When I started working for Security Baron, I knew I wanted my office to be hooked up.
I mean hooked up: a high-def TV, the comfiest couch, all the coolest smart home devices and cameras, a nice desk…
As I look around my room, I’m happy to say that my office is getting close to being all tricked out. Quite a few of my devices come from Amazon, actually. I got my Fire TV set up and I have it integrated with my Alexa, my Echo, and my Echo spot. I’ve got my own Amazon ecosystem here.
These tools have definitely made my work life a lot easier, so I was excited when Amazon came out with their own home security camera, the Amazon Cloud Cam Indoor. When I ordered it, I felt like I found the missing piece to the puzzle.
But before I got too excited, I knew I had to test this camera out. Amazon has been great to me so far, but did they make a product that holds up to industry standards?
We’ll just have to find out.
What Amazon Offers
From a simple glance at the package, it seems to me like the Amazon Cloud Cam has all the basics covered. You’ve got:
- 1080p HD for clear and crisp video
- Livestreams accessible on the web browser and on the mobile app
- Motion triggered notifications to tell you when you should tune in to the livestream or view a recorded clip
- Two-way audio to communicate with pets or family when you’re away or in a different room
- Infrared night vision to catch those night creepers
- Cloud storage with a 30-day free trial to any of Amazon’s subscription packages
- Alexa integration to make your life more convenient and hands-free
All of this sounds awesome, but let’s unpack everything and put it all together.
Inside the box, I found the camera, a power adapter, USB cable, wall mounting plate, anchors, and screws.
I was happy that it came with all of that mounting gear, just in case I ever wanted to place it on a wall or screw it into the ceiling. But here at Security Baron, we’re not into putting holes in the wall every time we review a camera. I noticed that the Amazon Cloud Cam has this rubber lining at the base so I can just place it on any surface without worrying about mounting. I also liked how I could pivot the camera anywhere around the ball mount. This will give me a lot of options for how to angle my camera.
The Cloud Cam is about four inches tall and it weighs just under a pound. I also found that it has a really hard plastic shell, which made me feel like this device is really durable. I don’t have to worry about my cat knocking it over and breaking it.
At the back of the camera I discovered the square USB port, which I thought was unique- usually you just see that little hole where you stick a small micro USB plug. But the plug for this camera has a thick square shape that lodges into a similarly shaped notch. In short, the plug will not be yanked out easily, a plus if you have nosy kids.
In general, though, I’m not wowed by the Amazon Cloud Cam aesthetics. The color scheme is basic (black and white) like many cameras on the market. And when you look at it, there’s no question it’s a camera. This means it will be harder to camouflage it with your pottery or other objects you like to decorate your home with.
But I’m more focused on how to get this thing fired up.
Setting it Up
The good news is: the Amazon Cloud camera is so easy to set up. It probably took me a little over 10 minutes.
Granted, I’m already familiar with Amazon devices so I might have an advantage- all I had to do was plug and play. But even if you’re not integrated into the Amazon ecosystem, I can’t imagine that the setup process would take more than 30 minutes.
All you have to do is plug in your camera, download the Amazon Cloud Cam App and pair the camera to your mobile device. Once that occurs, the app will walk you through all the set up steps and voila! You have your livestream footage.
I just want to note here that for many of the home security cameras we’ve tested, we’ve had to make sure we were connected with high-speed internet to ensure a smooth setup process. The Amazon Cloud Cam was no different.
Just make sure you have all those lovely Wi-Fi arcs at the top of your device before you start setting the camera up. You’ll thank me for this, I swear.
Security Baron Necessary Features
Alright! Now is the moment you’ve all been waiting for.
It’s time to put the Amazon Cloud Cam through the rigorous, oh-so-revealing Security Baron Necessary Features Test. Here at the office, we’ve seen many security cameras — the good ones and the bad ones — and from all of that testing, we came up with our own standards to see if a device is quality.
I’m not sure, but I think the Amazon Cloud Cam can hang.
Let’s start with the 1080p HD video. With footage like this I can see everything super clearly. Most of the best cameras on the market come equipped with 1080p HD so the Amazon Cloud Cam is doing quite well in the video department.
