Keeping an eye on your home is a very wise move. Whether you're checking the kids got home OK, making sure your pets aren't running riot or just keeping a watch out for break-ins, a home monitoring camera is a handy thing to have set up.
And for us anxious types, it can make the difference between legging it home to check everything's OK, and knowing you'll get an alert if anything comes up. Which makes a huge difference to your relaxation levels and ability to concentrate at work.
Here's our run down of the best smart home monitoring cameras you can get right now. They're not in order of preference, so just choose the one with features that match your needs.
1. Nest Cam Indoor Security Camera, £299
Nest is owned by Google, so if you're a Google Assistant sort of person, it'll fit right in -- because it doesn't just work with Assistant, it actually has it installed. That means you can talk to it, and it can do all the things a Google Home Mini can do -- add stuff to your calendar, control your other smart home gizmos and whatnot.
Besides that, it's an excellent camera -- as you'd hope, for the price. It puts out 1080p HD video, and can distinguish between people and objects. If you want to, you can also teach it to recognise specific faces, but for that you need a subscription.
It's mains-powered rather than battery-operated, which means you have less choice about where to place it but also no worries it'll run out of juice just as some git with a baseball bat turns up. The feed quality is very good, with HDR and zooming features as well as infrared for night vision.
Sound quality is also strong, with three mics and a good speaker. It uses those mics to listen for concerning sounds, as well as allowing you to listen in and talk back. That's handy for talking to your fluffy friends, as well as shouting expletives if someone breaks in.
You can set up alerts to your phone or email with photos of what's going on, and go back 3 hours through snapshots in the app. If you want 24-7 recording, though, you'll need to pay for Nest Aware, which starts at £40 a year (or £4 a month) for 5 days' worth of video history and goes up to £240 a year (or £24 a month) for 30 days. [Buy it here]
2. Hive View Indoor Security camera, £189
This one's ideal for the style-conscious, because it's easily the best-looking smart home monitoring camera on the market. Available in white and champagne or black and copper, the cubic camera can be detached from its little stand and placed somewhere else to run on battery power for an hour. On the stand, it's on the mains so keeps going all the time.
You can set up notifications to your phone for when the Hive View hears motion or sees movement, and you can watch live or catch up on video from the past 24 hours in the app. You can also tell it to ignore movement from pets if you don't want it going off every 2 minutes.
The footage is 1080p HD, and it has two-way audio so you can listen and talk back. You can schedule times you want it to be on or off, or turn on Privacy Mode if you'd rather it didn't watch for a while (though it's just as easy to pop it off the stand and put it lens-down, which I found more reassuring).
Its night vision is decent, and it includes fixtures for wall-mounting if you'd rather use it that way -- though the 3m cable will limit where you can place it. [Buy it here]
3. Eufy EufyCam E, £399.99
Well, it's a strange name, but don't let you put that off -- Eufy (we pronounce this you-fee but maybe it's oofy?) make some brilliant products including some very affordable robot hoovers.
The EufyCam E is also well worth a look, although the price will understandably put some people off. For that, you get two cameras and a hub, plus the major benefit that it's properly wireless -- it runs on batteries rather than the mains.
Obviously, this would usually be a concern in case it ran out when you needed it most, but with a single charge lasting an entire year (or 3 years on standby!), it's much less of a concern. Nonetheless, my anxiety brain would like to tell you to put a note in your calendar to charge it every six months just in case.
The footage is 1080p and it comes with a 16GB microSD card o store a year's worth of video, which is nice -- especially since it doesn't require a subscription.
Its night vision is good and as well as being freestanding or wall-mountable, it's also magnetic, so you can whack it on the fridge if you like. However, it can't distinguish between people and animals or recognise faces, so if that's important to you, look elsewhere. [Buy it here]
4. Ring Stick-Up Cam, £179
Although it kind of sounds like it's designed to stop a stick-up, this camera is actually named that way because it can be stuck on the ceiling wherever you need it. However, it is also mountable if you'd prefer a bit more security, and it can be freestanding too.
Ring is owned by Amazon, so of course Alexa compatibility is baked right in, although you can't talk to the camera itself. If you have an Alexa device with a screen, like the Echo Spot or Echo Show, you can ask Alexa to show you the live feed from your camera, which is handy.
