Solid home security camera for just $20

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Home security cameras are super popular these days. The little devices connect to your WiFi network and keep an eye on your home, kids or pets, 24/7. The most popular internet-connected models cost upwards of $100 or $200, but a startup called Wyze Cam is making their brand new unit available for just $20.

I've been testing out the Wyze Cam for some time now and I'm impressed. For just $20, you get a lot of useful features. There are three big ones - HD video, night vision and talk back audio. This means you can "talk" to people in the room where your camera is located using your phone.

The Wyze Cam almost looks like a toy. It's small and unassuming. You plug it in, then download the Wyze App and pair it with your WiFi system. Setup is really easy and intuitive. The company behind Wyze cam was started by a few former Amazon employees. They say this is just the start, with more products to come.

Once it's up and running, you can view a live stream of your camera on your phone from anywhere you have an internet connection. The camera also records 10-15 second video clips whenever it senses motion. These are uploaded to the cloud for safekeeping. You get 14 days of storage for free, which is pretty amazing. Many other similar cameras charge for cloud recordings. The difference here is that Wyze is only sending clips to the cloud. Full, non-stop recordings are stored on the camera itself. You'll have to insert a memory card to enable this feature. A 32-gigabyte Micro SD card (the max Wyze Cam can accomodate) runs about $13 on Amazon.

The only downside here is that theoretically an intruder could snatch up the camera and take the full-length recordings with them. However, you would still have any video clips that were sent to the cloud for safekeeping.

The quality of the camera is good, but not as good as my Nest cam. You get 1080p video - some of the high-end cameras are now offering 4K.  But at this price, you'll be happy with the results. You can also build a time-lapse video or download any video clip or snapshot right to your phone's camera roll.

So what don't you get for $20? Smart alerts, like those based on artificial intelligence. Wyze can't tell the difference between an intruder and your cat. There is currently no integration with smart home products like Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple's Siri. You also can't monitor the live stream from your TV since there aren't any apps for Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV.

Bottom line - if you've been considering a home security camera, Wyze Cam is a no-brainer at $20. Right now it lacks the ecosystem and artificial smarts that other more costly cameras enjoy, but at this price, you can now put a security camera in every room that needs one.

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