Best Camera for Continuous Cloud RecordingBy - 10/31/2018
If you are buying a home security camera, one of the top features you should consider is how it records. Some cameras record locally and some to the cloud. Some cameras record triggered events, and some cameras will record continuously. Today we’re going to focus on cameras that record continuously to the cloud.
Cameras That Offer CVR to the Cloud
The list of cameras that offer this ability is short. For the longest time, the only camera suited for this was Nest Cam, and that was what I recommended. Since then, Arlo has added continuous video recording (CVR) to the cloud for select cameras. There are also cameras that can record continuously to an SD card, including Wyze Cam and select D-Link cameras. In my opinion, we can toss D-Link from the list right off the bat due to their frequent security issues, but we are going to compare Wyze Cam (2 and Pan) to the cloud-based solutions including Arlo (Pro 2, Arlo Q, and Arlo Q Plus) and Nest Cam (all models).
Hardware and Software Requirements
When choosing a camera, you will also have to ask yourself if you want an indoor or an outdoor camera. For this review, I’m focusing on outdoor cameras, but all three options can be used indoors.
From a hardware perspective, you will only need to purchase a camera should you choose to use Nest Cam. You will, however, also need to pay for cloud storage. Nest Aware starts at $5 per month for the first camera and $2.50 per month for subsequent cameras for access to a 5-day video history. This is discounted to $50 per year if you pay annually.
Of course, Nest also sells more expensive plans including a 10-day plan for $10 per month or $100 per year and a 30-day plan for $30 per month or $300 per year.
Arlo Pro 2 can be used indoors or outdoors, but Arlo Q and Arlo Q Plus, which also support continuous recording, can only be used indoors.
If you want to add CVR to Arlo Pro 2, it needs to be plugged in, even if it’s outside. The camera ships with an indoor charging cable so you will have to purchase an outdoor charging cable (Amazon Link). Second, you will need to pay for cloud storage. The 14-day CVR plan is $9.99 per month per camera for the first camera and $4.99 per month for subsequent cameras. This is discounted to $99 if paid annually.
Arlo also has a 30-day CVR plan which sells for $19.99 per month or $199 annually.
Wyze Cam 2 is an indoor camera, but I’ve been using it outside since June of 2018. However, I purchased a third-party outdoor case for the camera and have it placed on my porch where it is somewhat protected.
In addition to purchasing a camera and an outdoor case, you will need to purchase a Class 10 microSD card as this is required for continuous video recording. Though inexpensive, the downside here is that the microSD card can only store so much. When I recorded HD footage, the card was full in under two days. If you use SD footage, that number improves to about 7 days worth of video. When the SD card is full, it will automatically delete older clips to make room for new clips. If you prefer, you can remove the SD card from the camera to view clips from your computer.
|Nest Cam Outdoor||Arlo Pro 2||Wyze Cam 2|
|Cost of Camera||$199.99||$299.99 (camera and base station)||$25.98|
|Cost of Extra Hardware||$24.99
(Outdoor Power Adapter)
|Cost of Extra Hardware||$12.99
|Cloud Fee||$5/month or $50/year||$9.99/month or $99.00/year|
|Video History||5 Days (Can Purchase More)||14 Days (Can Purchase More)||Depends On Card Size (Estimated 2-7 Days)|
|Buy Cameras||Visit Site||Amazon||Amazon|
Price Winner: Wyze Cam 2
Beyond cloud recording, each camera offers different features aimed at adding intelligence and reducing false alarms.
Nest Cam’s Nest Aware software includes motion zones and person detection. This not only reduces false alarms but makes it easier to sort through events, something which we will discuss shortly. The downside to Nest is that it has a built-in cooldown or retrigger time. For person detection, this clock resets about every 10 minutes, but for motion events, this can take even longer.
When Arlo Pro 2 is plugged-in, you will have access to free motion zones. If you want to add extra intelligence, like person detection, you will need to pay for Arlo Smart, which is $2.99 per month per camera.
Wyze Cam offers minimal built-in intelligence. It does support one motion zone, but that’s it. It also lacks a PIR motion sensor which means that it will alert for every little thing that moves. This can be a positive in some situations but adds little value when you’re recording continuously. I ended up turning off push notifications after a couple of days because they were so frequent that I was missing important notifications, like comments from you all!
Software Features Winner: Nest Cam
Not all CVR plans are created equal, and that’s especially evident when trying to find footage.
Nest Cam’s motion zones and even person detection tie into their timeline feature. Timeline is what they call the feature if viewed from their web app, but they call it Sightline when viewed from a mobile app. It is a slightly different experience.
From the web app, you can skip through recorded footage by dragging, or you can swap to a different day by using the calendar. You can also expand or narrow your view by changing the timeline from hours to minutes to seconds. A calendar option is a standard feature. What’s not standard is Nest’s use of color.
