Best Indoor IP Camera 2018 Recommendations

A DIY home security camera system is not complete unless it has indoor cameras. Outdoor cameras are great at securing your home’s perimeter and alert you to an intrusion, but what if the intruder has already made their way into your home? That’s why you need indoor cameras to hopefully capture identifying features of the intruder so that law enforcement can take them down!

Our top recommendation for an indoor security camera – View Amcrest IP3M-941B on Amazon.
At the end of this post, you will also find my recommendations for specific purposes and thoughts on the other popular cameras and why they didn’t make the cut.

Best Indoor IP Camera 2018 Recommendations List

So here’s a handy summary of all my indoor IP camera recommendations for 2018:

AwardCameraResolutionWi-FiPoEPrice
Indoor Cube Cameras
Best Value Pan-Tilt Amcrest ProHD 1080p IP3M-941B 2MP (1080p)

Check Amazon

Best Value Fixed Lens Amcrest Hex Shield IP3M-HX2 3MP

Check Amazon

Great Value Pan-Tilt Samsung SmartCam SNH-V6410PN 2MP (1080p)

Check Amazon

Great Value Pan-Tilt Reolink C1 Pro 4MP

Check Amazon

High-end Fixed Lens Vivotek IP8160 2MP (1080p)

Check Amazon

High-end Fixed Lens Vivotek IP8160-W 2MP (1080p)

Check Amazon

Indoor Dome Cameras
High-end Vivotek FD8181 5MP

Check Amazon

Indoor PTZ Cameras
Great-value PoE PTZ Amcrest IP2M-846E 2MP (1080p)

Check Amazon

Great-value Wi-Fi PTZ Amcrest IP2M-846 2MP (1080p)

Check Amazon




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What to look for in an indoor IP camera

The most important must-have features to look for in an indoor security camera are:

  • Video Resolution – In 2018, 720p cameras are just not acceptable. They simply don’t have the resolution to meet the very high threshold that the police and courts require to achieve a conviction. Unless the intruder’s face is right up against the camera, 720p is just not going to capture enough detail to identify a person, especially in the dark. So, my minimum recommendation remains 1080p Full HD (or 2 Megapixels).
  • Field of view or horizontal viewing angle – This depends on the focal length of the camera lens. The wider the horizontal viewing angle, the more flexible the camera is going to be for placement in a tricky place such as a wide living room. Some manufacturers quote the diagonal angle which can be misleading as its always going to be higher than the horizontal one – like how TV screens are marketed! All viewing angles in this article are horizontal values.
  • Night vision – InfraRed night vision is crucial for getting good quality night shots. A true IR cut filter helps to produce true colour images during the day and high quality images at night. EXIR LEDs are brighter and have longer lifespans than the typical IR LEDs used in cheaper cameras.
  • Audio – Most indoor cameras have a built-in microphone, this is great for recording incriminating evidence. It should also have a built-in speaker.
  • Should not be Cloud-reliant – I feel very strongly about privacy and being in control of my data. The trend in recent years has been to create ‘cloud’ cameras that are reliant on the manufacturer’s cloud servers to do even basic things such as motion detection and event recording. Why? Because the cloud subscriptions that you are then forced to pay generates a steady stream of income for the manufacturer for years to come.The worst of the lot are camera that are absolutely crippled and cannot operate without an internet connection – these are the most dangerous because the whole point in having a security camera is that its going to be watching your home 24/7. Since many manufacturers still don’t have reliable cloud servers and an intruder can easily disable your internet connection, how can you be assured that your camera will notify you in time if a break-in is in progress? What you want is a camera that does not need any outside help to do its job – all it should need is electricity. I use a UPS to provide backup power in case the burglars cut the power.
  • RTSP stream capable so that you can access the video stream from a 3rd part app such as tinyCam Monitor Pro or IP Cam Viewer. ONVIF support is ideal so that you can connect the camera to an NVR like Amcrest NVRs which can support any ONVIF compatible camera.
  • The nice-to-have features to consider are:

