Homeboy, Blink, Butterfleye, Arlo, Ring Stick Up, and Canary Flex are all getting ready for the home automation party, and they all wore the same dress. Each is a camera, and each is cordless. On the bright side, they've selected different accessories.
Homeboy is cordless but has a magnetic base. The magnetic base attaches to the ball-shaped camera so that you can creatively place the camera throughout your home. Homeboy is 100% cordless and is 100% battery-powered. Because the camera is fully battery-powered, its hardware is less powerful. They've pulled power to focus on preserving the battery. As I mentioned in our Homeboy Review, the camera has its own IFTTT channel. And IFTTT integration is another feature that sets Homeboy apart from the other cordless options.
Of the three options, Homeboy has also been around the longest. Though there aren't many online reviews, the app has been sufficiently reviewed. It currently holds a 4-star rating on iTunes and a 4.5-star rating on Google Play. For a camera app, this is excellent.
PROS - Compared to the others: Works with IFTTT
CONS - Compared to the others: Low Resolution and Cannot Live Stream Video
Blink and Blink XT Basics
If you want a more powerful camera, you should consider Blink or even better, Blink XT. Blink is an HD camera with a unique night vision feature. Instead of using IR technology, it uses a light that will shine when an event is detected. Blink XT is an indoor/outdoor security camera that is backed by IR LED night vision.
Of all the cordless options, Blink offers the best battery life. This longevity is thanks to their unique processing technology. Even though the camera can live stream and record at a higher resolution, it still offers a two-year battery life. Though I've not used the camera that long, I have been running it for over a year. The battery is still going strong.
The other reason the battery life is so long is that part of the heavy lifting is done on what is known as a Sync Module. Sync is a base system that must remain plugged into a wall. Though the individual Blink cameras are cordless, the entire system is not 100% cordless. However, the latest Sync module, launching soon, will add 4G Cellular and battery backup, so your cameras will continue to function even without internet and power.
Finally, Blink is the only camera with a monitoring plan (Coming Soon). For $19.99 per month, you can add 24/7 professional monitoring. For $9.99 per month, you can self-monitor your cameras backed by sensors including a door/window sensor, water sensor, and a keypad.
PROS - Compared to the others: Long Battery Life
CONS - Compared to the others: Requires a Sync Module and Lacks Rechargeable Batteries
Butterfleye and Nero 1 Basics
I was lucky enough to have a visit with Butterfleye at CES.
During the experience, I learned three things.
- Butterfleye ships with a magnetic base.
- The app is user-friendly and it supports Android and iOS.
- The video quality is FHD, but will dumb down based on your Wi-Fi connection.
Butterfleye offers unique technology that sets the camera apart from the other cordless options. It uses advanced software that can learn over time. It can also tell the difference between a human and a dog or other non-human objects. Finally, it includes software that will help you shuffle through your recorded footage. Instead of sending you an entire day's worth, it will send the best footage to help save time.
My favorite feature is that Butterfleye is not only 100% cordless, but it can work without an internet connection. If you lose internet, it will still record to an internal storage device. When your internet is restored, the footage is uploaded from the device to the cloud.
Nero 1 is a second gen version of Butterfleye which you can read about here.
PROS - Compared to the others: Facial Detection and Can Work Without Internet
CONS - Compared to the others: Two Week Battery Life
Arlo is a popular HD home security camera, and there are not many cameras like it. They started with their cordless indoor/outdoor option and have expanded to the indoor Arlo Q. The Arlo Q is wired while the chart below is focused on cordless camera solutions. However, it's nice to know that you can expand your system by adding the Q if you want to. The Q records in 1080p, has night vision, and offers free cloud storage. They also have two newer indoor/outdoor cordless cameras including Arlo Pro and Arlo Pro 2.
Arlo Pro can work wire-free or wired. As compared to the original Arlo Wire-Free, it has a better motion sensor, support for audio, and a wider viewing angle. Arlo Pro 2 improves the camera's resolution to FHD 1080p and adds three features that require the camera to remain plugged in: continuous recording with a paid plan, Motion Zones, and Look Back. Finally, Arlo sells Arlo Go. Go is like Pro but communicates using a cellular signal instead of Wi-Fi. The camera includes a Verizon Wireless SIM card; however, you'll need a data plan to activate it.
Like Blink, the cordless Arlo cameras (except for Go) are not 100% cordless. They all require a base station. The base station requires internet and power to communicate with the cameras. That said, the Base Station has benefits. The Arlo Pro Base Station has a siren and a USB port for local storage.
