The best wireless outdoor home security camera

By Rachel Cericola

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After spending almost three months looking, listening, adjusting angles, and deleting over 10,000 push notifications and emails, we’ve decided that the Netgear Arlo Pro is the best DIY outdoor Wi-Fi home security camera you can get. Like the other eight units we tested, the Arlo Pro lets you keep an eye on your property and provides smartphone alerts whenever there’s motion. However, it’s one of the few options with built-in rechargeable batteries to make it completely wireless, so it’s easy to place and move. It also delivers an excellent image, clear two-way audio, practical smart-home integration, and seven days of free cloud storage.

Who should get this

A Wi-Fi surveillance camera on your front porch, over your garage, or attached to your back deck can provide a peek at what really goes bump in the night, whether that’s someone stealing packages off your steps or raccoons going through garbage cans. It can alert you to dangers and can create a record of events. It should also help you to identify someone—and if it’s a welcome or unwelcome guest—or just let you monitor pets or kids when you’re not out there with them.

How we picked and tested

Photo: Rachel Cericola

During initial research, we compiled a huge list of outdoor security cameras recommended by professional review sites like PCMag, Safewise, and Safety.com, as well as those available on popular online retailers. We then narrowed this list by considering only Wi-Fi–enabled cameras that will alert your smartphone or tablet whenever motion is detected. We also clipped out all devices that required a networked video recorder (NVR) to capture video, focusing only on products that could stand alone.

Once we had a list of about 27 cameras, we went through Amazon and Google to see what kind of feedback was available. We ultimately decided on a test group based on price, features, and availability.

We mounted our test group to a board outside of our New England house, pointed them at the same spot, and exposed them all to the same lighting conditions and weather. The two exceptions were cameras integrated into outdoor lighting fixtures, both of which were installed on the porch by my husband, a licensed electrician. All nine cameras were connected to the same Verizon FiOS network via a Wi-Fi router indoors.

Besides good Wi-Fi, you may also need a nearby outlet. Only three of the cameras we tested offered the option to use battery power. Most others required an AC connection, which means you won’t be able to place them just anywhere.

We downloaded each camera’s app to an iPhone 5, an iPad, and a Samsung Galaxy S6. The cameras spent weeks guarding our front door, alerting us to friends, family members, packages, and the milkman. Once we got a good enough look at those friendly faces, we tilted the entire collection outward to see what sort of results we got facing the house across the street, which is approximately 50 feet away. To learn more about how we picked and tested, please see our full guide.

Our pick

The Arlo Pro can handle snow, rain, and everything else, and runs for months on a battery charge. Photo: Rachel Cericola

The Arlo Pro is a reliable outdoor Wi-Fi camera that’s compact and completely wireless, thanks to a removable, rechargeable battery that, based on our testing, should provide at least a couple of months of operation on a charge. It’s also the only device on our list that offers seven days of free cloud storage, and packs in motion- and audio-triggered recordings for whenever you get around to reviewing them.

The Arlo Pro requires a bridge unit, known as the Base Station, which needs to be powered and connected to your router. The Base Station is the brains behind the system, but also includes a piercing 100-plus–decibel siren, which can be triggered manually through the app or automatically by motion and/or audio.

With a 130-degree viewing angle and 720p resolution, the Arlo Pro provided clear video footage during both day and night, and the two-way audio was easy to understand on both ends. The system also features the ability to set rules, which can trigger alerts for motion and audio. You can adjust the level of sensitivity so that you don’t get an alert or record a video clip every time a car drives by. You can also set up alerts based on a schedule or geofencing using your mobile device, but you can’t define custom zones for monitoring. All of those controls are easy to find in the Arlo app, which is available for iOS and Android devices.

If you’re looking to add the Arlo Pro to a smart-home system, the camera currently works with Stringify, Wink, and IFTTT (“If This Then That”). SmartThings certification was approved and will be included in a future app update. The Arlo Pro is also compatible with ADT Canopy for a fee.

Runner-up

The Nest Cam Outdoor records continuously and produces better images than most of the competition, but be prepared to pay extra for features other cameras include for free. Photo: Rachel Cericola

The Nest Cam Outdoor is a strong runner-up. It records continuous 1080p video, captures to the cloud 24/7, and can actually distinguish between people and other types of motion. Like the Nest thermostat, the Outdoor Cam is part of the Works With Nest program, which means it can integrate with hundreds of smart-home products. It’s also the only model we tested that has a truly weatherproof cord. However, that cord and the ongoing subscription cost, which runs $ 100 to $ 300 per year for the Nest Aware service, is what kept the Nest Cam Outdoor from taking the top spot.

Like our top pick, the Nest Cam Outdoor doesn’t have an integrated mount. Instead, the separate mount is magnetic, so you can attach and position the camera easily. Although it has a lot of flexibility in movement, it needs to be placed within reach of an outlet, which can be a problem outside the house. That said, the power cord is quite lengthy. The camera has a 10-foot USB cable attached, but you can get another 15 feet from the included adapter/power cable.

The Nest Cam Outdoor’s 1080p images and sound were extremely impressive, both during the day and at night. In fact, this camera delivered some of the clearest, most detailed images during our testing, with a wide 130-degree field of view and an 8x digital zoom.

The Nest app is easy to use and can integrate with other Nest products, such as indoor and outdoor cameras, the Nest thermostat, and the Nest Protect Smoke + CO detector. You can set the camera to turn on and off at set times of day, go into away mode based on your mobile device’s location, and more.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

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Analyst rumor: iPhone 8 ‘function area’ to replace home button

While we’re still months away from finding out exactly what’s what with any new iPhone, the rumor mill is already running at full tilt. Following up on earlier reports of a 5.8-inch edgeless OLED screened device arriving as the “iPhone 8,” well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is telling investors more about what its home button-less front screen could be like.

