Cameras can be the perfect monitoring system for when you aren’t at home. It can keep an eye on your home, your building, your large plot of land, your indoor home, or just keep an eye on the dog while you’re at work.

There are literally hundreds of options out there that serve a different type of purpose. It all comes down to what you are trying to accomplish.

The overall best smart camera we recommend is the Wyze Cam Pan. It is inexpensive, comes with a ton of features (1080p, Pan/Tilt/Zoom, 2-way Communication, Alexa Compatible, and more), and offers FREE rolling 14-day cloud storage. (Yes, I said Free!)

It is astounding that a camera of this caliber is even for sale under $50. Other competitors and popular cameras are easily priced at $100+ for each camera – and it may still need an additional base station to work (another cost).

Whilst the Wyze Cam Pan isn’t perfect, it is still a great value buy. Even the original V1 or V2 is priced between $20-$25. If one fails or breaks, you’re not out hundreds of dollars.

Now the Wyze Cam Pan might not suit your needs. There are a variety of cameras BETTER than the Wyze depending on what you’re trying to do. Here are the different categories of camera uses we’ve identified that most people will fall into. 

  • Outdoor – You need a few cameras to watch your home but survive the weather. You might have a large area or yard where you need to monitor a shed with valuables or a large driveway.
  • Indoor / Simple – Great for watching the kids room, pets, or simply monitoring a room in your home. These are generally inexpensive, wired, and smaller in form.
  • Monitored – “Monitored” means you want to pay for a service where you can send emergency alerts to have a company check on your cameras and quickly alert the authorities if needed.
  • Self Monitoring – This is self explanatory and most of the cameras in this page are self monitoring cameras. You may check in on a live stream to ‘monitor’ what is happening live or go back to an event in case of things like a theft or break in. Event recording or motion detection can help alert you quickly and 2-Way communication allows you to scare off intruders.
  • Wired or PoE (Power over Ethernet) – This is the most reliable and highest quality video recording you can give to your camera. With WiFi, you can experience dropped signals more frequently and disrupting to camera monitoring. With an Ethernet cord, you have constant power and connection to your cameras. Much more reliability compared to WiFi.
  • Wireless – While a wireless camera has it’s drawbacks, there are certainly advantages that many desire. All those unsightly cables and wires can clog up a home. This is also a good solution for if you need to place cameras in odd locations like on a tree or far away from your property where there isn’t a nearby power outlet.
  • Professional Business Monitoring (or Large Areas) – You run a company or have a large building or area you need cameras to monitor. No cheap stuff here, you need it to work day in and day out. 

As you can see, there are a lot of different uses for a camera. One camera may fall into several categories. For example, the Wyze Cam Pan falls in these types:

  • Indoor Camera
  • Simple
  • Self Monitoring
  • Inexpensive

 

 

best indoor camera

Indoor cameras are perfect for monitoring a very specific type of space. It is usually protected under a roof, within a room, and not outside (unless covered). Here are some indoor cameras worth checking out: 

 

Amcrest Ultra HD2K. In a day and age where security cameras cost $150+ each unit, and a bundle can cost you $500+, the Amcrest brings itself to a reasonable price point for the average joe and still delivers.

  • Pan, Tilt, 1080p, Alexa-friendly, Motion detection, etc. Comes with everything standard you would expect
  • Still requires a power cable
  • 2 Separate Apps for viewing video Locally or on Cloud storage

Amazon Cloud Cam. One of the best Video & Image quality available, it is truly crisp. We also love the app and how user friendly it is. Aside from the 3 hour free cloud storage:

  • Monthly subscription needed
  • Person Alerts require Monthly Fee (Nest Aware)
  • Works great other Amazon devices
    • Live feed on your Amazon Fire TV, Fire Tablet, Echo Show, or Echo Spot.

 Arlo Q. If money was not an issue, grab the Arlo Q. It still comes with all the bells and whistles plus 7 day free rolling video storage on the cloud.

  • The video quality is average
  • Expensive

 

best outdoor camera

Outdoor cameras are perfect for withstanding the outside elements. Whether it snows or rains, we need our cameras to be durable. Here are the best outdoor cameras we recommend:

 

 Arlo Pro 2. It is weather sealed and the base station ensures optimized throughput. It’s long battery life of 6 months ensures we won’t need to change it too often. Best part? Free 7 days of recording in cloud storage.

  • Expensive price tag
  • App is clunky and could be better
  • Night time video is dark

Nest Cam Outdoor. One of the best Video & Image quality available, it is truly crisp. We also love the app and how user friendly it is. Aside from the 3 hour free cloud storage:

  • Monthly subscription needed
  • Person Alerts require Monthly Fee (Nest Aware)

 

best wireless camera

Wireless cameras are amazing for those tough spots high up in a tree. The Arlo Pro 2 is one of the top choices for being truly wireless. Many cameras say they are “Wireless” but their power cable still requires a cord.

Here are the other best wireless cameras we recommend:

 

  • REOLINK Argus 2. The Reo does everything you want a camera to do and more. It does NOT require a base station like the Arlo and has a built-in microSD slot which is great. We also love the free playback video on the app.
    • Expensive price tag
    • No way to view on web
    • Camera configuration on Phone App is tedious (since no base station)
  • Ring Spotlight Cam Battery. The Video Doorbell creator has a wonderful outdoor camera that can be powered by solar panel or battery. The bright spotlight and siren is perfect for scaring off intruders.
    • Expensive price tag
    • Recording is delayed compared to wired version

Reolink Argus 2 (Rechargeable Battery or Solar powered)

Ring Spotlight Cam (Rechargeable and Solar too)

best wired / ethernet camera

Wired cameras are my favorite because they can provide the MOST stable internet connection and power source to your camera. If you want the absolute most reliable security camera – get a wired or PoE (Power over Ethernet) camera.

 

  • Reolink 4MP 8CH – Supports up to 8 Channel NVR with huge storage of 2TB HDD for constant recording. Seriously, highest quality image, video, and connection.
    • 1440P
    • Indoor or Outdoor
    • Expensive
  • Amcrest ProHD. This is another well known camera in the PoE game. The Amcrest does everything you want a camera to do and more.
    • Inexpensive price tag
    • Feedback on voice communication
  • Dahua 4MP Outdoor Dome. A lesser known PoE camera brand, the Dahua is underrated and the price it is at is a steal. 4 Megapixel high resolution, 2-way communication, this camera comes with all the standard bells and whistles other competitors have.
    • Inexpensive price tag
    • 50 meters night vision
    • IP67 Weatherproof
    • Sound Detection
  • Axis P1435-LE Network Bullet Camera. Money is not an issue? Consider the Axis line. They are insanely expensive but for a reason. They are the highest quality in all aspects, but most consumers aren’t interested in spending $500 for 1 camera (ouch!).  Check it out at Amazon here.

As you can see, there are a ton of different cameras that fit all sorts of needs. Obviously, how much spending power you have will decide on which camera you will want to get. If you’re tight on a budget like me, be sure to check out our post on the 12 Best DIY Security Systems with no monthly fees (Cameras included).