Home Security Devices: How Good Are They?

One of the more interesting new categories of products at the recently concluded CES (Consumer Electronics Show) falls into the dubiously named “Internet of Things” (IoT)—products that connect to the Internet, usually through your home WiFi network, and use a phone app and its online connection to provide a service. There were devices of all kinds, some that turn on your lights and appliances remotely and others that monitor the health of your baby.

I’ve been trying out a number of products that relate to home security, including in-home cameras and a video doorbell. What all products in this category have in common is that they have an app that allows you to monitor your home while away or out for the evening.

There were dozens of these cameras at CES, ranging in price from under $50 to over $300. They sit on a counter or bookshelf and provide a wide-angle view of a room or hallway. You can access a live video image of the room using your smartphone. Many of the products can detect motion or noise and send you an alert, if you so choose. Most also record video and, for a small monthly fee, can send it to the cloud for access later should there be a break-in. That’s better than storing the video on the device itself, which could also be stolen. But be aware that you are giving the company access to sights and sound in your home.

Izon is a one-inch cylindrical camera that has a clever, adjustable magnetic base. It’s small and unobtrusive and provides basic functionality, streaming video to your smartphone app. It detects sound and motion and allows you to adjust the region where it detects motion, to avoid small pets, for example. For an additional fee you can store video to the company’s cloud. It’s a very cost-effective solution at $40.

Guardzilla is another low-cost camera that alerts you when it detects motion, as well as displaying a live view. Images are stored on a memory card that you supply. It costs $100, but is bulky and not very attractive. In two months of use I’ve found that on about a dozen occurrences, it disconnected from my WiFi network, something I’ve never seen with the Izon. I’ve had to remove power and turn it on again to reconnect. Of course, that doesn’t work if you are away when you check it. In addition, I’ve found its motion detection does not always work. As a result, I can’t recommend it.