Section 1: Key Features
[*] Video doorbell vs Security Camera
A video doorbell is a smart device designed to alert people in the house if there is someone at the front door.
When a visitor (expected or otherwise) arrives at the door and presses the doorbell button, it triggers a notification system that sends out a video feed to the user via a smartphone app.
More advanced video doorbells have a built-in motion sensor that triggers the notification system when motion is detected.
Because of the video component of the doorbell, it is essentially a type of security camera.
It can be used as a standalone device or part of a more comprehensive smart home system.
A security camera is a general term to describe a camera that is designed to record activities for surveillance purposes. It can be mounted anywhere around the property.
Video doorbells and security cameras are the same in that they are devices used in monitoring and capturing activities and events, primarily with the aim to prevent criminal activities or at least have evidence of the crime.
At their very basic function, they allow users to view live footage, record, and save.
Their main difference is that video doorbells are security cameras that are built into the doorbell system, which limits the area coverage to the front door or within the camera’s field of view.
Security cameras cover more ground because they can be installed pretty much anywhere.
[*] Resolution: 4K vs 1080p
Resolution refers to the level of detail a security camera can capture measured in pixels.
More pixels deliver clearer images and allow for a higher-quality zoom-in capability.
In the realm of security and surveillance, clear image is the currency.
The higher the resolution, the better the chance of capturing details and recognizing faces and objects.
1080p is currently the high-definition standard with 1920 x 1080 pixels.
It is called “Full HD” to differentiate it from the “standard HD” of 720p.
Consumers are now moving away from 720p and upgrading to 1080p to replace grainy images with much clearer security footage.
- Five times higher resolution than analog security cameras
- Slightly more expensive than standard definition but much cheaper than 4K Ultra HD
- Increased storage space requirement due to higher resolution
- Can get expensive when multiple cameras are required for monitoring and surveillance.
4K Ultra HD security camera is currently the highest resolution available in the market.
It’s four times the pixel resolution of the 1080p.
The maximum resolution for 4K security cameras is 3840 x 2160 pixels.
Because of the higher resolution, video capture in 4K is evidently much clearer and sharper.
- Clearer and sharper images and footage
- Details can be seen even when zoomed in
- Better recognition and identification of faces and activities
- More expensive than 1080p security cameras
- Streaming bandwidth requirement is nearly four times larger than 1080p. Requires faster internet speed for optimal performance.
- With large size format, images and footage eat up huge storage space.
[*] Storage: Cloud vs micro SD card
Storage is an important component of a security system.
It refers to the capacity to store videos for later viewing.
In monitoring and surveillance, live viewing is not enough because there will be situations that would require access to old footage.
Archiving is made possible by the size of the storage.
Many security cameras come with local storage ports for microSD cards.
The two features that one must look for in microSD cards are capacity and speed.
Memory cards come in different sizes from 16GB to 256GB.
Naturally, the bigger the capacity, the better, but not all security cameras can support high-capacity memory cards.
In security cameras, the write speed matters.
It’s the rate at which the card “writes” the video to its memory.
A slow microSD card may result in laggy videos.
A good rule of thumb is to get a microSD card with speed that would keep up with the camera’s resolution.
For example, a write speed of 10MB per second would be just about right for 1080p cameras and 30MB per second for 4K cameras.
- Local storage gives you control of your storage space
- Cheaper than the alternatives (e.g. cloud or own server)
- Some cameras can only support low-capacity memory cards (e.g. up to 32GB)
- Limited capacity. Some security cameras max at 256GB storage space.
- Recently-released 1-terabyte microSD card is more expensive than a mid-range camera.
Cloud is a storage method where video footage is sent to a remote server of the cloud service provider.
Most security camera companies offer their own cloud storage service for a fee.
- Option for a larger storage space based on user requirements
- A more convenient way of storing and accessing footage on demand
- Users don’t have control over cloud remote servers.
- In the event of an outage, there may be serious delays in accessing videos.
- Recurring monthly subscription payment that can increase with heavy usage
[*] Night vision: Spotlight vs Infrared
Night vision refers to the ability of the security camera to monitor activities in the dark or in low-light conditions using infrared technology or built-in motion lights.