My biggest issue with Arlo as a home security camera is that it's sleepy. It is not continuously monitoring, which is how it preserves battery life. Instead, when it detects an event, it wakes up. Sometimes it takes time to wake up, and when you're trying to record something important, seconds can mean the difference between capturing footage or not. You can overcome this obstacle by plugging in your Arlo Pro 2. However, plugging the camera in also requires that it be used indoors. That said, if you're willing to bring the camera in, you will have access to Look Back. This feature uses a pre-buffer to record the three seconds before motion is detected. When an event occurs, you will receive event footage plus the three seconds of activity before the event occurred. Second, you can pay to add a continuous video recording (CVR) plan. Plans start at $9.99/month for 14 days of continuous video storage.
PROS - Compared to the others: Works Inside and Outside and Option to Add Arlo Q Indoor Camera. Also, their free cloud plan supports up to 5 cameras; the paid plan supports up to 10.
CONS - Compared to the others: Requires a Base Station and Wake Up Time Can Be Slow Unless Plugged-in, Original Arlo Lacks Sound
Stick Up Cam Basics
The Stick Up Cam is a direct competitor to several other wireless outdoor security cameras, including Nest Cam Outdoor. Ring created the Stick Up Cam to work in conjunction with the Ring Video Doorbell. Joining the two devices together is not necessary, but Ring recommends the pairing to create a more effective "ring" of security around your home.
The Stick Up Cam is completely wireless, incorporates 720p HD live video streaming, and has a long 6-12 month battery life. You can even keep the battery charged all the time by purchasing a solar panel. When connected to the camera via USB, the solar panel will recharge your battery.
Perhaps the biggest draw to the camera is zone selection and two-way communication. The zone selection feature allows you to select different zones within the camera’s field of view for it to monitor. Unmonitored zones will not trigger notifications through the app.
Despite its many benefits, the Stick Up Cam does have a few issues. First, the field of view is slight at only 80 degrees. It has the smallest FOV of any device on our list. While the resolution is good, there are known issues with the video quality, which is not the best available. There is also no remote arm/disarm feature with this device. Finally, the camera does not include free storage, but you can expand to cloud storage by paying $3/month or $30/annually for six months of stored video recordings. This price is per camera.
PROS – Compared to the others: Solar Charging and Zone Selection
CONS – Compared to the others: Insufficient field of view.
Ring Spotlight Cam Basics
Ring also sells the Ring Spotlight Cam. Spotlight Cam comes in four versions including a wired version, mount version, battery-powered version, and a solar version, which is the same camera as the battery-powered version but bundled with a solar panel.
The Spotlight Cam Battery monitors for motion using a FHD camera backed by night vision. It does not support zones like Stick Up or like the Wired/Mount Spotlight Cam but does allow you to adjust the motion sensor's sensitivity level. It also has two additional security features: a spotlight and a siren. The spotlight turns on automatically at night if the camera detects motion which significantly improves the camera's ability to see at night. You can also turn the light on manually at any time. The siren isn't as useful, but it's still a nice feature to have. The siren can only be activated manually from the mobile app.
In testing Spotlight Cam, we've found that its biggest disadvantage is a shorter battery life. We're estimating the battery life at 1.5 months, which is still longer than Butterfleye and on pace with Canary Flex. Also, you can extend the camera's battery life by adding the solar panel or by adding a secondary battery. Though the camera ships with one rechargeable battery, there is an extra slot that can hold a second battery. Another disadvantage is that the camera is more difficult to install than the others. It doesn't have a stand. It ships with a mount which requires drilling.
PROS – Compared to the others: Solar Charging and Spotlight
CONS – Compared to the others: Installation requires drilling.
Canary Flex Basics
The Canary Flex is not so much an upgrade from the original Canary, but a different device that serves a similar function. Where the original Canary has a warning siren and HomeHealth monitoring, Flex is weatherproof, wireless, and can be wall mounted. Flex and the original Canary use the same app, so those familiar with the app have an advantage. You can also monitor multiple camera types from one account.
Flex boasts impressive features. Like the Stick Up Cam, it allows for two-way communication. Unfortunately, you have to pay to access the feature via a Canary Membership. For free, Flex provides person detection, live streaming of activity, and recorded videos. You can manually swivel it a full 360 degrees on its magnetic base, making its 116-degree field-of-view stretch further. If you purchase the Verizon 4G mount (coming soon), you can even remotely monitor the camera in areas without an internet connection and use the mount to boost the camera's battery life.
