Would you buy a wireless smart camera

Surveillance cameras tested in 2021: the WLAN camera overview

There are many reasons to install a security camera in your home. We have tested the most popular indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras and give tips on choosing the right device.

Surveillance cameras tested in 2021: the WLAN camera overview
Surveillance cameras tested in 2021: the WLAN camera overview

Surveillance camera: the 10 decisive purchase criteria

Anyone who reads through tests on surveillance cameras can quickly be dazzled by razor-sharp images and low prices. The devil is in the details, however. We summarize here what is really important when buying a WiFi 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, by means of a process of elimination. One difference to the wired colleagues is that the recording only starts when movement is detected.

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

Tip:For the outdoor area, many manufacturers offer suitable solar panels, so that the battery camera has to be charged less often. Examples of this are the Netgear Arlo Ultra and Reolink Argus 2.

2. 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 the data can be saved free of charge. A paid subscription usually has to be taken out for longer periods of time.
  • Local storage: The video recordings are on an SD card in the surveillance camera and are overwritten as soon as the memory is full. Most cameras are sold with 4 to 8 GB memory cards. If you want to access your data for several weeks, make sure when purchasing that the memory card can be exchanged 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 in your own home.

When comparing WiFi security cameras, check whether the storage method you want is possible before buying. In some cases, only external cloud storage is offered - even if the data is sent 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.

3. 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 test results on image quality - full HD is not always full HD.

4. The night vision

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

In general, the higher 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 the Arlo Ultra and EufyCam 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.

5. The shooting angle

Most surveillance cameras have an angle of 90 to 110 degrees. This makes them safe for guarding house entrances or larger sections of space. If you want to cover the entire room, you can opt for a 360-degree surveillance camera 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 will target harmless passers-by, for example, and trigger a false alarm. Some camera models counteract this by allowing the user to block certain image areas in the app or define activity zones.

6. The motion detector

In the past, it 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 heat from movement. In combination with the image comparison technology, the risk assessment is significantly improved. All surveillance cameras presented in the test work with PIR motion detectors.

If the motion detector is activated, 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.

7. The loudspeaker

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

8. The smart home connection

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 going on at home when networked door contacts or WiFi smoke detectors send a warning via app. The connection with Amazon Alexa or the Amazon Echo Show is also practical. The live images are transmitted to the Amazon Echo screen by voice command.

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

9. HomeKit Secure Video

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

10. The attachment

Last but not least, before buying a surveillance 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 appropriate mounting accessories, such as a wall bracket or stand, must be ordered.

Get advice from experts on smart monitoring systems here:

Surveillance cameras tested in 2021

So that you can quickly find what you are looking for, we present the currently best monitoring solutions in four categories:

Category 1: The best wired outdoor surveillance cameras

Category 2: The best wireless security cameras for outdoors

Category 3: The best wired indoor security cameras

Category 4: The best indoor wireless security cameras

Category 5:The best surveillance cameras for HomeKit Secure Video

Category 1: The best wired outdoor surveillance cameras

Netatmo Presence Full HD surveillance camera tested

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.

The videos are saved on an SD card. Alternatively, they can also be downloaded to the smartphone or sent to the Dropbox. The connection to an FTP server also allows the Netatmo Presence.

advantages

  • is not immediately recognized as a camera
  • Alarm areas can be defined
  • wide surveillance radius in light and dark
  • well designed app
  • Storage on SD card or FTP server
  • Storage in Dropbox possible
  • HomeKit and Google Assistant compatible

disadvantage

Test voices and experience reports on Netatmo Presence

Netzwelt.de: "The Netatmo Presence is a thoroughly well thought-out product that impresses with intelligent functions and an attractive design."

Techtest.org: "The image quality is top, the recognition of people and vehicles works perfectly and the recording options [...] are diverse."

Technology blog: “Other systems have so far failed due to immature battery concepts, monthly costs for the portal or poor processing of the camera. The Netatmo Presence is well made, looks solid and has withstood every rain and cold without any problems. "

Amazon rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars from 1,700+ reviews

Lupus LE 201 Full HD surveillance camera in the test

Lupusec is known for its powerful surveillance solutions. With the Lupus LE201, the German manufacturer shows that the concentrated load of technology does not even have to be expensive.

For less than 100 euros you can get a 92-degree wide-angle lens and a night vision radius of 30 meters. Even in poor lighting conditions, the small surveillance camera retains its contrasts in the test.

