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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Eyes in the back of its head

Tablet-camera hybrid

A built-in security system? Check

Carry this camera into the great outdoors

Telling friend from foe

A really good listener

Plays well with others

Forget cameras, why not use your phone?

Yep. This camera -- the Allie Home by IC Real Tech -- has two 180-degree lenses.

That means that both your live stream and recorded footage, as well as any photos you take, give a complete 360-degree view at all times.

The Zmodo Pivot also offers a 360-degree view, but not all at once. As with most 360-degree cameras, you have to rotate, or pan, the Pivot before it can see more.

Caption by / Photo by Tyler Lizenby/CNET

This flat-panel gizmo, called Sentri, doesn't look much like a camera at all; that's because its lens is obscured by the tablet-esque exterior.

The Sentri didn't actually perform all that well during our testing, but its unique interface does let you see info at a glance (like the ambient temperature or the local forecast) without having to enlist help from your phone.

Caption by / Photo by Chris Monroe/CNET

Not interested in forking over thousands for a fancy professional security system?

Icontrol's Piper NV is actually a self-contained security system, complete with a 180-degree fish-eye lens, a siren, and motion and sound alerts, as well as environmental sensors.

Piper also doubles as a Z-Wave hub, so you can add door/window sensors and other accessories as needed.

Caption by / Photo by Tyler Lizenby/CNET

DIY security cameras usually fall into one of two categories -- they're either indoor or outdoor.

Netgear's battery-powered Arlo can hang out inside, but you can also attach it to a fence, tree, or any other convenient outdoor spot.

Caption by / Photo by Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Netatmo Welcome is one of the first widely available DIY security cameras to offer facial-recognition technology.

Scan in your face and this helpful cam will learn your features over time and help distinguish you from friends and family -- or strangers.

The ArcSoft Simplicam can do this too, but it didn't perform as well during our testing.

Caption by / Photo by Tyler Lizenby/CNET

iSmartAlarm's Spot camera has unique hearing capabilities.

It knows the standard frequencies for both smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and will issue a custom alert if your detector's alarm sounds.

Caption by / Photo by Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Beyond having a very interesting name, the Homeboy camera also has its own IFTTT channel.

Homeboy isn't alone in this -- a handful of other models like the Oco and Kidde's RemoteLync also work with IFTTT, but it's definitely not ubiquitous in the DIY market. Not yet, at least.

Having an IFTTT channel means that the Homeboy can connect to a variety of devices and services from other companies such as Nest and Twitter.

Caption by / Photo by Tyler Lizenby/CNET

If you happen to have an older Android device kicking around at home, you can enlist it to act like a security camera you'd typically pay hundreds for.

The Salient Eye app essentially transforms spare Android devices into security cameras. Then you can use your current phone to receive motion-related alerts and other info.

Similar apps, like Manything and Presence, are available for iOS.

Caption by / Photo by Tyler Lizenby/CNET
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