    • Wireless – While an Ethernet cable connection is more stable and hence more reliable, support for WiFi and/or Bluetooth is great if you have to install the camera in a spot you can’t run a data cable to. Please do not install only wireless cameras – make sure you have wired cameras also in case your wireless cameras fail for whatever reason.
    • Continuous Video Recording – Most indoor camera will have automatic event triggered recording, but not all support continuous video recording. Typically a Network Video Recorder (NVR) or NAS is needed for this function because recording 24/7 to as SD card will damage it easily. You can specify how many days worth of storage you want to keep, and the older videos will be automatically overwritten.
    • Audio – Most cameras that have a mic and speaker built-in are not full-duplex – they are half-duplex meaning you cannot carry on a conversation in a natural way, you will have to adopt a walkie-talkie style of talking over the camera. So look for full-duplex capability.
    • Software features – Email alerts on motion detection, audio detection, echo cancellation and push notifications to smartphone apps.
    • Local storage – I love using local storage such as an SD card as a secondary location for motion triggered clips. 100% cloud-reliant cameras will not have any local storage, but some cloud cameras like the Arlo Q Plus now feature local storage in case the Internet connection is unavailable. In my opinion, the best cameras are the ones whose cloud features are strictly optional and let you access their video stream using 3rd party apps.
    • Motion detection method – While software based image change detection is the most common motion detection method, a PIR motion sensor is preferable to cut down on false alerts
    • Power source – A wired Ethernet port is preferable over wireless connections for the best reliability. PoE (Power over Ethernet) support is ideal since then you don’t need two cables to each camera. An internal battery for power backup purposes is great if a burglar cuts the power supply to disable your home defences.
    • Advanced features – Preferably a full API should be available for interfacing with home automation controllers such as the Vera Plus. IFTTT is not enough because it relies on an Internet connection and so is not a local solution.
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    Methodology

    As always, I have divided this post into two sections – indoor IP cameras I recommend and the ones that didn’t make the cut. I have further divided the indoor cameras by their form factor: cube cameras, dome cameras and Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ). Cube cameras and dome cameras may either have a fixed lens (no zoom and you cannot move the camera view remotely) or be able to Pan-Tilt (PT).

    Every camera I recommend meets the must-have features described above. I will explain why the other cameras don’t meet my minimum requirements even though they may seem to be popular online.

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    Best Indoor IP Cameras – 2018 Recommendations

    Best Value Pan-Tilt Camera: Amcrest ProHD 3MP Wi-Fi Camera (IP3M-941B)


    Features

    • 3MP CMOS image sensor
    • 90° Viewing Angle, Pan-Tilt
    • 10m IR range
    • Built-in mic and speaker, half-duplex
    • Ethernet port, Wi-Fi
    • Audio and alarm in/out
    • SD card slot
    • ONVIF and RTSP protocols supported

    Read Amazon user reviews


    Amcrest was one of the earliest brands I featured on my roundups along with Hikvision and Dahua. While Foscam made some very popular cameras, they had several shortcomings and I was never really satisfied with their cameras. Then Amcrest came along and totally disrupted the market with their reasonably priced and well-made cameras such as the Amcrest ProHD 1080p Pan-Tilt WiFi Camera (IP2M-841B) which was one of our winners last year. Amcrest has this unique blend of high-quality hardware, reliable software, and great after-sales support. My baby is now nearly 2 years old and the IP2M-841B I got as a baby monitor is still going strong.

    Now in 2018, the revised 3 Megapixel version of this popular Amcrest has been released and it looks very familiar to my IP2M-841B. It has an Ethernet port, WiFi, built-in InfraRed LEDs for very good night vision, clear 2-way audio with mic and speaker, built-in SD card local storage, and on top of all this, very good low-light performance. I wrote last year about how I can even see our little one’s chest rising and falling as he breathes. One downside is that the pan-tilt motion is not super quiet.

    Amcrest has smartphone apps for both iOS and Android. 4 hours of free cloud storage comes free with every Amcrest camera, with more storage available on the purchase of a subscription. The camera does not need an Internet connection to be set up or for functioning normally.