The brightness of the IR spotlight can be regulated, as can the sensitivity of the motion detector. Image areas can be defined that are relevant for monitoring.

The SD memory can be expanded up to 128 GB. In addition to local storage in the camera, the recordings can be stored on an FTP or NAS server. A clear web interface enables storage on the computer.

advantages

  • very good picture quality
  • high quality
  • extensive web interface
  • SD card, NAS or FTP server as storage
  • E-mail SMTP server
  • long range of night vision
  • LAN and WLAN interface
  • Lupusec outdoor siren can be connected

disadvantage

  • Operating instructions could be more detailed in order to be able to implement advanced functions more quickly
  • no integrated alarm tone

Test votes and experience reports on Lupus LE 201

Smarthometest.info:“The Lupusnet LE 201 impresses with its fast setup, night vision function and local storage. In addition to integration and operation from your home PC, you can always keep an eye on your home thanks to the smartphone app. "

Camera-tuerspion.de: “The scope of services is enormous, which is why you should take your time to fathom all the subtleties. […] The image of the LUPUSNET HD-LE201 and also its night vision function with the images supplied are very good. This product from Germany is also very cheap. "

Amazon rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars from 390+ reviews

Wired surveillance cameras for outside in comparison

Features *

Netatmo Presence

Lupus LE 201

Storage

SD card up to 32 GB, FTP server,
Dropbox

SD card up to 128 GB,
FTP server

resolution

1,080p

1,080p

Night vision

20m

30m

angle

100°

92°

Monitoring areas
define

Yes

Yes

Two-way audio /
integrated alarm

No no

No no

Smart home
Connection

Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant

Lupusec security system

Compatibility with
Echo show

YesNo

Compatibility with
HomeKit / Secure Video

Yes / YesNo no

Price (approx)

278 euros83 euros

* all information without guarantee (software updates et cetera possible)

Category 2: The best wireless security cameras for outdoors

Netgear Arlo Ultra surveillance camera in the test

The Netgear-Arlo system is one of the most popular (and expensive) surveillance solutions. It is particularly interesting if several surveillance cameras are to be used, because the prerequisite for commissioning is a base station that costs around 50 to 100 euros (depending on the set). Up to 15 cameras can then be docked to these. Despite the price barriers to entry, Netgear's reliable monitoring solution is worth the money for demanding customers in view of the extensive additional functions. These include, for example, human-animal recognition, two-way audio and the built-in alarm siren. However, with this latest update of the Arlo series, the 7-day free cloud storage is no longer available. You can enjoy the subscription services free of charge for one year, but after that you will be withdrawn until you purchase the subscription for a fee. A small compensation is the possibility of SD card storage for those who prefer to save their data locally (and for free) anyway.

With an unbeatable field of view of 180 degrees, the wireless surveillance camera records about two to three months in the test before the next battery charge is due; Depending on usage, most of them will not get the 4 months specified by the manufacturer. However, if you use the right Arlo solar panel, you can significantly extend the runtime. As the only surveillance camera tested, the Arlo Ultra offers a geofencing function that automatically switches the alarm mode off and on, depending on where the homeowner is. However, since GPS draws a lot of energy from the smartphone, everyone has to decide for themselves whether this feature represents added value for them personally.

The possibility of control via a voice assistant is also a matter of taste. The live image can be dragged to the Amazon Echo Show or the Smart TV (via FireTV) via Amazon Alexa. The whole thing can also be coupled with Siri or HomeKit, but mind you (still) not with Apple SecureVideo.

advantages

  • Two-way audio
  • Monitoring areas can be defined
  • recognizes people, vehicles, packages and animals (with subscription)
  • Integrated siren
  • Compatible with the IFTTT smart home platform
  • compatible with Alexa and HomeKit
  • Compatible with Arlo Solar Panel
  • good night vision mode in color
  • free cloud storage for 7 days
  • Geofencing automation

disadvantage

  • high entry price
  • some additional functions are only activated in the paid subscription
  • Replacement batteries and additional cameras are relatively expensive
  • can still be prone to failure due to many new features
  • no Apple Secure Video

Test votes and experience reports on the Netgear Arlo Ultra

Computerbild.de: “The easiest way to set up in the test was using a smartphone; the user only needs the Arlo app. Short videos on the display explain the connection of the hub and the camera. Everything is ready within a few minutes. The operation is also uncomplicated. "

Connect.de: "Test conclusion: very good (test winner). Pro: Clever app features such as recognizing parcels on the doorstep or alerting friends. Cons: The range between the cameras and the base is sometimes too short. "