Canary Flex includes 24 hours of free cloud storage per device with a limit of four cameras. If you want more, you can pay for 30 days of storage via a Canary Membership. Membership rates vary depending on how many cameras you want to support but the initial fee of $9.99 per month includes support for five cameras. As far as the battery life, it varies. While Canary suggests the battery might last up to four months, we found that it lasts about a month before needing a recharge. According to Canary,
"How long the battery lasts depends on a number of factors. Canary Flex only spends battery life if it’s unplugged and has detected motion using PIR—the more activity it is detecting daily and the longer the Canary Flex is activated, the more battery it will use."
PROS – Compared to the others: Versatility with Person Detection and Multiple Mounting Accessories
CONS – Compared to the others: Wake up time can be slow. Canary frequently changes features.
HomeBoy vs. Blink vs. Blink XT vs. Butterfleye
|Free Cloud||12 Hours||7,200 Seconds||7,200 Seconds||12 Hours|
|Extended Cloud||$4.99/month for 30 Days||NO||NO||Starting at $9.99/month for 7 Days|
|Battery Life||2-3 Months||2 Years||2 Years||2 Weeks|
|Two-Way Audio||NO||NO||NO||Requires Membership|
|Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review|
|App||iOS & Android||iOS &|
|Extra Feature||Includes a|
|Panic Siren; All Coming Soon: 4G Wireless, Entry Sensor, Motion Sensor, Key Fob, Keypad, Water Sensor, Professional Monitoring ($)||Panic Siren; All Coming Soon: 4G Wireless, Entry Sensor, Motion Sensor, Key Fob, Keypad, Water Sensor, Professional Monitoring ($)||Facial Recognition ($)|
|Night Vision||Light Illumination||Light Illumination||YES||Brightens Image|
|Live Streaming||Clips On-Demand||YES||YES||YES
|Base||Magnetic||Stand or Wall Mountable||Stand or Wall Mountable||Magnetic|
|Works With||IFTTT||IFTTT, Amazon Alexa (Echo, Dot, etc)||IFTTT, Amazon Alexa (Echo, Dot, etc)||Amazon Alexa (Echo, Dot, etc), Ooma|
|YES||Supports Schedules||Supports Schedules||Requires Membership|
|Cordless||YES||Requires Sync Module||Requires Sync Module||YES
|Usage||Indoor Only||Indoor Only||IP65 Rated||Indoor Only|
|Buy Now||Visit Site|
Arlo vs. Arlo Pro vs. Stick Up vs. Spotlight Cam vs. Canary Flex
|Arlo||Arlo Pro||Arlo Pro 2||Stick Up||Spotlight Cam||Canary Flex|
|Free Cloud||7 Days||7 Days ||7 Days ||NO||NO||24 Hours (Event Clips Only)|
|Extended Cloud||Starts at $9.99/month for 30 days||Starts at $9.99/month for 30 days||Starts at $9.99/month for 30 days. Optional CVR Plan Starts at $9.99/month||$3.00/month for 90 days||$3.00/month for 90 days||Starts at $9.99/month for 30 days|
|Battery Life||3-6 Months||4-6 Months||3 Months||6-12 Months||1-2 Months||1-2 Months|
|Two-Way Audio||NO||YES||YES||YES||YES||Requires Membership|
|Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review|
|App||iOS, Android, Apple TV, Fire TV||iOS, Android, Apple TV, Fire TV||iOS, Android, Apple TV, Fire TV||iOS & Android||iOS & Android||iOS, Android, Android Wear, Apple TV, Fire TV
|Battery||Non-Rechargeable||Rechargeable ||Rechargeable ||Rechargeable||Rechargeable||Rechargeable
|Extra Feature||Works indoors and outdoors, Person Detection ($), Zones ($)||Works indoors and outdoors, Siren, Solar Charging, Person Detection ($), Zones ($)||Works indoors and outdoors, Siren, Solar Charging, Person Detection ($), Zones ($). If Plugged-In: CVR ($), Look Back, and Activity Zones||Works indoors and outdoors, Solar Charging||Works indoors and outdoors, Solar Charging, Siren, Spotlight||Works indoors and outdoors, Person Detection, Package Detection ($), Safety Button ($)
|Compression||h.264||h.264 ||h.264 ||Unknown||Unknown||h.264 Compression|
|Base||Magnetic||Magnetic||Magnetic||Magnetic ||Wall Mount||Stand, Wall Mountable, Secure Mount, Twist Mount, Stake Mount|
|Works With||Echo Show, Echo Spot, IFTTT, Stringify, and SmartThings||Echo Show, Echo Spot, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Stringify, and SmartThings||Echo Show, Echo Spot, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Stringify, and SmartThings||Wink, IFTTT||Wink, IFTTT||Wink, Google Home, Amazon Echo Show, Echo Spot, Fire TV
(Supports Canary Custom Tone)
|Cordless||Requires Base Unit||Requires Base Unit||Requires Base Unit||YES||YES||YES
|Usage||IP65 Rated||IP65 Rated||IP65 Rated||IP56 Rated||IP56 Rated||IP65 Rated|
|Arlo||Arlo Pro||Arlo Pro 2||Stick Up||Spotlight Cam||Canary Flex|
In my opinion, Arlo Pro and Arlo Pro 2 are the best options.
