Protect your home and family with these connected digital watchers
The smart home brings with it more than just voice assistants, smart lights and connected thermostats. Security is a big part of the trend too. It makes sense – people will gladly push aside fears around connecting their home if it keeps their family safe.
Whether you invest in a full-featured, multi-camera and sensor system, or a simple mounted camera at your front door, there are many ways you can keep an eye on your home while you are away from it.
With some new announcements from big players like Nest, Samsung and Ring, it’s getting to be something of a crowded market, with a variety of competing products and standards. So to help you cut through the noise we’ve picked out the best smart home security tech for you to take a look at.
From the basic to the comprehensive, you should find something to match your budget and needs. We’re starting with complete security systems then moving onto individual smart home cameras.
The best smart security systems
Nest’s big, new smart home idea for this autumn is Nest Secure, an alarm system fit for 2017. First up, there’s Nest Guard – the minimalist Wi-Fi connected hub which you use to put your security code in and emits a very loud siren when the code isn’t entered or is entered incorrectly. There’s ‘guard while home’ and ‘guard while away’ modes, a backup battery and you can pay for backup LTE for $5 a month too.
Nest Detect is its all-in-one door and motion sensor which features a small LED light to light your way in the dark. And Nest Tag is an NFC well, tag that you attach to your keys and tap on the Guard when you get back home, instead of putting in the code every time.
The whole system works with the Nest app, the Nest Cam IQ and Cam IQ Outdoor smart security cameras (below) and a Nest + Yale smart lock arriving in 2018. Plus Nest also has a new smart doorbell camera, the Nest Hello. We’ll be testing out all the new Nest kit, which goes on sale in the US and Canada in November, soon so look out for reviews.
$499 for Nest Secure starter pack (two Tags, two Detects), $598 for starter pack + Nest Cam Outdoor, nest.com
Ring, which you might know from its smart doorbell cameras, is attempting to go toe-to-toe with Nest on home security. Its new Protect system, less than half the price of Nest’s, is made up of a hub, a beginner-friendly keypad for entering security codes, motion detector, a Z-Wave range extender and one motion sensor. You can buy more sensors for just $20 (door and window sensor) or $30 (motion sensor).
Ring Protect will hook up to its popular Video Doorbell range and also its range of security cameras including the Spotlight Cam (wired, battery or solar), the Floodlight Cam and the Stick-Up Cam – all HD and motion activated.
For $10 a month, you get a subscription for cloud storage and professional monitoring via Protect is up for pre-order from Ring, Best Buy and Home Depot in the US – no international pricing or availability has been confirmed yet. Look out for reviews of all Ring’s new smart home gear coming soon.
Samsung SmartThings ADT
The final big new home security splash recently was Samsung’s new SmartThings and ADT system. Occupying a similar high end space to Nest Secure rather than Ring’s affordable setup, you get a central Wi-Fi connected hub with a 7-inch colour touchscreen, built-in siren, backup battery and – as with Nest – backup LTE. (That control panel doesn’t look very stylish which is a shame).
The kit comes with two door and window sensors and a motion tracker plus its professional monitoring option comes courtesy of its well known partner ADT. The package will cost $24.99 a month in security subscriptions for intrusions and panic alarms.
The SmartThings companion app, for iOS and Android, talks to security cameras, smart lights, doorbells and smart locks too. The $199 Home Safety Expansion Pack has ADT sensors to detect fire, carbon monoxide and water leaks – the ADT sub for these extras is $14.99 a month.
$549.99 for the Starter Kit, samsung.com
The best smart security cameras
Nest Cam IQ Indoor
Back to Nest and if you don’t want to go the whole hog with Nest Secure, you should also take a look at its standalone security cameras. 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. It’s even got three microphones with echo suppression and noise cancelation.
The IQ has a ton of smarts and a beefier processor. There’s motion detection – it can tell the difference between a person and a thing. If you spring for the Nest Aware monthly service, you even get people detection and special activity zones. This fall, the Cam IQ range is getting treated to Google Assistant voice controls too and it’s already compatible with Amazon Alexa.
