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Best home video surveillance of 2020: smart security for your property

Best home video surveillance
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The best home video surveillance systems will make it simple to monitor your property.

Best home video surveillance

And thanks to the rise in popularity of smart home technology, it's now easier than ever to secure your home with cameras, detectors, and sometimes even a control panel.

No longer are video surveillance systems the preserve of businesses - they are now more user-friendly, and affordable, than ever, and many of them can be accessed and managed via an app on your smartphone (or via a login from your PC). This allows you get alerts on the go, tap into live-stream recordings, and arm/disarm the system when you need to.

These are often available as multi-piece kits, which can be ready and working out of the box. Some have a central security control panel, which provides a single place to operate everything. Most will also usually come with sensors for windows and doors, as well as the ubiquitous security cameras. 

Those door and window sensors can detect if they are opened, adding an extra layer of protection, as they can sense intrusions that motion-sensing cameras cannot.

While some home video surveillance systems allow for custom installation by the user, some require professional installation which may or may not make them less attractive.

Ultimately, home surveillance is becoming easier to use and manage, with minimal fuss and easy installation. Technology is making home protection easier and more accessible than ever, especially by a combination of mobile apps and voice commands to control and manage them.

The smart home integration also means that security can be just one aspect of your smart home, along with bulbs, heating, and even plugs for electricity.

Here then are the best in home video surveillance options.

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(Image credit: Google)

1. Nest

Home video surveillance with deep Google integration

HD video
4:3 frame size
Continuous recording
Smart home features

Nest provides a wireless home video surveillance system, which can connect with Google Home Hub to provide a smart solution for more than just security.

The main bundle includes a video doorbell, which provides a 160 degrees field of view and records in 4:3 aspect HD video, both during the day and at night. It uses person, motion, and sound alerts to detect visitors. When set up with Nest Aware it can provide continuous streaming and be configured to recognize family and friends, as well as provide a special alert when they come to the door. You don't even need to come to the door to answer, as you can use your mobile device to connect with the doorbell. Prerecorded quick responses are also available if you don't want to answer the door directly.

An outdoor and indoor camera are also included in the bundle, which can provide always-on recording so that nothing is missed. The outdoor camera is waterproof, comes with night vision, has a 12x digital zoom to enhance any detail you need to focus on. Both can also be included in a Nest Aware package to record and store all video automatically to the cloud.

While previously Nest offered plans with different recording and storage options, Nest is now part of the Google Nest smart home services, with each Nest device available to buy separately. However, the new website does not suggest recording options that might be available, and the presumption at this stage is that you can simply use your G Drive storage.


(Image credit: Ring)

2. Ring

Wireless home surveillance with desktop and mobile monitoring

Range of video doorbells
Full HD video recording
Various bundles available
Additional hardware is expensive

Ring is another wireless home surveillance option which allows you to control and monitor everything over Wi-Fi from a desktop or mobile device.

The central feature of any Ring home security system is a video doorbell, which comes in four main types. The Video Doorbell and Video Doorbell 2 both use infra-red to detect motion and alert you whenever someone is at the door, whether they ring the bell or not. You can then monitor what is happening from your smartphone or tablet and provide an audio response directly if required. The main difference between the two is that the original Video Doorbell records in 720p HD video, while the Video Doorbell 2 records in 1080p HD video.

Two additional models are the Ring Video Doorbell Pro and the Video Doorbell Elite, both of which use pixel-based technology to detect motion. Both record in 1080p HD video, with 160 degree fields of vision.

While all of the video doorbells have night-vision capabilities, there is the option to purchase outdoor security lighting to work with the system. Additionally, indoor and outdoor cameras are also available to work with the Ring surveillance system. While the original Video Doorbell is reasonably priced, adding hardware can get expensive quite fast.

You can record the video directly to your phone or to a cloud account, or alternatively you can subscribe to a Ring plan to automatically upload everything to a Ring cloud account for 30 days storage.


(Image credit: SimpliSafe)

3. SimpliSafe

Home video surveillance made simple

Wi Fi and cellular
Custom packages
A little too simple

SimpliSafe provides an easy to set-up home video surveillance system, centered on a main base station. This can connect using Wi Fi or cellular networks, which means if your internet goes down your home security won't.

SimpliSafe provide a number of bundles, which usually include core elements of the base station, security keypad, motion sensor, and window sensors. Different packages can add more sensors, panic buttons, as well as sensors for temperature, fire, or flooding. Alternatively you can build you own package to include the hardware and features you think you'll need.

There are also options to include a Simplicam indoor video camera and/or a video doorbell, to provide a full video surveillance solution. These both use motion sensing to begin recording in HD video and audio, across a 120 degree field of vision. Simplisafe state that the Simplisafe cam is uniquely configured to work with heat signatures from people so pets shouldn't cause false alarms. Alerts are provided when movement is detected, and recordings can be managed from a mobile device. Any video streams are also compressed to reduce loss of quality over the internet, and are secured with strong encrytion for up to 30 days.

If there's one real criticism of the SimpliSafe package is that by aiming to be simple and accessible it is perhaps a little too simple compared to rivals, with the video surveillance feature coming across as more as an addon feature rather than a central one. However, if simple and accessible is all you want it gets the job done nicely.


(Image credit: Resideo)

4. Resideo

Home video surveillance with Alexa support

Smart features
Alexa commands
Professional installation

Resideo security is the rebranded name for the Honeywell Smart Home Security system, and is one of the simplest home video surveillance systems on the market. However, it's also a smart solution that works with Alexa voice commands to offer a lot of possibilities.

The central feature of the Resideo Security system is a single all-in-one device which works both as a motion and audio sensor, and records HD video when triggered. This is automatically stored online for up to 24 hours. Even better, as well as being able to monitor and manage everything from a mobile app, the Resideo all-in-one has Alexa built-in so you you can also use voice commands to control not just your security, but also any other smart features built into your home - so you can control heating and lighting if you have appropriate smart fittings. 

There is also the option to purchase additional motion viewers, both for indoors and outdoors, to complement the system and extend its use in larger homes. And another really nice feature is that you can turn the top fitting to close off the video camera, so as to allow for privacy.

However, while the previous Honeywell brand offered membership plans for additional video storage and monitoring, these no longer appeared advertised as an included service.

Additionally, a Resideo Security system requires professional installation, making is less easy to set up and run compared to some others. 


(Image credit: Vivint )

5. Vivint Smart Home

Comprehensive home video surveillance with smart home features

Smart features
Alexa and Google Home integrations
2-way audio
24/7 monitoring option
Professional installation

Vivint SmartHome is a comprehensive home surveillance system with video recording built in as standard, and smart home features also available as required. 

Core products include a video doorbell, indoor and outdoor cameras, smart locks, and garage control. The indoor video camera comes with full 1080p HD video recording as well as two-way audio. Custom notifications are available, and up to 30 days of continuous recording can be saved. A particularly nice feature is that it also includes a one-touch contact button that your family can push to contact you instantly.

Everything can be managed directly using a mobile app, a home security panel, and voice controls when using Google Home or Alexa. This means you can integrate it with other smart home features, not least lighting and heating, as required, using voice commands or your mobile app. Vivint can also integrate with other wireless security products such as from Nest.

What Vivint offers on top of everyone else featured here is a 24/7 monitoring solution. However, this usually requires a professional installer to set up your system, plus the monitoring will usually come packaged with a product set specifically put together for your home, rather than be offered as an addon with flat-rate pricing.