By using infrared sensors, the camera is able to detect infrared light emitted by a person or an object and uses it to construct a picture that is visible to the naked eye.
- Provides a clearer and more natural image in the dark
- Can capture details within 100 to 190 feet in low-light or no-light conditions
- May not work when there’s smoke, fog, or dust that obscure the field of view
- Can’t outsmart camouflaged burglars
Spotlight security camera comes with built-in motion LED lights with different brightness levels from 300 to 1800 lumens.
- Provides more light to images being captured on video
- It automatically activates the spotlight when it senses motion causing intruders to be caught unawares.
- Able to record videos only within the lighting range which is between 30 and 60 feet)
[*] Power: Battery vs power cable
Power refers to the power source of the security camera.
A wired security system requires cable to power the camera, video transmission, and internet connection.
Wire-free cameras make use of rechargeable batteries to power up the system.
- Easy installation and setup. Battery-powered cameras can be mounted almost anywhere.
- Cameras work even during a power outage.
- No cables that burglars can cut to disable the security system
- Batteries need to be recharged periodically, which can be quite an inconvenience.
- Heavy reliance on Wi-Fi signal for recording, live streaming, and video transmission
Arlo Ultra HD Camera
The Arlo Ultra HD Camera is a wire-free security camera first and a video doorbell second.
The 4K resolution alone makes it a hot item, but the security features just make this a security cam on steroids.
Out of the Box
Design-wise, the Arlo Ultra HD has curved edges that give it a modern minimalist look.
It’s not a hundred percent inconspicuous but it can blend in well with the home exterior and design accoutrements.
It’s robust enough to withstand different weather conditions.
As a standalone security camera, the Arlo Ultra is loaded with features that make it an all-in-one home security system.
It works with Alexa so certain features can be activated using voice commands.
Having a 4K UHD as resolution, the image quality is a lot sharper and much clearer than its predecessor, the Arlo Pro.
It’s so clear that you can still make out face details or numbers and letters of a license plate 30 to 40 feet away.
It also has greater luminosity with its HDR. When activated, details of a person or an object in the shadow are clear and recognizable.
The night vision technology in the Arlo Ultra exceeds expectations and trumps the competition because it allows you to see video footage in color.
What’s more, the integrated spotlight lights up when an unwanted visitor is within its 180 viewing angle and 18-degree diagonal field of view.
This wider angle lens also has an auto-image correction so images are less distorted with reduced fish-eye effect.
It has local storage via microSD card, but since 4K UHD quality footage eats up a lot of storage space, cloud storage may be a better option.
So where does the video doorbell come in?
You have to purchase the Arlo Audio Doorbell separately because it does not have a built-in video.
You need to link it to the Arlo Base Station.
With the audio doorbell connected to the station, it gives a more clandestine monitoring system.
The doorbell itself is sleek in black and white and it goes well with the overall minimalist look.
Powered by two double-A batteries, the Arlo Doorbell is packed with amazing features that complement the entire Arlo home security system.
It sends notifications when someone presses on the doorbell.
It enables remote communication with your visitors through the app.
Delivery guys or visitors can also leave messages which you can retrieve at any time.
Since its wireless, it can work with your existing chime.
The Arlo Ultra HD Camera with video doorbell is one of the best security cameras for front door for users who want ultra-clear image quality where more facial and object details can be viewed for better recognition.
Ring 2 Video Doorbell
Shark Tank’s loss is Amazon’s gain. So they missed out on the Ring and now, Ring 2, which is a slightly upgraded version of its predecessor.
The question that most consumers have is whether Ring 2 is worth the $100 upgrade.
Out of the Box
Appearance-wise, there’s not much of a difference when compared to Ring.
It has the same two-tone color, but it now comes with two interchangeable faceplates.
Choose the one that matches the design of your porch or front door.
Ring 2 is a little bulkier, so it’s advisable to check the dimensions to ensure that it fits perfectly with the overall look.
Ring 2 now provides 1080 HD videos, which is made even better with live streaming with audio.
