Best home security camera: Our favorite tools for keeping an eye on the home front

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Rent or own, we all want to know our homes are secure while we’re gone. That used to mean signing on with a professional—and pricey—security service like ADT. But the boom in wireless security cameras is putting home surveillance into our own hands. We had intended to add a review of the new Nest Cam IQ to this roundup today; unfortunately, the evaluation unit we received proved to be defective. Nest is sending a replacement unit, so we should have a through hands-on review soon.

These close cousins of webcams require minimal installation and offer flexible setups and a range of security features. Indeed, the offers vary widely by camera, and navigating them all gets more daunting as this category grows ever more crowded. To help you find the best security camera for your needs, we’ve outlined the key features to consider and tested six of the newest, most high-profile models.

Whether you’re looking for an easy way to check on your kids and pets, or a full-service sentinel to monitor for intruders, we’ll help find the right product for your needs.

Best indoor home security cam: Samsung SmartCam PT

Our favorite home security camera at this time is Samsung’s SmartCam PT. It’s a pan/tilt model with a 96-degree field of view—and that’s before you take into account the camera’s ability to pan its lens 350 degrees and tilt it on a 155-degree arc. This camera can also lock onto a moving body and track it across its field of view.

Samsung includes all the features you’d expect to find in a top-shelf security camera, including two-way audio, motion and sound alerts, and night vision. There’s also onboard storage in the form of a microSD card slot, so there are no subscription fees to deal with.

Runner-up indoor home security camera

Nest Cam

The Nest Cam is a terrific choice if you’re looking for an indoor security camera. Being the successor to the popular Dropcam Pro, the Nest Cam delivers improved video resolution, better sound and motion detection, and it can see better in the dark than the original model. 

While you can’t deploy one outside (at least not without purchasing a weatherized enclosure), the Nest Cam does include some features you won’t find in our top pick, including two-way audio, noise detection, and a stand that doesn’t need to be fastened to a surface. You also won’t need a PC or an NVR to store the Nest Cam’s video captures, because it uses the cloud for that (with the obvious downside being an ostensibly optional subscription. Without the subscription, you can see only live video from the camera.)

Best outdoor home security camera

The outdoor security camera space is getting crowded quickly. Nest Labs brings its A game to the space with the Nest Cam Outdoor, a rugged yet stylish camera that doesn’t scream “you’re under surveillance!” like many of its competitors. It’s easy to install, with a magnetic mount that doesn’t need any screws to anchor it, and a USB power cable that can be detached from its AC power adapter, so you can thread it through a hole in your wall if you don’t have a weatherized power receptacle outside your house.