A few days before you go on holiday, you are worried about the security of your home. It is always possible to leave the keys with a neighbour who will come by to take a look from time to time. The police and gendarmerie also put surveillance devices in place during the summer. But did you know that you already have a way to reassure yourself? Indeed, it is now very simple to install surveillance cameras, both indoors and outdoors, and to view them from a mobile application, or even a website, anywhere in the world, with a good Internet connection.

We are well aware that the installation of a camera will not prevent a burglary. But in the best case scenario, a burglar may be more reluctant to enter a property equipped with video surveillance. In addition, the almost permanent link with your home – via the mobile application – will allow you to quickly call someone close to you in the event of a problem, or even to call the police. And in the best case scenario, the presence of a video recording system can help find the burglars.

A Technical Base in Progress

Precisely, to identify one or more faces, the image quality must be good enough. For most of them, the cameras film in Full HD with a completely correct quality. Obviously, manufacturers are obliged to compose so that the images are of sufficient quality, without being too heavy to transmit them in real time to users’ mobiles via the Internet. With the roll-out of high and very high speed internet, we can now count on a completely correct result. The same applies to audio, with the presence of increasingly effective microphones.

However, there is one criterion on which it still gets stuck: the quality of the zoom. Forget about the possibility of enlarging a picture 20x so that you can see your burglar’s head in the reflection of the TV. With these consumer cameras, enlarging the image is… degrading the quality of the image. However, on this specific point, Nest stands out from the competition. Indeed, the manufacturer exploits the 8 Mpixels of its Nest Cam IQ camera to create a 12x zoom (with subject tracking) of slightly better quality than the zoom functions offered by the competition.

Most cameras also offer night vision modes which, again, do not work wonders, but can detect and therefore be alerted when a person moves in front of the lens.

More in Home

Security and Data Storage

All these video surveillance cameras are configured in more or less the same way. A mobile application allows you to connect the camera to its Internet network (ADSL, cable or fiber) via an Ethernet or Wi-Fi link (the latter is increasingly taking over) and then associate it with identifiers that will allow you to access the video from a mobile application.

When creating your account, you should not neglect the quality of the chosen password. Remember to mix upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. As far as security is concerned, manufacturers all emphasise data confidentiality and, for some of them, offer a method of identification by double authentication.

Without having a few motivated hackers on hand, it is impossible for us to validate the claims of manufacturers who, according to our frequent exchanges, put the package on the safety of their products. In addition to encrypting your data, they are also concerned about the choice of country where your videos are hosted. However, not all the details are disclosed.

Camera or home automation solution ?

You will understand that it was impossible for us to talk about all the solutions available on the market as the offer is so vast. In addition to the players who have been present on the IP camera market for several years (Nest, Netatmo, etc.), there are probably less well-known players, such as Canary. Even more experienced manufacturers such as Netgear or Somfy even offer two-in-one solutions.

The Arlo Pro 2 is available as a stand-alone camera or in a package that includes two cameras and a docking station. This has two advantages. First, it acts as an indoor alarm when the cameras detect motion. Convenient to be warned, for example, in case of a break-in in your garden. Second asset, this station connects to your box via Ethernet, then communicates via a Wi-Fi link that is only visible to the cameras.

More advanced, the Somfy One solution acts both as a surveillance camera and a home automation box. This strange cylinder also incorporates components to connect to other sensors offered as an option by Somfy. For example, there is IntelliTag, which can be placed on a door or window and which detects when it is open and then activates the alarm integrated into Somfy One. Even better, IntelliTag can anticipate a break-in by detecting a sharp blow to a door or detect vibrations, which means a burglar is trying to break the lock.

This type of solution, which is a little closer to home automation, is to be preferred if, for you, the purchase of a camera is only a first step in the design of a connected home.

When assistants get involved

More and more products, even of different brands, can be connected to each other through third party services such as IFTTT. For example, you can ask your Nest camera to turn on a Philips Hue light bulb as soon as it detects an intrusion into the house. Others will be able to control the opening or closing of electric shutters to prevent break-ins as far as possible – this is the case with Somfy One, for example. While there are many possibilities to achieve this, the cost of the installation naturally increases depending on the equipment. In addition, it will take a few hours to configure the interactions between the cameras and other equipment.

More recently, some manufacturers have arranged for their cameras to also communicate with voice assistants. This is the case of the Logi Circle 2 (sold for 229 euros) which can be accessed with a simple “OK Google, show me the garden camera”. The video feedback can be displayed on a smartphone screen, but also on a Chromecast compatible TV that has been previously configured in Google Home.

Our product selection

Netgear Arlo Pro 2

When you read our test of Netgear’s Arlo Pro 2, you’ll understand that it is, in our opinion, one of the best video surveillance cameras for outdoor use.  Its interior version, Arlo Q, is also an interesting product. That’s why Netgear dominates the sales of consumer cameras… and why it has focused on strengthening its accessories offering.

These include protective camera covers, a wide variety of mounts, and even a solar panel (99 euros) that is sufficient to recharge the Arlo Pro 2’s battery.

And if you couple this solar panel with Netgear’s latest product, the Arlo GO, you’ll even have a completely self-contained video surveillance solution to monitor your home. Indeed, this camera integrates a battery, but also a slot for a SIM card. With a 4G subscription with an operator, she can look after a second home where an Internet subscription (ADSL or Fibre) would be too expensive. However, this particularity seriously increases the price of the camera, since it is sold for around 400 euros.

Netatmo Presence

Another product we highly recommend is Netatmo Presence. Not only does this camera incorporate powerful software and benefits from an offer to store several days of recordings free of charge, but it also acts as an outdoor light. Its LED system is powerful enough to replace a (surface-mounted) light and, more importantly, the fact that the light turns on when motion is detected greatly improves the quality of videos shot at night. A camera that’s not very affordable, but it’s really very practical.

Bosch Smart Home 360°

Another recommendation, the Bosch Smart Home 360° (sold for 250 euros) is an interesting solution among the wide range of indoor cameras. In addition to a Full HD image and a quality 802.11n Wi-Fi connection, this camera features a 360-degree swivel head and motion sensors. In the event of an intrusion, it can thus follow the burglar, even if he is in a large room.

As you will have understood, the range of surveillance cameras on offer is now quite extensive. Good news, barring big bad surprises, you should not encounter any difficulty in the installation. If in the past these cameras were rather part of the (sometimes complex) world of home automation, the efforts made in terms of software ergonomics are such that these products are now accessible to the general public. However, this is only possible if you have the necessary budget, as quality equipment is still quite expensive.