There are many situations that call for acquisition of hidden cameras. Maybe you want to monitor your home or office, what what your kids do when they are alone, or maybe you are suspecting that your spouse is doing something you should be aware of, or maybe you want just increase overall security by installing surveillance cameras. However, choosing the right type of camera raises sometimes questions such as how to choose the correct hidden camera? An especially what is the difference between so called IP-cameras and stand alone recording security and spy cameras?
Let´s take a look. There are available basically two different types if surveillance cameras: IP-cameras and stand-alone recording models. IP-cameras offer live streaming of the video / images over the internet, these models are usually wireless and require working Wi-Fi connection. Stand alone models work without internet, and they usually store videos and images to internal memory or SD-card.
IP-cameras are the best solution if you need continuous real time video, or if you need to remote access to video feed. This kind of cameras are usually used as security cameras, and are fully visible i.e. these are not hidden. Live streaming allows also making decisions in real-time, and there is usually also the possibility to use two-way communication or at least listen audio.
However, a major factor is the strength and reliability of the available Wi-Fi signal. If there are doubts regarding the quality or consistency of the Wi-Fi signal, a safe bet would be to go with stand alone recording model rather than having to contend with poor quality images or skipped frames.
On the other hand, stand alone recording models comes with own advantages. These cameras are usually very small sized, which makes them easy to hide and use as spy cameras. These does not need Wi-Fi or wiress. Recorded material is easy to retrieve from memory or SD-card just using your PC, and you can schedule convenient viewing times. The recording also provides evidence of what happened. This may be useful for legal uses or just for recording memories.
Another important factor is the purpose for which the camera is needed. Some purposes, such as use as a security camera, or baby monitor require use of streaming technology due to the requirement for immediate action when critical situations arise. Other purposes, such as observation of natural features, or wildlife may not strictly demand the use of streaming. Of course there are also situations when just just can´t use Wi-Fi or any wires. So, choose the model based on your purpose.
Cost is another determining factor. One would need to look at the available budget, both for initial purchase and for covering running costs. It is important to note that for streaming, maintaining the Wi-Fi connection will be a recurrent cost while for recording, the SD card is likely to be a one-time purchase. The size of the data collected will also affect the cost. Streamed images may be recorded to cloud storage, but for recorded images, one would need to factor in the size of the SD card required in the initial cost of the system.
Additionally, security factors come into play. Use of a Wi-Fi signal opens up the user to unauthorized access by hackers, which makes it important to install also anti-spyware. The risk of unauthorized access may also limit potential applications of the system. Conversely, recording to an SD card carries the risk of physical theft of captured images, requiring the location of the system to be secured against unauthorized removal of items. But, if your camera is hidden, that should not be a real risk.
Overall, there is no obvious winner when it comes to the streaming versus recording debate. One has to do a case by case analysis to determine which one to go with.