The nanny camera market can be very confusing. Firstly the term nanny cam seems to imply children.
However, their application bridges a whole range of uses.
Apart from the obvious use of minding children, the second most common use is to watch elderly relatives.
In addition to the confusing naming, there are a myriad of technologies that are used in nanny cams.
Some you might find useful, others might be surplus to your requirements.
This guide will take you through all the various terms and technologies used in Nanny Cams and more importantly if you need these features in your new nanny cam.
Different styles of Nanny Cameras
Size and form of Nanny Cams
Before buying your nanny cam it’s very important to think about two things:
1/ Where is the camera going to be located?
A simple error that catches out lots of people.
They want to place the nanny cam near the cot. However, when they buy the camera they realise it won’t clip on.
Another example is power. Do you have a power socket near the cot? If not it is best to buy a battery powered cam.
Otherwise, you will have to run additional cables across the floor that could be a tripping hazard.
If the nanny cam is going to be placed in a nursing home as discussed here Nanny Cam in a Nursing Home then you might want to consider a hidden nanny cam.
2/ What do you intend to do with it later?
In the instance of a baby, the cam will only be needed for a couple of years.
By the age of two or three, when your child wakes up, he will stroll straight into your room (believe me!!!).
So you stop using the camera.
However, this doesn’t have to mean the end of its use. Nanny cams can be re-purposed as security cameras.
Have a think, where would you want to put it? Again, what type of cameras would fit there?
A good example of a Nanny Cam that could get re-used as a Security Camera
Two Way audio
One year ago, this was a function only available on high-end nanny cams. However, as times passes this is becoming more and more prevalent.
Essentially as the name suggests this allows the viewer to speak into the phone and the nanny cam will play the audio.
This can be very useful for a mother trying to calm a baby or an elderly relative who is confused or distressed.
Probably the best application for this is with pets.
I have a friend who recently bought one and he was describing how invaluable it was with his pet.
He has a rather mischievous border collie who starts to create mayhem the moment he leaves the house.
However, a short sharp word spoken into the smartphone shocks the dog into thinking the owner is back and he stops whatever he was doing.
Keep an eye on Mischievous Pets
If you are buying a nanny cam for the purpose of watching a small child then most of the footage will be at night.
Almost all the nanny cams state they have night vision but this can vary massively depending on the technologies used.
More information is in this article Do Dash Cams always record?
But essentially the key technology to look for is WDR (Wide Dynamic Range). This is another term for HDR ( High Dynamic Range) and can greatly increase the clarity of night vision.
Night Vision on the Nanny Cam
Wireless Vs SD Card
I would strongly recommend that you buy a Nanny cam with BOTH Wireless and SD Card capability.
This will make the camera more versatile and open up options for re-use later in its life.
Also, you minimise the risk of losing key footage.
More information is available on Wireless cams and SD Cards in this post How do WIFI Spy Cameras Work
2.4GHz WIFI & 5GHz WIFI?
When inspecting the specs of the nanny cam you will often see information related to the WIFI frequency.
The numbers relate to the GHz band. Essentially, 2.4GHz is better for larger distances and 5GHz is quicker but not so effective over longer distances.
However, this is not their main use.
2.4GHz has been around for a long time and most devices use this frequency. Therefore this frequency has a lot of traffic all competing for resources on your WIFI router. 5GHz is a new and a relatively uncrowded frequency.
Therefore, check if your router is 5GHz compatible. If it is, try and get a nanny cam with this capability.
It will mean that you will get less choppy footage.
Check your WIFI Router
Types of SD Cards
SD cards come in a host of different sizes. MicroSD is now pretty much a standard now.
However, beware as this is a hidden cost.
Sometimes the SD Card can be more expensive than the Nanny Cam.
Maybe you intend to use that old SD card sitting in a digital camera gathering dust.
If so, make sure that your new nanny camera is compatible with older SD Cards.
What is the guarantee?
This might seem rather inconsequential but this can have a big impact.
Let take a look at the support offered by FREDI
- Full 1-Year FREDI Manufacturer Warranty
- Lifetime Support Provided Directly from FREDI
- Professional Service Support 24/7 online to assist with any needs
If you have had a major technical problem you will know how frustrating it can be.
Google can help but sometimes you just hit a dead end.
This is is the point where technical support can be invaluable.
I recently had an issue with my foscam nanny cam. The manual didn’t mention the problem and after googling the issue, it seems nobody else had either.
However, I emailed the company and they were able to resolve the issue.
With this help, the cam would have been useless (it was unable to see the WIFI).
This is a very divisive subject. Some people love to have all the control via the smartphone.
Other people either don’t have a smartphone or are worried that information on the phone can be hacked.
It is certainly becoming more common to see the smartphone app acting as the controlling hub of your nanny cam.
This leads me on nicely to the next consideration
If you are smartphone user then you will know that not all apps are the same.
Some are highly polished with an easy to use interface and lots of easily configurable options.
Some are just the opposite.
Luckily, you can download the app before you purchase the nanny cam.
Simply go on the app store and download the app relating to the device you are thinking about buying.
Some of the finer configuration options might not be visible as they will require the connected nanny camera but you will be able to get a appreciation of the interface and the general feel.
A good example is the NEST app which is used for all of the NEST devices.
I downloaded this recently and was very impressed, which lead me to recommend a device to a friend who I knew wasn’t strong with technology.
Obviously, make sure that the app is developed for your brand (and model) of the smartphone.
For iPhone users, this is simply checking the iTunes store.
For Android users make sure that the app is compatible with your version of Android.
Some of the older Android phones are not able to load the newer apps.
The google play store will show you if this is compatible.
How do I check if my Android phone is compatible?
For this example, I am going to use the Nest app.
Step 1 – Go to the Google play store on your computer. You must sign in when prompted
Step 2 – Look for the desired app (in this case Nest).
Step 3 – When the app is selected, look near the icon for information about the compatibility.
Look near the icon for information about the compatibility
Step 4 – Click on the information icon. This will display a list of your devices and which ones are compatible.
A list of your devices and which ones are compatible
As you will see from the picture above, the nest app is not compatible with my old Samsung S3 (GT-i9300).
This doesn’t matter as I never use that phone any more. However, for some people, they might be intending to use the older tablet or phone so this could be crucial information.
Can I plug this into a PC/MAC?
Even the most avid smartphone user likes to back up their data to a physical computer.
I would recommend it rather than relying on the smartphone – even those with google drive and/or Dropbox support.
But does the nanny cam allow for this? Not all nanny cams have the required ports.
The required ports can depend on the computer.
Lots of different types of USB Cables
For a PC, then USB is king but even USB can come in a whole host of shapes and sizes.
MAC’s can be even more complicated with the standard USB ports and lightning and Thunderbolt ports to also consider.
So first check out your home computer.
Do a quick audit on all the available ports. Double check the capability of the desired nanny cam and make sure it has the same port technology.
Hopefully, this article has helped decrypt some of the information that is seen on nanny cam adverts.
Once you understand the capabilities and functions, you will be better equipped to make an informed decision and get the right nanny camera for you.
Thinking upfront about all these options can greatly increase what you can get out of your nanny cam.