This top ten list of systems is based on the idea that system size matters to most consumers. A large multi-camera system does not compare to a small standalone camera. They have completely different callings. One system can babysit a sleeping child while the other can safeguard a multi-acre estate. The comparisons make little sense. This list breaks down small, medium and large systems to give the consumer useful references.

Four Small Systems

• Arlo Smart Home Security Camera System by Netgear is a battery powered no wire system of two HD cameras. Usable indoors or outside, this small system has the convenience of nearly instant installation with no skills required. The motion activation saves battery life and night vision gives crisp images in low light. It detects heat and motion and sends clips via email. One can add additional cameras to grow the system and expand coverage. Users can access images by a free app on smartphone or tablet.
• Defender PX301 is an excellent small system designed for particular area surveillance. The console, storage unit is also a screen. It has automatic DVR and camera connectivity, and there is no need to follow a manual script to get started. Storage is good for a small unit with a two GB SD card. It comes with a seven-inch LCD monitor that can also function as a camera intercom.
• Dropcam Pro WIFI is the model for those on a budget and who really do not know anything about installing computer gear. This install requires an active WIFI set-up like a wireless cable router. The consumer simply removes the cam from the package and connect by WIFI to an IOS mobile device or a PC. You must give your camera a name and set up an account. The views are excellent. This is an ideal camera for security in a particular area. People can use it to be sure their pet is ok, or that their children got in with the latch-key. It is simple but when used well, it can provide the essence of security; knowing what is going on at home while you are away.
• Foscam FI8918W is a great pan and tilt camera that will be useful and a good place to start working with a camera. It needs a power source to plug in. The camera connects to the system wirelessly with a built in WIFI or by wire with an Ethernet cable, user’s choice. It has night vision, and users can move it up and down and side to side for better angles and views. It is a network camera and works with a Smartphone, but the camera has a motion setting, and it will capture motion and send an email of the image.

Three Medium Systems

• Swann DVR4-2550 is a top rated starter kit with four weatherproof cameras that can grow to six or eight depending on needs and budget. The ease of installation stands out on this model; the manufacturer has made it as simple as plug and play. The wired cameras are the most difficult part of the installation; one has to attach the wires to the cameras and mount them indoors or outside.
• Defender 21030 Sentinel 8-Channel Smart Security DVR is a system that features compression recordings. With a 500 GB hard drive, one can store more than one year of footage. The cameras are outdoor only cameras and wired with tamper resistant wire. Because they can provide compressed storage, it is excellent for 24-hour surveillance. This is an advantage for the homeowner who wishes to leave the system running at all times. It offers live views by PC or mobile device. Many homeowners make business use of the residence. This system would be an excellent selection for a home with a business attached or within it.
• Lorex LH014501C4F Vantage offers real-time remote viewing with four cameras. Download an app and a Smartphone or tablet provides a view of the home spaces. The options include an email snapshot of motion detected. The networking requires some savvy or an installer. The 500 GB hard drive can expand to two TB. It uses compression technology, and one can store years of data on the large capacity drives.

Three Large Systems

• Amcrest 650 TVL 8CH Video Security System with eight weatherproof cameras has a one TB hard drive that holds up to six days of footage. Eight wired bullet cameras weather resistant metal shells. Night vision and infra-red equipped. Hard drive expands to 4 TB and up to 30 days record time at low resolution. Remote access with Android device.
• GW Security VD8CH6C820 8 Channel DVR Color Night Vision Security Camera System. It provides vivid color in day or night conditions. It has a large capacity hard drive. Access screens by free apps for Windows, iPhone, iPad and Android, compatible with Mac and PC.
• Q-See QT5682 960H is an excellent system that answers all of the basic needs for a large system. One TB hard drive for plenty of storage, and it is expandable. Eight weather proof cameras designed to handle weather extremes. Just add a monitor and this system will provide years of service. Installation is a bit technical but not much more than installing a router. It is compatible with nearly every major platform including Windows phone, PC, laptop, MAC, iPhone, Android devices, and Apple iPad. The system is scalable in four-plus cameras; here it is in an eight camera format.