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Home security cameras are easier to install and control than ever before. Where you once had to pay a dedicated surveillance company to hardwire and manage an assortment of first-party equipment that you then had to pay for on a monthly basis, many of today’s DIY security solutions require nothing more than plug-and-play operation. Just power the camera, download an app, and walk through a straightforward setup wizard.
On top of that, most modern security cameras are also smart gadgets, which means you can see who is at your front door (or snooping around for packages to steal) on your smartphone or tablet. Even if you’re out of town or busy at work, smart security cameras let you check in remotely with just a few clicks. Of course, it’s exactly this accessibility that makes some people nervous about privacy.
Unfortunately, when it comes to hacking, our home’s security cameras tend to be easy targets, which is ironic. While it’s difficult to determine exactly how “hack-proof” any camera might be, a successful hack will expose your private environment to any wannabe intruders. That’s why a privacy shutter is such an important consideration when choosing a security camera for your home.
Below, we’ll share the best security cameras with privacy shutters along with some tips for choosing the right camera for your home’s security.
What Is a Privacy Shutter?
A privacy shutter is a physical or digitized “obstruction” that, when enabled, is positioned over the lens of a security camera. Like webcam covers, privacy shutters are a low-tech solution to a high-tech problem. In many cases, this may be something as simple as a piece of plastic on a slidable track (such as you’ll find on the new Echo Show 15) or a stainless steel cover that snaps over the camera lens (the SimpliSafe SimpliCam).
With many of today’s security cameras being an easy target for malicious hackers, a privacy shutter help to keep our households secure by obscuring our environment from prying eyes. In the case of the GE CYNC (covered below), some privacy shutters will disable your camera’s two-way talk microphones, too.
Because privacy shutters are a newer innovation in the smart home market, there aren’t tons of options available to consumers yet. However, companies like Amazon and Logitech have begun to incorporate privacy features into some of their newest products, and we’re hopeful this feature will soon become standard. As new options become available, we’ll be sure to update our list of the best security cameras with privacy shutters.
1. SimpliSafe SimpliCam
SimpliSafe has risen through the ranks of DIY smart security solutions, offering a number of intuitive tools for users to monitor and record footage. Making its way to the top of our roundup is the company’s Simplisafe SimpliCam, an indoor security camera designed for to-shelf privacy. As titles would indicate, the SimpliCam includes a mechanized, stainless steel privacy shutter that slides directly over the lens. Once enabled, the shutter will only re-open when granted permission. This is further buttressed by a handful of stellar user data protections, including end-to-end 256-bit encryption — the type of encoding usually reserved for financial institutions.
From a performance standpoint, the SimpliCam records in full HD with its 120-degree lens. Night mode, free motion alerts, and 24/7 free live streaming are all included and work great, too. In some cases, SimpliSafe cameras require a monthly subscription to operate their equipment, but the SimpliCam can be used without a paid plan. While you’ll still get live views and relevant alerts, do keep in mind that if you want recording and 30-day cloud storage, you’re going to want to pay for a membership.
2. GE CYNC Indoor Security Camera
Once powered and connected the GE CYNC Indoor Security Camera records footage in full 1080p resolution. Wall-mountable or table-top, the GE CYNC will ping your mobile device with relevant motion and sound alerts, letting you know if something is awry on your property. In terms of its privacy shutter, when activated, the manual shutter completely blocks both the lens and microphone of the camera, making it impossible for any hackers to line into your personal life. On top of this, a built-in SD card slot allows you to store captured footage locally, but you can also store clips in the encrypted GE Cloud (a service that also features two-factor authentication).
The GE CYNC is also compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant and doesn’t require a hub for installation. Just plug it in, download the CYNC app, and pair your camera.
3. Arlo Essential Indoor Camera
BEST FOR VOICE ASSISTANTS
When security cameras play nicely with today’s leading voice assistants, users can easily access live video feeds across a number of smart home displays. Fortunately, this is where the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera shines most brightly. With onboard support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and Samsung SmartThings, all you’ll have to do is ask your compatible smart device to access your live 1080p camera feed. Of course, you can also pull live video through the Arlo app (for iOS and Android devices).
The privacy shutter on this camera is automated through the Arlo app, so even if you don’t plan on using most of the platform’s many add-ons, you’ll still need the app for the shutter. But with the free three months of Arlo Secure, you’ll also be treated to 30-day cloud recording, advanced object detection, motion notifications, with prices only increasing to $3/month per camera after the trial period.
4. Logitech C920S HD Pro Webcam
BEST WEBCAM WITH PRIVACY SHUTTER
Whether you’re recording a web stream or want to look polished and professional during a video call, the Logitech C920S HD Pro is one of our favorite webcams all-around. But before we get into some of the specs, let’s take a look at the privacy shutter. Unlike some of the other cams in this roundup, the C920S utilizes a snap-in-place manual shutter that is directly attached to the camera body. Whenever you’re finished using the cam, simply pull down and lock it over the lens to prevent any kind of intrusion. Plus, you’ll help to keep your lens free of dirt and debris.
The C920S is a leader when it comes to performance, too. The webcam streams and records footage in full 1080p, and includes HD auto-focus and light correction, making it ideal for rooms that have weak environmental lighting or poor lighting fixtures. We also love the Logitech Capture app for uploading, editing, and sharing your Logitech webcam footage. You can even use the app to set your webcam as an upload source to popular platforms like YouTube, Facebook Live, and Twitch.
5. Amazon Echo Show 10
BEST SMART DISPLAY
No, the Amazon Echo Show 10 isn’t exactly a fully-functioning security camera, so why is it on our list of the best security cameras with privacy shutters? A newer Alexa setting allows you to use the rotatable smart display as more of a traditional security monitor. It’s made possible through a setting called Home Monitoring built directly into the Echo Show itself. Once enabled, this allows you to view a live camera feed from your Echo Show 10 through the Alexa app that you’ll be able to pan left and right. While there’s no option to record anything, it’s pretty great that your interactive smart display can double as a surveillance device.
The Echo Show 10 wouldn’t have gotten into this roundup though if it didn’t have a privacy shutter. The smart display features a manual shutter that you slide in and out to obscure the lens. There’s also a microphone button to enable/disable the onboard far-field mics. On top of other thoughtful security features like Alexa Guard, the Echo Show 10 can be used to manage your daily schedule, search the web, stream music and movies, make video calls, and control the smart home devices in your home.
Also Consider: Ring Camera Privacy Kit
Privacy and security experts would love to see more protections built into Ring security products. Until that happens, Amazon has a workaround for shoppers concerned about their privacy. The $10 Ring Privacy Kit includes a cover you can place over your Ring cameras, although it won’t stop the microphone from recording audio.
What Other Features Should a Security Camera Have?
When shopping for the best security cameras, there are a number of factors to consider before making a purchase. When SPY is reviewing security cameras, we consider criteria such as:
- Customizable motion alerts and activity zones
- Cloud storage options and/or local storage capabilities
- Field of view
- Night vision capabilities
- Power options (wired or battery)
It’s also important to consider what kinds of security features (besides a privacy shutter) the camera utilizes. We’re talking about additional safety features such as two-factor authentication and the kinds of encryption your footage receives during an upload to the cloud.
Choosing a solid camera with a privacy shutter can be a frustrating task, but we’re here to help. Read on to see which five cameras with built-in shutters we like the most.