There really is no difference between a nanny cam and a security camera. They both do the same thing: allow you to view your house from your phone and ping you when something might be worth checking out. The cameras do, however, vary in their aesthetics and abilities, so it’s important think about whether you want a camera with, say, two-way audio so you listen to what’s going on but also talk to your kids, nanny, or dog or how many people can use the app to check in on the kids. It’s also important, of course, to consider such aspects as definition of footage, viewing angle, and storage capacity. That said, there are a lot of great, smart security cameras that you can use to keep tabs on your family.
Now, when it comes to placing your camera, there are a few things to keep in mind. Video and audio recording laws vary state-by-state. Several require consent in capturing audio, meaning you must inform your nanny about the system’s presence (you can check out state laws here).
In terms of the specifics, here’s what you need to know:
- Installation or use of any device that’s meant for photographing, observing, or overhearing events or sounds in a private place (i.e the bathroom or a live-in nanny’s bedroom) without the consent of those being filmed is against the law in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Utah.
- In 38 states, as well as the District of Columbia, you are allowed to record a conversation “to which you are a party without informing the other parties you are doing so.” However, if you live in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, or Washington, your nanny must be told that you are using audio and video. If not, and your nanny is accused of abusing your child and they were not notified, the video or audio evidence of the event in question could be thrown out in court.
Nanny cams or any similar security, at their heart, are a way for you to check in on your children when you’re at work or traveling and want to peek in and feel connected. Yes, they’re helpful for keeping track of your nanny and making sure everything is in order. But that can also induce paranoia. Our advice: Perform a sound background check, inform your nanny about any and all cameras, and peek in when you want to look at your kids. Here are five great options for doing so.
Logitech Circle 2
The Circle 2, available in wired and wireless versions, is an excellent choice for a nanny cam, thanks to its versatility, variety of mounts, and ease of use. It shoots in 1080p HD, has night vision, and a wide, 180-degree field of vision. Its footage is crisp and clear and, thanks to motion detection (a necessary for nanny cams), facial recognition, two-way audio, and the ability to zoom in on live streams, it’s easy to keep an eye on things. While it lacks on-board storage, it does have a nice cloud storage offering. A variety of mounts — from sticky-backed window mounts to magnetic bases and more — make it easy to put it in the proper position to see everything from the best angle. It’s also secure: After running a barrage of vulnerability tests on the original Circle, the testing site AV-Test said it had “high levels of protection.”
This six-inch tall system has a 180-degree viewing angle, and 3.4mp sensor that helps it snag sharp HD footage of entire rooms. It also detects motion, responds to shifts in ambient light, and, has genuinely useful night vision. You can view footage easily from its app, which also sends updates about weather and temperature, and, after you set “rules” to do so, pings you with text updates, emails, or even phone calls, when any motion is detected or change happens. It also features two-way audio. The Wi-Fi camera, which connects seamlessly, mounts easily to walls and, as its design is a bit less obtrusive than other models, doesn’t look half bad set upon a bookcase. In terms of security, all connections to and from Piper are encrypted and authenticated.
YI Dome Camera 1080p
This camera, which sort of looks like a shrunk down version of the Thirty Meter Telescope, is the most affordable option on this list. For less than $50, you get an app-controlled, HD camera with a 112-degree viewing angle that can tilt, pan, and snag a 360 degree, panoramic field of view. It also features two-way audio, motion tracking, and infrared night vision. Sure, it looks a bit like an eight ball fused with a mouse, but who cares?
Nest Cam IQ Indoor
Sleek, secure, beautifully designed, the Nest features an 8mp 4K sensor that helps everything streamed appear crisp and clear as well as such nice touches as smart tracking and enhanced zoom. It also boasts two-way audio, 1080p video, night vision, a 130-degree field of view, and, last but not least, Google Assistant integration, the latter of which allows you to ask it questions and use voice commands to control other Google home equipped devices. One downside: a host of useful features, including facial recognition, defined activity-zones, and time lapse videos, sit behind the Nest Aware subscription paywall, which costs $50 per year.
This 720p Amazon security cam is wireless, running for two years on a pair of lithium ion batteries. It offers automatic motion detection, which pushes a video of the event that triggered the sensor to your phone (this can be turned off if you don’t want it), as well as a live-view mode that lets you peak in on the action if you just want to peek in on your kid’s day. It sThere’s no monthly subscription fee, and, as the system is owned by Amazon, it also has compatibility with Echo devices. There is no night vision mode. But the upgraded version, the weatherproof Blink XT 1, does have that feature.
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