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  • By John R. Quain

Goodbye Dropcam, Hello Arlo, Eufy, and Roku

Buyers are expected to start shopping for new models as they replace Google Dropcams

After the great web cam shortage of 2020, another run on home security cameras may be in the offing, thanks to Google.

The home security camera market hit $2.99 billion in North America last year, according to Grand View Research. And sales are likely to get a kick in the pants over the next few weeks because Google is effectively bricking its older Nest Dropcam home security video cameras this month. The company recently sent owners notices that as of April 8 it will end support for the products. So if customers want to continue monitoring their homes remotely, they will have to replace their cameras. No doubt after being dumped by Google, most buyers will be looking at offerings from other companies. So we tested some of the leading alternatives from Arlo, Eufy, and Roku.

Basic Home Cam:

Originally spun out of networking veteran Netgear, Arlo offers a full line of smart home security devices, starting with the $59.99 Arlo Essential Indoor Camera. It's emblematic of basic indoor, plug-in video cameras that connect directly to the owner's Wi-Fi network and are accessed via a smartphone app.

The Arlo Essential features 1080p resolution, two-way audio, and a built-in siren. The associated app can handle multiple Arlo devices, and it allows you talk to people in the room you're monitoring, zoom in on areas of the picture, and define areas of the image for motion detection. The infrared night vision feature only illuminates the area in black and white, but it offers a wide 130-degree field of view. The camera's best feature, however, is a physical lens cover that guarantees privacy for the owner when they're home.

The HD image quality of the Arlo indoor camera is about average for this product category. In a well-lit room, the colors are faithfully rendered, and there's sufficient detail to identify individuals—and tell if Rover is sleeping on the couch while you're out. The camera's black-and-white night vision works well enough, although depending on how the camera is positioned, the night video may not be sufficiently sharp to confidently identify a midnight interloper.

To get alerts and automatically save recorded events online (what Arlo calls a timeline feature), customers have to purchase a subscription. A 24/7 cloud recording plan costs $9.99 a month per camera; more advanced services, including package delivery detection and person alerts, cost $17.99 a month for an unlimited number of cameras.

High-Resolution Home Monitoring:

Like movies and video content, home monitoring cameras are moving from HD to 4K, and the higher resolution definitely makes a difference. Eufy's S300 eufyCam 3C is an excellent example.

The Eufy S300 comes as part of a package that includes three 4K, battery-powered

cameras plus a required home base station with 1 terabyte of storage for $399.98. That's a significant jump from $99 home cameras, but Eufy doesn't require a monthly subscription for real-time alerts and recordings—a significant savings. To make the wireless connection, the Eufy cameras require the proprietary base station, which then connects via an Ethernet cable to the customer's router. Consequently, the installation is a little more complicated, but the Eufy HomeBase station has voice prompts that tell the consumer whether it is properly connected and when to open the app for installation instructions.

The extra effort and money is worth it, in our opinion. The improved 4K picture makes a substantial difference. People arriving at your home are clearly identifiable, for example, so you won't be left guessing whether it's a friendly neighbor stopping by or burglar casing the joint. At night, the Eufy camera provides a remarkably clear picture and a motion sensor can be set to trigger a spot light to scare off possible thieves. Moreover, the live video stream is clear and sharp over a typical remote cable Internet connection, which means you can easily monitor events in real time (even if those events turn out to be just turkeys wandering up your driveway).

Eufy says the rechargeable battery on the S300 camera will last for 6 months, and the camera has an IP65 rating, so it will handle rain, dirt, and temperatures down to -4 Fahrenheit. Like the competition, Eufy now offers a full line of associated smart home products including wired and wireless video doorbells.

Home Security on TV

From the people that popularized streaming video, Roku is in the midst of a major push to expand its presence in the home monitoring and security space. Its $34.99 Roku Indoor Camera SE is not only a bargain, it's also a paragon of simplicity.

The Roku SE camera plugs in for power but connects wirelessly to a home Wi-Fi network; no separate base station is required. The camera features 1080p resolution, motion and sound detection, real-time notifications, color night vision, a siren alarm (80 db), and two-way audio. But it has one feature even more expensive models don't offer: the ability to easily watch live and alert video feeds on a Roku-equipped TV.

Using either a Roku streaming box or Roku TV, the company's cameras pop up the Roku home page as an additional streaming channel. It can accommodate multiple cameras and by virtue of the fact that it appears on a big screen TV, it offers a better view than that afforded by a hand-held smartphones. Roku's camera even has a full-color night view. And the TV stream means viewers can pause a show and switch to the camera feeds at any time, even by using voice commands.

The one downside is that without a monthly subscription, owners can only view the live feed. To enable alerts and cloud recordings, subscription fees start at $3.99 a month for a single camera ($9.99 will cover all your Roku cameras). Recordings are stored for 14 days and services include person detection and package delivery alerts. The camera itself also has a MicroSD card slot and can accept cards up to 32 gigabytes.

Some customers may be a bit skittish about accessing a home security camera on a TV, but there are some safeguards. If a new device, say another Roku TV for example, is used to access your camera, the company sends you an alert email.

Also in Roku's lineup is the $39.99 Roku Indoor Camera 360 Degree SE. In addition to the features of the standard SE, it can be remotely controlled to pan around 360 degrees and tilt the camera up and down. A directional pad on the Roku app allows the user to scan around a room in real time, a handy feature if you are trying to see everything in a large living room and don't want to install multiple cameras to cover it all.

Roku is rapidly expanding its smart home lineup with video doorbells, lights, and motion sensors. And clearly its strategy is to undercut the competition; the Roku wireless video doorbell, for example, is $50 less than a comparable Ring model from Amazon.


While there is still considerable industry noise about new smart home standards like Matter, most consumers don't need to worry about such promises. Like all three models we reviewed, most home monitoring cameras work with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, which is all owners really need.

Google is offering Dropcam owners a 50 percent discount on new wired $99.99 Dropcams, but whether consumers will continue to trust the company after it has already abandoned one product line remains to be seen. Fortunately, there are plenty of extremely capable alternatives available now.


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