Plus because this is a Nest product, it plays well with other Nest stuff. So if your Nest Protect smoke alarm detects a problem, you can jump into a live feed from your Nest Cam IQ to see what’s up.
If you’re looking to save a bit of cash and you don’t need all those features, it’s worth noting that Nest is still selling the original Nest Cam Indoor. It records 1080p HD footage and lets you see activity from the last three hours in the app. And with the money you save, you can subscribe to Nest Aware for the same 24/7 monitoring.
$299 for Nest Cam IQ Indoor, nest.com | Amazon
$199 for Nest Cam Indoor, nest.com | Amazon
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
As with the Cam IQ Indoor, this Cam IQ Outdoor adds a 4K sensor, daytime HDR and close-up tracking when it spots a person from up to 50 feet away. Looking a lot like a beefed up version of the popular indoor Nest Cam, the Cam IQ Outdoor offers a 130-degree field of view and is, of course, weatherproof to IP66 as it’s designed for outdoor mounting.
There’s infrared LEDs for night vision, a built-in speaker and mic, hidden power cord and this fall, it’s also being treated to Google Assistant voice controls via your Google Home or smartphone. With a Nest Aware sub, the IQ Cam can also detect familiar faces.
Nest’s original Cam Outdoor is also available, at around half the price. Offering Full HD 1080p recording, night vision and talk and listen functions, like its IQ brethren, it also boasts the Person Alerts, which distinguishes between regular motion and a person coming into view.
$349.99 for Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, nest.com
$199 for Nest Cam Outdoor, nest.com | Amazon
Blink has a lot going for it. Firstly, it’s cheap and secondly, it’s totally wireless – and we’re not talking Wi-Fi (which the system does have, obviously). No, the big deal here is that the cameras run on a couple of AA batteries – with a life of span of two years (we’re told, we haven’t had ours running that long yet).
Recording is 720p HD and the idea is that you hook up as many Blink cameras as you can to the Blink hub – you can pick up two, three and five camera kits on Amazon.
There are no subscription fees for the cloud storage of up to two hours of the short security cam video clips and you get instant alerts when motion is detected to an iOS or Android phone running the Blink app. As a bonus, Blink is compatible with three of the big smart home controllers – Alexa, Google Home and IFTTT.
$99 for the first camera and hub, $89.99 per additional camera, blinkforhome.com | Amazon
Netgear Arlo Pro
Netgear’s Arlo Pro kind of reads like a dream mid-range outdoor cam. It’s completely wire-free, using rechargeable batteries that you only have to charge every couple of months. It’s weatherproof. It’s got advanced motion detection and a smart siren. It’s got a lot going on.
Most importantly, it’s just kind of convenient. Its wireless nature means you can place it anywhere. Netgear gives you seven days of free cloud-based video storage, and you can pay for more if you need it. However, you can also plug in to the base station and back up that video locally if you need. Plus, it’s easy to expand if you need to.
$249.99, arlo.com | Amazon
If you don’t want to fork out a monthly subscription but you’re looking for a futuristic smart security system, try the Netatmo Welcome for indoors and Netatmo Presence for outdoors. HomeKit support for both is coming soon.
It’s roughly the same price as its rival the non-IQ Nest Cam Indoor but the Welcome offers you access to your Full HD videos for no extra monthly payment. It also uses proprietary face recognition software so it can recognise your family and friends (once tagged) and instantly alert you with a still when a possible intruder is spotted in the house. The Netatmo Welcome Tags also complement the setup with motion sensing door and window features on offer.
$199, netatmo.com | Amazon
As for the Netatmo Presence, it’s a Full HD outdoor security camera with a 100-degree field of view, a 20 metre detection range and again, no fees for storing video locally or on Dropbox.
For night time, there’s infrared and integrated floodlights plus Netatmo’s algorithms can analyse if a person is loitering outside your home or if it’s just a car or a fox then send an alert to the Netatmo Security app. Users can also set up four Alert Zones for a single camera, for specific detection and notifications. Clever.
$195 for Netatmo Presence, netatmo.com | Amazon
Canary packs a whole security system into a sleek box that looks a little bit like a router. It comes in black and white. The box includes a camera (with night vision and motion detection), accelerometer sensors (to detect tampering) and a speaker and 90 decibel siren.