The Stick-Up Cam is available in wired or wireless configurations depending on what you'd prefer. Wireless is easier to install but you'll need to charge it about every three months -- or you can buy a spare battery pack and swap that in. Wired runs on the mains, but of course the cable is more of a pain to install neatly -- though if you're using ethernet rather than WiFi, you're going to have that problem anyway. Handily, the camera can run on Power Over Ethernet (PoE), meaning you can use one cable rather than two if you want.
Footage is 1080p HD, night vision is good, you can get motion detection notifications on your phone and it has two-way sound to listen and talk. You can also set up specific motion 'zones' if you're particularly interested in seeing who's in a particular part of the house. [Buy it here]
5. Pawbo Life Pet Camera, £99
If you're primarily going to use your home monitoring camera to watch your pets, you might want to get a model made specifically for that. Like Pawbo, which streams your pets in 720p HD but also has a built-in laser pointer game for cats, and a treat dispenser.
The laser pointer can be controlled manually or automatically, and it's great for getting your cat to actually come near the camera so you can see they're OK. There's also a feature to make the speaker make bird noises and suchlike to grab your pet's attention, which we found worked really well.
The camera has two-way chat so you can hear Boris barking and talk to him, or call him over to receive a treat from the dispenser.
Pawbo's night vision is OK, but if you want to see in detail you'll probably need a light on. Pawbo makes some adorable light-up cat ears that are sold separately, but they're activated by darkness rather than motion, so they'll stay on all night -- you might be better off just using a lamp and a smart switch. Still, with the price of this compared to some of the other models, you'll have plenty left over to get one. [Buy it here]
6. Furbo, £189
Another good option if you're looking for a home monitoring camera for pets, this one's a bit more expensive than Pawbo but also offers a few more features.
For instance, the footage is 1080p (full HD), and the night vision is good even with no lights.
Like Pawbo, Furbo offers a treat dispenser that holds 100 bits of nom -- it gets a bit addictive launching treats into the air, which is not so great for chubby doggos. It's also worth putting the camera somewhere higher than your dog can reach, because otherwise they're likely to knock it over or try to get at the treats.
The camera is angled downwards so you should still be able to see well with it positioned up high, but you might need to move it around a bit to get the best compromise, and the cable is only two metres long.
Furbo has 2-way chat so you can call your pets over, and since it's really more intended for dogs than cats, you can set up barking alerts on your phone so you can check in on Fido when he's having a tantrum. You can of course still use it for cats, you just won't get any bark alerts (...you'd hope). [Buy it here]
7. Bosch 360-Degree Indoor Camera, £133
Looking and acting something like a lighthouse, this cylindrical camera can spin all the way round, so you can see the entire room. If you've got a serving hatch between your kitchen and lounge like I have, for instance, you can place it on that and easily see both sides.
Footage is in 1080p full HD and looks great, and the night mode is also really good. There's a privacy mode you can activate in the app which makes the camera bob down into the housing, which is really reassuring -- but it'd be nice if you could just push it in with your finger, and sometimes it's a bit unresponsive in the app.
You can set it to detect motion if you want, but it's very sensitive by default so you'll probably want to turn that down or you'll forever be getting phone alerts. It spins to follow motion, which is cool and saves you navigating yourself with the app -- but be warned some visitors might find it creepy, especially as it makes a noise.
The camera starts recording two seconds before an event, which is smart -- you don't want the video to start just after the window's been broken, after all. It keeps up to 200 'event' recordings (an event is something like a person walking by) from the past 15 days, with no subscription. It also has two-way chat so you can hear and speak through the camera. [Buy it here]
8. Netatmo Welcome, £170
The design is divisive, but Netatmo's home security camera is impressively clever for the price. It includes facial recognition (no extra subscription needed) which learns your family's faces, so you can set it to only alert you if it sees someone it doesn't recognise.
Footage is 1080p HD and it includes an 8GB microSD card for local storage. You can also set videos to upload to the cloud (including personal FTP servers and Dropbox), which is a good idea in case a thief sees the camera and nicks it. It takes up to a 32GB microSD card if you want more local storage, and you don't need to subscribe to save videos.
Brilliantly, the Netatmo Welcome also includes siren detection, so even if you don't have a smart smoke / burglar / carbon monoxide alarm that would send you a notification itself (or like me, you always forget to log into the app when you switch phones, rendering the whole smart function completely useless), the camera will hear it and let you know.
The camera includes infrared night vision and even has an Apple Watch app so you can spy on people from your wrist like James Bond. [Buy it here]