Connected cameras, or how to monitor your home with your smartphone

Marco B Divaio

Connected surveillance cameras are on the rise. Their price is affordable, they are easy to install and allow the user to monitor their home remotely from their smartphone or tablet. There are many uses: watching over their house or garden, making sure that the youngest is home from school and even for some, keeping an eye on their pets during the day… But beware, not all of them offer the same features. Homap helps you see clearly and choose the right connected camera

One or more cameras

Less expensive than a professional installation, easy to install and use, connected cameras promise to be accessible even to the least tech-savvy. To afford a branded consumer connected camera, you have to pay between a few hundred euros and more than 300 € (the unit). If you want to monitor several rooms in your house or several areas of your garden, prefer cameras of the same brand, which can work with the same application. Some manufacturers also sell them in packs.

Once you have chosen your camera, all you have to do is install it and then connect it to your home network (Wi-Fi or Ethernet). You can then receive alerts and see what is happening at home directly on your smartphone, your tablet, possibly your computer.

Buying the right camera
Good to know

Video recording can be done by memory card or paid subscription. Check the cost and image resolution of both methods.

Good to know

With his smartphone, we can see live what is happening. And we are warned of an intrusion if the camera has a motion detector.

Good to know

Some models are equipped with an audible alarm, which can sometimes be triggered remotely after identifying an intrusion.

To film in the house or outside?

The first question to ask yourself is whether you want to film the inside of your home or the outside. In the second case, choose a model that is resistant to bad weather, dust, high and low temperatures. The questions of the connection and the power supply must also be asked. A Wi-Fi connection avoids having cables lying around everywhere, especially if the camera is installed outside. For food, the same. If you are installing the camera outside, without access to a power supply, prefer a battery-operated model. If, on the contrary, you have an electrical outlet in the garden, the wired power supply can save you from having to change/recharge the battery.
Finally, some manufacturers offer practical options for outdoor cameras, which can, for example, act as lighting.

Somfy Indoor Camera selection From 150 to 199 euros

Resolution 1080p

Wifi

Movement detector

Vision nocturne

Nest NC1102FD From 100 to 149 euros

Bluetooth et wifi 

Detects movements and sound

Vision nocturne

Records continuously 

Netatmo Welcome From 150 to 199 euros

Recognizes faces

No subscription

Authorized profiles

Full HD Vision nocturne

A quick look at the resolution

If you want to monitor your home hoping to be able to identify an intruder, choose a camera that films and renders the image in high definition (Full HD 1080p). On the other hand, if the goal is simply to check that your children have returned from school or to say hello to Félix or Médor during the day, such a definition is not essential. Please note, some cameras are capable of filming in Full HD (1080p) or HD (720p) only live, but the recordings are sometimes limited to a lower definition.
You should know that when the brightness drops, the quality of the video also decreases, until it becomes almost unusable in the dark. Depending on your needs, it may be appropriate to choose a model with night vision (infrared), capable of filming correctly at night.
The trick: if you want to be able to panic intruders and alert the neighborhood in the event of a glitch, some models have an alarm. If the use is rather “family”, prefer a camera equipped with a microphone and a loudspeaker. This acts as an intercom; it not only allows you to view the images with sound, but also to exchange live with the people present at home.

Installation, range and viewing angle

Also ask yourself which area you want to monitor (part of the garden, the doorway, your living room, your entrance, etc.) and where you are going to install the camera. Some simply arise and therefore cannot be oriented. To film correctly, it is then necessary to plan to install them on a piece of furniture at an adequate height. Others are fixed on a wall support, which offers the possibility of orienting them with more freedom – sometimes on a ball joint or a half-sphere support, on which the camera is magnetized. Finally, some models promise to film at 360°, following the movements of a person passing through their shot.
The viewing angle varies from model to model. This criterion must also be taken into account depending on the needs: if the camera is installed in your entrance, aimed at your front door, you do not need a gigantic viewing angle. On the other hand, if you hope to film your long stay, a wide-angle model, or even one that rotates 360° may be welcome. The same remark is valid with regard to the detection range of your camera. If pointed directly at the front door, a small detection range is sufficient; on the other hand, to monitor a large garden, the further away an intruder is detected, the better.

