Home security systems with cameras deliver an increased level of security that systems without cameras can’t give you. Any house can be broken into. Having video surveillance of at least the obvious points of entry will deter most burglars. When I first started working with video surveillance professionally, there were only a handful of companies making quality systems with good feature sets.
It seems like a new product and vendor appears on the scene every couple of weeks. I’m going to take a look at five of the, and let you know what I think of each and why.
1. Withings Home Has More Sensors than Most Home Security Systems with Cameras
It’s pretty rare these days to find a security system that doesn’t have at least one camera. Some of the newest ones I’ve seen have consisted of basically just a camera that is designed so that someone that sees it will have to look closely to see that it’s a camera. The Withings Home system is one of these. However, when you get to look under the proverbial hood on it, you find a few surprises.
No surprise is the camera that can do 1080p HD and 30 frames per second (fps) video. However, I do have to admit I’m a little surprised that it’s only a five MP camera. I like that the lens offers a distortion free 135 degree field of view. At the bottom of the base located at the edges of the camera’s field of view there are two sensitive digital microphones to capture audio from as much of the environment as possible.
My biggest issue with this home security system from Withings is that the Android app is “still under development.” They also haven’t made a web interface or the ability to easily save recorded video. Withings has made this an ideal for those that are concerned about air quality with sensors that detect Volatile Organic Compounds, temperature, and humidity. The included speaker also lets it double as an intercom.
2. Piper from IControl Offers a Full 180 Degree Field of View
Many cameras out there, while possessing a high quality combination of lenses and sensors only give fields of view up to 135 degrees. This is fine for many cameras that sit in a shelf between objects and oddly shaped rooms. It isn’t capable of covering most rooms by itself, though. iControl Networks has their Piper home security camera system that offers a full 180 degrees of video coverage. Couple this with its other features and you’ve got a home security system with cameras that I can recommend.
My second favorite feature about the iControl Piper is its Z-Wave compatibility. This allows you to integrate it with home security and home automation systems from a variety of other companies, allowing you to program a variety of responses to events. There are currently something on the line of 232 Z-Wave compatible devices that will work with Piper. The mobile app (iOS and Android) allows you to pan, tilt, and zoom the camera, allowing you to focus the live video on specific areas.
3. Samsung’s SmartCam HD Pro Looks Good but Is Lacking
Samsung’s SmartCam HD Pro was designed to compete with the DropCam Pro that is listed below, but while it does an admirable job, it still leaves you feeling that something is missing. Setting up the system is easy and straightforward. There are also a number of features that are available through that app that are pretty cool. However, even though it is 1080p video, it isn’t very crisp when viewed in comparison to the DropCam. The camera itself also feels cheaply-made.
The SmartCam is made mostly of plastic, but it is still quite a bit heavier than the mostly metal DropCap Pro. The SmartCam is equipped with a base that allows the camera to be placed on any flat horizontal surface or mounted to walls and ceilings. There is a provision for local SD card storage. The camera app works with Android. 2.3 or higher and iOS 5.3 and higher.
4. The DropCam Pro — Quality Video for Less than Two Hundred Bucks
The DropCam Pro is symbolic of the design path that most home security systems with cameras is going to go over the next few years. You get a wireless camera that communicates through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi at a minimum. Z-Wave and ZigBee will be found in many of them, but most of them will have the fancy webcam look of the DropCam Pro.
DropCam’s iOS and Android interface lets you zoom and enhance live video, although some internet connections may cause you to experience lag. The camera lens offers a full 130 degree field of view and is advertised as delivering much clearer video both in daylight and low-light settings. DropCam offers a web portal/PC application that gives free users access to live video, while the ten bucks a month subscription offers some advanced features.
5. Canary Offers Adaptable Home Security in a Single Box
One of the newest trends in home security systems is the system that learns the patterns of your daily life and adapts to those patterns. The Canary Home Security System is one of these. It’s just a box about the size of two hardcover books side by side. It has a camera, but there are also sensors inside that the device uses to learn about your life and keep your family safe.
For example, motion sensors and learning algorithms work together to determine when you start your day, go to work, and go to bed. When something out of the ordinary is detected, Canary sends a notification to your phone with the option to see live video of the affected area. Other sensors know when you come and go, getting rid of the need for an alarm keypad. The Canary system is also able to interact with HVAC and home automation systems, supplying environmental information such as temperature and humidity.