    PROS:
    • Great image quality and 3MP resolution
    • 90 degree viewing angle, with Pan-Tilt
    • Very clear and loud two-way audio with mic and speaker built-in
    • WiFi and RJ-45 Ethernet port, so can use a PoE injector
    • IR LEDs provide night vision capability
    • Built-in NVR feature, support for SD card, NAS, NVR, FTP and Cloud storage locations
    • Home Automation compatible with ONVIF and RTSP support, works with any NVR also
    • Audio and alarm in/out connections
    • Very good value for money


    CONS:
    • Audio is half-duplex only, you cannot hear and speak simultaneously
    • Smartphone apps could be better – free Amcrest apps lack basic features such as push notifications
    • Still no model with both PoE and Wi-Fi, unlike Hikvision

    Check Price on Amazon

    Back to comparison table

    Great Value Fixed Lens Camera: Amcrest UltraHD Hex Shield IP3M-HX2


    Features

    • 3MP CMOS image sensor
    • 140° Viewing Angle
    • 10m IR range
    • Built-in mic and speaker, half-duplex
    • Ethernet port, Wi-Fi
    • SD card slot
    • ONVIF and RTSP protocols supported

    Read Amazon user reviews

    While the Amcrest Pan-Tilt above is a great camera, what if you don’t care for panning and tilting and are looking for some style as well? This is where the Amcrest UltraHD Shield, or Hex as it is also called, comes in. Making it to this list for the second time, this camera has 3 Megapixels of resolution available and a very wide 140° angle of view at the same time. This is an unusual combination – as resolution increases, the field of view typically reduces. But Amcrest has figured out a way to get both high resolution (3MP) and high field of view (140 degrees). So while it gives up the pan-tilt feature, the super wide angle of view makes up for this.

    The Shield is super stylish in black and wouldn’t look out of place on your bookshelf at all. The front face has a raised hexagonal profile which matches the name of the camera. The brains of the Shield is an ARM Cortex A9 CPU coupled with the Ambarella S2Lm IP Camera chip in a System-on-a-Chip (SoC) setup. It also has a magnetic bracket which can give you more installation options. As with the pan-tilt Amcrest models, this camera also has InfraRed LEDs and a true IR cut filter. This gives it very good night vision ability. The speaker is at the back of the camera, along with the RJ-45 port, the AC in socket, and a reset button. The SD card slot is nicely positioned on the left hand side of the camera.

    The IP3M-HX2 has the excellent built-in NVR feature which lets you use it independently without any other hardware such as an NVR. You can set up motion detection or audio detection triggers to record clips to the on-board SD card, and then view them on a nice timeline interface either in your browser or via the smartphone app. There are also up to 4 configurable privacy zones that you can mask off.

    PROS:
    • Excellent image quality with 3 MP resolution
    • Super-wide 140 degree field of view
    • Very clear and loud two-way audio with mic and speaker built-in
    • WiFi and RJ-45 Ethernet port, so can use a PoE injector
    • IR LEDs provide night vision capability
    • Built-in NVR feature
    • Home Automation compatible with ONVIF and RTSP support, works with any NVR also
    • Very good value for money

    CONS:
    • Audio is half-duplex only, you can only use it like a walkie-talkie
    • No audio or alarm connections
    • Smartphone apps could be better – free Amcrest apps lack basic features such as push notifications
    • No PoE feature available
    • Still no model with both PoE and Wi-Fi, unlike Hikvision

    Check Price on Amazon

    Back to comparison table

    Great Value Pan-Tilt Camera with Auto Object Tracking: Samsung SmartCam SNH-V6410PN


    Features

    • 2MP 1080p CMOS image sensor
    • 80.9° Viewing Angle, Pan-Tilt
    • 5m IR range
    • Built-in mic and speaker, half-duplex
    • Wi-Fi
    • SD card slot
    • RTSP protocols supported

    Read Amazon user reviews

    The cryptically named Samsung SmartCam SNH-V6410PN finds a place once again in my list of the best indoor cameras for 2018. The main reason for this is the super cool auto-tracking feature that no other cube camera has. When motion detection is set to on, the camera will use its motorized pan-tilt feature to detect and follow a moving object or person around the room. The only downside is that it works only if you have NOT defined your own motion detection zones.

    Strangely there is no RJ-45 port, so Power over Ethernet (PoE) is missing. Even if a camera doesn’t support PoE, an Ethernet port lets you power it via a PoE injector but this is not an option with the Smartcam. Also the WiFi is only of the 2.4GHz variety, so be gentle with the bitrate setting if you use the maximum 1080p resolution option. I personally do not use 5GHz at home as my fibre broadband tops out at 76Mbps which is absolutely within reach of 2.4GHz 802.11n speeds throughout the house. The 5GHz band is likely to be less crowded though.

