Pros / Foscam has the best overall video quality of any system in our review.
Cons / The system doesn't have an option to record audio.
Verdict / Foscam's outstanding video quality helps make it the best home surveillance system.
Foscam is one of the best home surveillance systems for a variety of reasons. It had the best daytime video performance in our tests, and its nighttime video quality benefits from powerful infrared LED lighting. Video quality is certainly the primary reason it wins our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for home surveillance systems. While the system isn't the easiest to install, it doesn't require any special skills to do so. Foscam systems come with a strong warranty and good customer support options.
- Video Quality - Day
- Video Quality - Night
- Ease of Use
With its 720p resolution, no other home surveillance system matches Foscam in overall video performance. The system earned the highest score in our daytime video testing. Foscam showed our test chart in excellent detail at distances of 10 and 30 feet from the camera. Only three other systems in our review matched this quality. At 20 feet from the chart, though, this system didn't perform quite as well as other top home surveillance systems.
Foscam has excellent contrast at every distance from the camera. The image was never too bright or dim, which would result in lower detail. Like every home surveillance system in our review, Foscam presented movement during the daytime without any lag or distortion.
At night, our test revealed that Foscam was the only system without a noticeable graininess, commonly called noise. The absence of noise contributes to the high marks Foscam earned throughout our night testing. This system has the clearest nighttime video in our comparison at 30 feet. At 20 feet, the camera performed well, similar to other top systems in our review.
The system's infrared LEDs are very powerful. Within 10 feet of the camera, the brightness of the LEDs had a negative effect on the nighttime quality score. These lights tend to wash out objects close to the cameras, so Foscam scored a little lower in that regard. Regarding nighttime motion, we had a difficult time discerning moving objects at most distances; most other systems passed motion testing at night.
As for recognizing a human face at night, the camera did well at a distance. If the subject didn't move too quickly, we could make out key features such as eyes, eyebrows, facial hair and clothing to make a positive identification. Again, if the person was within 10 feet of the camera, the face was too bright to show details. This system supports the three recording modes we looked for in our tests: motion detection, continuous and scheduled recording.
Setup & Operation
During setup, you plug in the network video recorder, or NVR, and connect it to your router with a short Ethernet cable and then connect the cameras. This wired system is the only one in our review that uses Ethernet cables to power and get video from its cameras. It comes with four home surveillance cameras, though it can connect to eight if you expand your system later.
Once the system has an internet connection, you can use the Foscam NVR mobile app to scan a QR code on the NVR so you can control the system remotely and view recordings. We found that when home surveillance systems use QR codes, it's much easier to set them up, since you usually don't need to change settings on your router. Although the mobile app is very good, it doesn't offer the same level of customization you get if you connect the NVR to a computer monitor.
You need an intermediate level of experience with wireless routers and running cables to install this Foscam home surveillance system. This system isn't quite as easy to set up as one with Wi-Fi, which is one of the reasons it scores lower in this category. The other reason and the chief disadvantage of the Foscam home video surveillance system is that it's the only system in our review without the capability to record audio.
This system only requires one power adapter for cameras and the NVR. In fact, many of the other wired systems in our review require a bulky power adapter for both the NVR and the cameras, which can take up space on a power strip.
In the system we tested, the NVR had a 1TB hard drive, though you can manually upgrade it later if you need more capacity. You can also purchase variants on this system with more cameras and more video storage. The cameras are waterproof and dustproof, so you can install them outside if necessary.
Warranty & Support
Foscam offers a two-year warranty on the systems it sells, which is better than the standard one-year warranty on home surveillance systems. It's not quite as long as the three-year warranty found on at least one of the products we tested, but still very good. If you need help with your Foscam system, you can contact the company over email, phone or live chat.
Foscam home surveillance systems are the best of any we tested. Only one other system matched Foscam's daytime video quality, and Foscam came in a close second in our nighttime testing. That said, there are a few areas where Foscam failed to outperform the competition, specifically when capturing movement at night and with its lack of audio. The system is nevertheless an excellent choice for most homes.