Best Wireless Home Security Cameras of 2018

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Wireless security cameras are a great way to keep an eye on your home and spot potential trouble. But just because your house is safer doesn’t mean the footage these streaming video cameras collect is necessarily safe—or even private. That’s why Consumer Reports is beefing up its testing of these popular smart-home devices.

“Your home is a very private place,” says Robert Richter, CR’s program manager for privacy and security testing. “We chose to add tests for data security and data privacy to our evaluations of wireless security cameras because they’re capable of capturing and transmitting very sensitive data.”

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These new tests are part of Consumer Reports’ work on The Digital Standard, an open-source standard it created with other organizations to promote digital privacy and security in consumer products and services. Using The Digital Standard, we conducted more than 50 data privacy and security tests on each camera.

With the addition of these exhaustive new tests in our ratings, you can be confident you’re choosing a wireless security camera with good picture quality and plenty of smart features as well as one that will keep your footage as secure and private as possible. For more on the findings of our privacy and security testing, see our story on the security risk we found in one D-Link camera.

How We Test Wireless Security Cameras

Our data privacy and security tests evaluate each model’s public documentation (such as privacy policies) to see what claims the manufacturer makes about the way it handles your data. The tests include inspection of the user interface and network traffic provided by the camera and its companion smartphone app.

“In addition to our new tests for data security and data privacy, we took the time to improve our picture-quality tests by challenging the cameras with more complicated lighting scenarios,” says Bernie Deitrick, CR’s test engineer for wireless security cameras. We also test the cameras for ease of use, response time of smartphone alerts, and smart features.

Our picture-quality tests evaluate a camera’s picture in good light, low light, and zero light (to determine how well its night vision works, so you can be sure that racket out back is only the raccoons again). To further challenge the cameras, we add different levels of backlighting to each lighting scenario.

Our testers also look for a wide variety of smart features, including monitoring zones (which can focus alerts on areas of the image you specify, handy for watching walkways or ignoring a busy street), facial recognition (for spotting familiar and unfamiliar people), voice control (with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri), and geofencing (which turns cameras off and on as you come and go). All these features factor into our unique Smart IQ score for smart-home devices, which you can use to find the smartest cameras of the bunch.

All these test results are combined into an Overall Score for every model in our wireless security camera ratings. Below we’ve picked the four best from those ratings, with models made by Amazon, Netgear, and Nest. All feature night vision, HD video, geofencing, voice control via digital assistants, and two-way audio.

Read on for reviews of the best wireless security cameras from Consumer Reports’ tests, listed in alphabetical order. CR members can also view ratings for these models below, or for a deeper dive, see our full wireless security camera ratings.

Four Great Wireless Security Cameras

Amazon Cloud Cam
CR Best Buy
Free video storage:
24 hours
Optional subscription costs: $7/month to $200/year
CR’s take: The most affordable model on this list, the Amazon Cloud Cam is an all-around great camera. It doesn’t receive the highest marks in our tests, but it does tie with Nest Cam Indoor for data privacy and security, receiving a rating of Very Good in the former. It also offers dependable picture quality and response speed. The Cloud Cam’s features include a rolling 24 hours of free cloud video storage for video clips triggered by the camera detecting motion (footage that captures movement as opposed to dead air) and voice control via Amazon Alexa. With a Cloud Cam subscription, you’ll get monitoring zones, person detection, and more motion-based video storage.

Netgear Arlo Pro 2 Smart Camera VMC4030P
Free video storage:
7 days
Optional subscription costs: $3/month to $20/month
CR’s take: The Netgear Arlo Pro 2 offers superb picture quality and fares better than the Amazon and Nest models in our Smart IQ tests. But this model also receives the lowest data privacy and security scores of the four cameras listed here (with a middling Good rating for data privacy), forcing you to choose whether to prioritize data privacy or smarts and picture quality. As for features, you get a siren, voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, a rechargeable battery, and a rolling seven days of free storage for motion-triggered video clips. With an Arlo Smart subscription, you can get more motion-based video storage as well as person detection, monitoring zones, and unique alerts for parcel deliveries. The company offers subscriptions for 24/7 continuous video recording, too.

Nest Cam Indoor NC1102ES
Free video storage:
3 hours of snapshots, not video
Optional subscription costs: $5/month to $300/year
CR’s take: The Nest Cam Indoor offers comparable picture quality and response speed to the Amazon Cloud Cam, but it costs $80 more, doesn’t fare as well in our Smart IQ evaluation (receiving just a Good rating), and offers no free video storage—just 3 hours of still snapshots. However, it does play nice with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant (unlike Amazon’s Cloud Cam, which, as you’d expect, favors Alexa). With a Nest Aware subscription, the Nest Cam gains 24/7 continuous video recordings, person detection, and monitoring zones.

Nest Cam IQ Indoor NC3100US
Free video storage:
3 hours of snapshots, not video
Optional subscription costs: $5/month to $300/year
CR’s take: The Nest Cam IQ Indoor is a fantastic security camera, receiving strong ratings in our tests for picture quality and response time. It also performs quite well in our new data privacy and security tests, earning a Very Good rating for data security. This model gives you a 4K image sensor (which means you can zoom in on part of an image without losing image quality), built-in Google Assistant for controlling the camera (as well as other smart-home devices), voice control via Amazon Alexa (through another device, not built into the camera), person detection, and a rolling 3 hours of motion-triggered snapshots (not video clips). With a Nest Aware subscription, you can get 24/7 continuous video recordings, facial recognition, and monitoring zones.

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