Security cameras account for 60% of all spending on smart home devices in the United States. It is therefore not surprising that so many manufacturers (on both sides of the pond) are keen to take a share of this growing market.
Most security cameras provide an app for iOS devices that allows you to control the camera and send notifications to your iPhone if the camera detects suspicious activity when you are not at home. But in recent months, Apple has made a number of improvements to its HomeKit software, specifically designed to be used with security cameras. We are starting to see manufacturers adding HomeKit support.
The HomeKit software can be found in the Home application of your iPhone, iPad or Mac and is designed to connect smart devices so that they can work together. Instead of using two different applications to control your security camera and your smart lights, you can use the Home application to connect these devices to each other, so that the lights turn on automatically when the camera sees someone. Just remember that both devices will have to support HomeKit to work together in this way, so look for the logo – it will look like this:
Admittedly, Apple took a little slow in the home automation train – in fact, the first version of HomeKit did not work at all with security cameras. But the current version allows you to watch live video from multiple cameras in different rooms and create "automations" so that a trigger action, such as the camera detecting motion, can turn on the lights or turn on a thermostat. It's this ability to link devices that makes HomeKit more versatile than the basic features of the manufacturer's applications.
With so many different options, it's helpful to think about the special features you need when choosing a new camera.
The resolution and the quality of the image are obviously of paramount importance. We therefore recommend that you purchase a minimum resolution of 1080p (identical to that of a high-definition television). Some of the more expensive cameras achieve a 4K resolution, but they will cost £ 200 or more and buying three or four for your home or office will be very expensive. You must also make sure that the camera has a night vision mode to detect motion in low light conditions.
Most security cameras are designed for indoor use. They are not particularly robust. However, manufacturers such as Netatmo and Arlo also offer weatherproof models designed for use outdoors, in gardens or car parks, for example. Other useful features include a speaker and microphone that will allow you to chat quickly with people from your home, as well as an integrated siren or projector that can help scare away intruders.
The cost of the cloud
One of the most important features to watch for is the cost of online storage in the cloud for video clips recorded by your camera. The apps that come with most devices let you watch live video from your home. If the camera detects motion when your home is empty, it records a video clip and stores it online so you can use it as evidence during the event. of a crime committed.
It is there that things can get a little complicated. Some cameras allow you to store short video clips – usually about 30 seconds each – on their servers online until one week free. However, if you want to save longer clips and store them online for longer periods of time, you will probably need to sign up for a subscription plan to pay for additional online storage.
Individual manufacturers can also offer different subscription levels, possibly more expensive subscriptions that also offer additional features, such as facial recognition. Some devices, such as the Netatmo indoor smart camera, can also use an SD memory card to store videos directly on the camera.
But Apple is about to change this approach, because the next HomeKit update – scheduled for late 2019 – includes a new feature called HomeKit Secure Video. In addition to providing additional security features that prevent hackers from taking control of your security camera, HomeKit Secure Video takes a different approach to storing video recordings online. All iCloud accounts include 5GB of free online storage, but if you also have an iCloud subscription for additional 200GB or 2TB storage, you will be able to store your security camera recordings in iCloud at no extra cost for 10 days at instead of that. than to pay an additional subscription to store them on servers provided by the manufacturer of the camera.
These video recordings will also not be counted in your iCloud storage plan, so all your iCloud storage will also be available for other files. At the time of writing, Arlo and Logitech have already indicated that their cameras might work with HomeKit Secure Video, but some older devices may not be able to support new features like this one, so we will monitor that closely. .
For a broader overview of the HomeKit options available today, take a look at our collection of the best home smart devices for HomeKit & HomePod.
Best HomeKit security cameras
1. Logitech Circle 2 (wired)
Free storage: 24 hours
Subscription: from £ 3 / $ 4 per month
The Circle 2 is one of the most versatile HomeKit devices currently available, but you need to check a few details before making the purchase. The main thing to remember is that there are actually two versions of Circle 2 – called Wired and Wire-Free – and only the Wired model featured here supports HomeKit. (The original circle is also always available in a few online stores, so be sure to get the new circle 2.)
The Circle 2 Wired costs £ 170 / $ 180 and its rugged, weather-resistant design makes it ideal for indoor or outdoor use. Logitech provides a convenient wall mount in the box, allowing you to mount the camera high on a wall. The camera stand can be tilted and swiveled to give you a good view of the room or other places to watch.
As its name indicates, it requires a wired power supply, which can limit the locations where you can use it. However, Logitech also sells a number of accessories for the Wired model, including a window mount that allows you to stick it to a window so you can monitor your garden or parking, and an extension kit of 4, 5 m the camera moves outside when necessary.
