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Amazon Cloud Cam: Meet the official Alexa security camera

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Amazon's $120 Cloud Cam indoor security camera has a few unexpected features for its price. 

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I've been waiting for an Amazon security camera ever since the online retailer and smart home manufacturer faked me out with the fashion-focused Echo Look cam. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait long. Amazon's inaugural DIY home security camera is here. 

Available for preorder now on Amazon, the $120 indoor Cloud Cam promises to do a lot of the same things as more expensive security cameras. It also has a few stand-out features. Curious what that means? Read on.

Cloud Cam basics

DIY home security cameras are a staple in the smart home market nowadays. Once-revolutionary features like high-definition live streaming and night vision are now expected. Most new models follow suit by offering these options for free; Amazon's Cloud Cam is no exception. Here's what Cloud Cam offers out of the box: 

  • 1080p high-definition live streaming
  • Motion detection and related alerts
  • Two-way audio via a built-in speaker and microphone 
  • Night vision for viewing video when it's dark
  • Related Android and iPhone app 
  • Free 24-hour clip cloud storage
  • Optional extended clip cloud storage (fee applies)

If you decide 24 hours of clip storage isn't enough, you can sign up for one of Cloud Cam's three cloud subscription options. 

Amazon Cloud Cam subscription tiers

Tiers Price per month Price per year Days footage stored Cameras supported
Basic $7 $69 7 3
Extended $10 $99 14 5
Pro $20 $199 30 10

All Basic, Extended and Pro subscriptions include detection zones as well as "person detection." Person detection is supposed to send a custom alert when the Cloud Cam sees a person. It won't tell you who it sees, but it should divide alerts into basic motion and person-related motion. This is similar to Nest's person alerts feature, which requires a Nest Aware subscription for Nest Cam Indoor and Outdoor cameras, but comes free with the Nest Cam IQ Indoor and Outdoor models, as well as the Nest Hello doorbell. 

Nest's IQ cameras and Hello buzzer also offer familiar face alerts -- with a Nest Aware subscription. Unlike person detection, face alerts actually ID specific faces of friends, family and other folks who you regularly expect to show up at your home (from a database of faces you create). Other cameras such as the Netatmo Welcome, the Tend Secure Lynx and the Tend Secure Lynx Solar also offer similar facial recognition features. 

Amazon's Cloud Cam doesn't support full facial recognition, but its ability to distinguish between a person and a branch blowing in the wind could still prove useful (assuming it works well).

Alexa, Amazon Key and beyond

While voice commands are a popular way to control smart home devices, security cameras haven't adopted voice functionality as quickly as other product categories. Amazon is putting its Alexa voice AI to good use with the Cloud Cam, though. If you have an Amazon Echo ShowEcho SpotAmazon Fire TV or a Fire tablet, you can ask Alexa to show you your Cloud Cam's video feed remotely -- no phone needed. This feature is also available on select third-party security camera companies such as Ring, Nest and Netgear.

The Cloud Cam is also an integral part of Amazon Key. Amazon Key is a new in-home service that allows your Amazon packages to be dropped off inside your home. But first, you have to have an approved smart lock (via smart lock partners) to grant the delivery person access to your home and the Cloud Cam to monitor the delivery. The bundled Amazon Key In-Home Kit will include a Cloud Cam and a Key-enabled smart lock; it is only available to Amazon Prime subscribers. 

Amazon's Cloud Cam relies on Amazon's own AWS cloud server both to store video clips and to allow for more streamlined software updates -- at least, in theory. I'm also intrigued by the Cloud Cam's price. While $120 isn't exactly budget, many HD cameras are priced around $200 and offer roughly the same features (minus Amazon Key). Since the security camera market has largely been stuck at that price range for years, I'm hoping the Cloud Cam helps to set a new, more affordable paradigm for HD models. We'll see. 

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Amazon Cloud Cam

Part Number: CNETAMAZONCLOUDCAM
MSRP: $119.99 Low Price: $89.99 See all prices