How to buy the right video surveillance camera

Summer vacation is coming up and so does the high-season for burgaries. Now is the right time to act if you have been thinking about buying and installing video surveillance in your home.

Video surveillance cameras are becoming increasingly popular and with good reason, as they cover several of our requirements in one product.

Surveillance cameras lowers the risk of burglary significantly. Think about it, why would an intruder chose an actively surveilled house, when the next door house isn’t? It gives us peace of mind both when we are out and when we are home alone. Last, but not least, it satisfies our curiosity when when we get home to a wrecked house after a burglary, but also when a parcel is dropped off on the porch and when the doorbell rings on a Sunday morning and you wonder if it’s the neighbor who has dropped by for a friendly chat, a missionary who wants to talk about salvation or a nonprofit who wants to ask for your donation.

In this article I will, with my almost 15 year of industry experience, try to guide you to the best surveillance camera solution.

 

Online vs. local network

As with almost everything else nowadays, surveillance cameras has also entered the real of the internet. Whereas camera solutions until just a few years back were based on local networks, connecting the individual camera to a screen and/or a video recorder, nowadays each camera is directly connected to the internet and can be watched live from anywhere in the world.

There are a lot of advantages with choosing a video surveillance camera that is connected to the internet, however there is also the concern about the safety and privacy of it all. I will return to this subject later in this article.

With a video surveillance camera that is able to connect to the internet via your WiFi network, you will get a lot of flexibility in regards to where you can install it, as you no longer need to think about wires connecting the camera, screen and video recorder. The only thing a WiFi surveillance camera needs, is solid WiFi coverage and power supply and some doesn’t even need this as they run on battery. 

An even bigger advantage with internet based surveillance cameras is the fact that you can access them no matter where you are. On the job, on vacation or back home on the couch, you can access your cameras right from your mobile phone in real time. This is often referred to as “live-streaming”.

On most newer cameras you can even watch recording from the past few days directly on your phone, allowing you to easily confirm what happened when you return home and something seems out of order.

My strongly recommend that you get yourself a video surveillance camera that is able to connect to the internet via WiFi.

 

Motion detection

Some cameras offer a feature called motion detection. As the name implies, this makes the camera able to register movement within its field of sight and start recording based on this as well as notify you directly on your phone.

I will recommend you to buy a camera with motion detection, as you will be informed if something happens in your home directly on your mobile phone in real time. Instead of having to realize there has been a break-in when you get home and then manually having to go through hours upon hours of recordings, to find the incident.

 

Security and privacy

One of the big questions when it comes to internet connected cameras is about the safety and privacy. Is it safe?

The answer is both yes and no. There are a lot of different manufacturer making internet connected surveillance cameras. Some are very serious about the security and privacy of their products, some are not.

As a consumer it is almost impossible for you to access the security level of your new internet connected camera, as the security level consists of many individual factors, including the hardware, firmware, software and server side.

The best and in many cases only thing you can do, is to buy your video surveillance camera from brand whos main business is home security. Such a brand has a lot to loose by not taking security and privacy in their products seriously and they will be much more likely to put a lot of resources into this, than a brand that sells a lot of different product and to who the home security products are just a tiny fraction of their revenue.

 

Resolution is not everything

When you shop for a new TV, laptop or smartphone, your will often be met by sales pitches about the product’s high pixel resolution. HD, Full HD 4K or even 8K.

High resolution equals highly dense images and is something you definitely want to take into consideration when buying a TV, but high resolution also quals a lot of data that needs to be sent and received in milliseconds. This works great when the highresolution screen is on your TV, laptop or phone, but a lot less great when the extreme data volumes needs to be sent from your video surveillance camera to your mobile phone via the internet.

Video surveillance camera resolution comparison | Alphahōm® Home Security Alarm

To give you an example; the pixel data volume needed to be processed and transferred in a 4K resolution image, is 8 times bigger than in a HD resolution image.

This is eight times as much data that needs to be sent from your camera to your mobile phone. Mix a mediocre internet connection and weak mobil data coverage into this formula and you will end up with a surveillance camera that’s in the best case slow to access with a lot of lag, dropped framed and choppy sound and in worst case, a camera that you are unable to access at all.

My advice is therefore to buy a video surveillance camera with HD resolution (720x1280 pixel). This resolution is high enough to get images and recording that are sharp enough for you to see faces and the details needed, but low enough to keep the connection to the camera stable with fluent video and sound.

 

Great today. But what about tomorrow?

Last, but not least. It is important to ensure the camera you choose is somewhat future-proof. Even though everything works great today, there is no telling if it does tomorrow. The evolution within video surveillance cameras goes really fast and it is therefore important you make sure your new camera can be updated with new features, updates and security patches.

Again, choose a camera from a brand that is dedicated to home security products and not a bunch of other things. This way you are sure that many other users have tested the product before you and that you will have access to good support and help from a dedicated team who know what they are taking about, should you need it.