available for use with Amazon Key In-Garage or In-Home Delivery Service.

Key Features:

1080p resolution. Two-way audio communication. AI-powered smart Person Detection. You can set Motion Zones, which will prompt the Cloud Cam to ignore movement in certain areas. The Cloud Cam is also fully Alexa-compatible. You can use Alexa to cast your Cloud Cam’s live feed to many Amazon devices.

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Amazon Cloud Cam

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Drawbacks:

For indoor use only. You will have to purchase a subscription service to get more than 24 hours of video retention. The cheapest level of paid plan, Basic, supports up to three cameras as well as the Person Detection and Zone features but offers just 7 days’ worth of cloud storage. And at $6.99 a month for just the Basic level, the subscription model is a good bit more expensive than similar models from Amazon’s competitors. 

Available Subscription Plans:

See details in our Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans.

App:

The Cloud Cam has its own dedicated app available for Android and iPhone. If you’re on desktop, you’ll have to navigate to the Amazon web interface to see your Cloud Cam’s live stream.

Live Video Streaming:

To your desktop, any device that supports the Cloud Cam app, or just about any new-ish Amazon device with a screen—like the Fire TV, Echo Show or Fire Tablet.

[2] Amcrest IP Cameras

Amcrest UltraHD 4K Outdoor Bullet POE Camera. Image: Amcrest.
Amcrest UltraHD 4K Outdoor Bullet POE Camera. Image: Amcrest.

Best For:

Mid-range home security applications that only need a limited number of cameras. Broad range of low- to medium-priced cameras for both indoor and outdoor applications, as well as security camera packages with local hard drive recording.

Key Features:

HD video resolution (1080p up to 4K). Infrared night vision. Two-way audio communication. Weatherproofing available. 24/7 continuous recording and motion recording available. Cameras have SD slots and can also store footage on the cloud with paid plans. Power Over Ethernet (POE) options available for some cameras.

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Amcrest 4MP UltraHD Indoor WiFi Camera

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Amcrest UltraHD 4K Outdoor Bullet POE Camera

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Drawbacks:

Wired and wireless cameras are available, but wireless is not a default and can cost you more. Cloud storage costs rise with storage length and each camera you have installed (the cheapest plan is 7-day motion recording for $6 per camera per month, while the most expensive plan is 24/7 continuous recording for $35 per camera per month). Less third-party integration than other cameras.

Available Subscription Plans:

See details in our Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans.

App:

Standalone app that’s available for most devices. Only certain devices will let you use the app to integrate with third-party devices like Alexa.

Live Video Streaming:

Available via the app and on the web, regardless of plan.

[3] Arlo Cameras

Arlo Pro 3 2K HDR Outdoor Camera. Image: Arlo.
Arlo Pro 3 2K HDR Outdoor Camera. Image: Arlo.

Best For:

Versatile wireless indoor/outdoor all-weather home security. Wired indoor cameras also available.

Key Features:

Indoor/outdoor cams are weather-resistant, will stream up to available 4K video resolution, infrared night vision, standard “No Subscription” service is free. Color night vision available on some cameras.

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Arlo Ultra 4K Indoor/Outdoor Camera

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Arlo Pro 2 1080p Indoor/Outdoor Camera

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Arlo Pro 3 2K HDR Indoor/Outdoor Camera

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Arlo Q

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Drawbacks:

Expensive, feature-light, and no audio recording. Arlo does sell a lower-cost version of their camera, the Arlo Q, but it’s designed for indoor use only, is wired only, and has the same limited feature set as all other Arlo models.

Available Subscription Plans:

See details in our Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans.

App:

The Arlo management app is available for Android, Apple iOS, and Apple TV. Can also be accessed via the web.

Live Video Streaming:

Available via the Arlo app.

[4] August Home Smart Doorbell Cams

August View wire-free doorbell camera. Image: August Home.
August View wire-free doorbell camera. Image: August Home.

Best For:

Door security for homes with August Home smart door locks installed. Option to choose from wired (Doorbell Cam Pro) or wire-free installation (August View).

Key Features:

Integration with the August app, easy pairing with August smart locks, multiple chime tones, and DIY install. For the Doorbell Cam Pro, an included USB dock enables setup indoors before taking the device outside, while built-in floodlight enables full-color video at night. On the August View, a 1440P stream gives higher-resolution video and an onboard lithium-ion battery can be recharged with an included USB cable.

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August Doorbell Cam Pro

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August View Doorbell Camera

Drawbacks:

Basic free plan only offers 24 hours of cloud storage. August Connect Wi-Fi Bridge required for remote unlocking of August locks for visitors. Both products are pricey.

Available Subscription Plans:

See details in our Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans.

App:

The free August app on iOS and Android integrates all activity from August doorbells and smart locks into one tab.

Live Video Streaming:

Available via the app, regardless of plan.

Blink XT2 Indoor/Outdoor Camera. Image: Blink.
Blink XT2 Indoor/Outdoor Camera. Image: Blink.