It now comes with a quick-release rechargeable battery pack which serves as an alternative power source.
It has an improved battery life so you can go wireless for a much longer time.
The field of view is curiously much smaller in coverage at 160-degrees horizontal and 90-degrees vertical.
But they tried to remedy that with the improved night vision and motion-activated alert.
Just like its predecessor, the Ring 2 has no zoom-in or panning/tilting capabilities, so it relies on how big viewing angle is.
With the built-in microphone, this video doorbell enables two-way talk so you can communicate with the people on the other side or scare unwanted guests when they suspiciously hang around on your porch.
With noise cancellation, you can make out sounds more easily.
Ring 2 also has Alexa integration, not just for voice commands but also for a hands-free home monitoring.
When the doorbell is pressed or motion is detected, the Amazon Echo device will light up and announce that someone is at the door.
With Echo Spot or Echo Show, you can see who the person is and interact appropriately.
Amazon is not very explicit with its video storage options, so it bears reminding that Ring 2 doorbell requires a subscription to their cloud storage in order to view the video footage recorded by the device.
This will set you back $3 per month for the basic plan. If you’re not keen on availing the service, you can only view real-time videos.
If you own a first-gen Ring device, it’s not hard to see why a switch to Ring 2 is the natural progression.
But as it is, Ring 2, despite some of its limitations, is great for people who want a no-frills monitoring system for the front door.
Ring Pro stays true to the brand’s unique selling point that security starts at the front door.
It has nearly identical features as the Ring 2 so the purchasing decision will most likely be the price or the design factor.
Out of the Box
In appearance, the slimmer Ring Pro has an Apple product vibe to it.
Its clean minimalist design is not only appealing, but it also blends in with most front door designs.
It’s not the intention of video doorbells to camouflage, but it helps when their design matches the overall architectural look of the house.
Can’t have them sticking out like an ugly-as-sin Christmas sweater.
The inclusion of four faceplates allows for a little more flexibility in color choices.
Perhaps the Pro part is partly due to the device needing to be hardwired to an existing doorbell writing.
Installation only takes about 15 minutes if you know how. Otherwise, you might need a pro to do it for you.
The good thing about a wired doorbell is that you get non-stop power source.
There are no batteries to charge and the device will work with no power interruption.
Aside from the design, advanced motion detection is another feature that separates the Ring Pro from two previous iterations.
By having the ability to customize the motion zones and the sensitivity levels, you can focus on areas of your yard where it needs extra attention.
It also has a notification system that alerts you when the button is pressed or if a motion is detected.
Because the Ring Pro works with Alexa, Amazon devices such as Echo will serve as your warning device when someone is at the door.
Pretty nifty if you have immediate access to your smartphone app.
As with other Ring video doorbells, a subscription to Ring cloud storage is required to view recorded footage.
Since Ring Pro has no local storage, cloud storage plan is necessary.
Otherwise, you’d end up with just an overpriced doorbell.
The Ring Pro has no substantial edge over its predecessors, so it would most likely be for users who want an eye-candy video doorbell that has a decent level of home monitoring and security system.
RemoBell S enters the video doorbell ring and immediately delivers a one-two punch with its design and price point.
If only it has a better smart home integration, then it could deliver a solid knockout punch.
Out of the Box
RemoBell’s elegant slim design makes it look like an expensive device meant to be used in posh houses.
Its gigantic silver button shows everyone where to press so that people don’t go pressing on the equally gigantic camera lens.
It looks like a wireless doorbell, but it’s not. You need to wire it to your existing doorbell wiring. Fortunately, installation and setup instructions are clear and easy to follow.
Since it is hardwired, it can provide you with uninterrupted 24/7 surveillance of all activities at your front door as long as they within the camera’s viewing angle.
This weather-proof smart video doorbell delivers HD video streams at 1536×1536 resolution, so the image and footage are clear but there is the occasional distortion and fish-eye effect.
Fortunately, it has a dewarping option available for live stream view.
There is no digital zoom feature so you’ll have to be eagle-eyed to see the far end of the 180-degree field of view that the camera covers.
It has excellent night vision footage, but it appears to have limited coverage.