    The Smartcam has night vision with infrared LEDs and a true IR cut filter, but the range is on the lower side with just 5 metres being claimed. But this should be sufficient for all but the longest of rooms. Anyway most cheap cameras that claim 10-15 metres range are bluffing in my opinion. While ONVIF is not supported (you can’t chuck this camera into just any NVR), RTSP is. So you can pull up the camera stream from apps like tinyCam Monitor/IP Camera Monitor, or a home automation system such as my Vera Plus (read review).

    Samsung Smartcam has apps for both iOS and Android.

    PROS:
    • Pan-Tilt with automatic object tracking feature makes it a great surveillance camera
    • Supports audio-triggered alerts
    • Unique auto object tracking feature works well
    • Home Automation compatible with RTSP support

    CONS:
    • No ethernet port
    • Only 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, 5GHz not supported
    • Auto object tracking disabled when motion zones are defined
    • ONVIF not supported
    • Half-duplex audio
    • No audio or alarm connections

    Check Price on Amazon

    Back to comparison table


    Features

    • 4MP CMOS image sensor
    • 80° Viewing Angle, Pan-Tilt
    • 10m IR range
    • Built-in mic and speaker, full-duplex
    • Ethernet port, Wi-Fi
    • SD card slot
    • ONVIF and RTSP protocols supported

    Read Amazon user reviews


    Last year, I featured the Reolink C2 in our round-up. Reolink is a very DIY friendly security camera company and is one of my favourites for affordable non-nonsense well-built cameras. All non battery-powered Reolink cameras support the ONVIF standard. This lets you use them with any 3rd party NVR, NAS NVR or software such as Blueiris which supports the ONVIF standard. The RTSP video streaming protocol is also supported, so I have integrated the camera with my Vera Plus home automation system.

    This year Reolink is overhauling their indoor camera range and my pick is the Reolink C1 Pro. I reviewed it recently, so check out my full review below:

    Review: Reolink C1 Pro 4MP Wireless Indoor Pan-Tilt IP Camera

    Reolink recently launched their latest indoor pan-tilt wireless camera, the 4 Megapixel Reolink C1 Pro. I got the ...

    User rating:
    8.4

    The C1 Pro has a very high resolution of 4MP which is unusual for an indoor camera, even today in 2018. The higher pixel count however leads to a viewing angle of 90° which is great for a 4MP camera. Together with the pan-super silent tilt feature, this is a very capable indoor camera.

    One standout feature of the C1 Pro is 2-way full-duplex audio on top of its built-in mic and speaker. However there is a noticeable lag which affects the ease with which you can carry on a 2-way conversation through the camera.

    Reolink has smartphone apps for both iOS and Android.

    PROS:
    • Easy setup through mobile app
    • Very good image and audio quality
    • Very quiet and smooth Pan-Tilt motion
    • Full duplex 2-way audio
    • Built-in NVR feature
    • Dual band Wi-Fi
    • Support for ONVIF & RTSP
    • On-board microSD storage, pre-record and post-record feature
    • Alarm sound feature

    CONS:
    • No Power over Ethernet
    • Slight lag in audio
    • Pan-Tilt speed cannot be adjusted
    • No audio or alarm connections

    Check Price on Amazon

    Back to comparison table

    High-end PoE/Wi-Fi Wide-Angle Camera: Vivotek IP8160 & Vivotek IP8160-W


    Features

    • 2MP 1080p CMOS image sensor
    • 113° Viewing Angle, Pan-Tilt
    • 8m IR range
    • Built-in mic and speaker, full-duplex with echo cancellation
    • Ethernet port, PoE or Wi-Fi models
    • SD card slot
    • ONVIF and RTSP protocols supported

    Read Amazon user reviews


    I am always on the look-out for full-featured cameras that support PoE. The Vivotek IP8160 is such a camera. It comes in two models – the IP8160 which is PoE and IP8160-W which supports Wi-Fi only. However the IP8160-W does have an Ethernet port, so you can always use a PoE injector to carry both data and power over a single Ethernet cable.

