A smart camera is any sort of security or monitoring camera that takes advantage of smart technology to offer more features and added convenience. Think of them as app-accessible cameras packed with software. And right now, it’s easier now than ever to fully protect your home with this kind of advanced technology. Smart cameras let you easily access video surveillance of your property whether you’re at home or on the go.
There are a wide variety of smart cameras available that offer an assortment of features. Our smart camera comparison chart (towards the bottom of the page) has some of the most popular brands with detailed information to help you decide which system is right for you.
Benefits of Smart Cameras
There are several major benefits to having a smart camera, most of which are based around the increased safety and convenience associated with monitoring your home.
Peace of Mind – Even if your home is in a very safe area, there’s something to be said for the peace of mind offered by a security camera. A smart camera offers increased functionality, and makes it much easier to check in on your property whenever you feel the need.
Easy Access to Relevant Footage – The majority of smart cameras integrate with a mobile app or web client, allowing you to easily view and assess footage. Additionally, because most smart cameras are motion activated, it’s easy to find relevant footage and quickly check up on changes in and around your home.
Theft Deterrent – By simply having a security camera, you can significantly lower the risk that your house will be broken into. Thieves seek an easy target, and seeing a home decked out in security gear will make it much less likely that they’ll pick your home for theft.
Insurance Discounts – Many home insurers will offer a discount on your policy if you install a home surveillance system. The investment could more than pay for itself in the monthly savings on insurance bills.
Smart Home Integration – Many smart cameras integrate with existing smart home hubs and voice controllers, adding more convenience to your connected home.
These are just a few of the many ways a smart camera can enhance the comfort and security of your home. Check out the section below for some tips to take into account before purchasing a new smart camera.
Before Buying a Smart Camera
When shopping for a smart camera, you’ll want to make sure you take the following considerations into account to make sure you end up with a smart surveillance system that will meet your needs. There’s a lot of competition in the smart camera market, and many companies try to set themselves apart with misleading marketing promises. Sometimes a camera will be “capable”, but not actually deliver the promised feature. We want to protect you from a disappointing purchase, so make sure you research the features below:
Video Quality – Some cameras advertise 1080p capability, but actually only provide 720p instead. They may be capable of 1080p, but in reality only deliver the lower video resolution. Make sure you’re aware of the actual video quality of your smart camera before you make a purchase.
Maximum Number of Cameras – If you’re in the market for a large amount of cameras, make sure you’re aware of the maximum supported amount — there’s usually a limit to the number of devices that can be connected to one account. Many brands don’t support more than 15 devices, and require a membership or additional bases to support more than a few cameras.
Subscription Plans – Companies may advertise many features, but in some cases these features are only available with a subscription plan. Make sure you’re aware of what you’re getting for your money, and do your research on the various tiers of subscription plans.
Base – A lot of smart cameras connect to some sort of base — like Arlo and Blink — but there are also models capable of connecting straight to your WiFi. We’ve found that cameras with bases usually feature a little more smart home functionality.
Smart Home Integration – Speaking of smart home functionality, make sure you check out how your devices work with other smart home products. Even if you don’t have a smart home now, you may make the decision to establish one in the future. If you buy a camera with smart home integration, your security system will be ready to connect when you make that jump! Look at integration with hubs like Wink and SmartThings, and voice controllers like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri HomeKit.
Stand-out Features from Popular Brands
Best Video Resolution A smart camera that has a great video resolution ensures that you’ll always be able to see what’s going on with your home. Standouts in this category are the Canary and the Arlo Q Series.
Push-to-Talk Push-to-Talk functionality adds a lot of convenience to your surveillance. Communicate with others while away from home, let guests know you’re on your way to answer the door, or yell at your pets to get off the couch! The Arlo Pro and Piper nv are two models that offer this feature.
System Expansion Being able to augment your smart cameras with additional devices and features will add capability for a more fully-featured security system. Two stand out models with support for system expansion are the Blink XT and Nest Cam IQ Indoor. Though neither of the companies has released the systems yet.
Field of Vision A camera with a wide field of vision covers more area and ensures you’ll always capture relevant footage. The Piper classic and Piper nv offer a wide field of view for maximum protection.
People, Pet, and Car Detection A truly “smart” smart camera should be able to detect and differentiate between people, pets, and cars. False alarms are annoying, and you want your camera to only alert you when there’s an actual problem. The Netatmo Presence is a great choice for this feature.
Pan & Zoom Being able to pan and zoom allows a smart camera to get a more detailed view of its surroundings. The ability to close in on suspicious activity may make the difference between a false alarm and catching a sneaky intruder. The Arlo Q Plus come out on top when it comes to Pan and Zoom.
The Piper classic and Piper nv are two camera models with a good amount of similarities. Both the Piper classic and Piper nv are security cameras that don’t require a base station, and offer a convenient and easy setup. With both models, you can manage up to 5 units per account, and neither model requires a subscription (unlike Arlo, Canary, and Nest). Additionally, the Piper classic and nv share the same warranty, app, and field of view.
Unfortunately, these models also share some drawbacks. For example, neither model supports continuous recording (like the Arlo Q), which may be a dealbreaker for some buyers.
Though these models have a lot in common, there are a few differences that set these models apart which are important to consider before buying a camera. So let’s take a look at Piper classic vs. Piper nv!
Dropcam vs. Nest Cam vs. Dropcam Pro: how big is the difference among the three cameras? At a glance, it looks like there’s virtually no difference except for the style and price. Since Nest bought Dropcam, these three cameras run on the same app, making them have a lot in common. You can still use the Dropcam app, however Nest insistently recommends you switching to the Nest app.
Now, for a little backstory on the two companies; for anyone who doesn’t know, Dropcam sold their company to Nest, and the Dropcam CEO really regrets doing this. Why? Well, Dropcam was a great competitor, probably the strongest competitor to Nest and the company had the right mindset and product to succeed. Anyway, now that Dropcam is owned by Nest, we can only look at the difference in products now, because soon it’ll probably only be Nest branded cameras. So let’s look at the difference between the Dropcam, Nest Cam, and Dropcam Pro!