On the timeline, you will see dots and dashes of different colors. The colors and lengths provide information. The colors correspond to your motion zones. Below is a screenshot from my timeline. You will see orange dots which correspond to my street zone, a purple dot which means motion on my porch or driveway, and then grey dots. Grey dots are activities that occurred outside of one of my set zones.
Skipping to another section of my timeline (shot below), you will see a dash. This dash represents a more significant motion event. In this case, it’s a person.
The main difference between the web and the mobile app is that you can swipe your finger on the mobile app to quickly fast forward or rewind. It’s kind of like creating your own timelapse which allows you to scrub through footage quickly. Other than that, the mobile app uses the same colors, dashes, and dots as my web timeline.
Arlo also has both a mobile and web app, but the two are identical. To view your timeline, you will navigate to “My Arlo” where you will see all of your connected cameras. Cameras that are subscribed to a CVR plan will have a clock-like icon on the top right. Click on this icon to view your timeline.
From here, you can again sort by date and change your view by deciding if you want to see the timeline based on a 24 hour, 1 hour, or 5 minute period.
To scroll through the timeline, you will click and drag. You will see small snapshots on the bottom of the timeline that can somewhat help you find events, but this isn’t as intelligent as Nest’s timeline. Instead, on Arlo’s timeline, you will see blue and green lines. Blue lines indicate audio events while green lines indicate motion events.
One major disadvantage of Arlo’s timeline feature is that you can’t download CVR footage. Nest allows you to create clips which you can download. Using Wyze Cam you can download CVR footage by inserting the microSD card into your computer. Alternatively, you can save recorded footage by tapping on the record button found on the timeline. This option will save the recorded clip to your phone’s gallery (screenshot below).
Finally, Wyze Cam only offers a mobile app. This limitation makes it a little more difficult to find footage as the screen is smaller. To view recorded footage, you will navigate to the Playback section of the app. You can then tap and drag the timeline to navigate to the point in time you want to view. It also has a date button that allows you to skip to a different day.
Of the three, Wyze Cam offers the least intuitive view. There’s nothing marked on the timeline to show you when an event occurred nor can you drag through timelapse style like you can using the Nest app. Instead, you drag, slide, release, and wait for the footage to load.
Finding Events Winner: Nest Cam
Streaming these three cameras, my doorbell, one other camera, plus the occasional Netflix binge, I had concerns about bandwidth. Streaming and recording video 24/7 is taxing, and my internet service provider has a 1TB monthly bandwidth limit.
As I only tested CVR features for two weeks, I decided to take a look at seven days of usage instead of a month. Over the last seven days, Nest Cam uploaded 72GB. As I stream my Nest Hello Video Doorbell 24/7, I can look at its 30-day history to compare. Over the past 30 days, its uploaded 244GB. I have my video doorbell set to a FHD resolution and my camera HD so I was a little surprised by the results.
Wyze Cam uploaded 631MB. A quick conversion: 72GB (Nest) is equal to 72,000MB which means that Wyze Cam’s use of an SD card is significantly less taxing on my network.
Finally, Arlo Pro 2, set to an HD resolution, was the most taxing. In total, it uploaded 85GB of data.
Bandwidth Winner: Wyze Cam 2
Without Internet, Can You View Recorded Footage From Anywhere?
Finally, I decided to see what would happen if all three cameras lost their internet connection.
Without internet, you will no longer be able to live stream footage from any of the cameras. All three cameras will also stop recording to the cloud.
Without internet, you can still view previously recorded events using Nest Cam and Arlo, but not Wyze Cam.
Unfortunately, without internet, there was no way to view footage stored to Wyze Cam’s microSD card without physically removing it from the camera. I was, however, able to view event clips that were recorded to the cloud. Finally, when I reconnected Wyze Cam to the internet, I checked to see if the SD card recorded locally even though the internet connection was lost; it did not. There was no recorded footage created during the period where the camera was disconnected from the internet. (According to Wyze Cam, the camera should continue to record to the SD card without internet. I believe the difference is that it will record motion triggered events, it just won’t record continuously without internet.)
Arlo finishes in last place. Though their $9.99 per month plan provides more storage than Nest, it’s also twice as expensive, and not everyone needs a 14-day video history. Also, their timeline was more challenging to use than Nest’s.
Wyze Cam finishes in second place. Its timeline was the most difficult to use, and the CVR feature was dependent on internet during my tests. On the bright side, it’s affordable, there are no reoccurring costs, and it uses minimal bandwidth.
Nest is our CVR winner. Their timeline makes it to where you can find events in minutes using colors that correspond to zones. They also allow you to save and create clips and their $5.00 per month plan includes CVR, person detection, zones, and more.
Disclaimer: I purchased all of the cameras, services, and accessories used in this review with the exception of Arlo Pro 2. Arlo Pro 2 was given to me for testing a year ago. This did not impact my opinion.