Wouldn't it be great to know what's happening at home, anytime, from anywhere? It's easy to do with a smart video camera. Just take out your phone, open your app, and you have an instant view of activity inside or outside your home. Smart video cameras can enhance your peace of mind, keep you connected to loved ones at home, and even prevent crime around your property.
They also come in many shapes and sizes, which makes choosing the right model a confusing task. What defines a smart video camera?
1: Watch from anywhere. Smart video cameras give you an instant, real-time window into your home. You can check in on your kids from work, or watch your yard's wildlife from bed, just by taking out your smartphone and opening your camera's app.
2: Watch your footage anytime. Most smart cameras have built-in motion sensors so they can record activity like a person coming home or knocking on your door. You can review these recorded clips anytime.
3: Know when something's happening. As well as capturing a motion-triggered clip, a smart camera will let you know about it with a smartphone alert, enabling you to quickly view your footage and act if necessary.
Tips for buyers:
Are you looking for a connected camera, or a true security camera?
If you just want to check in on a pet at home, any connected camera will do—but if you're depending on a camera for true peace of mind, there are two important things to consider:
Does it understand context?
If security is your main reason for buying a smart video camera, you'll want to enable smartphone alerts. However, if you have a busy family with lots of activity at home, you won't want to be overwhelmed with alerts every time your kids run through the house. This situation can be avoided with cameras bought as part of a smart home security system, which allow you much more customization of the alerts you get. For example, you can opt not to get video alerts if your security system is disarmed. You'll get the peace of mind without the information overload. See how the Browns use smart video cameras to stay in touch with their baby daughter from work:
Is the camera connected to monitored security?
This is perhaps the most critical consideration if you're looking for true security for your family. While smartphone alerts are a great feature, you shouldn't assume that you'll see them in time to react to a genuine emergency. If you're out at dinner, or at the gym, or on a plane, it will be too late to call emergency services yourself. If you do catch the alert but you're out of town, dialing 911 won't get you through to your local police department. If you're looking for a smart security camera that protects you from these eventualities, it needs to be part of a professionally monitored smart home security system, connected to a monitoring station, where trained security professionals are on call 24/7 to dispatch law enforcement to your home in an emergency. You'll still get alerts and video clips—like this user did—but you won't be on your own when it comes to responding.
A new type of connected camera video doorbells have been one of the biggest smart home hits of 2016. When a visitor rings the bell, a live video feed opens on your smartphone, showing you who's there in real time. You can then have a two-way conversation with your visitor, via a connected microphone and speaker in the doorbell, whether you're home or not. On its own, this is convenient. As part of a security system that includes a smart lock, it gets better.
In Alarm.com's app, for example, you'll see an ‘unlock' icon on the video screen, which allows you to unlock your front door after verifying the visitor. If you've ever had to miss work to let a contractor, or an out-of-town guest, into your home, you'll appreciate the value of this feature. As part of a smart home security system, a video doorbell also gains all the functionality of a true security camera, able to capture motion-triggered video clips and alert you on a customizable basis according to your preferences.
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