As explained by AppleInsider and 9to5Mac, the analyst notes that this presumed OLED iPhone with its $ 1,000+ pricetag will be similar in size to the current 4.7-inch iPhone. However, instead of the home button, it will include a “function area” that can also display controls for video or games.

That would keep it matched in style with the recently-released MacBook Pros and their OLED TouchBar, and, the analyst says, reduce the screen size used for everything else to about 5.15-inches. Last year the New York Times reported that the next iPhone would ditch the home button for virtual buttons built into the screen, and this rumor explains how all that could work. Losing the home button could indicate a lack of TouchID, which could be replaced by a fingerprint reader embedded in the display itself, or other biometric technology like face recognition.

Source: Apple Insider, 9to5Mac

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Native Union made a USB hub that blends into your home

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a gadget freak and may need to recharge multiple devices on a daily basis. That’s when you’re greeted by a pile of messy cables plugged into a dull-looking and maybe under-powered USB hub. Cable boxes may hide the ugliness, but they’re bulky and don’t actually solve the issue. Not one to admit defeat, Native Union — the mad folks behind the marble iPhone case — came up with the ultimate solution: a stylish, cylindrical USB hub dubbed Eclipse. On the outside, it looks like a piece of home decor thanks to its wooden top, but it’s really the inside that got our attention: as you touch the top gently, the main body slowly rises up to let you uncoil the cables tucked inside, while the base emits a subtle halo for night-time usage. It’s rather mesmerizing to watch.

The Eclipse offers three standard USB ports — one of which can be flipped to USB-C — which total up to 7.8A of current, and each standard port can go up to 2.4A while the USB-C port maxes out at 3A. There’s no Quick Charge 2.0 or 3.0 magic here (so the voltage stays at 5V), but the high current output is already plentiful for office hour or night time charging. And don’t worry, all the essential electrical protection mechanisms are in place. The device itself supports 110-240V variable voltage input so you can use it anywhere around the world, and it’s attached to a 4-foot long power cable with an electrical plug of your choice in the Kickstarter campaign.

While Native Union makes its own USB cables, the Eclipse is designed to house any cable that are up to 8-foot long. All you have to do is plug one end into the ports on the inside, then wrap each cable around one of the three slots on the cable management part, pop the part back into the cylinder and you’re good to go. To grab a cable, simply tap the top, let the body rise (powered by a motor), unwind your desired cable, and then tap the top again to let it slowly sink back down. This works even if you choose to hang the Eclipse on the wall — because it’s that good-looking — using the bundled wall mount. There’s a 4mm gap between the outer case and the wooden top, which should let most types of USB cables go through.

The Eclipse is already proving to be quite popular on Kickstarter, as it reached its $ 50,000 goal within the first couple of hours after launch. For those who don’t mind waiting until April 2017 for delivery, early birds can grab an Eclipse for $ 49 while everyone else will have to pay $ 50 — which is still a bargain considering that it’ll retail for $ 80 next year.

Source: Kickstarter

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Here’s Apple’s workaround when your iPhone 7 home button fails

The iPhone 7’s non-moving home button may feel odd at first, but it has its perks… especially if it ever stops working. MacRumors forum goer iwayne has shown that the new iPhone will give you an on-screen home button (along with a warning that you may need repairs) if it thinks the physical key is broken. While that’s not much consolation if your phone needs to be fixed, it does mean that you can keep using your device in a relatively normal way while you’re waiting for your Genius Bar appointment.

The technology may be short-lived when there are reports of Apple possibly ditching physical home buttons entirely with the next iPhone. However, it’s not hard to see why Apple would push for a motionless button in the short term. It’s not just the customizable haptic feedback — the new design is theoretically less likely to break (since it doesn’t click down) and reduces the pressure to get an immediate fix. That helps Apple’s bottom line, of course, but it may also make you a happier owner in the long term.

The iPhone 7's home button failure warning

Image credit: iwayne, MacRumors Forums

Via: MacRumors

Source: MacRumors Forums

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Bloomberg: iPhone 7 gets new home button, drops headphone port

Another report has suggested that Apple is taking a different tack with this year’s iPhone. Bloomberg reporter and renowned Apple scooper Mark Gurman has published a story claiming that the new handset will have a design “similar to the 6 and 6s.” We’ve heard this before — it suggests that Apple is holding back on a big aesthetic change until next year, when the iPhone celebrates its 10th birthday. Gurman is also reporting that the next iPhone will ditch the headphone jack — again, something that’s been rumored for some time — switching instead to “connectivity via Bluetooth and the charging port.” (Get ready for lots of Lightning headphones.)

The iPhone is known for its sublime photo-taking capabilities, however recently Android manufacturers — particularly Samsung — have managed to close the gap, if not create leads of their own. Apple is reportedly working on a dual-camera setup for this year’s model which will produce “brighter photos with more detail” by merging separate images shot with each sensor. The configuration will also help to sharpen photos captured in dark conditions, as well as retain image quality as the user zooms in.

Finally, Bloomberg is reporting that the new iPhone will have an updated home button similar to the MacBook’s Force Touch trackpad. Instead of a physical click, the new button will trigger a series of vibrations under the surface. The reasons for this are a little unclear — it could provide new functionality, or simply serve to save some space under the hood.

We’ve heard these rumors before, but Gurman’s story gives them greater weight. If they prove accurate, this year’s iPhone launch will be quite unusual. We’re used to a “tick-tock” release cycle — a numbered iPhone, followed by an iterative “s” model — which would make this year the iPhone 7. A largely unchanged design, similar to an “s” phone, would buck this trend, raising expectations for a more dramatic handset in 2017.

Source: Bloomberg

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