Let’s start with true confessions. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who answer their doors without hesitation, and those who recoil when the doorbell chimes. I’m a door half-closed kinda guy. Yeah, I’m that person. I might be overstating my loathsome relationship with the doorbell, but not by much. One grows weary of being cajoled by angel-faced fundraisers, being lectured that your yard could use a toxic soup of spray-off laziness and being interrogated about how you and Jesus are getting along these days (very well, thank you).

Enter the world of Wi-Fi security cameras built into your doorbell. What! Sure, closed circuit monitors have been around forever, but like so many other things, the IoT (the internet of things) is on the rise. And one of the devices making the transition from dumb to smart is at the doorbell. There are a growing buffet of companies that allow you to avoid solicitation while not missing out on your milliondollar Publishers Clearing House windfall.

Maybe you’re more like the 99.9 percent of people who aren’t afraid of the dark or creeped out by having to meet strangers at the door. I get it. The IoT is for you, too. You can set up networked cameras to keep watch over your toddler, monitor your house while you’re on vacation and check on Fido or Whiskers while you’re at work. There are so many options.

Last summer, Time.com published “5 Reasons to Install a Home Webcam.”

Let’s look at the list:

1. Mind the door. (I might be normal after all!)

2. Watch those dark corners.

3. Keep an eye on your garage.

4. Help mom and dad sleep like a baby.

5. Cancel the house-sitter.

Pretty good list. I think they could have spent a bit more time on things that go bump in the night, but that’s just me.

Now, let’s talk brands, options and goodies.

So, what’s out there? Sky’s the limit really, but here are a few of the highly ranked choices to consider. First, the Icontrol Networks Piper nv. PC Magazine’s top choice for 2016, this camera has a sleek design, not too hefty price point of a skosh over $250 and a great corresponding app. Also, folks rating cams on Home Depot’s website give high marks to Nest Cam. The Nest brand is one that has become synonymous with cutting edge home technology. Perhaps that’s why the price tag runs about $100 more than the Piper. Or, it might be the classic case of “you get what you pay for.” Compare them closely and go with what suits your needs the best. Other well-known options are the Canary All-in- One and the NetGear Arlo. Both of these cams allow you to get going for less than $200, but be the careful shopper and make sure you don’t go in for something that you have to stuff back in the box.

What are some key features that you might want to consider? As with any technology, they are diverse, changing and amazingly interesting. Long gone are the days of the grainy CCTV. Resolution is a key characteristic. We’ve all grown accustomed to HD everything. Look for a camera that will provide the clarity that you need. If it’s simple home security, lower might be okay, but if you’re trying to have an eagle eye on the precious faces of your furry friends, then obviously, you want to see it in crystal clear clarity of 1080p.

More details emerge as you go deeper into your search. For instance, do you want two-way audio communication access? Some cameras feature night vision. And, for some that will be a must-have. Others will want a system that has massive storage space, others just the ability to see things in real-time streaming. Will you have cloud-based storage or local storage is another consideration. Do you need Bluetooth connectivity, or will only Wi-Fi serve your needs? Also, what about app-based vs. webbased access? Do you need or want both? Finally, would you like the ability to have a pan or tilt feature to change the direction of the camera remotely?

So, there you have it. Whether you’re trying to avoid the door ringing menagerie, trying to guard against shadowy figures in the night or trying to say a happy word to Fido while you’re putting in extra hours at the office, there’s a camera system for you. Do your homework and enjoy your home like never before!
Richard Singleton, MACE, MAMFC, LPC, is the executive director at STARRY in Round Rock.

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