I've never been all that interested in home surveillance. At my house I've slept well for years with an old-fashioned burglar alarm and a deadbolt, and despite my love of all things electronic, spy cams have always seems a bit too Scarface for my humble abode.
That is, until someone tried to break in. Thankfully, nobody was hurt and nothing was stolen--my low-tech solution worked well and scared the would-be intruders away--but as I watched the cops fruitlessly dust for prints on my busted door and unscrewed porch light, I suddenly saw the benefit of a cloud camera. If I could have accessed my video feed from the night of the incident, I might have been able to see who was trying to get in and give the cops a solid lead.
So after a few sleepless nights, I decided to do some research. Even if I never used it as a crime-fighting tool, I figured an extra level of security would at least give me back some of the peace of mind I had lost.
Surveying the landscape
Home security has become something of a cottage industry in our app-connected, always-on world, and the landscape is teeming with cameras that all promise to keep a close eye on your family. Even some baby monitors can do double-duty as a security cam once the little ones grow up, so narrowing the list is a monumental task. But for my purposes, I at least knew where to start.
You don't need to be a security expert to know the name Dropcam. The original Wi-Fi video recorder was the first to make surveillance simple, and there aren't many bad things to say about it. Our own review praised its video quality and image enhancement features, and you can feel its quality as soon as you take it out of the box. Setup is an absolute breeze, and I was literally up and running in seconds, watching crisp, reliable video feeds with wide angles and vivid colors, and enjoying seamless, lag-free streams. In short, it's a remarkable little camera.
Since most people probably don't want to obsessively monitor every alert that comes in, the real benefit of the Dropcam model is automatic cloud storage. It can get a little pricey--to store a week's worth of video costs $99 a year, and 30 days of footage will set you back $299--but it's an indispensable part of the process. Otherwise, you'd just have a high-tech burglar deterrent, not a real tool for tracking down crooks.
Quite frankly, I could have stopped my search right here and adequately filled my needs, but since this was about the safety and security of my family, and I wanted to make sure I was buying the very best. So I pitted the $199 Dropcam Pro up against three of its closest competitors: Simplicam, HomeMonitor HD and Belkin NetCam HD.
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