I've written about consumer electronics for over 15 years and tested a variety of smart home items – from remote controls and security cameras to AV receivers and speakers. As a former editor for Electronic House and Big Picture Big Sound, I've written buying guides for several consumer electronics devices. I have also done technical work for The New York Times, Wired, Men's Health and others.
Who should get that?
A Wi-Fi surveillance camera on your porch, over your garage or on your back deck lets you take a look at what's really going on at night (or on the day), whether it's someone taking packets from your steps steals or pandas rummaging in your garbage cans. A camera not only alerts you to danger, it also records the events that happen outside of your home. You can also use it to identify someone ̵
1; be it a welcome or an unwanted guest – or just monitor pets or children when you're not out with them. (Just know that some uses of CCTV cameras can lead to ethical areas of concern.)
If the camera is recording videos of something while you're away, it can send you a smartphone alert and save the footage for later viewing. Some can also be integrated with other smart home systems to trigger sirens, lights, thermostats and other devices when motion is detected. For safety, you should go with something connected to a surveillance service. (See our home security system manual for more information on available features.)
How We Decided
We started by compiling a list of outdoor wireless cameras by looking at websites like PCMag, SafeWise, and Safety. com and by checking out the available options and user reviews at popular online merchants.
We narrowed down our list by removing devices that required a networked VCR to record them, and instead considered only those that could stand alone. We focus on models that are easier to set up and use were. Most outdoor cameras cost between $ 100 and $ 200, with several features controlling the price:
Image Resolution: Most outdoor cameras stream 1080p video. If a camera only supports 720p, you should not pay more than $ 100.
Night Vision: All outdoor Wi-Fi cameras should have night vision capabilities. The night vision area can be a factor depending on where you would like to place the camera.
Alerts: A good surveillance camera alerts your smartphone or tablet when motion is detected. Faster alerts are better, but that often depends more on the network you're connected to than the camera itself.
Memory: Cloud storage (where videos are stored on a manufacturer-operated remote server This is the norm nowadays, but some cameras store recordings locally on a microSD card or attached hard drive.Onboard storage is nice, but it will not help much if someone steals the camera.
Audio : A good outdoor Wi-Fi camera should have a built-in microphone so you can hear chirping and rattling, and many also have a speaker for bidirectional communication so you can talk to anyone in front of the camera
Smart Home Integration: Most outdoor cameras provide a kind of smart home integration, such as Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT (if this is not the case) n that), SmartThings and more.
Performance: Battery operated cameras offer flexible placement. However, many outdoor Wi-Fi cameras still require AC power, so they can only be placed near a power outlet. Some of those on our list are hard wired to outdoor lights.
How We Tested
We installed our outdoor wireless test panel on a panel outside the home so we can direct them to the same location and expose them all to the same light conditions and New England weather. Exceptions were cameras that were integrated into outdoor lights that I had installed on the porch by a licensed electrician (who happened to be my husband). All cameras were connected to the same 2.4 GHz network via an indoor WLAN router (approximately 40 feet from the cameras). Service for the house was Verizon Fios.
With the exception of these hard-wired lighting models and some battery-powered cameras that required separate indoor hubs, all cameras were installed in much the same way. Each camera was delivered with all required mounting parts. Once placed, each camera is simply connected to the Wi-Fi network. If you want to set up a camera in a location where a good Wi-Fi signal is not received, you should upgrade your router or add an extender or repeater. (See our Wireless Router Guide and our Wireless Extenders Guide for suggestions.)
In addition to good Wi-Fi, you may also need a nearby power outlet. Most cameras require an AC connection, which means you can not set them up anywhere. Some of the cameras we tested offered the possibility to use battery power, but we still have to find the perfect one. The models we've tested so far record either very short clips, leave huge gaps between these short clips, or need to be recharged regularly.
