Surveillance CCTV Cameras Tested in 2021: The WLAN Camera Overview

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CCTV Camera
CCTV Camera

Anyone who reads through tests on surveillance cameras, razor-sharp images, and low prices will quickly dazzle him. The devil is in the details, however. We summarize here what is really important when buying a Wi-Fi camera:

  1. The power supply 

First of all, consider whether a power connection is within reach at the desired location or whether an extension cable can be laid. Otherwise, the choice falls on a wireless surveillance camera, which many manufacturers now have on offer. One difference to the wired colleagues is that the recording only starts when its detects movement. 

Wireless WiFi surveillance cameras last an average of three months without a battery charge. However, you should not rely on the manufacturer’s information, but rather use experience reports and tests. 

Tip: Many manufacturers offer suitable solar panels for outdoor use, so that the battery camera does not have to be charged as often. Examples are the Netgear Arlo Ultra and Reolink Argus 2.

  1. The location 

There are several options for saving the recorded video snippets: 

  • External cloud storage: The data is stored on the company server for a certain period of time and can be viewed via the app. When buying the WiFi camera, you should pay attention to how long you can save the data free of charge. You have to take out a paid subscription usually for longer periods of time.
  • Local storage: stored the video recordings on an SD card in the surveillance CCTV camera and are overwritten as soon as the memory is full. Sellers sell most cameras  with 4 to 8 GB memory cards. If you want to access your data for several weeks, make sure when purchasing that you can exchange the memory card for a 15 GB + memory card. 
  • External local storage: The data is “stored” on external storage, for example on an FTP server or NAS storage device in your own home. 

When comparing WiFi security cameras, check whether the storage method you want is possible before buying. In some cases, They offer only external cloud storage – even if it sends the data in encrypted form, this is not for everyone. In contrast to the SD card, one advantage of the cloud is that the burglar cannot simply pack the recordings with the camera. With a permanent wall mounting you can minimize this risk. 

  1. The resolution

It’s not about getting cinematic footage; it’s about getting solid surveillance video. There are surveillance cameras with 4K resolution, but they have an enormous storage volume. It is therefore advisable to stick to full HD solutions. These are usually sufficient to recognize faces, for example. Here, too, it is worth keeping an eye on the test results on the image quality – full HD is not always full HD. 

  1. The night vision

The best resolution is of no use if after dark only half you can see and it severely restricts the viewing radius. In the surveillance camera test, we therefore only present models that are also convincing in the dark. 

The number of infrared lights, the better the night vision function. In the meantime, more and more cameras have integrated a mini headlight that enables colored images even in the dark, such as Arlo Ultra and Eufy Cam 2C in the test. Some outdoor surveillance cameras also offer the option of synchronizing an external spotlight. The Ring Spotlight Cam or the Netatmo Presence are even a light and surveillance camera in one, which makes video surveillance particularly inconspicuous. 

  1. The shooting angle

Most surveillance cameras have an angle of 90 to 110 degrees. This makes them suitable for guarding house entrances or larger room sections. If you want to cover the entire room, you can for a 360-degree surveillance camera opt or a fisheye camera on the ceiling. 

In general, however, a large angle is not necessarily better, because the more the lens captures, the greater the risk that the camera, for example, will target harmless passers-by and raise a false alarm. Some camera models counteract this by allowing the user to block certain image areas in the app or define activity zones. 

  1. The motion detector

One Timeit was common practice to detect movements solely by means of a software-controlled image comparison. As a result, false alarms were a common problem: animals, people or branches were classified as dangerous. Thanks to the new infrared sensors (PIR motion detectors), the surveillance camera detects movement heat. In combination with the image comparison technology, manufacturers have improved the risk assessment is significantly. All surveillance cameras presented in the test work with PIR motion detectors. 

If you activate the motion detector, the WLAN surveillance camera sends a push message to the mobile phone (if desired). Some models also offer the option to receive an email with surveillance video. 

  1. The loudspeaker

An unpleasant alarm tone can work wonders to put the burglar on the run. Many camera models are therefore includes a loudspeaker and alarm function. The loudspeaker also makes it possible to communicate with the people on site. Although you cannot compare the quality with a telephone, still it will exchange information, for example with the children, via two-way audio. 

  1. The smart home connection

    CCTV Camera
    Smart Home Camera

WLAN cameras work particularly well with smart home devices. On the one hand, external alarm sirens or doorbells can be connected, on the other hand, you can see what is Happening on at home when networked door contacts or WiFi smoke detectors send a warning via app. The connection is also practical with Amazon Alexa or the Amazon Echo Show. It transmit the live images to the Amazon Echo screen by voice command. 

If you value such smart home connections, you should make sure that the surveillance camera with a corresponding smart home system or a smart home platform is compatible. 

  1. Home Kit Secure Video 

Using the Home Kit Secure Video function, recordings from compatible surveillance cameras you can view directly in the home app and, if desired, can save in the iCloud. From iOS 14, activity zones you can even define and the app no ​​longer only recognizes it is an animal or a person instantly, but also which person. In order to use the extended functions and save images from the last 10 days in the cloud, you will require a subscription from 3 euros per month, as well as an Apple TV or an iPad as a base station. At least you can stream the live images and save individual clips without a subscription. 

  1. The attachment 

Last but not least, before buying a surveillance CCTV camera you should also think about how it should be set up or fixed. Accordingly, you can check whether the housing allows the desired attachment or whether the corresponding mounting accessories, such as a wall bracket or stand, you have to order at the same time. 

With the Netatmo Presence, the surveillance camera is hidden in a lamp housing. As a result, it monitors inconspicuously and also scares off intruders with floodlights. 

In the test, the Netatmo Presence scores above all with its wide recording radius. Even at night, it is larger than the 20 meters specified by the manufacturer. 

Another special feature is the reliable differentiation between people, animals and vehicles. In the app, you can set which “object type” triggers a notification and video recording. 

It saves the videos on an SD card. Alternatively, you can also download to the smartphone or sent to the Dropbox. The connection to an FTP server also allows the Netatmo Presence.

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