One of the fastest growing markets over the past few years has been the do-it-yourself security market, and that all starts with security cameras. We've tried out a bunch, and every model has had its strengths and weaknesses. Most now offer two-way voice communications, remote operation, night vision, as well as optional pay-per-month recording services (some also have expandable onboard storage). Some of these cameras also make great baby monitors, although a purpose-built baby monitor, like the Summer Infant Monitor, will include a handheld screen that is more practical for constant monitoring than a smartphone.

One caveat we should note is that we don't actually believe a camera on its own can provide for full-home security. While all modern security cameras have motion detection built in, you probably want more than that for comprehensive security, especially if your home has more than one entrance. Another limitation we should mention: while many cameras highlight the ability to receive security alerts and a live view of intrusions, this of course requires that you're on your phone at the time of the event and can actually do something about the intrusion (like calling local police). That's why you'll probably want professional monitoring if you're really interested in security.

Special note: This review was published in conjunction with TBG appearing on NBC-affiliate KGW's Portland Today show, September 14, 2016. Check out the video here!

Security Cameras - September 2016

    Pan & Tilt Camera:

    Vimtag VT-361 Indoor Camera

    One of many "security cameras" offered at the $100 pricepoint, this model offers a huge array of features, including pan/tilt motion via app, onboard microSD card recording (up to ~24 hours on a 32GB card), automatic night vision, as well as monitoring via smartphone or PC web browser. We found that our view of the camera through our smartphone always connected quickly, even when away from home! Using your smartphone, you can easily pan the camera using swiping actions, which we really liked. Overall, this is our preferred camera for use as a baby monitor, due to its versatility and low cost.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The Vimtag camera is manufacturered by a Chinese company, which means that grammar and clarity within the app and manual are not great. Some consumers may also take issue with all video being passed through Chinese servers. 

    Pan & Tilt Camera:

    Foscam R2 Indoor Camera

    The Foscam R2 is similar to the Vimtag in price and functionality, but arguably has a slightly sleeker style, almost "Apple-esque," which we doubt was an accident! It also has a 110-degree view, which is a major improvement. We found it difficult to view our camera feed when not on local WiFi. It seems the app has some usability issues in that regard that need further tweaking. Like the Vimtag, it has an onboard memory slot, night vision, and pan-and-tilt motion. We got a kick out of the option to set it to scanning mode, where it would sweep side to side like a little R2-D2! That being said, it's a bit noisy, and a wider-angle lens would make such a mode unnecessary.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Like Vimtag, Foscam is a Chinese company, and the app clearly had some grammatical errors, as well as some odd navigation and control choices.

    Indoor Security Camera with Privacy Shutter:

    MyFox Security Camera

    This product is still the only one we've seen with a privacy shutter, a simple innovation that offers a lot of peace of mind when you're home and don't need or want any surveillance. We also really love the 130-degree wide-angle view, which means that no pan-and-tilt is necessary. The MyFox camera is actually part of a full suite of security devices, including door monitors and an alarm. These can all be purchased together in the Premium Pack. The door monitors offered their own unique innovation: the ability to detect an intrusion before the door is opened, via vibration analysis! To make this package complete, MyFox offers both 24-hour and 7-day cloud storage packages and professional monitoring as optional monthly subscriptions. Note that MyFox is a French company, a while the app and manual are clear, we've ended up on the French website from time to time when looking up information.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This camera is becoming hard to find in stock, and we have a feeling we know why: it often reverted to a "buffering" mode, even on a very fast home network. We believe its built-in WiFi chip was insufficient to support 24/7 HD video, the one serious flaw in an otherwise brilliant design. We hope MyFox is re-tooling this camera to version 2!

    Outdoor Light & Camera Combo:

    KUNA Smart Home Security Outdoor Light

    Designed for outdoor surveillance, this is a great alternative to camera built into doorbells, as the camera is more robust, and the positioning is more useful, assuming you have an outdoor lamp mount available. With its built-in siren, it can also act as an alarm system, although in our opinion outdoor motion-detecting alarms are going to set off false alarms 99% of the time. One nice perk of this combined camera/light product is that the light can be turned and off remotely, and can even be programmed to turn on and off at set times, making it a true Smart Home device. One feature that all the previous cameras profiled have that the KUNA does not: night vision. It appears the developer relied on its built-in light actually being on for it to be used!

    The Guru's Tip:

    The KUNA product line is designed in the US, unlike most security cameras, meaning the English used in the app and documentation is perfect. A U.S.-based company may also be preferable to consumers concerned about privacy.

  1. Pan & Tilt Camera Vimtag VT-361 Indoor Camera ($100.00)
  2. Pan & Tilt Camera Foscam R2 Indoor Camera ($100.00)
  3. Indoor Security Camera with Privacy Shutter MyFox Security Camera ($126.00)
  4. Outdoor Light & Camera Combo KUNA Smart Home Security Outdoor Light ($179.00)