But there’s something else that sets it apart: It shoots 30 frames per second as opposed to 20 frames per second, the average that I see with other cameras. The increased frames per second greatly improves the livestream images. Even when I used the digital zoom, nothing got super blurry.
In addition, there didn’t seem to be any lag between what was happening in real time and what was happening in my Cloud Cam app. With other cameras I’ve used, there’s almost always a half-second lag, which I had previously thought was an internet issue. But I didn’t change anything about my Wi-Fi and the Amazon Cloud Cam worked seamlessly.
The only thing that didn’t impress me about the video was the field of view. The Cloud Cam offers 120 degrees worth of footage which can cover most of my office. This field of view is good— it definitely meets the industry standard. However, given that I’ve seen cameras with viewing angles up to 180 degrees, this field of view is nothing to write home about.
The same crisp, clear, lag-free video that you see in the regular mode translates perfectly into night mode. It’s important to have quality night vision so you can see intruders if they are sneaking around in the dark.
The thing that I love the most about the Amazon Cloud Cam’s night vision is that it records using infrared LED lighting. Some cameras uses bright illumination, which is harsh to look at. Plus, imagine that you’re a burglar and you walk in to see a bright light shining in your face. Wouldn’t you want to turn the light off? With infrared LED lighting, the intruder would not be aware that he is being recorded in clear night-vision. It’s a super essential feature for any quality security camera, and in this category, the Amazon Cloud Cam knocks it out of the park.
I love that this camera comes with two-way audio. I can just use my phone like a walkie-talkie and talk to anyone when I’m not around. The audio is really crisp, too.
As fun as this feature is, I think that Amazon is promising a little much when it comes to the two-way audio’s capabilities. On the website it says you can use this feature to “check in with the kids after school [or] tell your dog to stop barking.”
I don’t know about you and your relationship to your dog is like, but my pup hardly listens to me when I’m by his side. I seriously doubt he’ll listen over the camera (this may be a personal problem).
Full marks for audio!
Smart Platform Integration
Obviously, the major plus to the Amazon Cloud Cam is that it integrates with…I’ll give you a moment to guess…
the Amazon ecosystem!
Once I set the camera up with my Echo, Echo Dot or Fire TV, I can tell Alexa to put the livestream on my television without moving a muscle. I could also tell Alexa to turn my camera on or off without having to take out my mobile app. The possibilities are endless.
Although the camera works seamlessly with Amazon connected devices, I am disappointed to say that it cannot pair up with Google Assistant or other IFTTT devices.
So if you buy the Cloud Cam, you’re stuck with the Amazon integration whether you like it or not.
The major minus to the Amazon Cloud Cam is that there is no facial recognition feature included. This means that the camera can’t the difference between my neighbor Steve who comes to feed my fish when I’m away and a nameless intruder.
With the paid subscription, which I’ll discuss in a bit, person detection is available. That means that while the camera cannot tell you exactly who the person is, it will tell you when there are people in the area you’re recording as opposed to cars, pets, etc. More on this later. For the lack of free facial recognition, I can’t give the Cloud Camera full marks for this category.
Like I said earlier: this device is so easy to set up. This is important because we want to work with cameras that are reliable and that are easy to re-install in case anything happens. Plus you want to enjoy your DIY home security experience, no?
If you’re already familiar with Alexa and the Echo devices, you can set up the Amazon Cloud Cam within minutes. If you’re not familiar with Amazon products, your camera should easily sync up to your mobile device and be up and running with no problems.
Just make sure you have strong Wi-Fi!
One thing I noticed immediately is that there is no local storage option for the Amazon Cloud Cam. This is a bummer because I can imagine that there are times when I want to use an SD card to easily transfer a bunch of data from my camera to my computer.
However, Amazon does offer cloud storage, and they even give you a 30-day free trial to try out one of their subscription plans. Even if you don’t choose to purchase a subscription, you’ll still have cloud storage for up to 24 hours of footage for up to three cameras. Plus, the subscription packages come with other premium features, too.
Remember how I said the Amazon Cloud Cam does not have facial recognition software? Well, if you buy a package plan, the camera will instead have person detection. That means that the camera will be able to tell the difference between a pet and a human (unless you’d rather be notified every time a bird flies past your window). The person detection software has its limits, though; it still cannot tell who the human is. Poor Steve will always be a stranger to the Cloud Cam.