Alternatively, you can simply opt for the more expensive Circle 2 Wire-Free model, which costs £ 200 / $ 200. This includes a rechargeable battery that allows you to place the camera wherever you want, whether indoors or outdoors. The wireless model does not currently support HomeKit, but some apps for iOS and Android still allow you to use the Circle 2 with most smartphones and tablets.
The camera itself is the same for both models, with a resolution of 1920×1080 and a viewing angle of 180 degrees. The camera also has a night vision mode, a speaker and a microphone so you can talk to people in your home via the smartphone app.
The Circle app allows you to watch live videos and send notifications to your iPhone when it detects movements in your home. However, you only have 24 hours of free online storage for your video recordings. If you want more storage, then you will need to pay a Circle Safe subscription, starting at £ 3 / $ 4 per month for 14 days of storage or £ 8 / $ 10 for a Premium subscription with 31 days of storage. cloud. . The premium subscription also activates additional features within the application, including the detection of people, who can use artificial intelligence techniques to differentiate a stray pet from a human intruder .
However, Logitech has announced its intention to support new HomeKit Secure Video features launched by Apple later this year, which offer an alternative to Logitech's own subscription fees.
2 Arlo Pro 2
Free storage: 7 days
Subscription: starting from £ 1.99 / $ 2.99 per month
The range of Arlo security cameras can sometimes be quite confusing, with portable and outdoor cameras, and even the high-end Arlo Ultra, which provides a 4K video recording and a corresponding high-end price. You should also keep an eye on older models, such as the original Arlo Pro, which is still on sale (although it requires expensive batteries, which we do not recommend).
The current Arlo Pro 2 is a good complete option. It's a bit more expensive than many conventional security cameras, but the kit also includes a hub that connects to your home Wi-Fi router. The hub can control multiple cameras, as well as accessories such as the new Arlo Doorbell. The concentrator also includes a 100 decibel siren, which can be used as a basis for a larger security system that covers the entire house, or even an office or warehouse.
A kit containing a single Arlo Pro 2 camera and a concentrator costs around £ 230 / $ 250 (British customers can not buy directly from the Arlo website, so you have to shop online). However, you can also purchase kits containing multiple cameras, ranging up to £ 650 in the UK for four cameras and a hub – although, for some reason, the American Arlo website does not sell only kits with three cameras and a hub, at $ 530.
The Arlo Pro 2 camera alone is quite simple: it offers 1920×1080 resolution, motion detection and night vision mode for low light conditions. However, the camera can run on AC power or on its own rechargeable battery pack, which means you can easily move it around and place it where you want. The housing of the camera is also protected against the weather, classified IP65. You can use it outdoors, in your garden or on your car park, if you need it. A wall mount kit is also provided with the camera, which allows you to place it in height and get a very good view of a room or garden. Arlo even throws some small stickers that you can affix on your windows or doors, just so people know you're watching them.
You can use the Arlo app to view live video and to receive notifications on your iPhone if the camera detects motion in your home. However, Arlo's HomeKit support means that you can use automations in the Apple Home app to link the camera to other HomeKit devices, such as smart lights, so the camera can turn on your lights if it detects unwanted visitors.
Like most Arlo cameras, the Pro 2 provides free online storage for your video recordings for up to a week, but longer periods will require a monthly subscription. These start at £ 1.99 / $ 2.99 per month for a single camera, but there are more expensive subscriptions that cover multiple cameras and unlock additional features, such as "motion zones" that focus the functions. motion detection of the camera on specific areas such as doors or windows.
3 Netatmo Smart Indoor Camera
Free storage: via an SD memory card (provided), Dropbox or FTP
Subscription: n / A
It's a bit confusing, because Netatmo originally launched it as a "welcome" security camera a few years ago. However, Netatmo's website now refers to it as an intelligent indoor camera. Although the camera they sent us to test always indicates welcome to the box, online retailers such as Amazon and Apple often call it welcome as well.
It's a bit pricey, which costs £ 199.99 / $ 199.99, but Netatmo occasionally offers special offers with twin packs at discounted prices (although the company has been a bit vague with respect to the prices and availability of these offers when we asked our questions).
The smart indoor camera is part of a broader range of security products, including a weatherproof smart outdoor camera priced at £ 249.99 / $ 299.99 (which takes also support the HomeKit). The outdoor camera is a good option for monitoring sites such as gardens and car parks. It is equipped with a built-in projector that can help frighten intruders. Netatmo also offers additional accessories compatible with the smart indoor camera, such as an alarm siren and sensors for the protection of doors and windows, allowing you to build a wider security system.
