Amazon Cloud Cam: everything you need to know about the Alexa-powered camera

Image credit: Amazon (Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon Cloud Cam gives Alexa a new sense: sight. It’s a security camera and a pet camera, a motion detector and even a two-way intercom that you can use to chat to the kids or bark at the dog.

Amazon Cloud Cam was introduced in late 2017, although at the time it lacked the ability to watch via a web browser (that’s now been added). It was designed to work with Amazon Key, Amazon’s security service that enables customers to control access to their home for appointments and deliveries.

Amazon also suggests that you might want to use it to check in on the kids when you’re cooking in the kitchen, or monitor the front door while traveling. It’s a direct competitor to the Google-owned Nest cameras, as well as the recent wave of Wi-Fi-enabled, cloud-connected security products.

We're expecting it to be a big hitter due to some meaty discounts during Amazon Prime Day, which will be beginning on July 15 and lasts for two whole days this time.

Image credit: Amazon

Image credit: Amazon (Image credit: Amazon)

What is Amazon Cloud Cam and how does it work?

Amazon Cloud Cam is a connected security camera that records and streams video in 1080p whenever it detects motion; the camera is only enabled when motion is detected, so it’s not recording 24/7.

Amazon Cloud Cam has night vision LEDs that can see in the dark, a microphone so it can hear, and a speaker so that you can talk through it, and it works with Alexa.

To see what the camera can see, just ask Alexa to show your video feed. You can then watch live or watch the recorded clips on your phone or tablet, Amazon Fire TV, Fire tablet, Echo Show or Echo Spot.

Of course, the main feature of a security camera is to let you know if something happens when you aren’t watching. Amazon Cloud Cam will notify your phone or Echo device whenever it thinks there’s something you should know about, such as the sound of breaking glass or an unauthorized visitor. 

You can adjust the frequency of the notifications by turning off 'Motion Detected' in the app’s Settings. Once notified you can watch the live feed on your phone, your Amazon device, or via your web browser.

Amazon Cloud Cam also stores footage in the cloud so you can review it later, although if you don’t have a subscription that storage only lasts for 24 hours.

What's the Amazon Cloud Cam price these days?

At the time of writing, Amazon Cloud Cam is only available to Amazon customers in the US, and we're waiting to see if Amazon makes it more widely available.

A single Cloud Cam costs $119.99 (roughly £95 / AU$170), or $139.99 (around £110 / AU$200) if you want one that works with Amazon Key, and multi-buy offers can reduce the price. You’ll also need a monthly or annual subscription to get the best from it - and it's often subject to seasonal discounts too.

As mentioned, keep an eye on Amazon sales events such as Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday, when Amazon tends to offer good deals on its own devices.

What are the Amazon Cloud Cam specs?

Image credit: Amazon

Image credit: Amazon (Image credit: Amazon)

The Amazon Cloud Cam comes in a smart white finish, and has a 1080p camera that can record at up to 30fps, with eight infrared LEDs for night vision and a 120-degree field of view. There’s an ambient light sensor, an omni-directional microphone, a small speaker and a micro USB port with a 10-foot power cord.

There’s no battery backup and no display; everything is controlled via the companion app. The app is available for iOS, Android and Fire OS. The Cloud Cam works with 802.11g and 802.11n Wi-Fi, and an upload speed of 2Mbps is recommended.

Why do you need an Amazon Cloud Cam subscription?

Amazon’s Cloud Cam may be a new product, but it’s based on the same old business model as traditional security systems: for the best protection you need to take out a subscription, and here that subscription comes in three different flavors: Basic, Extended and Pro – see below for details of these.

Some of the Cloud Cam’s best features are only available to subscribers. Person detection uses intelligent image analysis to tell the difference between people and things, so you’ll be notified when the kids come home or if someone is trying to steal your TV, but you won’t be interrupted if a leaf blows past or a curtain moves.

Zones are really useful. These enable you to tell Alexa to ignore particular bits of the room, so for example if you have glass doors or really big windows you can exclude them to prevent the slightest outside movement from triggering the alarm. Zones can also be used for indoor things such as fish tanks, or for walls that tend to get a lot of light reflections.

Image credit: Amazon

Image credit: Amazon (Image credit: Amazon)

How much do Amazon Cloud Cam subscriptions cost, and what do you get?

The Basic plan gives you seven days of cloud storage and supports up to three cameras. Extended doubles the storage time to 14 days and supports up to five cameras, while Pro takes the storage up to 30 days and the number of cameras to 10.

You’ll save a lot if you pay upfront for a year. The Basic plan is $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year, a saving of just under $14; Extended is $9.99 / $99.99, saving you just under $20; and Pro is $19.99 a month or $199.99 per year, a saving of just under $40.

Should you be worried about privacy with Amazon Cloud Cam?

That’s an interesting question. The official line is that your video is stored on Amazon’s servers and isn’t shared with any third parties, and Amazon has a pretty good record on security.

However, we also know that a lot of Alexa’s intelligence comes from humans listening in, and in early 2018 Alexa accidentally sent an entire private conversation to someone in its owners’ address book – an accident that, according to Amazon’s explanation, required an almost impossible combination of extremely unlikely circumstances.

So while you shouldn't have to worry too much, if you are concerned about privacy then you might want to be careful about what you do in view of your Cloud Cam

What are the main rivals to Amazon Cloud Cam?

The Nest Hello. Image credit: TechRadar

The Nest Hello. Image credit: TechRadar

Google’s the big one here: its Nest products include two indoor cameras, an outdoor camera and a doorbell. They’re all more expensive than the Amazon Cloud Cam, though: the cheapest indoor camera is $199 / £159 / AU$249, although it’s sometimes discounted by retailers.

Like Amazon Cloud Cam, Nest cameras need a subscription to unlock their best features: they’re $5 / £4 / AU$7 per month for five days of video history, $10 / £8 / AU$14 for 10, or $30 / £24 / AU$30 for 30 days of recording.

That’s for one camera. Each additional camera requires a subscription too, and they’re billed at 50% of the normal cost – so it’s $2.50 / £2 / AU$3.50 to $15 / £12 / AU$15 per additional camera per month.

Where can you find out more about Amazon Cloud Cam?

Amazon has all the blurb right here.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.