Keep an eye on your exteriors
Somfy protect outdoor From 250 to 299 euros

Outdoor 

Wifi

Built-in siren

Vision nocturne

Netatmo Presence From 250 to 299 euros

Outdoor with detector

LED projector

Built-in siren

Full HD – Wifi

Nest NC2100FD From 200 to 249 euros

Outdoor

Full HD

Micro

Vision nocturne

Beware of the hidden cost of subscriptions

All models on the market have applications compatible with smartphones running iOS and Android. These applications allow you to make settings, receive alerts and watch videos. But some models require a subscription to work properly – to store more or less videos on the manufacturer’s cloud, for more or less time. It is better to have “planned its cost” to avoid unpleasant surprises. 

– When the camera detects sound or movement, it records a short video whose duration varies from a few seconds to several minutes depending on the model.
– All the cameras on the market offer live viewing on the smartphone in the event of an alert. On the other hand, it is rarely possible to save the videos you are watching directly on the phone.
– What also varies is the storage time of the videos, during which it is possible to retrieve them from the manufacturer’s cloud. With some, this is possible free of charge only for a few hours, or even not at all (in some cases, without subscription, only photos are recovered). To extend this period, you have to pay a monthly subscription, the price of which can range from a few euros to around thirty euros. In some offers, the quantity of videos is limited.
– On the contrary, some cameras do not require a subscription: the videos are stored and can be retrieved free of charge for a day, several days, or even a fortnight.
– Finally, some cameras also offer local video storage, via a micro SD card embedded in the camera – always coupled with cloud recording (in case a burglar leaves with the camera, for example). Finally, the most tech-savvy can choose a model that connects to an FTP server or a NAS to store their videos.
So, before finalizing your choice, double check what types of video footage your camera records, if it suits your needs and how much it will cost you.

Low price
Ezviz C6N From 20 to 49 euros

Full HD grand angle

Motorized

Vision nocturne

Standby

Imou Ranger From 20 to 49.99 euros

1080 P

Alexa compatible

SD storage

Motion detection

Xiaomi Mi Home From 20 to 49 euros

1080p resolution

360° viewing angle

Carte micro sd

Vision nocturne

Possible options

The cameras offer more or less options. We have already mentioned some of them, such as the presence of microphones and speakers, an alarm, the intercom function (sometimes even more elaborate to act as a baby monitor), triggering then direct recording on the smartphone, lighting exterior… Once again, it all depends on your use. You should know that some functions related to the application can also evolve via updates.
Our advice: each time motion and sound are detected, the camera is likely to send you a notification, which can become very intrusive and no longer leave you in peace. Do not underestimate the usefulness of options that allow sorting, limiting the sending of unwanted notifications.
– For example, some cameras are able to distinguish the shapes of a car from a human being or an animal, to send notifications only when necessary. Others go further by recognizing faces, alerting the user only when a stranger passes through their field.
– In the same vein, some applications offer to reinforce surveillance in a specific area of ​​the filmed image.
– Still in the same spirit, the sensitivity of the sensor can sometimes be adjusted: this avoids receiving notifications only if the wind moves the leaves of the trees or if there is a small noise. Some even offer to sort the alerts by type (children crying, movements, etc.).
– Some manufacturers promise users respect for their privacy: the camera can then be deactivated on returning home, those that go the furthest have a cover that covers the lens.
– We mentioned the possibility of storing images locally on an SD card; some models offer to reduce the quality of the videos to optimize the storage capacity.
– Finally, some cameras are able to operate in “fleets” to monitor multiple areas. With some manufacturers, they can even operate in an ecosystem with other connected home sensors, such as door opening or smoke detectors.

Arlo multi-camera
Boulanger Pro 3 pack From 549 to 599 euros

4 cameras (scalable)

On battery

HD Wifi

Interior Exterior

Eufy EufyCam2 Pro From 450 to 499 euros

3 cameras + base

Wireless – battery

Vision nocturne

Storage 16 GB

Somfy Pack 2 indoor From 250 to 299 euros

2 cameras

Interior

Full HD

vision nocturne

Don’t forget the law

Even more than other connected devices, cameras raise privacy issues. You are certainly at home, but the law governs the use of surveillance cameras. If the camera is installed outside, you have the right to film your garden, but not passers-by or your neighbors. And if employees intervene in your home (medical staff, cleaning lady, babysitter, etc.), they must be informed of the presence of the cameras and must not be constantly filmed.

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