We downloaded the app of each camera to an iPhone 7, an iPad and a Nokia 3.1 if possible with Android 9 Pie. The cameras guarded our front door for weeks and drew our attention to friends, family members, delivery staff and even the milkman. Once we had looked at these friendly faces well enough, we tipped the entire collection out for another two weeks to see what the results were when the cameras were pointed at the house across the street, about 50 feet away ,
] Our Choice: Google Nest Cam Outdoor
The Google Nest Cam Outdoor is a reliable, weatherproof Wi-Fi camera. It captures 1080p HD video 24/7 directly on cloud-based storage so you do not miss any outdoor action. Plus, it has a really weatherproof string. It integrates with multiple third-party devices so you can fire lights, thermostats, and other smart home devices based on movement in front of the camera. We plan to revalue these features as soon as Google Nest is upgraded to the Works with Google Assistant program.
What really sets this model apart is Nest Aware, a subscription service that can be expensive but essential. In fact, we recommend that you buy this camera only if you want to add the subscription. Without this feature, you will not get either the People Detection feature or customizable activity zones (which allow you to monitor specific areas in the camera's field of view) or Sightline, a detailed, scrollable timeline that shows when and where the camera detected activity. For example, if you can distinguish between a person and a car, you can reduce unnecessary warnings. And activity zones are a nice addition, especially if you want to monitor a particular corner of the yard, a door or even trash cans.
Nest Cam Outdoor's 1080p footage and sounds were impressive during our tests – during the day and night – with a wide field of view of 130 degrees and an 8x digital zoom, allowing us to watch live video more closely. We should note that occasionally the camera degrades the picture quality due to the available bandwidth, which may vary during the day. Nest offers the option to set the bandwidth to low, medium and high. However, this may affect the purpose of a 1080p camera.
The Nest Cam Outdoor uses a separate bracket instead of a built-in not limited to displaying one area. The mount is magnetic but strong, so you can easily mount the camera and move it up, down and anywhere in between.
Although Nest Cam Outdoor can be placed very flexibly, it requires a power source, so it must be within range of a power outlet. This can be a problem outside the home. The camera comes with a 25-foot outdoor adapter and power cord. It is tedious and that is a good thing if your preferred mounting location is not near a power outlet. The nest also ships with clips that make the installation cleaner and harder to wipe.
Although it does not have the widest operating temperature range (-4 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit), the Nest is one of the few cameras on our list that comes with a truly weatherproof cable and plug. This treatment makes the cable pretty thick so you can not really pass it through a window opening.
 The Nest app is easy to navigate, h a graphical timeline, clear pictures and the option to enlarge for a better look. It can also be integrated with other Google Nest devices such as indoor and outdoor cameras, Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarms, and more. You can set the camera not to output hundreds of alerts when mowing the lawn, and to trigger modes based on the location of your mobile device (for example, go to away mode when you leave home). And you can let the nest turn on the lights of Lutron Caséta when there's a movement outside that makes it look like you're at home when you're not there. (This section updates when Nest switches to the Works with Google Assistant program.)
We love the 1080p video that Nest Cam Outdoor produces, but video quality may vary depending on your 2.4GHz or 5GHz wireless connection. If you have no bandwidth or the location is too far away from your router, the system will automatically adjust the video quality to make the experience as smooth as possible. That could of course affect the image. If it is a recurring problem, you should install a range extender or a wireless repeater. As Nest records and uploads around the clock, it can affect the allocated bandwidth of your home. Therefore, check with your ISP to see if your subscription can handle the extra load.
If you do not have an outdoor outlet, installing Nest Cam Outdoor can be problematic. It comes with 25 feet of outdoor cable, so placement options may be limited.
Second place: Logitech Circle 2
During our indoor testing, we sent Circle 2 to Bill McKinley, executive director of information security for the New York Times (parent company of Wirecutter). for hack testing. "There are no unencrypted connections, no weird IPs connect to it, and the app looked solid with no vulnerabilities," he said.
Circle 2 supports Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and Logitech Pop. With this integration, you can use your voice to turn the camera on and off, take a quick shot or put it in privacy mode, and view a live view on a TV with Chromecast or Fire TV. According to Logitech, the Circle 2 HomeKit will support Secure Video, an encrypted end-to-end storage system with iCloud.
