Choosing the best CCTV camera isn’t just a matter of picking the best camera. You need to choose your preferred connection technology, where you’d prefer to store recordings, what kind of sensors will help detect an intruder, and the quality of a camera’s AI and alerts. You will even need to consider your budget for cloud storage.
For the most part, the choice is between a system with a recording unit (an NVR or Networked Video Recorder) – and internet-connected cameras which record clips to a cloud-based storage service, typically only when they detect motion.
Both genres have learned from each other and now features are spreading from one to another. That said, if you have distinct ideas already do check out our separate lists:
An adjunct to all this is the arrival in many homes of Alexa or Google Assistant, frequently in a device with a display. These make ideal speakers for the cameras to announce alerts before displaying anything of concern on screen. At the same time Apple are finally bringing a healthy range of features to their HomeKit device compatibility tool, bringing Siri into this space as well as granting it the ability to establish automations based on camera-based motion alerts.
Making the right choice also depends on the purely practical; not all cameras are wired which might seem advantageous at first, but running a cable can protect the security of the camera itself. Wi-fi cameras rely on wi-fi and battery (with the occasional visit), which also means they’ll need a good connection. With that in mind, our list offers a choice for every home.
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Ring’s cameras have an unusual cylindrical appearance, which makes them easy to re-purpose, indoors and out, as the need changes. Alternatively, if you’re opting for a permanent position, a Ring Solar Panel can be acquired to keep the battery topped up and prevent any drilling to run cables. Ring’s batteries are standard to the brand so buying a spare and charging it (a process which takes about 5 hours) can be achieved indoors, followed by a simple swap at the camera site – less time up a ladder than some technologies require.
In most regards, the Ring is much like other wi-fi security cameras, depending on an internet connection and a cloud subscription (from $3/£2.50/month) for review of the 1080P video, but the ability to recharge and replace the battery makes its future seem more flexible than some.
It’s also worth noting that the Ring camera range offers the ‘Elite’ with PoE connectivity, offering even more choice for the drill-happy!
See our full Ring Stick Up Cam review
The Nest Camera features a built-in battery and storage, meaning it can keep running – for a while at least – without power or an internet connection. It is, nevertheless, very much a modern connected device, taking advantage of cloud processing for AI and storage when it can. The design is elegant and discrete, the only worry being mounting beyond reach of unwelcome visitors since the mount is magnetic, wonderfully easy to position, but not secure alone. On the plus side, the digital zoom backed by 8MP sensor means placing high is OK.
Owners have the choice between no cloud storage (live video & 3 hours of clips only), longer event storage (like typical smart cameras) or the ability to scrub back through every moment 24/7 (like an NVR). The latter requires a higher subscription fee, but helps the inevitable moments of interest which even the best AI can miss. With either subscription, you also get Familiar Faces, AI to identify and ignore familiar faces, a useful way to minimize false positives.
Note: There is also a non-battery Nest Cam Wired option.
This bundle provides 3TB of storage and a 16-channel NVR (8 PoE) with eight 4K cameras, enough high-resolution imagery for a big home, though it can be added to with wireless accessories too. The single cable run from hub to cameras can be up 100m (328ft), and extended further with a powered switch. With HVEC and two hard drive bays there is plenty of storage, while the option to use Lorex’s ‘Smart Motion Detect Plus’ offers face or person and vehicle detection, with associated push notifications. Lorex Home is optional but brings remote viewing to Android, iOS and Apple TV, while voice commands can access live footage on Alexa and Google Assistant.
The E841CA-E bullet cameras are classic poseable outdoor models, available in a choice of black or white to suit their home, waterproof thanks to the aluminum housing, and offering HDR and color night vision. They can be installed anywhere a Cat 5e (or better) cable can reach.
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Seattle-based Wyze is a startup that has made a name for itself when it comes to cut-price smart home tech. The Cam is the company’s most popular product, and the third-generation example featured here includes Full HD video, color night vision via a Starlight sensor, waterproofing for outdoor use, and smart home integration via Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT.
The Wyze Cam v3 has a microphone and speaker for two-way audio, plus a siren, an adjustable stand, and a microSD card for local storage. Alternatively, Wi-Fi opens the door to cloud storage, which costs $1.99 a month and automatically holds an unlimited amount of recorded footage for 14 days.
While most accessories are built with apps for iPhone and Android – and this is true when it comes to security kit too – it’s harder to get complete control from a single software location, which means it’s tricky to take advantage of the true dream of the smart home; for one device to trigger another. The Circle View is the revised version of the Circle 2 (don’t worry, most numbers still count up) and it complies with Apple’s standard which means it can be used in “Automations,” for example to turn on lights indoors if motion is detected by the outdoor camera. All of this is handled by a single Apple app, Home, which (as of iOS 15.4 anyway) is broadly feature-matched with leading competitors including customizable Activity Zones, rich notifications and intelligent detection. If you’ve already got iCloud, storage won’t even cost you extra – a big plus.
EufyCam’s home system features a hub, similar to an NVR, and separate cameras, but saves on the install by using wi-fi cameras powered by batteries which can last up to 180 days. In one bundle the company has side-stepped both the hidden cost and the tricky install concerns which concern many.
The cameras themselves are smart, with definable detection zones, the ability to differentiate people from other movement, and built-in lights offering enough illumination to provide color night light as an alternative to infra-red.
Compatibility is good too, with the ability to connect to Alexa for control and playback, or to be commandeered by HomeKit. The 6,700mAh batteries will need charging, which means positioning cameras somewhere accessible for you (but not for intruders). Some might feel the 16GB hub could be more capacious (it loops over previous records automatically); it’s a shame there is no MicroSD slot like Swann provide, but overall this is an effective setup for a limited investment.
If you’re looking to add CCTV camera to your home, a great place to start is with a video doorbell; not only is it a subtle way to place a camera on your carefully decorated habitat, but it offers the bonus of communication with visitors when you’re out. While some of the more hopeful claims of other vendors need to be taken with a pinch of salt (plenty of couriers disappear rather than press one), if you opt for cloud storage you can review your visitors.
There are a lot of doorbell cameras out there now, but few good ones; we like the Pro 2 because it doesn’t make sacrifices for battery use – these nearly always result in the doorbell being too slow to initiate contact when pressed. We also appreciate that, despite features like two-way talk, it can still do the basics and ring your home’s original doorbell chime.
The Floodlight Cam Plus isn't Ring's top spec floodlight CCTV offering – that honor goes to the Floodlight Cam Pro – but it represents better value for most. Both are wired, both have powerful dual floodlights, and both offer two-way chat through the Ring app. Sure there are some refinements on the Pro model (which we'll cover), but the core functionality isn't that different, making this our pick.
The Ring app will alert you when someone is detected by the motion sensor in the base of the camera housing; this tech gives it a 270˚ view that's hard to sneak up on. You can use the app to talk to them (or to set off the siren if you'd prefer). Phone notifications don't require paying extra. Signing up for the cloud service lets you automatically record clips when the camera is activated (so you can review them in the morning). This also engages 'Advanced Pre-Roll' which records six potentially crucial seconds before the activation.
Ring's ecosystem is extensive, so you can make this part of a complete home alarm system with cameras and a doorbell.
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