Best WiFi Security Cameras for 2019


August 20, 2019    Electronics Gifts 
(Image Credit: iStock)

Let's Get Things On Lock Down!

A WiFi security camera is one of those niche devices that requires some upfront consideration of your specific needs before making a purchase decision. Among other factors, you should consider things like how frequently you intend for the security camera to be in operation as well as where you would like the camera to be located in terms of installation. We've reviewed some of the most popular models on the market for a variety of applications. Our top picks . . .

  • OUR TAKE
    PROS
    CONS

  • OUR TAKE
    • Our runner up is the only cam in our comparison suitable for indoor/outdoor use. It's also easy to set up and the included batteries (non-rechargeable but replaceable) last for up to two years. It's not great for covering huge distances, but for a truly wireless system at this price it's pretty hard to beat.
    PROS
    • Truly wireless (no USB power cord to the camera) and easy-to-setup.
    • Competitively priced, especially for an indoor/outdoor model (each cam is under $100—we've seen under $80 when on sale)
    • Scalable, with two-way audio and motion detection.
    CONS
    • Motion detector time lag makes using the two-way audio a bit tricky in practice.
    • Not great for large properties or locations where your WiFi signal is weak.
    • Doesn't work with 5 gigahertz WiFi systems (be sure to set-up using 2.4 gigahertz band if available).

  • OUR TAKE
    • This cam is insanely budget friendly, able to detect motion and follow motion, has two-way audio and 1080p panoramic, tilt and zoom capabilities. It also rotates 360 degrees— if you only want to monitor a studio or small apartment, then this is the unit for you!
    PROS
    • Super easy to set-up and begin using.
    • Camera will turn to follow continuous motion.
    • Great price point (below $40 at the time of our writing).
    • Includes free rolling 14-day cloud storage (event videos only—otherwise can record to micro SD cards up to 32G in FAT32 format).
    CONS
    • Not weather-proof (indoor use only).
    • Connected via USB to power source (i.e. not battery powered).
    • Doesn't work with 5 gigahertz WiFi systems (be sure to set-up using 2.4 gigahertz band if available).

  • OUR TAKE
    • Ultimately, a price that is a bit higher than the others in this comparison and the need for a subscription to run 4 or more cameras took this unit out of the running for our top spots. Still, this is a great camera with a number of impressive features.
    PROS
    • Compatible with 5 gigahertz WiFi routers.
    • Crisp night vision and solid two way audio capability.
    • Has the ability to notify you if it detects certain sounds such as glass shattering or a smoke/carbon monoxide alarm going off
    CONS
    • The most expensive cam in our comparison (still quite reasonably priced).
    • Indoor use only.
    • Scalable, although a Cloud Cam Subsrciption is necessary to run 4 or more cams.
    • Connected via USB to power source (i.e. not battery powered).

What to Focus On

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What Really Matters!

Power SourceA top tier, battery-powered WiFi security camera will have a fairly long battery life. Ideally, you should not have to change the battery for your camera more than once per year—an even longer battery life is ideal if you plan to place your camera in a difficult to reach location. Adding to that, you will want to have an idea of when the need for a battery recharge/replacement is approaching so that you are prepared to change it immediately. This will avoid the risk of losing coverage in the event that the battery dies. Conversely, if you go with a unit powered via a USB cord, you won't have to worry about charging the batteries. However, you will want to make sure there is an outlet close-by to where you would like to place the camera (the USB cords included with most cameras are between 6 and 10 ft).

Installation - Related to the discussion on power source, make sure that you understand the installation requirements before making your purchase. This includes knowing if you can install the camera yourself or if you will need professional installation. While all of the cameras in today's comparison are fairly easy-to-setup, placing cameras in high or otherwise out-of-the-way locations can add to the level of difficulty.

ScalabilityAll of the units reviewed in today's comparison are starter units, but are scalable to one degree or another. If you have a large home that will require a lot of camera coverage, make sure to pick a model with the ability to scale up to your needs.

