Keep an eye on your home from afar with the latest security gadgets
Nena Farrell, with contributions from Miranda Crowell and Spencer Toy
August 8, 2017
| Updated July 13, 2018
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Nest Cam IQ
Nest’s latest security camera, the Nest Cam IQ ($299), serves up the most important home security information. Not only does it detect and notify you about motion inside your home, it can learn to recognize you, your family members, and even the pets to give you insights on what they’re up to while you’re gone or whether there’s a stranger in the house. The new camera takes the sleek look of the Nest Outdoor Cam ($199) and brings it inside with a swivel mount. Our favorite new feature? Intelligent audio alerts as a part of Nest Aware (the $10+ optional monthly subscription for Nest Cams), so you can get notified when the pets get overly noisy or there’s someone talking in the house when it’s supposed to be vacant.
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There’s almost too much to love about the August Smart Lock. You can easily swap it with the back of your deadbolt to make your door smart, no hardware replacement needed—the majority of users can install it in 15 minutes. It’s a great peace-of-mind device whether you tend to forget to lock the door before you go to bed or need to unlock it remotely if the kids get locked out; just make sure you purchase the August Connect($79) to give the lock WiFi connectivity.
If you get the Smart Keypad($79), you can connect it with Airbnb to auto-generate codes for your guests that expire when their visit is up, or you can make codes yourself in the app for your dog walker to use daily as well as one-time codes for the plumber. Plus, it comes in four colors to keep your door looking snazzy.
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If you’re looking for discreet security, Canary camera could be just the device for you. The cylinder device not only blends in nicely as tabletop decor, but also tracks motion, temperature, and air quality in your home. Its sleek design extends to the app, which presents a clean timeline showing you when family members come and go and video clips of any motion spotted.
Looking to put a security camera in a trickier spot? Try the more portable model, the Canary Flex ($199), which uses batteries and a variety of accessories so it can be easily tucked into a planter, secured on a wall, or even wrapped around something like a shelving rod or porch railing with minimal setup.
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Know who’s at the door, even if you aren’t home. The Ring Video Doorbell ($199) shows you who’s there and lets you talk to them, so you can tell your guest to come right in or ask the mailman to leave the package behind the planter. The Ring stands apart from competitors with a battery-powered bell, making it easy to install in homes that don’t already have a doorbell system. (Most smart doorbells connect with the existing wiring.) The unit has a great selection of finishes, too. However, the battery doesn’t last forever—you’ll need to charge it at least every few weeks, if not more.
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Ring Stick Up Cam
Ring doesn’t just have doorbells—their Stick Up Cam($211) adds an extra level of security for the parts of your home the doorbell camera can’t see. Similar to Ring Video Doorbell, the installation is easy and the app has a user-friendly design, and allows you to see, hear, and speak to visitors.
However, if you miss the initial notification that the Ring Cam saw something, you’ll need to subscribe to one of the Ring Video Recording Plans (starting at $30/year) to view the videos later. That means if your phone is off or you’re stuck in meetings, you’ll need the subscription to access what happened. The service is affordable, but adds another budget consideration on top of purchasing the device.
The Cam’s battery is similar to the doorbell, requiring frequent charges. But Ring also sells a solar panel ($49) to pair with the Stick Up Cam to use renewable energy and eliminate the need for charging.
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Logitech Circle 2
Logitech’s Circle 2 ($179) uses a variety of mounts that enable it to be installed anywhere: outside, in an outlet, or even against a window. The Circle 2 is purchased as either a wired or wire-free device, and has a variety of accessories (for individual purchase) to tailor it to your needs. The camera has a sleek look, is weatherproof for setup indoors or outdoors, and features HD video and a 180-degree view.
To get person detection, or set activity zones to see when the dog is on the bed or kids are in the cookie jar, you’ll need to subscribe to Logitech’s $100-per-year (per-camera) Circle Safe Premium service.
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For some, the idea of having a smart camera watching our every move is a little too Big Brother-esque. Enter Aura ($499), a device that uses electronic fields to sense movement around the house, no camera required. Using the fields that are already present in your home (coming off of other devices like your TV, WiFi, etc.) it can sense motion--and how big that motion is--to start differentiating between family members and even the pets. It’s a nice way to stay in the know if someone’s moving around who shouldn’t be—minus the visuals that a camera would provide.
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Kuna Smart Security Light
At first glance, the Kuna looks like a regular outdoor light. But the unassuming Kuna ($179), which has four different designs to best match your home exterior, is actually a smart light and camera combined for added outdoor security. It’s easy to install as a replacement for an existing outdoor light (which hooks it up to your home’s power, so no batteries or charging are needed) and the app is easy to get up and running.
Motion triggers both the light and camera alerts so you can see, via the camera’s HD video feed, what’s going no matter the time of day. The camera will alert you when there’s activity within its range, but its adjustment is limited since it’s built into the light and is restricted to where the light needs to be placed. When deciding which light the Kuna would replace, aim to target one with the best possible line of sight for the front door and/or your driveway, depending on your preference.