You may only see images right in front of the camera.
It could be an isolated case or something that needs to be addressed in firmware updates.
Two-way talk is enabled so you can have a chat in real time.
With the full duplex audio, the sound quality is much better and there is less sound distortion.
Motion sensors are not only adjustable based on sensitivity levels, but they are also customizable.
You can focus on areas where there is a significant number of activities so you can monitor them remotely via live on-demand streaming.
The fast notification is almost real time in the sense that there’s little lag.
You can actually still see what the camera picks up as it happens and not after the fact.
For recorded footage, there’s a free three-day storage.
Upgrade starts at $3 per month.
Although it has smart home integration with Alexa through Echo or Spot and with Google Assistant, the RemoBell S has limited capabilities.
Still, it’s the best security camera for front door set up for homeowners on a budget.
Nest Outdoor Cam
Nest Outdoor Cam’s higher price point seems justified by its high-quality videos, innovative features, and smart device integration.
Out of the Box
Giving a modern take on the bullet camera, the Nest Outdoor Cam keeps it simple and inconspicuous.
It will not stick out like a sore thumb whether you install it on your front door, yard, garage, or driveway.
Nest’s advanced features more than make up for the largely uninspired camera design.
This IP65 rated camera can withstand the elements including dust and low-pressure water jets.
Since it plugs into a power source, it can monitor activities round the clock without interruption.
The video quality of the Nest Outdoor Cam is exceptional.
With 1080p HD resolution, you can make out license plate details even from a distance.
Face details are recognizable and not blurry.
Nest is sensitive to motions and loud sounds and it will immediately alert you when there’s an activity whether it’s glass breaking or an animal rummaging through the trash can.
It sends a screen capture of the event through the app. Photos can be saved for three hours, so you have enough time to piece together the events and figure out what might have happened.
With the built-in speaker and microphone, the cam enables you to communicate with whoever is on your front door.
You can scare unwelcome visitors or provide instructions to the delivery guy or the mailman.
In any case, you can do it remotely even if you are not at home.
What Nest does best is to enable Nest devices to work together to provide a robust home security system that can protect the household and the property.
For example, the cam can work with Nest Secure alarm system and other Nest devices.
Similarly, the Nest Outdoor Cam works with other smart devices.
Monitoring features and storage of recorded footages can be done if you subscribe to the Nest cloud storage plan, which will set you back a few hundred dollars per year depending on how many cameras you have in the system.
Nest Outdoor Cam is a great front door camera because of the innovative security and monitoring features.
It’s for users who want to build a home security system around the outdoor cam and integrate it with other smart devices.
Price-wise, it’s not for the faint-hearted.
Arlo Go is a feature-packed mobile HD security camera with 3G, 4G, and LTE connectivity.
Its 100% wire-free surveillance is a unique selling point that can only work with a robust wireless system.
Out of the Box
Arlo Go is the wider (and boxier) cousin of the Arlo Pro.
It shares the same design blueprint and goes for the minimalist look.
Since it’s a mobile camera that 3G and 4G/LTE wireless infrastructures instead of Wi-Fi connectivity, it can be placed anywhere in the outdoors.
And because of its size (4.6 ounces) and design, it can easily be camouflaged and mounted outside the house, in the barn, or pretty much anywhere.
This particular model is not compatible with the Verizon or AT&T but works with other networks. Those who have data plans with either Verizon or AT&T can purchase directly from the service providers.
The performance of Arlo Go would depend highly on battery life, especially if it is used as a front door or outdoor camera where Wi-Fi is out of reach.
It comes with a rechargeable lithium battery that can last for several weeks depending on usage.
Expect a lot of notifications because the motion sensor is a little too sensitive.
It detects pretty much anything that moves or makes a sound.
The downside to this is that is not only a battery drain, but it is also a cloud storage space hog.
The good thing is that Netgear recognizes this so it records short 10-second clips as a default so that it maximizes storage space as well as battery life.
Arlo Go comes with a local storage port for microSD so you can save video footage locally if you don’t opt for the cloud.
Alexa and Google Assistant integration is enabled so you can do your remote monitoring using voice commands.