    But the real story here is the full-duplex audio support with Acoustic Echo Cancellation. This ensures natural bi-directional audio without the annoying echoes and lag that lesser cameras suffer from. The IP8160 is also the only indoor cube camera I have found which supports true Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) for enhanced images in difficult lighting conditions. The WDR really helps when your camera has a window in the scene and the sun shines right through, a non-WDR camera would be blinded but a WDR camera like the Vivotek will still eke out detail and give a usable video.

    The camera has a nice wide-angle lens with 113° coverage, and local storage in the form of an SD card slot. It would have been nice to see audio and alarm connections and even a PIR sensor.

    Vivotek has the iViewer smartphone app for both iOS and Android.

    PROS:
    • Very good image and audio quality
    • Full duplex 2-way audio
    • Built-in NVR feature
    • Dual band Wi-Fi
    • Support for ONVIF & RTSP
    • On-board microSD storage, pre-record and post-record feature

    CONS:
    • No Pan-Tilt
    • No audio or alarm connections

    Check Price on Amazon

    Back to comparison table

    High-end PoE Dome: Vivotek FD8181


    Features

    • 2MP 1080p CMOS image sensor
    • 113° Viewing Angle, Pan-Tilt
    • 8m IR range
    • Built-in mic and speaker, full-duplex with echo cancellation
    • Ethernet port, PoE or Wi-Fi models
    • SD card slot
    • ONVIF and RTSP protocols supported

    Read Amazon user reviews


    Indoor IP cameras are also available in the dome variety. The Vivotek FD8181 is a high-end 5 Megapixel PoE dome with a 3-10mm varifocal lens. It supports full-duplex audio, built-in microphone, and has both audio and alarm in/out connections. Interestingly it also has a PIR sensor which can give you more accurate motion detection than just software-based detection that non-PIR equipped cameras provide. True hardware WDR and an SD card slot round off the features list.
    PROS:
    • Very good image and audio quality
    • Full duplex 2-way audio
    • Built-in NVR feature
    • Dual band Wi-Fi
    • Support for ONVIF & RTSP
    • On-board microSD storage, pre-record and post-record feature

    CONS:
    • No Pan-Tilt
    • No audio or alarm connections

    Check Price on Amazon

    Back to comparison table

    Great Value Indoor PTZ: Amcrest IP2M-846E (PoE) & Amcrest IP2M-846 (Wi-Fi)


    Features

    • 2MP 1080p CMOS image sensor
    • 34.5°-116.5° Viewing Angle, Pan-Tilt-Zoom
    • 30m IR range
    • Ethernet port, PoE or Wi-Fi models
    • SD card slot
    • ONVIF and RTSP protocols supported

    Read Amazon user reviews


    You can use outdoor PTZs indoors, but they have one major drawback: size. Indoor cameras should be discreet and unobtrusive, outdoor PTZs are anything but this. That’s why the Amcrest IP2M-846 is so brilliant – its a small indoor PTZ that you can tuck away in a corner of your ceiling.

    Armed with a 2MP sensor, it has a motorized varifocal lens with 34.5°-116.5° viewing angle. Night vision is provided by EXIR LEDs that have a 30m range. It also has an SD card slot that works will with the built-in NVR feature.

    The Amcrest IP2M-846E is a PoE-only model and the Amcrest IP2M-846 is only Wi-Fi enabled.

    PROS:
    • Very good image and audio quality, PTZ
    • PoE or Wi-Fi available
    • Built-in NVR feature
    • Support for ONVIF & RTSP
    • On-board microSD storage, pre-record and post-record feature

    CONS:
    • No audio or alarm connections
    • No PIR sensor
    • No model with both PoE and Wi-Fi

    Check Price on Amazon

    Back to comparison table

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    The ones that didn’t make the cut

    A couple of years ago, most camera manufacturers figured out that a better way of making money is to sell you cameras that are crippled and become expensive paperweights unless you hook them up to the Internet and (in most cases) pay a hefty monthly subscription – all for the luxury of using your security camera that you already paid for. I am an engineer and one thing that I learnt pretty early on is that you always have to look at the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) when comparing any two products. You would be just wasting your money if you bought an ultra cheap product which then needs a monthly investment to keep working for the rest of its life.

    The same TCO concept applies when you buy a camera. The TCO of cloud cameras which requires a monthly subscription is very high compared to a self-sufficient camera which has a one-time cost.