Arlo Pro works with IFTTT, Google Home, Stringify, Echo Show, Echo Spot, and SmartThings. It can be used outside, offers free cloud storage, local storage, and you can automatically arm and disarm the camera through geofencing. Arlo Go, although expensive ($399.99), is an option for monitoring places without Wi-Fi.
Arlo Pro 2 offers a FHD experience and has several additional features including pre-buffering, motion zones, and continuous video recording if plugged in, but Arlo is currently selling a kit that requires the purchase of two cameras, bumping the starting price up to $479.99 (the kit also includes a rechargeable battery).
Arlo Pro and Arlo Pro 2 also belong to a family of security products. Should you need to expand your security camera system, you can add Arlo Baby, Arlo Wire-Free, or Arlo Q cameras to the mix. They are also pre-selling a motion-triggered, battery-powered, color-changing, weatherproof smart floodlight, which will ship early next year. Equipped with a motion sensor, the Arlo Security Light can trigger your Arlo Pro and Arlo Pro 2 to record when motion is detected.
Other Battery Powered Home Security Cameras
EZVIZ Mini Trooper
EZVIZ makes feature-rich but affordable cameras including Mini Trooper, a battery-powered, wireless camera. Similar to Arlo, Mini Trooper requires a base station. Mini Trooper's base includes a siren, a microSD card slot, and it can control up to six cameras. The camera records in HD 720p, offers night vision, and a 116° viewing angle. It can also detect motion and sound but lacks two-way audio.
Mini Trooper's battery life is estimated at nine months, although this will vary depending on usage, temperature, and your chosen settings.
Reolink Argus and Argus 2
On paper, Reolink checks a lot of the right boxes. It has a decent battery life, a FHD resolution, it's 100% cordless, works inside and out, and offers local storage. However, it lacks cloud storage, the app is unpolished compared to other options, and it lacks smart motion features.
You can read our hands-on review of the original Reolink Argus here.
Swann Smart Security Camera
Featurewise, Swann Smart Security Camera checks a lot of the right boxes. Unfortunately, it lacks third-party integrations, a feature present in all of our top picks. Swann Smart Security Camera offers a 1080p resolution, 120° viewing angle, and up to 32 feet of night vision. It's also rated for outdoor use, and it runs on rechargeable batteries. One feature that sets Swann Smart Security apart is True Detect, which is a feature that uses the built-in PIR motion sensor to prevent false alarms.
D-Link DCS-1820LH & DCS-2820KT
D-Link announced DCS-1820LH and DCS-2820KT at CES 2018. The cameras are expected to hit the market by Q2 of 2018. Both cameras are wireless and battery-powered. The DCS-2820KT uses Wi-Fi, just like most of the cameras in this article. The DCS-1820LH, on the other hand, is equipped with an LTE SIM card powered by Verizon. The SIM card allows it to connect to the cloud even without Wi-Fi, similar to Arlo Go. Both cameras also offer a 1080p resolution, night vision, two-way talk, motion detection, sound detection, and human detection. In the past, we've refrained from recommending D-Link cameras for several reasons, including their lack of cloud service offerings. However, D-Link recently announced that they will soon offer free and paid cloud service subscription, so we'll see how that pans out for them.
Eufy is new to security cameras, and their first security camera is EverCam. The most impressive thing about EverCam is that it promises to offer up to a 1-year battery life. Of course, the actual battery life is affected by factors such as usage and low temperatures. Another notable feature is facial recognition. EverCam offers facial recognition out-of-the-box, which makes it smarter than many cameras on this list. However, it is still in a developmental stage. Currently, Eufy is gathering funds and pre-orders on Kickstarter with plans to ship EverCam this September.