Einbruchschutz-und-alarmanlagen.de: “Incorrect alarm messages, which are often the case with inexpensive cameras, are very rare with the Arlo Ultra. With a real PIR motion detector and intelligent person recognition, unnecessary push notifications due to wobbling trees, weather conditions or birds can actually be almost completely avoided even outdoors. "

Amazon rating: 4 out of 5 stars from 800+ reviews

Reolink Argus 2 Full HD surveillance camera in the test

Reolink Argus 2 is the cloudless alternative to Netgear Arlo Ultra. Here the data can only be saved on a micro SD card. If a movement is detected and a recording is triggered, you will receive a push message and an email with a video snippet if you wish.

Thanks to a built-in loudspeaker, the wireless camera makes a lot of noise in the worst-case scenario.The two-way audio can also be used to address personal words to the intruder.

To avoid false alarms, you can choose between three levels of awareness for the PIR motion detector. A viewing window of 130 degrees is captured. A clear picture is retained even in the dark; the Reolink Argus 2 does not recognize picture noise.

The standard battery life is around three months. Fortunately, the Reolink Argus 2 can also be connected to a solar panel so that you no longer have to worry about the energy supply. Even if the battery does not have to be replaced often: One advantage of the Reolink compared to Netgear is that a new battery is much cheaper. It costs just around 25 euros.

advantages

  • good image quality
  • flexible attachment options
  • no cloud constraint
  • cheap battery to buy later
  • 130 degree wide angle
  • expandable with inexpensive solar panel
  • low price
  • Two-way audio
  • long battery life

disadvantage

  • no integration options in the smart home
  • So far no integration into other platforms (Amazon Alexa, HomeKit, IFTTT)
  • no storage on NAS server
  • no automatic detection of presence / absence
  • Operation only possible via smartphone (not via browser / desktop PC)
  • Videos are only saved locally on the micro SD card

Test votes and experience reports on Reolink Argus 2

Heimwerker.de: „The Reolink Argus 2 camera is very popular as hardware. It is small, can be used on the move thanks to the battery and delivers first-class images. The mounting options and the more than cheap solar panel are also positive. "

Techstage.de: "If you don't know the data of your private surveillance camera (s) in the cloud, or you simply don't want to have any additional costs, you may find the Reolink Argus 2 the device of choice."

Housecontrollers.de: “The Reolink Argus 2 can convince with good image quality and reliable motion detection. With the additional solar panel, the camera can be installed very flexibly on the property - all that is required is WiFi coverage. "

Amazon rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars from 1,900+ reviews

Wireless surveillance cameras for outdoors in comparison

Features *

Netgear Arlo Ultra

Reolink Argus 2

Storage

Cloud, Mirco-SD
(at least 16 GB)

SD card up to 64GB

resolution

4K

1,080p

Night vision

8-10m

10m

angle

180°

130°

Monitoring areas
define

Yes

No

Two-way audio /
siren

Yes / Yes

Yes No

Smart home
Connection

Amazon Alexa, IFTTT, SmartThings,
Wink, Stringify, HomeKit,
Google Assistant

-

Compatibility with
Echo show

YesYes

Compatibility with
HomeKit / Secure Video

Yes NoNo no

Price (approx)

409 euros95 euros

* all information without guarantee (software updates et cetera possible)

Category 3: The best wired indoor surveillance cameras

UpCam Cyclone HD Pro Full HD surveillance camera in the test

The look of the UpCam Cyclone is certainly a matter of taste, but it has a decisive advantage: The lens can be rotated horizontally by 355 degrees and vertically by 120 degrees - via an app via a remote-controlled motor. This makes the UpCam Cyclone HD Pro particularly suitable for monitoring spacious rooms.

The WLAN surveillance camera can be connected to a paid cloud service that starts at around four euros a month. However, the recordings can also be saved free of charge on the already integrated 8 GB SD card. Monthly follow-up costs are therefore not mandatory. Notification by e-mail and uploading to an FTP server are also possible.

The clear image of the UpCam Cyclone is particularly good for a camera in its price range - in both light and dark. For this purpose, the manufacturer relies on a high-performance sensor from Sony.

advantages

  • good night shots
  • 8 GB memory card included
  • Monitoring via web interface or app
  • Email notifications
  • Storage on FTP server possible
  • rotating camera
  • cheap price
  • Two-way audio
  • external connections for sensors and external alarm system

disadvantage

  • Wall bracket a bit unstable
  • no integrated alarm tone