Despite operating from -4 degrees Fahrenheit to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, the Circle 2 may be more difficult to install due to its limited 10 foot cable and non-weatherproof connector. (You can protect this connector and add an additional 30 meters of cable or purchase a window mount or plug mount using the $ 30 extension kit.) This means that the Circle 2 is generally more expensive than the Nest camera if you prefer a weatherproof one Solution. Logitech has to make a wireless variant of the 2-circuit, although we do not recommend it because the battery-saving routines can interrupt performance
Also great. Arlo Pro 2
Photo: Rachel Cericola
The Arlo Pro 2 is an easy-to-use outdoor Wi-Fi camera that is compact and can be used both rechargeable or fully wireless Thanks to a detachable that are based on our tests, should be at least a few months of operation for a fee (depending on use). The Arlo Pro 2 is also the only wireless 1080p camera on our list that offers seven days of free cloud storage (more available for a monthly fee). However, the camera resets the sensor between the recordings, which, according to Arlo, allows the camera to detect movements correctly and not block the recording in a loop. Although this also spares the battery life, it can lead to gaps in important security events. If home safety is your primary concern, we recommend one of our top picks, but the Arlo is great for checking in family and pets – or stray cats sneaking around your backyard.
The Arlo Pro 2 produced an excellent 1080p video with accurate colors throughout the day; a wide viewing angle of 130 degrees; and two-way audio that was easy to understand at both ends. The system also allows you to configure alerts based on motion and audio detection. When motion (or sound) is detected, the Arlo Pro can send notifications or e-mails to the smartphone, turn on a siren built into the base station, record video clips, or do nothing. By adjusting the alarm sensitivity, you can reduce the number of unwanted notifications. You can also set alerts based on a schedule or geofencing using your mobile device. The geofencing function detected exactly when we left the zone or returned, and switched the system accordingly sharp and blurred. You can also extend the networking capabilities of Arlo with Arlo Smart. Starting at $ 3 a month, this optional service can deliver notifications based on movement zones or warnings from a person, an animal, a vehicle, or a random movement. The $ 10 Arlo Smart Premier subscription gives you access to Arlo's e911 feature, which allows you to direct rescuers directly to your home, as well as 30 days of cloud storage for up to 10 cameras. The Arlo Elite package increases storage capacity to 60 days for up to 20 cameras for $ 15 per month.
Overall, we have found that the Arlo Pro 2 is reliable in initiating recordings. When the device is plugged into an outlet, Activity Zones and the Look Back feature, which is three seconds before the actual start of the movement, are added. You can set the recording time to create clips from 10 to 120 seconds, or record for up to five minutes, until the activity ends. If the movement continues beyond the selected length, another shot should begin after a short "reset" period, creating a small gap between the clips. If the device relied solely on the battery, the average distance between clips was five seconds. According to Arlo, this reset is designed to prevent the camera from creating long clips in which nothing happens and to extend battery life. However, the unit also leaves gaps if it is hard-wired, although it is shorter – about 2 seconds. For an additional charge per camera, Arlo also offers a continuous video recording plan that allows hard-wired Arlo Pro 2 cameras, similar to Nest Aware, to record 24/7 in the cloud. However, the Arlo also plugged in the purpose of defeating a cordless camera and with Arlo still has a weather cable kit to solve.
The Arlo Pro 2's compact design and included battery made it one of the easiest to set up, but it required a bridge unit called a base station. This 2.3 x 6.9 x 5 inch hub works with both the original Arlo Pro and the Arlo Pro 2, but not the Arlo Ultra. The base station must be powered from a wall outlet, connected to the router via an Ethernet cable, and at a distance of 30 meters from the camera. It's the brain behind the system, but it also has a pervasive siren of more than 100 decibels that can be triggered manually through the app or automatically through motion or audio. The base station also has a USB port for storing recordings on an external hard drive, a nice complement to the free cloud storage, and is safer than systems that record on a microSD card in the camera itself: Because the storage safely stowed If someone steals your camera indoors, he will not get a video.
