like so many gadgets of the past half-decade, security cameras have gotten smart. Typically, a smart home appliance just means you get a mobile app to tinker with settings, and maybe some light automation — perhaps an Alexa integration, if you’re lucky. But thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, security cameras are getting much more sophisticated. Almost all of the mainstream ones do motion detection, and some can differentiate between people and pets and even perform real-time facial recognition.
But do you really need a camera in your home that can tell the difference between a child and a dog, or that has a database of faces that let it recognize all your friends and family? That all depends on why you’re interested in a home security camera, what you think you’re going to use it for, and how many people in your household you’re trying to keep tabs on.
Given that criteria, the best indoor home security camera for most people isn’t necessarily the smartest, and it’s definitely not the most expensive. But it covers most bases, at a reasonable price, and it allows you to add more features through a cheap monthly subscription.
or just $120, the Amazon Cloud Cam is cheaper than most other competing cameras, and what you get for the money is almost as good as models nearly three times the price. The camera itself is easy to set up. It has night vision, and it can record and store HD footage for up to 24 hours for free, or farther back with Amazon’s monthly subscription. There’s also two-way talk and audio recording.
There are downsides: the image quality isn’t the best, and you get a fair deal of graininess and noise, especially when you use the Cloud Cam’s zoom feature. And unlike cameras from Google-owned Nest, the Cloud Cam doesn’t continuously record, but only saves clips when it detects motion or people in the frame. That makes it less useful for people who’d rather not trust the software and are more comfortable scrolling through a comprehensive backlog of footage. One notable benefit is that the Cloud Cam mobile app is way less cluttered than those from Nest, Netgear, and other companies. It’s just three screens: an account management panel, a live feed screen, and settings list.
There are some compromises you have to make with the Cloud Cam beyond just picture quality. The camera on its own will only do motion detection. If you pay for Amazon’s $6.99 per month cloud subscription, the camera can perform “people detection,” so that it can differentiate between humans and pets. But unlike cameras from Nest, it cannot perform facial recognition. That means you’ll get constant notifications if the camera is facing a busy part of your home, like the living room or the kitchen. With Amazon’s subscription, you can use the Zones feature to section off portions of what the camera sees to tell it to ignore activity in that area.