Home & Garden

4 top security cameras for keeping tabs on your home

Whether you’re serious about security or simply want to spy on a mischievous pet, these clever cameras are vying for a spot in your home. Karen Sullivan contributed

iControl Networks Piper

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent).

The good: There’s a ton of useful home security and home automation features squeezed into Piper’s compact frame. It looks great, too, which doesn’t hurt.

The bad: The app design is a little busy, and I wish it had night vision. If you don’t like Z-Wave, a wireless network by Zensys Inc., you’re kind of out of luck in the accessories department.

The cost: $239.

The bottom line: Don’t expect Piper’s slight build to mean that it’s short on performance. This all-in-one security system offers a great value for smaller homes and budding DIYers.

Dropcam Pro

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent).

The good: The Dropcam Pro improves on the image and two-way talk feature of the original Dropcam HD. It’s easy to use and set up, and you can view a remote video feed over the Internet or on your iOS or Android mobile device via free Dropcam apps. The new zoom/enhance feature works well; no service fee for basic live viewing; and the addition of Bluetooth makes setup even easier and will allow you to connect optional home-monitoring accessories in the future.

The bad: You may experience some lag with the video and audio, depending on the speed of your Internet service. PC-free setup isn’t available for Android devices at launch. Camera isn’t weatherproof and can’t be placed outside.

The cost: $190 to $200.

The bottom line: The Dropcam Pro dramatically improves on the company’s already impressive wireless home-monitoring camera.


CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent).

The good: iSmartAlarm offers comprehensive and intelligent home security for do-it-yourself-minded consumers, all for a fraction of fee-based home security setup.

The bad: This alarm system won’t call the police for you, and getting the iCamera video add-on to work with the system can be a challenge.

The cost: $165 to $200.

The bottom line: With its reliability, its overall ease of use, and its undeniable value, the iSmartAlarm is an intriguing, legitimate alternative in home security, especially for small-home owners and budget-minded consumers.

Belkin NetCam HD+

Wi-Fi Camera

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent).

The good: This comparatively inexpensive Internet Protocol camera, which sends and receives data using a computer network and the Internet, has a lot of high-end features, including night vision and two-way talk. It’s also compatible with Belkin WeMo products, which use a Wi-Fi router and Apple smartphone or tablet to control and monitor other devices in the home.

The bad: You need to pay a $10 monthly or $100 yearly fee to store video clips and receive motion-related push notifications. You are dependent on the Belkin servers, and the video quality does not rival the Dropcam Pro’s.

The cost: $129.

The bottom line: Belkin’s NetCam HD+ is a fantastic option for budget-minded DIY security enthusiasts, but you’ll need to pay the monthly fee to get the most from this entry-level IP camera.