Arlo claims that you should be able to get four to six months out of a fully charged battery, depending on settings, usage and ambient temperature. In long-term tests of the camera, we have usually received half of it, unless the camera was in a low-traffic area. If you're thinking about charging, Arlo sells a solar panel that we did not test. The operating temperature range of the Arlo is -4 degrees Fahrenheit to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. During the test, we set up two outdoor Arlo Pro cameras, with temperatures ranging from 30 to 80 degrees Celsius. After a full month, the camera, which saw less action, still ran at 80 percent. The one who pointed to a busy street was 60 percent strong. In long-term tests, we placed the camera on a business parking lot, where there was a lot of traffic every week. This unloaded the camera to the point where it had to be fully charged once a month.
Arlo currently sells additional rechargeable batteries for the Arlo Pro and Arlo Pro 2 for $ 45 each. The company also offers the Arlo Pro charging station, which can charge up to two of these batteries at the same time. The charging process takes about 90 minutes, so most users probably will not have to worry about spares.
The Arlo app is available for iOS and Android devices and easy to use. The home screen provides a view of each connected camera with Wi-Fi strength, battery life and alarm status. A menu at the bottom of the screen allows direct access to recordings and settings. The camera currently works with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, and IFTTT, so you can do things like turn on and off cameras with the sound of your voice, get live feeds on TVs connected to compatible devices, can set up automations so that your camera's motion sensor can trigger lights and other devices and more. The company also announced the Works with Arlo program, scheduled for the second half of 2019.
Arlo indicates that the system uses three encryption levels, with limited web access to the base station and no local access to the camera or base station. Also, in the spirit of continually improving security, the company has been working with hacker crowdsourcing firm Bugcrowd to operate its own Bug Bounty program, which is also open to the public
The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor transmits 1080p However, videos with the same subscription model and the same app as the original Nest Cam Outdoor, but with more detailed person recognition, brighter picture, and automatic close-up tracking (see below) around the viewing area), provide better audio qua quality, a stronger mount and a wider operating temperature range (-40 degrees Fahrenheit to 113 degrees Fahrenheit). It's also tamper-proof than any of our other picks, but this extra security makes the installation process difficult and costs almost twice the price of Nest Cam Outdoor.
With a 4K sensor and HDR, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor captures images that are brighter and more detailed than the ones captured by Nest Cam Outdoor. If you're wondering who or what is on the edge of your property, you can use the 12x digital zoom for a distance of up to 50 feet. It also has a close-up function that enlarges the recorded video and follows a moving object. For example, if someone is at the edge of your lawn, the camera will automatically zoom in on the subject and follow it as it moves toward your home or another location in the field of view. With two moving targets, the camera remains zoomed out, giving you a full 130-degree view of both. Die hohe Auflösung des Bildsensors stellt sicher, dass die eingezoomten Motive nicht pixelig sind, was beim Einzoomen mit anderen Kameras mit niedrigerer Auflösung häufig vorkommt. Wir konnten Gesichter, Nummernschilder und andere bewegliche Objekte identifizieren. (Wenn Clips heruntergeladen werden, ist diese Verfolgungsfunktion nicht im Clip enthalten, um das beste Bild auf einem breiteren Bildschirm zu erzielen.)
Die Nahverfolgungsfunktion von Nest Cam IQ Outdoor zoomt hinein und folgt den Aktionen passiert.
Wie die Nest Cam IQ Indoor verfügt dieses Modell über Warnmeldungen für bekannte Gesichter, mit denen Personen, die von der Kamera erkannt werden, anhand der Gesichtserkennung identifiziert werden können. Wenn eine Person im Frame erkannt wird, werden Sie gefragt, ob Sie diese Person kennen, und wenn ja, ob Sie sie nach Namen kennzeichnen möchten. Nach einer Weile lernt die Kamera, diese Personen zu identifizieren, und sendet Smartphone-Warnungen mit diesen Informationen, wenn sie bei Ihnen zu Hause auftauchen. Wir sind der Meinung, dass diese Funktion (für die ein Nest Aware-Abonnement erforderlich ist) im Freien sinnvoller ist, wo Sie mit größerer Wahrscheinlichkeit erwartete Besucher von zufälligen Fremden unterscheiden möchten. Wir fanden auch, dass die Funktion beim IQ Outdoor zuverlässiger ist als beim Indoor-IQ-Modell (beim Indoor-Modell wurden wir immer aufgefordert, Gesichter auf einem nahe gelegenen Fernseher zu identifizieren). Drei Mikrofone (im Vergleich zu denen der Nest Cam Outdoor) bieten außerdem eine größere Audiofrequenz, sodass Sie besser hören können, was in den Aufnahmen vor sich geht.