Any time it spots something out of the ordinary, you get a notification on your phone — the idea is that over time it learns and becomes better at working out what’s ordinary and what isn’t.
If you get an alert, you can tune into the video feed straight away from your smartphone, enabling you to check if it really is a night-time prowler or just your dog who’s set the motion detector off. As a bonus, temperature, air quality and humidity can also be monitored. Canary Membership is an optional extra, costing $99 a year and gets you full-length motion-detected recordings, 30 day storage and two way communication for kids and pets.
$149, store.canary.is | Amazon
“With Piper, you’re always home” is the tagline, and that’s pretty much the idea with this good value smart home security camera. You can check the live video feed while you’re away, get notifications to your smartphone, and so on with no monthly fees.
If you have compatible Z-Wave bits of kit then Piper can control lights and appliances around the home as well (switching lights on and off when you’re on holiday for example). The 180-degree lens means you can see pretty much a whole room at once and there’s a 105 decibel siren, built-in motion sensor and microphone for two way audio. It’s available in white and black.
It can also monitor sound, temperature and brightness for extra peace of mind. Originally funded on Indiegogo, Piper is now available via the normal retail channels.
$200, getpiper.com | Amazon
The D-Link Omna was the first HomeKit-enabled security camout there, which – if you’re trying to HomeKit out your home – is a big deal. Still, it has now been joined by a whole host of options including the Logitech Circle 2 (below) with support coming for the Netatmo Welcome and Presence this year.
As for the camera itself, you’ll get a 180-degree field of view, 1080p HD recording, motion detection, two-way audio, night vision and live video. Oh, you can also slot in your own SD card and can set up the Omna to directly record to it if motion is detected.
$159.99, dlink.com | Amazon
Logitech Circle 2
The latest version of the Circle 2 doesn’t change a whole lot internally, but it does have HomeKit and Alexa support. It’s also pretty versatile, as you can use it both indoors and outdoors. Thanks to a bushel of accessories, you’ll be able to mount it almost anywhere. Outside, on your window, walls, plug sockets, you name it. There’s even a weatherproof extension cable you can purchase.
If the D-Link Omna is the first HomeKit security camera, the Circle 2 is definitely the second. And while the Omna is more of an indoor camera, the Circle 2 will give you a much-needed outdoor HomeKit option. The one caveat is that the Circle 2 will not speak to HomeKit when it’s in battery-powered mode due to Apple’s restrictions. You’ll have to get that extension cord.
$179.99, logitech.com | Amazon
SwannOne SoundView Indoor Camera
Swan’s connected home security system stands out from the crowd because of its specially designed audio detection algorithms (originally developed for crowd control in US prisons).
The camera, which features 720p HD video and night vision, recognizes the sound of glass breaking, babies crying, and smoke alarms going off. For a subscription fee, you can store security feeds in the cloud, but you can connect a hard drive for local storage, too. And right now, it’s a bit of a bargain too.
$59, swannone.com | Amazon
Samsung SmartCam HD
Samsung’s SmartCam security camera features 1080p Full HD video playback. It has advanced motion and audio detection, which the company claims will understand the difference between a person walking across a room and a plant rustling in the wind.
You can set up audio and motion alerts and view what is happening from the SmartCam app. It has a microSD card slot so you can locally store video feeds. It also has enhanced two-way talk, which lets you communicate with whomever is in the room. So, you can yell at the dog to get off the couch or tell the kids to stop watching TV and do their homework.
The camera is part of the SmartThings platform and, as such, teams up with Sammy’s range of connected sensors for a more complete security package.
$99, samsung.com | Amazon
While most of the home security cams on this list are hyper focused on, you know, security, the Nokia (previously Withings) Home is a little different. It can also monitor your air quality as it’s more of an all-rounder. If there’s a pollution spike in your home, Nokia’s cam will alert you.
I mean, sure, you’ll get notifications when movement or noise is detected – you can connect to your Home from your phone and get a live stream. There are also multiple recording types. So you can watch a time-lapse or a two-day diary of events.
$169, nokia.com | Amazon