Best HD Security Cameras: 1080p vs. 4K

Best Overall HD Camera
Arlo Ultra
 
$399.99
Pro Bullet Wireless design
Pro Bullet Autozoom and tracking
Best Outdoor HD Cam
Amcrest UltraHD
 
$119.98
Pro Bullet 4K video playback
Pro Bullet Local storage option
Best CCTV HD Camera
Avalonix 4K
 
$399.99
Pro Bullet Long-range night vision
Pro Bullet Indoor/outdoor capability

4K resolution’s not just for televisions anymore. Home security cameras are beginning to move away from the old high-definition standard (1080p) and rolling out ultra crisp, ultra clear, ultra HD security cameras with 4K resolution.

If you’re not familiar with 4K resolution, all you really need to know is it gives you super high-quality footage. If anyone comes near your property, you’ll be able to see their face clearly and even zoom in on their car’s license plate as they drive down the street.

4K cameras cost more than traditional HD cameras, but they’re also a serious upgrade. If you’re looking to up your security game, here are the 4K cameras we like the best.

Top 3 best HD security cameras


Compare the best HD security cameras

*Standard retail prices as of 7/2/2019. Prices and availability are subject to change and can vary by retailer.

 

1. Arlo Ultra review: Best overall HD security camera

Best overall HD security camera
Arlo Ultra

    Tech specs

    Dimensions
    4.9 x 2.9 in.
    FOV
    180°
    Power source
    Battery
    Night vision
    25 ft.
    Compatibility
    Amazon Alexa, Google Home Hub, Apple Watch

    Arlo Ultra pros and cons

    Pros
    • Pro BulletAutomatic zoom and intelligent tracking
    • Pro BulletWeatherproof construction
    • Pro BulletColor night vision
    • Pro BulletTwo-way audio with noise cancellation
    • Pro BulletAbility to recognize people, packages, vehicles, and animals
    Cons
    • Con BulletHigh price
    • Con BulletHub required
    • Con BulletArlo Smart subscription required for advanced features

    Why Arlo Ultra made the list

    Arlo Ultra comes packed with features we haven’t seen in a single camera before. It has an impressive 180º panoramic field of view, so you have a full view of everything happening around your house, yard, or wherever else you want to put the Ultra.

    But that’s the least of what the Arlo Ultra has to offer. This camera also comes with unique touches like color night vision, wind and noise cancellation, and a built-in spotlight—all upgrades over Arlo’s previous frontrunner, the Arlo Pro 2.

    Arlo Ultra vs. Arlo Pro 2 features

    Arlo Ultra features

    The Arlo Ultra doesn’t just look good—it’s also smart. This camera can recognize people, packages, vehicles, and animals, and it sends smart security alerts to your phone to tell you what it sees.

    You can skip out on false alarms from waving tree branches and set the cam to tell you when it sees people or when your Amazon package arrives.

    When the Arlo Ultra does spot someone, its autozoom and tracking feature automatically zooms in on the person and follows their movements as they walk. So your video recording will always catch the best shots.

    FYI
    Our Choice
    To get access to all the Arlo Ultra’s best features, you have to sign on to an Arlo Smart plan. But don’t worry, they’re not too expensive; Arlo Smart plans start at $2.99 per month.

    Arlo Ultra flaws

    All that upgraded technology is great, but it’ll cost you: at $399.99, Arlo Ultra is one of the most expensive 4K HD security cameras we looked at. Included in that cost is Arlo’s SmartHub—the camera won’t work without it.

    The Arlo Ultra is still new to the world of 4K security cameras, so there have been some growing pains: when the camera first came out, customers complained about connectivity and software issues. Arlo had to pull the camera from store shelves to fix the bugs.

    Once Arlo sorts out those issues for good, we think the Ultra has the potential to be the most versatile 4K security camera out there.

    ASecureLife’s recommendation: Arlo Ultra is a great HD security camera if you’re looking for a no-fuss installation process, unique features, and ultra high-definition video.

    >>Ready to kick your security up a notch? Buy the Arlo Ultra on Amazon.


     2. Amcrest UltraHD Bullet Camera: Best outdoor HD security camera

    Best outdoor HD security camera
    Amcrest UltraHD Bullet Camera:

      Tech specs

      Dimensions
      8.1 x 4.1 in.
      FOV
      112°
      Power source
      POE
      Night vision
      131 ft.
      Compatibility
      Amazon Alexa

      Amcrest UltraHD pros and cons

      Pros
      • Pro BulletExcellent night vision
      • Pro BulletWeatherproof construction
      • Pro BulletUltra HD playback
      • Pro BulletLocal video storage and cloud storage
      • Pro BulletLower price than other 4K cameras
      Cons
      • Con BulletNo audio
      • Con BulletPower over Ethernet required
      • Con BulletNo 4K playback over cloud

      Why Amcrest UltraHD Bullet Camera made the list

      The Amcrest UltraHD Bullet Camera has crisp 4K video and playback, which is doubly impressive considering it’s one of the cheaper security cameras available. For the price, you get a high-quality, weatherproof outdoor camera with local video and cloud storage. (We love having options.)

      Amcrest UltraHD Bullet Camera features

      We like this camera’s long-range infrared night vision, so you can still see what’s happening all the way at the edge of your yard in the middle of the night.

      We also appreciate that Amcrest gives you the option to save video locally to a microSD card and to upload footage to Amcrest’s cloud. Even high-end cameras sometimes let you store footage only to the cloud—and you often have to pay a subscription fee for it.

      Amcrest UltraHD Bullet Camera flaws

      Despite its 4K resolution, Amcrest’s cloud service doesn’t support 4K playback. If you watch the footage you store in the cloud, it won’t look like the crisp, clear resolution we expect from 4K.

