23 DIY cameras to safeguard your stuff

A home security camera can go a long way toward securing your peace of mind, and these 23 DIY options offer simpler installations and better prices than their contract-and-fee-based counterparts.

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Archos Smart Home Starter Pack

We had mixed results with this security camera starter kit from Archos. You get a few extra sensors along with two low-quality cameras, but a required tablet accessory makes the whole package awkward.

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Editors' Rating
2 stars

MSRP: $250.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

ArcSoft Simplicam

This isn't the most reliable camera we've reviewed, but its facial recognition feature might be useful if ArcSoft ever works out the software kinks.

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Editors' Rating
3.5 stars

MSRP: $149.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Belkin NetCam HD+ Wi-Fi Camera

This is a solid entry-level camera with an affordable $130 price tag. Its biggest issue is a fee-based system for storing video clips.

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BOT Home Automation Doorbot

We like the idea DoorBot camera-equipped doorbell, but poor video quality and a spotty hold-to-talk feature hold it back. This model has been scrapped and replaced with Ring.

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BOT Home Automation Ring

Ring is DoorBot's successor. While its performance is improved, it still struggled to deliver a consistently decent live video stream.

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Editors' Rating
3 stars

MSRP: $199.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Canary

Canary came onto the smart-home security scene around the same time as the original Piper. As a competing all-in-one system, Canary looks good on paper, but we'll have to hold out for its full retail release this spring.

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D-Link Pan & Tilt Day/Night Network Camera

D-Link's security cam works well for basic real-time video monitoring, but its notification system is too unreliable.

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Dropcam Pro

The DropCam Pro remains the gold standard for smart security cameras. It's one of the most expensive products in its category, coming in at $199, but its video quality, ease-of-use, and overall feature set put it above its competitors. Integration with products from new owner Nest Labs also doesn't hurt.

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Foscam Plug and Play Wireless IP Camera FI9826P

The technical specs of this one are great: 300-degree panning, 120-degree tilt, and 3x optical zoom. You can also store clips locally or via Foscam's cloud service. The software is badly in need of a mobile-era update, however. This one is only for the PC-centric.

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Homeboy

Homeboy is a rechargeable home security camera. It doesn't offer live streaming or HD video, but it makes typically tethered indoor home security mobile.

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Editors' Rating
3.5 stars

MSRP: $149.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Piper

Icontrol Networks' $199 Piper is a DIY home security system that packs an IP camera, environmental sensors, and motion detectors into its compact frame. The camera has a 180-degree glass fish-eye lens that claims to offer 1080p, although the Dropcam Pro delivered sharper video quality in our tests.

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Icontrol Piper NV

The $269 Piper NV is Icontrol's "new version" with "night vision." Complete with a 180-degree fish-eye lens, a 105-decibel siren, a microphone, a speaker, live streaming, free cloud storage, a Z-Wave hub and all sorts of sensors, this thing makes for one fantastic all-in-one home security system.

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Ion the Home Wi-Fi Video Camera

The $130 Ion the Home Wi-Fi Video Camera is priced to compete with entry-level models, like the $130 Belkin NetCam HD+. But, Belkin’s cloud storage starts at $10/month, whereas Ion the Home has a free, rolling 24-hour cloud storage option.

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Editors' Rating
3 stars
Pricing is currently unavailable.

iSmartAlarm iCamera

iSmartAlarm is another crowdfunded home security system. With packages starting at $199 and no required monthly fees, this is a decent DIY option -- just not if you want a good camera. We had a really hard time getting it to work.

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iSmartAlarm iCamera Keep

iSmartAlarm's previous iCamera was clunky and tough to set up. This upgraded version is much easier to recommend, but it doesn't currently offer auto-recording or save clips for later review.

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Editors' Rating
3.5 stars

MSRP: $149.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Manything

While this technically isn't a camera, this iOS app can turn an old iPhone into a connected security camera for free (BYO stand). The image quality is not as good as that of most dedicated cameras. Again, though: free.

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Editors' Rating
3.5 stars

Free

Netgear Arlo

Netgear's Arlo security cameras are battery-powered and rated for both indoor and outdoor use. That means that you can stick one in your foyer and another on your back porch to see what's happening in and around your home.

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Oplink

You can buy Oplink's IP cameras individually for $100 each or as part of a kit, like the brand's $350 Oplink Security TripleShield. These cameras have motion detection and night vision capabilities and require a 16GB flash drive for local storage. $10 monthly fees apply for group monitoring and event recording.

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Editors' Rating
3.5 stars

MSRP: $349.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

People Power Presence

Presence lets you use an old iOS device as a security camera. Simply download the app and follow the instructions to get set up in mere moments. It's easy and best of all, free, but it doesn't have an IFTTT channel like Manything.

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Editors' Rating
3.5 stars

Free

Salient Eye

Salient Eye is Android's answer to Manything and Presence. Where its iOS equivalents let you live stream for more of an on-demand/webcam experience, Salient Eye is for home security only. It has a ridiculously loud siren and lets you arm/and disarm the system and set email or text alerts as needed.

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Editors' Rating
4 stars

Free

Samsung SmartCam HD Pro

Samsung's $189 SmartCam HD Pro is a direct Dropcam Pro competitor, but it didn't quite match the crispness of Dropcam's videos on either the Web or its mobile app.  Its components also felt cheap in comparison. It does have a ton of useful features, though, including local SD card storage.

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SkyBell 2.0

SkyBell's second-generation video doorbell works...most of the time. Although its grainy 640x480-pixel video image isn't great, it didn't have any of that streaky nonsense that made it so tough to see using either DoorBot or Ring.

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Viper Home

This camera comes as a part of a larger home security system from car alarm giant Viper. The camera itself is competitive, but the real bonus is that it works in conjunction with Viper's whole home kit, that also integrates with your car. No other camera or security kit we know of can say the same, at least yet.

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