The subscription plans also allow you to set up specified activity zones so your camera won’t send notifications regarding areas that you don’t care about (think of the aforementioned bird).
These features sound great, but I wish I didn’t have to pay for them. Many cameras include artificial intelligence for less money overall. But we’ll get to comparisons later.
That brings us to value.
All in all, for $120 dollars, the Amazon Cloud Cam Indoor is great. It includes:
- 1080p HD video
- Two-way audio
- Built-in 24 hour cloud storage for up to three cameras
- Night vision
Although it lacks the artificial intelligence features of its competitors, this camera is still a great product and ultimately worth the money. I would especially recommend to it people already ingratiated within the Amazon ecosystem.
Wait! There’s More
This feature is dope. Utilizing geofencing technology, the Amazon Cloud Cam will stop recording when my phone is near it. In a way, my mobile device is telling my camera that everything is okay, that it’s just me in the room. It can relax. Wouldn’t we all benefit from such a caring presence?
Amazon Cloud Cam App
Alrighty! Let’s look at the app.
I had a great experience using the Amazon Cloud App, but other people had mixed feelings, with 3 stars and 4 stars from the Apple and Google Play Stores, respectively.
When I open the app, I immediately see livestream is right in the middle. From there, I can view, download, save and share the motion-activated clips, as well as add another camera or change my cloud plans.
In settings I can change the motion detection sensitivity, the frequency of notifications, and the home/away mode. If you are paying for a subscription, you can also alter your person detection feature as well as your activity zones. If I want to mount my camera from the ceiling, I can press the option to flip the video. This may seem obvious, but many cameras force you to view your footage upside down.
Overall the app is very user-friendly and makes controlling your camera a breeze.
What you don’t get
I’ve already established that the Amazon Cloud Cam is great, but again, it doesn’t have everything.
Here’s what’s missing:
- Facial recognition
- Local storage
- Alarms or sirens– while some cameras come with an alarm to scare off intruders or let everyone know that your security has been compromised, the Amazon Cloud Cam is not one of them
- Smart platform integration other then with Amazon products
Amazon vs. The Competition
Nest Cam Indoor
So after analyzing the specs of the Nest Cam Indoor, I’m not convinced that it’s a better buy than the Amazon Cloud Cam — especially when it’s $79 more expensive. In fact, I found them to be very similar cameras.
What I did prefer about the Nest Cam is its design. The black frame is only about five inches tall and three inches wide, meaning I can hide it more easily than the Amazon Cloud Cam. Other benefits of the Nest Indoor are that its viewing angle is wider at 130 degrees and it can integrate with systems beyond Alexa. You can pair it up with Google Assistant IFTTT, and Philips Hue lightbulbs. Plus, the Nest Indoor has the ability to record continuously 24/7, while the Amazon Cloud cam only records motion triggered events.
I wasn’t impressed by the Nest Cam’s memory capabilities. Nest only offers three free hours of cloud storage, compared to the Cloud Cam’s 24 hours. Neither camera has local storage.
If you want to upgrade to get up to 30 days of storage, you must buy Nest Aware. Along with the additional cloud storage, you’ll receive better artificial intelligence software, like motion detection, sound detection, and alerts when a dog barks, a person speaks, or the camera sees a familiar face. You’ll also be able to set up activity zones which mark important areas for the camera to monitor, like a window or a baby’s crib. It’s also important to note that while person detection comes with the Nest Indoor, it is part of the subscript for the Amazon Cloud Cam.
If you are okay with paying more for artificial intelligence options and integration with Google and Philips Hue, the Nest Indoor might be the camera for you.
Blink Indoor Camera
The Blink Indoor Camera is alright, but I got to say: if the Blink and the Amazon Cloud Cam met in Pokemon battle, I’m choosing the Cloud.
The Blink Indoor misses a few industry standards. For one, the viewing angle is only 110 degrees wide, compared to the Cloud’s 120 degrees. It records in 720 HD, a downgrade from the crisp and clear 1080p HD of the Cloud Cam. On top of that, the Blink Indoor Camera lacks two-way audio, a free feature of the Cloud Cam.