      The Amcrest UltraHD Bullet Camera also doesn’t support audio, which is a huge drawback in our book. You won’t be able to hear or talk to people on your property, whether that’s a stranger or the UPS delivery person.

      One last thing: this camera uses Power over Ethernet (PoE) as a power source, which can be tricky to install without the help of a professional. On the bright side, PoE can be much more reliable than Wi-Fi—especially in areas with spotty coverage.

      ASecureLife’s recommendation: The Amcrest UltraHD Bullet Camera is a solid security camera that works well without a ton of extra features. If you’re looking for a straightforward 4K HD security camera, this is a high-value pick.

      >>Buy the Amcrest Ultra HD Bullet Camera on Amazon.


       3. Avalonix 4K IP Dome Camera: Best HD CCTV security camera

      Best HD CCTV security camera
      Avalonix 4K IP Dome Camera

        Tech specs

        Dimensions
        4.3 x 3.2 in.
        FOV
        88°
        Not in the text editor above
        PoE or power adapter
        Night vision
        100 ft.
        Compatibility
        N/A

        Avalonix 4K pros and cons

        Pros
        • Pro BulletLong-range night vision
        • Pro BulletIndoor and outdoor capability
        • Pro BulletWeatherproof construction
        Cons
        • Con BulletCompatible 4K NVR recorder required (not included)
        • Con BulletNo cloud storage

        Why Avalonix 4K IP Dome Camera made the list

        This dome camera is small but mighty. The Avalonix 4K IP Dome Camera comes packed with useful features like face detection, night vision (up to 100 feet), and a local storage option that supports up to 128GB of storage. (That’s a lot of video.)

        Avalonix 4K IP Dome Camera features

        The best thing about a dome camera like the Avalonix 4K IP is that you can mount it on either a ceiling or a wall and adjust it to point at the area you need to watch.

        ASL recommends
        Our Choice
        Other kinds of cameras are especially hard to mount on ceilings, so if you want to cover a hallway or put a camera under an eave of your house, a dome camera is the way to go.

        The Avalonix 4K IP Dome Camera can be used either indoors or outdoors. Its weatherproof shell keeps it safe from the elements.

        Avalonix 4K IP Dome Camera flaws

        This little camera doesn’t come cheap. Recording video with the Avalonix 4K IP Dome Camera requires a compatible 4K NVR (Network Video Recorder). Those cost at least $249.99. And the only compatible power sources are Power over Ethernet (PoE) and a power adapter.

        All that is a huge investment in your hardware, so we don’t recommend the Avalonix for small houses or apartments. It’s more for keeping an eye on large properties or whole apartment buildings.

        ASecureLife’s recommendation: The Avalonix 4K IP Dome Camera is a heavy-duty security system that requires multiple purchases. We recommend this for bigger jobs, like large homes and apartment buildings.

        >>Does a dome camera sound right for you? Buy the Avalonix 4K IP Dome Camera.


        FAQs

        1080p vs. 4K: What’s the difference?

        Most security cameras advertise HD resolution, which means either 720p or 1080p. Sometimes companies list their cameras as “standard HD” (720p) or “full HD” (1080p).

        Your resolution quality comes down to pixels. 1080p, or full HD, measures out to 1920x1080 pixels in a screen. But 4K (also called ultra HD,) measures out to 3840x2160 pixels. That’s four times as many pixels as you’d get from 1080pm which also means you get four times the image quality.

        Why do you get better images with 4K?

        Because 4K cameras have so many more pixels than other resolutions, they let you zoom in super close on your video footage and still see everything in clear detail. You can see small things like writing or facial details more easily than you could with 1080p (or 720p).

        Important note
        Our Choice
        To view 4K footage from your cameras, you’ll need a 4K-compatible screen. That might mean upgrading your phone or TV—whichever you like to view your camera feed on.

        How does 4K resolution affect internet bandwidth?

        4K cameras use way more bandwidth than lower-resolution cameras. They also take up more space in your cloud storage drive or on a microSD card, which means you have less space to store footage than if you opted for lower-resolution video.

        Before you buy and install 4K cameras on your property, make sure your internet speed is up to the task and be prepared to invest in a faster internet plan if you need to.

        Is 4K resolution really worth it?

        We’d say yes, if you want super clear images from your security cameras where you can see every detail on people’s faces and on their vehicles, as well as small details around your property.

        But if the clearest picture isn’t your highest priority and you’d rather not spend that much, a security camera with 1080p is good enough to satisfy most people. We’ve rounded up the best doorbell cameras, the best outdoor cameras, and the best security cameras that will help keep your home secure with 1080p resolution.


        How we chose

        Because the technology of 4K is so new, most security cameras max out at 1080p. Once we found a good selection of ultra HD security cameras, we focused on functionality: night vision capabilities, field of vision, and any special features worth noting. We also looked at reviews of both the products and their respective brands.


        Other brands we considered

        Q-See

        Q-See

          Q-See’s 4k Wi-Fi Cube Camera has 16x digital zoom for enhanced image clarity, passive infrared (PIR) heat-sensing motion detection that reduces false motion alerts, and night vision up to 30 feet away. But there are too many user complaints of Q-See’s weak software and poor customer support for us to recommend it.


          Our recommendation

          For most people, a 1080p surveillance camera will do the job. But if you want the best quality out there, a 4K security camera might be worth it to you.

          We recommend the Arlo Ultra for its excellent features and user-friendly experience. We like its thoughtful approach to improving security camera basics, like adding noise reduction to two-way audio and including autozoom and autotracking, and color night vision.

          If you can wait out some of the Arlo Ultra’s growing pains, it’s an awesome ultra HD security camera.

          >>Get the ultra HD experience. Buy the Arlo Ultra from Amazon here.

          Contributing author: Mindy Woodall