Effectiveness - It might seem needless to say that you should expect your camera to do the job that you expect it to do; but let us think beyond the obvious here. First, you want to be sure that your camera has the ability to capture all of the motion, activity, and sound that you would like it to. In that light, it should have a wide range of view in order to capture activity in a wide range of spaces. Secondly, a highly effective WIFI security camera should be able to clearly capture movement and activity during daylight as well as nighttime. As such, good security camera includes some type of clear night vision functionality.    

WarrantyBe sure that any camera you purchase comes with some sort of warranty. Also make sure that you review the warranty carefully before making a purchase. You should know the period of time that it covers as well as its stipulations. Additionally, you should always have the opportunity to return, exchange, or request a refund in the event that you receive a defective camera. Naturally, you do not want to be stuck with an item that cannot be used and also be out of the money that you spent.

How We Chose

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Easy Peasy - Price, Scalability and Convenience

Our number one pick, the Wyze Cam V2 + Wyze Sense Starter Kit, earned this spot primarily because of its affordability in relation to the value of the product. With reliable features as well as high-tech functionality, this Wyze model is a bundle that exceeds expectations in both effectiveness and product quality.  In addition, the Wyze Sense piggybacks on the WiFi connection of the Wyze camera, thus making setup extra simple. One bridge (included with purchase) has the ability to support up to 100 Wyze sensors and has a signal range that can work throughout most homes in the United States.

Our runner up, the Blink XT2 Outdoor/Indoor Security Camera, earned this spot because it is the most truly "wireless" model in our comparison. Specifically, the cameras are battery powered and do not need to be connected to a powered USB cable, providing substantial freedom to place the cameras where you want (especially given the indoor/outdoor capability). The camera system also comes with free cloud storage that enables you to keep hundreds of clips stored for up to one year without any required monthly fees or service contract. It also gives you the ability to receive customized alerts and to customize motion detection by using activity zones in order to choose where movement is detected.

Our third place finisher, the Wyze Cam V2 Pan, is also affordable and vaunts some great features in addition to the basic requirements that any good quality WiFi security camera should have. In addition to the pros we mentioned in our overview, the V2 Pan allows you to filter your event videos with people through the use of on-device AI person detection. Additionally, it comes with free, rolling 14-day cloud storage where event videos are securely uploaded to the cloud via end-to-end encryption. These videos are accessible for 14 days without the hassle of a subscription or monthly fees. You can also use the Wyze application to share and manage numerous cameras. If you have studio or small apartment and want to purchase only one unit, this is the one for you.

Our final pick, the Amazon Cloud Cam, is pricier than the other WIFI security cameras on our list and requires a subscription to run four or more cameras. However, this is still a solid choice that boasts great night vision and is the only model in our comparison that works directly with a 5 gigahertz WiFi router (others need to use the 2.4 gigahertz signal these routers typically also disseminate).

Why ReviewDecide?

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Seriously . . .

We started ReviewDecide on the premise that a great deal of the information required to properly evaluate a given product is already right in front of your (and our) eyes. In fact there is too much information! A crucial skill necessary to picking the best products is instead the ability to cull through the available information, focusing on what should really drive a purchase decision.

To make those crucial determinations as to what matters and what doesn’t, we begin by thinking through what really matters to us when we use a particular product. We then use the that type of product to further refine the features we care about and that we think you will care about too. Next we search the web, looking to manufacturer’s websites, product specifications, consumer reports, expert blogs, research reports and the like to obtain crucial insights and the facts.

Finally, we distill the results of our research and combine it with our own experiences as consumers, professionals, techies, mothers, fathers, hobbyists, designers, software engineers, attorneys (sorry) and more. Ultimately, this process results in the reviews we present to you. We hope you enjoy!

Credits:

  • Photo of woman setting-up WiFi cameras from iStock.
  • Photo of woman installing camera from iStock.
  • Photo of man checking cameras on phone on beach from iStock.

*Images have been cropped and/or resized.