Was that an intruder or a pet? The security cams that can tell

A reviewer for The Wirecutter provides advice on the best internet-connected outdoor security cameras.

I have a Nest camera for inside my house — basically to watch my dog sleep on the couch while I’m at work. I’m thinking about a camera for outside, so I turned for advice to Rachel Cericola, who tests internet-connected devices for The Wirecutter, The New York Times site for product evaluations.

Q: How practical and necessary is it to put an internet-connected security camera outside a home?

A: I think having an outdoor camera is more practical than an indoor one. I do enjoy watching my dog move from the couch to the floor 20 times a day, but having one outside will let you know if someone is lurking about or trying to break in. Overall, I think the decision to buy an outdoor camera may depend a lot on where you live, if you’re away a lot and how paranoid you are about prowlers and packages left on the doorstep.

When I say “paranoid,” it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re like Jimmy Stewart in “Rear Window.” If you have a lot of outdoor critters getting into trash cans, sheds or other areas, it can provide answers and peace of mind.


Q: What do you recommend camera-wise?

A: The best one I’ve seen so far is the Nest Cam Outdoor. It has killer picture quality and 24/7 recording. Many cameras record just when there’s motion. This one records all the time, so you don’t have to worry about missing something. Then, when something does happen, you get a little notification on your phone or you can view a timeline of videos in the cellphone app. That type of service does require a subscription, which may scare some people off, but it’s not as scary as someone walking right in front of the camera and having your camera miss it.


Q: How did you test the cameras?

A: I mount them to a board that’s attached to my front porch. I think the most I had mounted there at once was seven.

This spot gets a lot of action. Sometimes it’s too much action, and some cameras will catch every car that drives by. I’ve tested cameras that have sent me over 100 notifications a day. That’s why it’s important to look for a camera that has a way to adjust the camera’s sensitivity.

I’ve also put them in the back of my house and have found that my backyard is quite the late-night hotbed for stray cats and rabbits.


Q: The frequent notifications can be annoying. Are any of the cameras good at…

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