The real challenge is getting the data plan that would be enough for 24/7 home monitoring.
Once you used up your data plan, the key features will stop working and your security measures can be compromised.
Because of the flexibility that the camera provides, Arlo Go is one of the best cameras for front door use, but it comes with a hefty price tag and recurring data and cloud storage costs.
Ring Spotlight Cam (Battery)
Ring Spotlight Cam battery version provides an easy solution for wiring problems in the front door.
It provides enough power to keep a 24/7 home surveillance going.
Out of the Box
Aside from the missing wires, the Ring Spotlight Cam is identical to the wired version.
Its boxy design can camouflage as a porch light.
Without the wires, it can be mounted anywhere the front door.
If not for the Ring logo, no one would suspect that it’s a security camera.
It’s always a good sign when manufacturers release a new version of a security camera that addresses some issues that previous models fail to consider.
Ring Spotlight gets rid of pesky wires and instead uses a rechargeable battery to power its device.
What’s more, it can use solar panel as alternative power source.
With 1080p resolution, you can monitor your front door in HD.
Images are clearer and you can make out faces and objects even from as far back as 20-30 feet without blurring or distortions.
With the app, you can check in on your home remotely and even communicate using the two-way talk.
Ring Spotlight will trigger the device’s built-in motion sensors and alert you straight away via your smartphone, tablet, or PC so you can act quickly.
But if you’re not at home and the camera detects suspicious entities roaming your front door, you can rely on the remote-activated siren to scare away unwanted visitors.
The LED spotlights will also be triggered when motion is detected.
You can even see the intruders run for their lives when they hear the 110-decibel siren.
In case you’re wondering how loud that is, it’s like hearing an aircraft take off.
It’s extremely loud and ear-splitting.
All great features come with a price.
The good news is that you can have a 30-day free trial of the Ring Protect Plus, which allows you to record, save, and share videos.
For uninterrupted 24/7 professional monitoring, you have to subscribe to any of the plans, which starts at $10/month.
Video recording and sharing features are $3/month for each device.
No doubt, the Ring Spotlight Cam is the best security front door camera if you want to send a loud message to intruders that they are not welcome in your property.
Reolink Argus 2
Reolink Argus 2 wants your front door protected with its wireless home security system.
With no wirings, three power source options, and a boatload of innovative security features, it is way up there in the security system totem pole.
Out of the Box
Design-wise, Reolink didn’t stray from the design blueprint of the first generation Argus.
They are identical in every way. The camera still looks like a mini robot head with one middle eye.
It can be mounted on a flat surface or uneven walls using the magnetic mount.
Outdoor and wired don’t always work together.
With cables and wirings, there will always be a limitation somewhere.
While wired cameras may provide a much more reliable power source, wireless versions provide flexibility in installation and setup.
Reolink recognizes that wireless cameras would rely heavily on its rechargeable 5200 mAh lithium battery for power, so they made solar power a viable option.
(This is on top of the power adaptor which is sold separately.) With a solar panel setup, you’ll save up on battery replacement.
With this kind of security system, you can monitor your front door or porch without having to worry if your camera has enough juice to keep going for the rest of the day.
The camera itself may be small but it has an impressive 130-degree diagonal field of view, which essentially has a detecting distance of around 30 feet.
It’s pretty impressive when the 1080p full HD images are on full display without distortions.
Even in low-light conditions, the Argus 2 delivers color video footage through its Starlight image sensors.
You’ll be looking at real-time color night vision images that are clear and not some grainy footage from two-bit CCTV cams.
Motion detection triggers push notifications and email alerts to let you know that there is an activity in your front door.
With a 130-degree wide viewing angle, there’s a whole lot of area covered.
The 75-decibel smart voice siren will automatically sound off when motion is detected.
Local storage is supported up to 64GB via a microSD card. This enables playback of recorded videos through the Reolink app.
It means you can watch videos without having to pay additional subscription fees.
Reolink Argus 2 is a dream front door security camera at a budget-friendly price point.
Being wireless makes the Argus 2 appealing to homeowners who want a quick and painless setup.