Many people will be traveling for the holidays this year, in fact experts are predicting that over 100 million people will travel at least 50 miles this holiday season – and that's just in the US. While some may only be traveling for a day or two, others may be spending the entire Christmas/New Years break away from home. And now that the smart home ecosystem is pretty robust, it's a great time to pick up a smart security camera. These will keep an eye on your home while you are away, and even alert you to motion in the house.
Peace of Mind
These smart security cameras from Nest, TP-Link, NETGEAR and other manufacturers offer users peace of mind, especially when they are not at home. These cameras, especially the newer ones, can recognize faces. So even if you aren't gone for the holidays, but perhaps at work and your kid(s) come home from school to an empty home, you can get alerted to them arriving, and even speak to them through the microphone and speaker on the camera – and tell them to do their homework. Many of these cameras can be mounted on a wall or even a ceiling and be placed out of the way, so if someone did break in, they wouldn't even know they are being watched. Of course, if that does happen, you can use the video that is recorded to help the police find the culprit.
Outdoor vs Indoor
Many of these security cameras will work both inside and outside, although some of the cheaper ones will only work inside – and that's because they are cheaper to make as they don't need to be weatherproof. It is a good idea to get one that works outside, as you can mount it above your porch and see who's coming up to the door. It's also a good idea to pick up a few cameras, NETGEAR's Arlo brand actually offers up its cameras in multi-packs up to about 5 cameras. So you can place them all around your home, both inside and out and have everything protected.
Speaking of outdoors, another option is a video doorbell from Ring, or even Nest. These are smart doorbells that have a camera built-in, so you can see who's at the door, even if you aren't home. This could be useful if you have a package coming from UPS or FedEx and aren't home to receive it, you could speak to the delivery driver over the speaker in the doorbell and tell them to just leave the package on the porch. Now not all delivery drivers will do that, as many will want a signature, but it can work. It's a good alternative to putting a camera outside, although a video doorbell is a bit more obvious that the person ringing tour doorbell or knocking on your door is on video.
Most if not all security cameras these days offer up motion alerts, which can be customized in the settings. This allows you to be alerted when there is motion detected in the room, or activity in the room. Now many times, it may alert you to motion if the sunlight changed (from the window), or perhaps the wind is blowing and is moving the trees outside which changes the shadow in the room. So if you do get an alert to motion, don't be alerted until you actually take a look at the notification. There's a good chance that it could actually be nothing to worry about.
Powerful & Versatile
Security cameras can be used for more than just keeping an eye on your home. These can also be used as a baby monitor. If you have a newborn, and need to be alerted when it wakes up, you can check your phone and see that he/she is sleeping peacefully. These cameras can also be used to give you a sense of security if you have someone "watching" your home. Say you have a pet sitter for your pet, and someone needs to come into your home and take the dog for a walk, or feed your pet(s). Having a security camera in your home will allow you to see when the petsitter comes in and checks on the pets, and takes care of them – and if they are doing something they shouldn't be. And finally, if you're away from home for a while and miss your pets, you can check up on them using these cameras, you can even talk to them since most have a speaker built in, which could actually confuse the pet.
Most cameras do have cloud storage available, for storing footage. However, it is not free. Now most cameras do offer a limited amount of time for free, usually storing about the last 24 to 72 hours for free, depending on the camera you pick up. Others will only actively record if it notices motion in its sight. So that you aren't stuck with a ton of footage of absolutely nothing. With it being available in the cloud, you are able to download and share the video clips, usually only a few seconds, especially if it is a longer clip which many will turn into a time lapse. This is great for showing the police, if a crime was indeed committed in your home, which hopefully that doesn't happen. But it's also great to see what your kids or pets are up to when you are away.
Of course, with this being the cloud, and many being afraid that anyone can see this footage, fear not. If you are worried about the platform getting hacked and the inside of your house being out there for the whole world to see, you can simply turn off cloud storage, and only keep the data on the camera. Most cameras have a pretty small amount of storage, so you won't be able to keep more than 24 hours of footage on the actual camera (some might be less). But it does give you peace of mind, if that is a concern for you.
Which Security Camera is the Best?
Deciding which security camera is the best is actually a bit of a daunting task. You see, the majority of them offer the same feature-set, but our pick would be the new Arlo Pro 2 from NETGEAR. The Arlo Pro 2 is a good one to pick for a few reasons. It is available as a wire-free model, so you can place it anywhere around your home and not have to worry about plugging it in – the battery lasts roughly 6 months too. It is also weatherproof and can be used outside. So you could place one outside your home near your porch and then another one inside your home, perhaps facing the front door. NETGEAR has also added Amazon Alexa support with the Arlo Pro 2. Allowing you to ask Alexa to show the stream from the video on your TV (with a Fire TV/Stick) or on the Echo Show. We do have a number of good options in our Home Automation gift guide, and you really can't go wrong with any of these options. Of course, while it is the holiday season, this is a gift that you can give yourself or anyone else.