DIY cameras to safeguard your stuff

A home security camera can go a long way toward securing your peace of mind, and these 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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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 of the 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 the Ring (see next slide).

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BOT Home Automation Ring

The Ring is the DoorBot's successor. While its performance is improved, in our testing 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

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

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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 doesn't hurt.

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Flir FX

The $200 Flir FX might be one of the most versatile cameras around today.

The problem is that it delivers a ton of phantom alerts, the video recordings take a while to load and the app was generally glitchy.

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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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Guardzilla

At just $100, the Guardzilla is one of the least expensive security cameras we've tested. Unfortunately, its performance wasn't on par with its peers.

It has a 640x480-pixel VGA live-streaming resolution and it snaps photos rather than recording video clips.

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Homeboy

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

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Editors' Rating
3.5 stars

MSRP: $149.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Icontrol 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 lower-specced Dropcam Pro delivered sharper video quality in our tests.

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Icontrol Piper NV

The $279 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 per month, whereas Ion the Home has a free, rolling 24-hour cloud storage option.

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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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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

Nest Cam

The Nest Cam is Nest's Dropcam Pro replacement. And although it looks similar to the Pro at first glance, it has a couple of design elements that make it stand out, including a rotating stand and a magnetic base.

It also offers a full 1080p streaming resolution and is expected to integrate with the Works with Nest initiative at a later date.

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Netatmo Welcome

The Netatmo Welcome is only the second security camera we've reviewed with face recognition technology.

And where ArcSoft's Simplicam regularly misidentified faces, the Welcome nailed it with 100 percent accuracy.

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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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Oco

The Oco HD Wi-Fi Camera costs $149 in the US, £109 in the UK and AU$199 in Australia.

While the Oco has the same design as ArcSoft's Simplicam, it is missing some advanced features like face recognition.

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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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People Power Presence

The Presence app 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 the Manything and Presence apps. 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-resolution video image isn't great, it didn't have any of that streaky nonsense that made things so tough to see in the footage from the DoorBot and the 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, which also integrates with your car. No other camera or security kit we know of can say the same, at least not yet.

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Withings Home

Withings Home costs $200 -- £170 in the UK. It has some interesting features, like a sensor that detects volatile organic compounds in the surrounding air.

Unfortunately, its core features, like live streaming and alerts, didn't meet expectations.

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