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Amazon Cloud Cam review:This camera strikes the right balance for home security

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The Good The $120 Amazon Cloud Cam's crisp 1080p HD live feed, prompt motion notifications and free 24-hour clip storage set a new value standard for indoor home security cameras.

The Bad Only Amazon cloud subscribers can set motion zones and receive person alerts. Continuous recording is not available (even for subscribers), and there's no local microSD card storage.

The Bottom Line Amazon's Cloud Cam is affordable, reliable and easy to use, but it's the free storage that ultimately makes it more appealing than Nest security cameras and many other home security competitors.

8.5 Overall
  • Features 9
  • Usability 9
  • Design 7
  • Performance 9

Here are the top five reasons why anyone looking for a DIY indoor security camera should consider Amazon's $120 Cloud Cam:

  1. Free cloud storage
  2. Simple installation 
  3. Reliable performance
  4. Uncomplicated app
  5. Affordable price 

The Cloud Cam isn't the only device out there with these things, but it is one of the only cameras with all of these things. It's DIY home security at its best; it works well with minimal effort and expense. 

The Cloud Cam is frequently discounted from its standard $120 price. Check our list of Amazon device deals to see if it's on sale now.

Amazon's inaugural camera isn't perfect -- there's no local storage and you have to subscribe to the optional cloud service to access detection zones and person alerts. But I dare you to find another HD live-streaming camera that doesn't sacrifice something significant (glitchy app, convoluted setup, wonky design). I'll wager you can't, especially at this price. 

For all of these reasons, Amazon's Cloud Cam wins CNET's Editors' Choice award

Note: The Cloud Cam is currently available in the US only. $120 converts to roughly £90 or AU$155.

A shift in the clouds

For years, retail security camera manufacturers have seemingly modeled their cameras after the $199 Dropcam Pro. The Dropcam Pro's HD live streaming, intuitive app and continuous cloud storage available for an additional monthly fee appealed to a folks looking for a simple plug-and-play home security camera. The Dropcam Pro has since been replaced by the $199 Nest Cam Indoor -- Nest purchased startup Dropcam in 2014. Fortunately, the Dropcam Pro's legacy of solid design and performance has carried over to Nest's next-gen DIY camera and earned it a reputation as a dependable product worth a closer look. It still is. 

But as the DIY security camera market increasingly makes room for features like free cloud video storage, the Google/Alphabet brand has stubbornly refused. Enter Amazon's Cloud Cam

The Cloud Cam isn't as durably made as Nest's indoor camera. It has a more plasticky feel, it doesn't have a magnetic base and it isn't as easy to achieve the perfect angle with its less nimble swivel arm. Still, Amazon's camera offers a lot of the same features, settings and options for much less than Nest. That includes Amazon's free 24-hour motion-based cloud storage. 

Take a closer look at how the two products compare:

Comparing indoor security cameras


Amazon Cloud Cam Nest Cam Indoor
Price $120 $199
Color finish White Black
Power Wired Wired
Resolution 1080p HD 1080p HD
Field of view 120 degrees 130 degrees
Live streaming Yes Yes
Cloud storage Free 24-hour video clip storage; optional Cloud Cam subscription service starting at $7 per month Free three-hour image history; option Nest Aware subscription service starting at $10 per month
Type of cloud storage Clip-based only Continuous with Nest Aware subscription
Mobile app Android and iPhone Android and iPhone
Web app No Yes
Night vision Yes Yes
Alerts Motion (person alerts available with Cloud Cam subscription) Motion and sound (person alerts available with Nest Aware)
Activity zones With Cloud Cam subscription With Nest Aware subscription
Two-way audio Yes Yes
Dimensions (HxWxD) 4.1 by 1.7 by 2.4 inches 4.5 by 2.9 by 2.9 inches
Third-party integrations Amazon Alexa Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Works with Nest

The Nest Cam Indoor has some obvious advantages over Amazon's Cloud Cam. It has a larger field of view, a web app, 24-7 continuous video storage (with Nest Aware subscription), sound alerts (in addition to motion and person alerts) and a lot more smart-home integrations. 

The Cloud Cam holds its own, though, costing roughly 80 bucks less than Nest's indoor camera. It offers free 24-hour video clip storage compared to Nest's free three-hour still image history. Amazon's Cloud Cam subscription also starts at $7 per month, whereas Nest's starts at $10 per month. One downside of this (and many other DIY cams) is a lack of local storage options, so you have to be OK with Amazon's AWS cloud server having access to your saved clips.  

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

Installing the Amazon Cloud Cam 

Configuring the Cloud Cam took less than five minutes. Download the Amazon Cloud Cam app for Android or iPhone, log in with existing Amazon credentials or create a new account. Plug in your camera. Its base can sit on any flat surface within range of a wall outlet -- I installed it at the CNET Smart Apartment, facing the front door. Mounting hardware is also included in the box if you want to attach it to a wall. 

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