The hardware design of the smart indoor camera is quite simple, with a resolution of 1920×1080 and an infrared night vision mode. It runs on AC power or you can use the supplied USB cable to power the computer, but there is no internal battery, which slightly limits your freedom when you place the camera at you.
However, there are other features that add to the versatility of the camera. As you might expect, the Netatmo Security app sends notifications to your iPhone if it detects movements when you're not at home, but it can also use facial recognition technology to recognize friends and the family and avoid false alarms if the children come home. early school.
And although the camera is relatively expensive, you do not have to worry about subscription fees for online storage because the Smart Indoor Camera includes an 8GB memory card to store your video recordings on the camera itself. If the camera is damaged, your video recordings may also be damaged, but the Security app also allows you to download video clips to a Dropbox account or to an FTP server for online storage. . In addition to being one of the first security cameras to support HomeKit, Netatmo also announced that it would provide a software update that supports the new HomeKit Secure Video. Apple later in 2019.
4 Arlo Baby
Free storage: 7 days
Subscription: starting from £ 1.99 / $ 2.99 per month
It should be remembered that the popularity of security cameras really began a few years ago, when manufacturers started creating webcams specifically designed for baby surveillance. These "baby cams" allowed parents to watch their grandchildren while they slept, but it was now simple to add a motion sensor that turned the baby camera into a new category of home security camera.
Of course, Arlo is one of the most comprehensive ranges of security cameras. Arlo Baby is a high-end baby monitor with features designed to keep your children safe. The camera offers HD resolution (1920×1080), with an 8x digital zoom option to allow you to zoom in and move on from "ah, bless" while they sleep. The camera is designed to be powered by the mains, but it has a small battery with a battery life of about six hours. So you can move it occasionally if you need it.
Other safety features include a night vision mode and a motion sensor, which can tell if the small clip is trying to escape from its bed (or perhaps keeping an eye on the babysitter too). The microphone and speaker can be used to talk to your kids, but they can also be set up to listen to crying babies and let you know if they need a bit of minutiae.
There is a built-in multicolored night light that can be controlled from the Arlo app, and even a music player featuring several prerecorded lullabies and soothing nature sounds, and also allowing you to record your own voice. . It even includes an air sensor that allows you to monitor the temperature and humidity in the baby's room.
The Arlo app is well designed and easy to use, but Arlo Baby also supports HomeKit and Arlo has a helpful page on its website that explains how to use the camera with HomeKit and Siri . You use the Arlo app or the Apple app to view live video from the camera. The app can also send you notifications if it detects a noise or activity coming from the baby's room.
Arlo also provides free online storage for your video recordings for a week, but if you want to store your recordings longer, you need to sign up for a monthly subscription. There is a range of subscription options quite confusing, but the most appropriate subscription for this device is probably the Arlo Smart package, which offers 30 days of online storage for £ 1.99 / $ 2.99.
5 D-Link Omna
Free storage: via an SD memory card (not included)
Registration fees: n / A
The Omna has been proudly announced as "the world's first HomeKit-compatible camera" when it launched in 2017, although the slow progress of Apple with HomeKit meant that the camera would It did not really attract the attention it deserved at the time.
More recently, D-Link appears to have buried Omna in the depths of its website as it updates its range of cameras. However, Omna is still available on Amazon and several other online retailers, including Apple Store (UK only), where it is still one of the few security cameras listed in the store's HomeKit section. And, now that it's a few years old, the price of the Omna has also dropped to a competitive price of £ 115 – although it no longer seems to be available in the United States.
The Omna is worth considering at this price because it provides a good HD camera with a resolution of 1920×1080, as well as many other useful features. It includes a motion sensor to be able to send notifications to the Omna app on your iPhone while you're away from home, as well as a 180-degree wide-angle lens to give you a really unobstructed view of the room where is the camera.
According to an infrared sensor, D-Link can see up to 5m in total darkness. It includes a microphone and a speaker so you can check with people at home and see if you have to buy milk on the way home. . The only limitation of the camera design lies in the fact that it must be plugged into a power outlet, so that you can not move it and place it as freely as other cameras with their own. own internal battery.
However, you do not have to worry about subscription fees for online storage because Omna has a slot for an SD memory card, which allows it to store video recordings on the camera itself, rather than downloading them to an online server. But unlike Netatmo's more expensive smart indoor camera, the Omna does not include its own SD card. You will have to provide it yourself.
And although the Omna has worked perfectly in our tests, we have found a few times on the Apple Store that the application is sometimes a little buggy. It is always updated by D-Link, so it's worth checking out on the App Store for recent updates before making your decision.
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