Best For:

Lightweight, low-cost, weatherproof home security with no need for extensive recording

Key Features:

Free, indefinite cloud storage. Battery life of up to two years. One of the lowest-cost all-weather home cameras out there.

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Drawbacks:

Only records for 60 seconds after detecting motion. No on-demand recording. No two-way audio. Requires a Sync module for the camera to communicate with the app (the Sync module is included with purchase, and if you have a Sync module from an older Blink camera, it should also work.)

Available Subscription Plans:

See details in our Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans.

App:

The Blink app is available for most devices and also via the web.

Live Video Streaming:

Available via the Blink app.

[6] Canary Pro (All-in-1)

Canary Pro (All-in-1) Camera. Image: Canary.
Canary Pro (All-in-1) Camera. Image: Canary.

Best For:

All-in-one indoor camera with security system features.

Key Features:

Wide-angle view (147 degrees). Two-way audio. No contract required. An air quality sensor, which detects pollutants like carbon monoxide, hydrogen, ethanol, cigarette smoke, cooking odors, and dust (the Canary website does note that the camera is not meant to replace a carbon monoxide or smoke detector). Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

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Canary Pro (All-in-1)

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Drawbacks:

Required Wi-Fi connectivity, no wall mounting kit.

Available Subscription Plans:

See details in our Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans.

App:

Standard camera control center available for most devices and via the web.

Live Video Streaming:

Available via the Canary app.

D-Link mydlink Indoor Mini HD Wi-Fi Camera. Image: D-Link.
D-Link mydlink Indoor Mini HD Wi-Fi Camera. Image: D-Link.

Best For:

Budget smart security with mostly no-hassle setup. Indoor only.

Key Features:

Low price point. Infrared night vision. Two-way audio. Audio and motion detection.

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Drawbacks:

Cheaper models lack features. Advanced models support 1080p resolution, but nothing beyond that. Cloud storage is free, but recordings only last 24 hours.

Available Subscription Plans:

See details in our Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans.

App:

Available for most devices. Allows you to tweak sensitivity settings and customize other features.

Live Video Streaming:

Available via the D-Link app and via the D-Link web interface.

[8] Google Nest Cameras, Video Doorbells, and Smart Displays

The first new product since the Google and Nest brands merged, the Google Nest Hub Max was on display at an Austin Best Buy store. Image: Digitized House.
Google Nest Hub Max, with integrated Nest Cam. Image: Digitized House.

Best For:

Video security capability that comes with a smart home control center. Works with the Google Home app, Google Assistant, Google Nest Hub smart displays, and the Nest app.

Key Features:

Compatible with dozens of different smart home devices. 24/7 video recording available. Cloud storage is encrypted.

Check Latest Price:

Google Nest Cam IQ Indoor

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Google Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

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Google Nest Hello Video Doorbell

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Google Nest Hub Max

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Drawbacks:

Very expensive. Variety of compatible products can seem more overwhelming than useful. A subscription plan is required for video retention. Recent Google Nest move away from the Works with Nest program and migration to Google accounts and Works with Google Assistant may cause significant disruptions. Limited functionality for Nest devices in Google Nest Hub displays (for example, no capability to view steaming history). No camera on smaller Nest Hub (only on Nest Hub Max).

Available Subscription Plans:

See details in our Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans.

App:

Most Google Nest camera devices are controllable via both the Nest app and Google Home app. Some Nest devices will require the Nest app to be configured. While not officially discontinued yet, the Nest app will probably be merged with Google Home in the near future (you can also do most of this from a Google Nest Hub smart display.)

Live Video Streaming:

Available via the Nest app, Nest website, Google Home app, and the smart displays.

[9] Kasa Smart Cameras

Kasa Spot Indoor Camera. Image: Digitized House.
Kasa Spot Indoor Camera. Image: Digitized House.

Best For:

Mid-range DIY security cameras that can integrate with range of smart home devices.

Key Features:

1080p HD video. Two days of free video storage. Built-in siren. Integrates with other Kasa Smart products, like their smart plugs, switches, and bulbs with the Kasa app. Indoor and outdoor options.

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Kasa Spot Indoor Camera

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Kasa Cam Outdoor

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Drawbacks:

Low-quality audio. Kasa recently dropped Works with Nest features from the Kasa app.

Available Subscription Plans:

See details in our Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans.

App:

The Kasa companion app is available for most devices. Allows you to precisely change the camera’s viewing angle and set zones that the camera’s motion sensor will ignore.

Live Video Streaming:

Available via the Kasa Smart app.

[10] Logitech Cameras

Logitech Circle 2 Indoor/Outdoor Camera (Wired). Image: Logitech.
Logitech Circle 2 Indoor/Outdoor Camera (Wired). Image: Logitech.

Best For:

Indoor/outdoor home security.

Key Features:

Easy set-up. Indoor and outdoor use. 180 degree viewing angle. Integrates with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Siri, and Google Assistant. Free 24-hour cloud storage. Activity zones available on some advanced plans.

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Logitech Circle 2 Indoor/Outdoor Camera (Wired)

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Logitech Circle 2 Indoor/Outdoor Camera (Wire-Free)

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Drawbacks:

Wired by default. A wireless Circle 2 is available, but will cost about $20 more than the base model. No continuous recording.

