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

The $120 Amazon Cloud Cam is a capable indoor security camera at a great price.

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Megan Wollerton
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Megan Wollerton

Senior Writer/Editor

Megan Wollerton has covered technology for CNET since 2013. Before that, she wrote for NBC's Dvice.com (now SyFy). Megan has a master's degree from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College, both in international relations. She is a board member of the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. When Megan isn't writing, she's planning far-flung adventures.

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6 min read

Editors' note (Oct. 11, 2019): A report that people are reviewing Amazon Cloud Cam footage has raised privacy concerns about how customer videos are used. 

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8.5

Amazon Cloud Cam

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.

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. 

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.

Amazon's Cloud Cam makes DIY home security so simple

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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 CamNest Cam Indoor
Price $120$199
Color finish WhiteBlack
Power WiredWired
Resolution 1080p HD1080p HD
Field of view 120 degrees130 degrees
Live streaming YesYes
Cloud storage Free 24-hour video clip storage; optional Cloud Cam subscription service starting at $7 per monthFree three-hour image history; option Nest Aware subscription service starting at $10 per month
Type of cloud storage Clip-based onlyContinuous with Nest Aware subscription
Mobile app Android and iPhoneAndroid and iPhone
Web app NoYes
Night vision YesYes
Alerts Motion (person alerts available with Cloud Cam subscription)Motion and sound (person alerts available with Nest Aware)
Activity zones With Cloud Cam subscriptionWith Nest Aware subscription
Two-way audio YesYes
Dimensions (HxWxD) 4.1 by 1.7 by 2.4 inches4.5 by 2.9 by 2.9 inches
Third-party integrations Amazon AlexaAmazon 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 monthPrice per yearDays footage storedCameras supported
Basic $7$6973
Extended $10$99145
Pro $20$1993010

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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Amazon's Cloud Cam pairs to the app via Bluetooth. The set-up process takes a couple of minutes tops.

Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Open the app and the "Add Camera" screen will ask you if your Cloud Cam is in pairing mode (you'll hear a low chime, and the LED status light on the front of the camera will alternate between green and blue). Select "Camera is in Pairing Mode" at the bottom of the screen. Make sure Bluetooth is enabled on your phone, and the Cloud Cam app should quickly discover your device. If you experience any issues, such as the camera not entering pairing mode, there's a hidden reset button on the back of the camera, toward the bottom. Use a paperclip to press and hold the button until it resets, then try it again. 

Using Cloud Cam

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Setting Cloud Cam detection zones, using Amazon Alexa and receiving person alerts.

Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Cloud Cam customers get free 30-day trial access to all of the camera's advanced subscription features, including setting detection zones and receiving person alerts (pictured above). Detection zones let you "hide" motion in certain areas so the camera can focus on other areas. I set the Cloud Cam to focus on the apartment's front door and ignore the hallway. This setting worked consistently. 

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The Cloud Cam's live feed in bright light, lower light and night vision.

Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

You can also customize the alerts you receive to anywhere from "every time an event occurs" to "(once) daily" or "never," as well as adjust the motion sensitivity from low ("Person-size object up to 5 ft. away") to high ("Person-size object up to 20 ft. away"). I set my alerts to "every time an event occurs" with a high sensitivity. Both motion and person alerts were responsive, and the related saved activity clips captured the complete activity, which varied from 10 seconds to over four minutes. 

The Cloud Cam app even supports a "Home/Away" setting so you can program your Amazon camera to automatically turn off when your phone is at home and turn back on when the phone (and presumably, you) leave. This feature also performed well, but you will have to change and confirm that the Cloud Cam can "always" access your location via your phone's settings or it won't work. 

This camera also works natively with Amazon's voice AI Alexa out of the box. It specifically supports the Amazon Echo Show, the Echo Spot, the Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets. WIth these screen-outfitted devices, you can ask Alexa to show you your Cloud Cam's video feed remotely. I used a Fire TV Stick and it worked flawlessly using the phrase, "Show me the apartment camera." You'll be prompted to assigned the camera a name or location from a list of preloaded options like "Kitchen" or "Living Room," but you can customize the name, too. Other smart-home camera companies like Ring, Nest, August and Netgear offer similar integrations with Alexa. 

Giving Amazon the Key to your home

You can buy a Cloud Cam to function as a standalone security camera, but you can also use one as a component of Amazon's Key in-home delivery service

Amazon Key is a Prime-member service that relies on a smart lock and an Amazon Cloud Cam to allow couriers to deliver your Amazon packages inside your home. This $120 Amazon Cloud Cam is essentially identical to the Amazon-Key-enabled Cloud Cam, except that the Key version has an "Amazon Key Enabled Power Cable." You should be able to buy this cable separately if you decide to use the Key service with an existing Cloud Cam. 

Amazon sells a Key-enabled Cloud Cam for $140; it also offers a $250 Amazon Key In-Home Kit complete with a Key-enabled Cloud Cam and a Key-approved third-party smart lock from Yale or Kwikset.

We haven't had a chance to test out Amazon Key fully yet, but expect a full report very soon. In the meantime, weigh in below in the comments -- would you let an Amazon courier unlock your front door to deliver a package inside your house? 

The verdict

There isn't much to dislike about the $120 Amazon Cloud Cam. The DIY indoor security camera is affordable, it performs well, its app is easy to use, and it offers plenty of features (free 24-hour clip storage!), even if you don't pay for a Cloud Cam subscription. By keeping things simple, Amazon has managed to produce a superior product I heartily recommend. I do wish it had local microSD card storage, but Amazon put the full power of its AWS cloud servers behind Cloud Cam, and it works incredibly well. 

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8.5

Amazon Cloud Cam

Score Breakdown

Features 9Usability 9Design 7Performance 9
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