Für den IQ hat Google die Magnethalterung der Standard-Außenkamera mit einer stabileren Version aufgerüstet hat ein Sechskantschlüsselschloss, wodurch es manipulationssicherer ist. Im Gegensatz zu unserer Top-Wahl hat die Google Nest Cam IQ-Außenkamera kein wetterfestes Kabel. Es ist so konzipiert, dass es durch die Wände verkabelt und an eine Steckdose angeschlossen werden kann, die wir nicht lieben. Wenn Sie diese Art von Löchern nicht bohren möchten, ist Nest mit einem optionalen wetterfesten Netzteil ausgestattet.
Wie bei allen Nest-Kameras benötigen Sie ein Nest-Aware-Abonnement, um Aufzeichnungen zu speichern. Dadurch werden auch Alarme für bekannte Gesichter aktiviert, die nur für IQ-Modelle und das Nest Hello verfügbar sind. Und wie bei allen Nest-Kameras zeichnet die Nest Cam IQ Outdoor rund um die Uhr auf. Laut Nest verbraucht der IQ Outdoor mehr Bandbreite als unsere Top-Wahl. Benutzer können die Videoqualität anpassen, um die Bandbreite zu reduzieren, aber der IQ ist nicht so niedrig wie bei uns. Er bietet 720p (0,8 Mbit / s) und drei Stufen für 1080p-Uploads (1,3 Mbit / s für mittelhoch, 2,0 Mbit / s für mittelhoch und 4,0 Mbit / s für hoch). Der IQ kann auch paßt mich automatisch die Qualität auf der Grundlage der zur Verfügung stehenden Bandbreite.
Was nach vorne zu schauen
Apple behauptet HomeKit Sicheres Video ist ein End-to-End-verschlüsseltes System, in dem Sie Ihr persönliches Material wird sicher hochgeladen und gespeichert wird in iCloud. Apple kündigte auf seiner Worldwide Developers Conference im Juni an, dass Benutzer mit 200 TB oder 2 TB iCloud-Abonnements 10 Tage kostenlosen Speicherplatz erhalten würden, der nicht mit dem vorhandenen Speicherplatz mitzurechnen wäre. HomeKit Secure Video launch partners will include Netatmo, Logitech, and Eufy.
Amazon has resumed sales of the Blink XT2. In June 2019, the company stopped selling the battery-operated outdoor camera after a number of customers reported software issues. An Amazon spokesperson said the company has updated audio and video performance, as well as strengthened connectivity and motion detection features. We plan to test it.
We're also about to start testing the Ooma Smart Cam, a cord-free, hub-free, indoor and outdoor 1080p camera with a 130-degree viewing angle, facial recognition, and two-way communication. It also provides seven days of free cloud storage (with the option to purchase more), as well as the ability to record without a Web connection—using the 16 GB of internal storage.
Another cord-free solution, TP-Link's Kasa Smart Wire-Free Outdoor Security Camera System (KC300), is expected sometime during summer 2019. Packaged with a hub, the 1080p camera includes two-way audio, activity zones, and two days of free cloud storage. Person and face detection will be available with subscription plans, which include 14 and 30 days of storage.
The Arlo Pro 3 has color night vision and an image sensor that can record up to 2K resolution with HDR, a 160-degree field of view, and an integrated spotlight. The company claims images will have nearly 80 percent more pixels than what was produced with the Pro 3's predecessor, our also great pick, the Arlo Pro 2. With purchase, you'll get a three month trial of Arlo Smart, which gives you 30 days of cloud storage and costs about $3 a month per camera post-trial.