Correspondingly, the Blink Indoor also disappoints when it comes to night vision. Instead of using infrared LED lights, invisible to the naked eye, the Blink uses a bright light that intruders would definitely notice.
Since life is all about balance, let’s talk about the things I like about the Blink Indoor Camera. I like how the Blink Indoor is a wireless camera with an awesome two-year battery life. If you are looking to put an indoor camera somewhere not close to a power outlet, the Blink Indoor might be a better option than the Amazon Cloud Cam.
Storage-wise, the Blink Indoor offers both cloud and local, unlike the Amazon Cloud Cam which only offers cloud storage. Blink only offers two hours worth of free cloud storage, which is pretty disappointing compared to the Cloud’s 24. There are no subscription plans available for additional storage.
As Amazon owns Blink, both cameras are only integrated with Amazon, although this could change with software updates.
The Blink Indoor camera might be a better choice for you if you definitely want local storage and a battery-powered camera. Otherwise, the Amazon Cloud Cam does take the cake in most of the categories.
The Arlo Q is more expensive than the Amazon Cloud Cam, but it does have its advantages. With 1080p HD and 8x digital zoom just like the Cloud Cam, the Arlo Q beats Amazon Cloud by a hair with a field of view is 130 degrees, 10 more than the Amazon Cloud. It also offers 7 days worth of free cloud storage for up to five cameras, a rarity when it comes to home security cameras. For more storage, you can pay for Arlo Smart Home, which I’ll discuss in more detail below.
Another category in which the Arlo Q has the Amazon Cloud Cam beat is smart home integration. While the Amazon Cloud Cam only pairs with the Amazon ecosystem, the Arlo Q pairs with Alexa, Google Assistant and other IFTTT platforms.
Unfortunately for the Arlo Q, it doesn’t match up to the Cloud Cam when it comes to night vision. Arlo claims that the night vision works from up to 25 feet away, but in my experience it was only a few feet. Similarly to the Cloud Cam, the Arlo Q does not have any artificial intelligence included. However, if you purchase Arlo Smart Home, you can add person detection along with activity zones. Starting at only $2.99 per camera, this is a small price to pay for better notifications.
I would recommend the Arlo Q over the Cloud Cam to those who want access to the Google ecosystem, IFTTT & Stringify, but it’s not the best choice for someone who values night vision.
The Customer Experience
As much as I hate to admit this, my opinion is not the only one that matters. A product is only as good as its customers’ testimonials, and, like any product, the Cloud Cam has mixed reviews. Here are the things that people liked about the Amazon Cloud Cam:
- Clear video and high quality audio
- Simple setup– most customers say it took them 10 to 15 minutes to get everything online
- Easy accessibility on mobile and desktop
Here’s why some people gave it thumbs down:
- No continuous 24/7 recording
- Green light is a giveaway- people complained about the green light that turns on when the camera starts recording, making the camera conspicuous
- No Google integration
Overall, there were way more positive reviews than negative ones, which I think is a great sign.
Amazon’s Track Record in Home Security
Believe it or not, the Amazon Cloud Cam is Amazon’s first home security camera, released in 2017. Amazon wants to expand into smart home devices as well. In February, the company announced that it acquired the Ring Video Doorbell, which gathers video footage from your doorstep. Aside from the camera and the doorbell, Amazon has an array of devices that connect with Alexa, as well as installation services and home security packages. Given the company’s enormous influence on nearly every category of consumer goods, I think it’s fair to say that Amazon could become a major player in home security.
Personally, I love the Amazon Cloud Cam. It integrated so well with the rest of my Amazon ecosystem, making the setup a breeze. However- another hard truth here- not everyone shares my opinions. Your buying decision will probably come down to your personal preferences. Let’s recap.
The Amazon Cloud Cam might be good for you if want:
- Amazon integration
- Great video quality, audio quality, and night vision
- The ability to stream footage on mobile or desktop
The Cloud Cam may not be for you if you want:
- Local storage
- Artificial intelligence included
- Integration with anything other than Amazon.
In general, the Amazon Cloud Cam hits the basics very well. I’m looking forward to kicking back on the couch, turning on my Fire TV, and letting my Cloud Cam keep me safe. If there’s anything needs my attention, I know Alexa’s got my back.