    Nest Cam: It was and probably still is the most over-rated security camera ever. Even with the new IQ model, this is a very poor security camera. First off, it cannot work without an Internet connection, it has no local storage so it can only record to the Google cloud, and what’s worse it stores only 3 hours of footage unless you pay up for the Nest Aware cloud subscription ($10/mo per camera at the moment, discount available for additional cameras).

    Instead of pushing out gimmicks such as person detection and face identification, they should make the camera 100% reliable by giving it at least a local backup storage location like the Netgear Arlo Q does, making it less Internet-reliant.

    Logitech Circle and Circle 2: Last year, Logitech launched the Circle which was an overpriced attempt at competing with the Netgear Arlo and Nest Cam. Now they have launched the Logitech Circle 2 which is an outdoor camera in both wired and wire-free flavours. Regardless of whether its the original Circle or the new Circle 2, both lack a local storage option and are reliant on an Internet connection to the Logitech cloud servers. If you don’t pay for the monthly subscription, you have access to the last 24 hours recorded footage but no motion zones and advanced alerts.
    Canary All-in-One Home Security: I am not a big fan of all in one security devices, mainly because they are full of compromises made to still keep the device within a reasonable price point. The Canary is one of many such I-can-do-it-all devices in the market today. Not only does it do home security, it does home health as well with sensors to monitor air quality. Now if I could do something useful with this sort of information locally such as turn on my dehumidifier or air filter, I would have been mildly interested. It may be possible through IFTTT but again this is Internet-reliant. Sadly, this device is also 100% cloud-reliant. I do not want to be locked into any single manufacturer’s eco-system and then end up paying a cloud subscription fee, but that’s the case with Canary! So in short, the Canary is crippled if the cloud servers decide to take a hike – not great when it comes to protecting your family.
    Piper NV All-in-One Home Security: Piper burst onto the all in one security device market with a bold promise – no monthly fees. Yet it is 100% reliant on the cloud because it has no local storage options. There is no SD card or USB drive option available with the Piper NV. But it strangely has some elements of a DIY home automation system, it’s a ZWave hub as well. So its less locked-in and proprietary than others of its ilk. But don’t be deceived, this device is designed to be reliant on the Piper cloud servers: it still can do only 100 recorded clips of up to 35 seconds each before you are asked to start paying a monthly subscription fee.

    That’s not a whole lot especially if for some reason you get a lot of false alerts. Its very interesting that while the Piper NV has battery backup in case of power loss, it has absolutely nothing to protect it from an Internet outage or if their cloud servers go down. What would happen in such a situation? A burglar breaks in, the Piper motion detection is activated, but your Internet connection is disabled or the cloud servers are unavailable and the Piper cant record its video clips! Great for the burglar, not so great for you. Bummer.

    Granted, companies like Piper are bringing innovation to the home security market, but if they expect us to trust them 100% for our home security, the products need to be as close to 100% reliable as possible. This blog is hosted on a VPS that has a Service Level Agreement that promise a 99.9% up-time for example. My point is no cloud server has a 100% up-time, so what happens when the inevitable service disruption happens? Well folks, don’t rely on anybody’s cloud. Build your own local DIY home security system like I have!

    Zmodo Pivot: Last year I commended the Pivot for having local storage in the form of 16GB onboard memory and not being cloud-reliant. While this is still the case, Zmodo is going the way of all the other cloud-reliant camera makers and appears to not let you view continuous video recordings or alert clips more than 36 hours old, unless you pay the monthly cloud subscription fee.
    Yi Home Cam: The Yi camera is possibly the cheapest IP camera you can get these days. Being nearly half the price of the cheapest mainstream brands sets off alarm bells for me right away. Yes being a Chinese brand, designed and owned by a Chinese company (Xiaoyi) does help keep costs down but surely there must be some trade-offs?

    Yep, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The Yi family of cameras work only with their smartphone apps and are 100% reliant on the cloud servers, these cameras don’t even have a web interface for you to use locally! Moreover, the company has been severely criticized by its users for its draconian terms and conditions of use. My recommendation – steer well clear of this and other unheard of Chinese brands.

    Amazon Cloudcam: Amazon’s effort to integrate even more into your life (not just shopping), the Cloudcam naturally requires an internet connection and a connection to the Amazon cloud to function. Not fit for home security then.
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