Later in 2019, we will check out the Zmodo Snap Pro. Shipping by November 2019, this cord-free 1080p camera has a 180-degree field of view, two-way audio, and seven days of free cloud storage.
The original Arlo Pro is still a good cord-free camera, but it lacks the Pro 2's options for specific activity areas or hardwiring, which means no Look Back feature or 24/7 recording possibilities. Though it supports only 720p video, we always found it to be clear during daytime and nighttime viewing.
The latest Arlo, the Arlo Ultra, is pricey, but it pumps images up to 4K resolution and has a great daytime image. However, in our testing we found the motion sensor touchy, with awful night-vision performance, and wonky tracking and poor battery life to boot. We are confirming with Arlo whether our unit was defective, and so we may revisit this review.
The Hive View Outdoor delivers impressive daytime images, capturing up to 10 minutes of action, with no gaps in between clips. But placement is key. Aside from the Hive's needing a nearby outlet, we found night vision worked best in total darkness—if any sort of light was available, it didn't seem to kick in properly. Also, the motion sensor was a bit touchy, often recording more than 1,000 clips a day, so we don't recommend it for high-traffic areas.
After we used the Anker EufyCam for nearly six months, we're stunned to report that it is on track to deliver on its promise of up to one year of battery life. What we don't love is that it leaves gaps in between recordings, which ranged anywhere from 4 to 34 seconds, depending on the settings. We have noticed some improvements since the camera's launch, and will continue to test and update this review, as needed.
The Ring Stick Up Cam Wired comes with a weatherproof cord/plug and needs a subscription plan to capture recordings. However, all of our top picks just slightly edged it out in performance. This indoor and outdoor model regularly left gaps of up to 7 seconds and missed a handful of visitors. We found condensation under the glass while testing the battery version, so we can't recommend it at all. We are working with Ring and will update this guide when we have more information.
TP-Link's Kasa Cam Outdoor (KC200) has 1080p images and a 130-degree field of view that could rival some of our top picks. It also comes with two days of free cloud storage (with an option for more), which can pack in clips of up to 3 minutes. However, we had a handful of tests where recordings cut out in the middle of the action and would leave 13-second gaps in between clips.
The Ring Floodlight Cam was eliminated because placement is limited, and the lowest sensitivity still delivered alerts of rustling grass and moving shadows.
The Ring Spotlight Cam comes in three flavors: wired, battery-operated, and battery-operated bundled with a solar panel. However, there are no controls to turn lights on and off or adjust the length of time it's on.
The Netatmo Presence includes IFTTT, Google, and HomeKit support, and has the ability to differentiate between people, animals, and cars. It also offers a lot of free storage possibilities via the included 8 GB microSD card, a free Dropbox account, or any personal FTP server. But grainy night vision, limited installation possibilities, and a hefty price tag took it out of the running for a top spot.
It's disappointing that the Yi Outdoor Camera doesn't have the people alerts that are on the company's indoor camera, since those could really cut down on notifications of bugs and car lights. Audio was also choppy, and the operating temperature of 5 degrees Fahrenheit to 122 degrees Fahrenheit won't work for colder climates.
The Reolink Argus Pro uses four CR123A batteries, and the Argus 2 packs in a 5200 mAh rechargeable battery. The rechargeable battery in the Argus 2 is more convenient than replacing batteries, but in our tests, it drained to 21 percent after just two weeks of use. (An add-on solar panel is also available, but we didn't test it.) We also encountered random connection issues, received hundreds of daily push notifications, and found out the hard way that neither unit can operate in temperatures of less than 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
We eliminated the Ezviz Husky and the Amcrest IP3M-943B due to a lack of audio features, and the Maximus Camera Flood Light and the Maximus Smart Security Light because both were easily triggered and didn't include night vision. The Ezviz Mini Trooper, the Canary Flex, and Logitech's Circle 2 Wireless were cut due to poor battery power and connection issues.
This guide may have been updated by Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.
When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commissions.