Available Subscription Plans:

See details in our Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans.

App:

Available for most devices.

Live Video Streaming:

Video streaming available via both the app and on the web.

[11] Netatmo Cameras

Netatmo Presence Smart Outdoor Camera with Floodlight. Image: Netatmo.
Netatmo Presence Smart Outdoor Camera with Floodlight. Image: Netatmo.

Best For:

Subscription-free, high-quality home security.

Key Features:

An indoor and outdoor camera are available, while a video doorbell is not currently available—but should hit the market some time this year. Built-in noise maker to make your home seem like it’s occupied. Timelapse feature allows you to quickly review long video recordings. Smart motion detection. Integrates with other Netatmo devices, including the Smart Siren, Smart Door and Window Sensors. One of few security cameras that works with Apple HomeKit. Also works with Google Assistant.

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Netatmo Welcome Smart Indoor Camera

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Netatmo Presence Smart Outdoor Camera with Floodlight

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Drawbacks:

Works best in concert with other Netamo security devices. On the expensive side. No Amazon Alexa support.

Available Subscription Plans:

See details in our Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans.

App:

Available for most devices. If you have another Netatmo app installed on your phone, may still need to install the security-specific Netatmo Security App.

Live Video Streaming:

Available via the app and on the web.

[12] Resideo’s Honeywell Home Cameras and Security Systems 

Resideo's Honeywell Home Smart Home Security System. Image: Resideo.
Resideo’s Honeywell Home Smart Home Security System. Image: Resideo.

Best For:

Mid-range DIY home security system that needs sensors and multi-point indoor and outdoor camera monitoring.

Key Features:

All devices are wireless. Integrated security module/camera units have onboard motion sensors, with Amazon Alexa voice control and speakers built in—so can also play supported Alexa music services. Accessory motion sensors are available. Uses Honeywell Home Secure WiseLink protocol for extra security.

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Honeywell Home Smart Home Security System

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Honeywell Home Indoor Motion Viewer

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Drawbacks:

Honeywell Home Free Plan cloud storage only has 24-hour video retention.

Available Subscription Plans:

See details in our Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans.

App:

Honeywell Home app available for most devices. Standard features.

Live Video Streaming:

Available on-demand via the app or on the web.

[13] Ring Cameras, Video Doorbells, and Security Systems

Ring Stick Up Cam Battery. Image: Digitized House.
Ring Stick Up Cam Battery (2nd generation). Image: Digitized House.

Best For:

Versatile DIY multi-point indoor and outdoor camera plus doorbell monitoring through a single app.

Key Features:

Motion-activated notifications. Real-time video with live view. Two-way talk on many devices. Lifetime theft protection. Whole-home security with Ring Alarm system and available professional monitoring. Neighborhood watch feature in app. Solar panel power optional for truly wireless monitoring. Works with Amazon Alexa and Amazon Echo Show devices.

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Ring Video Doorbell 2

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Ring Indoor Cam

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Ring Stick Up Cam Battery (2nd generation)

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Ring Stick Up Cam Plug-In

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Ring Alarm Home Security Kit

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Drawbacks:

Included free plan does not provide any video retention. Integration not possible with Google Home, Google Nest, and Google Nest Hub smart displays.

Available Subscription Plans:

See details in our Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans.

App:

Ring app available for most devices and via the web.

Live Video Streaming:

Available via the Ring app and Ring website.

[14] SimpliSafe Cameras, Video Doorbells, and Security Systems

SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro and app. Image: SimpliSafe.
SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro and app. Image: SimpliSafe.

Best For:

High-quality DIY wireless home security with a wide variety of devices to choose from.

Key Features:

Month-to-month contracts. Two different contract levels and a wide variety of device packages. Devices are owned by you, so you can pause contract without needing to return or uninstall any equipment. Devices include doorbells, smoke detectors, video cameras, sirens and entry sensors. Cameras offer 1080p video.

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SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro

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SimpliSafe SimpliCam Indoor HD Security Camera

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SimpliSafe Security System, SimpliCam, and Video Doorbell Pro (10-piece)

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Drawbacks:

A paid plan is required to get video retention features. While a video doorbell is available, no other outdoor cameras available yet.

Available Subscription Plans:

See details in our Definitive Guide to DIY Security Camera Subscription Plans.

App:

Available for most devices. Allows you to control all your SimpliSafe devices. Requires a contract to use.

Live Video Streaming:

Available via the app and on the web.

Best Smart Security Cameras

When picking a smart security camera, it’s best to focus on the personal needs of your home. Some DIY security systems offer window sensors, smoke alarms, and doorbells that will help you stay ahead of any threat to your safety. But maybe all you need is another pair of eyes on the front door. And whatever you need, it’s probably available—now is one of the best times to buy a smart security camera.

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Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a technology journalist and productivity blogger. She is a senior writer for MakeUseOf and the owner and editor of her tech productivity blog, Productivity Bytes. You can read more by Kayla at Inc.com, VentureBeat, DMN, and more.