3 Inexpensive Camera Systems for Watching Your House During Travel

Now is the season for travel and if you're leaving a house behind (or leaving older relatives after the festivities) you may be thinking a bit about keeping the house safe and sound while you're gone. In-home camera systems have always been prohibitively expensive but newer wireless technologies and low-power camera systems now allow you to keep an eye on the hearth and home using a few simple cameras and a wireless network.

Here are some of my favorite choices for keeping an eye on things while you're away.


Logitech 750i Master System ($249) -- This easy-to-use in-home camera acts as a base station for other add-on cameras, allowing you to quickly expand the system as needed. You can check the video feeds from a cellphone or tablet and a powerful scheduling and recording system lets you keep tabs on things throughout the day. 

The 750i will record when it senses motion, thereby saving on disk space and notifying you when something is amiss at home. Logitech also makes outdoor cameras as well as a more powerful $500 system that includes three cameras and a base station.

Avaak VueZone Camera Kit ($149 and up) -- These teeny-tiny cameras make for a great, unobtrusive way to keep an eye on seldom-used rooms. The amazingly tiny cameras are only active when you connect to them and run on a single photo battery. They are completely wireless and last about six months of regular, non-intensive use.

They're great for keeping an eye on pets (or kids) during the day and you can enable motion-triggered recording if you're expecting company. You can view two cameras on the web for free or up to five cameras on your computer or mobile phone for $40 a year extra.

Dropcam Echo ($279) -- This camera is true to its name: you just drop it and start watching. The camera can record 320x240 pixel video as well as pick up live audio. It includes a motion sensor to let you know when someone is near and it will record video and send you a mobile message when something enters its field of vision.

This camera is great for watching doors and front windows so you can get an early warning when someone comes by when you're tinkering in the basement or out on the town. It's completely wireless -- you just plug it into the wall and start it up -- so there are no cables to run.


Images via (top to bottom): Avaak, Logitech, Avaak, DropCam

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