If you’re on a tight budget, we think you’re going to like Zmodo. We recently put these affordable security cameras through our gauntlet — testing everything from features and tech, to customer service, and of course, how well they secured our home. And we’re going to share everything you need to know about these budget-friendly (and kind of brilliant) cameras.
Of course, Zmodo also has some room for improvement — don’t worry, we’ll share that, too. But overall we can say these cameras come with plenty of features, and they get the job done without breaking the ol’ piggy bank (their outdoor cams start at $39.99!). So let’s have a look at Zmodo to find out if it’s a fit for you and your home.
We won’t get too deep into Zmodo’s history, but the company was launched back in 2009 in Shenzhen, China. If gizmos and gadgets are your thing, you might know that Shenzhen is home to the biggest electronics market in the world (by far).1 So we think it’s a natural birthplace for a company like Zmodo. To date, Zmodo has sold over 8 million devices and counting. And they have facilities in China, Illinois, and a new “innovation lab” in California.2
In our research, we learned that Zmodo builds all of its own security equipment, which is actually less common than you would think. Zmodo has also begun to galvanize its presence in the smart home market. So if you’re roaming the tech landscape of CES, you won’t miss Zmodo with their massive booth space and latest products on display. Yes, it’s that kind of brand.
Did You Know: Zmodo has tallied some awards over the years. They were most recently named a CES Innovation Awards Honoree for their Snap Pro camera.3
Zmodo camera prices are the closest thing to “rock bottom” that we’ve seen. That’s why they rank so high on our list. Note that Zmodo doesn’t offer the same product variety as Ring does, or high-tech features like Nest Cams offer, but Zmodo starts at just $29. And in our experience, $29 goes a long way; we found that these cams are capable of securing almost any home from intruders and package thieves.
Zmodo products range up to around $199. Note that they have a handful of indoor cameras to choose from, but they only offer two outdoor cameras (which was disappointing). Here’s what you can expect as far as Zmodo equipment costs go.
|Zmodo Cameras||Camera Type||Key Features||Price|
|Sight 180||Indoor||1080p HD resolution, two-way talk, magnetic swivel base||$79.99|
|Sight 180C||Indoor||180-degree viewing angle, two-way talk, night vision||$55.99|
|Snap PT||Indoor||1080p HD, 360-degree pan & tilt, wireless charging pad||$199.99|
|Pivot||Indoor||Two-way talk, built-in bluetooth speaker, smart device hub||$59.99|
|Pivot Cloud||Indoor||1080p HD, 350-degree rotation, smart home hub||$83.99|
|1080p Indoor/Outdoor||Indoor & Outdoor||Motion zones and alerts, 65 ft. night vision, DIY installation||$39.99|
|Torch 360||Outdoor||1080p HD, light controls, 360-degree field of view||$90.99|
|24-Channel System||Outdoor||N-Channel Security System||$999.99+|
|Greet Lite||Video Doorbell||720p HD resolution, motion-triggered recording||$59.99|
We were able to purchase their outdoor cameras in 2-packs and 4-packs, but we actually didn’t save any money the more devices we bought (we thought that was strange). Also, you may find that certain Zmodo products aren’t sold directly from their website. We’re not exactly sure why — although we assume the products are either out-of-stock or discontinued. But you might find these cams at major retailers or floating around the eCommerce world.
These products include:
One thing we like about Zmodo is that they stand behind their products with a 30-day money back guarantee. This used to be a 60-day guarantee, but we’ll take what we can get. They also used to lead in warranty length with a 3-year warranty. But their warranty has since been reduced to one year. You are entitled to “lifetime support” from the company, but the terms are pretty vague.
Thankfully, you don’t need to worry about installation fees, activation fees, or any other hidden fees. What you see is what you get with Zmodo. And that’s definitely something we can get behind.
Another cost to consider is Zmodo’s cloud video storage plans. The subscriptions cost either $4.99 or $9.99 per month, depending on how much lookback history you want. If you can make do with only having 12-hour video history, we recommend forgoing a subscription plan to save some money.
Remember, you don’t need to purchase a Zmodo Cloud plan if you’re only looking for basic camera functionality. But if you want intelligent, continuous recording, custom motion detection zones, time-lapse clips, and their nifty video editor, then you’ll have to spring for a subscription. Here’s a rundown of Zmodo’s cloud plan options.
|Zmodo Cloud Plan||Basic||7-Day Plan||30-Day Plan|
|Video History Lookback||12-hours||7-day continuous cloud recording||30-days continuous cloud recording|
|Alert Clip Storage||No||7-days||30-days|
|Custom Motion Zones||No||Yes||Yes|
|Video Editor & Time Lapse Clips||No||Yes||Yes|
Keep in mind that the prices above are per camera, and each additional camera you add is offered at 50% off, which is nice. Overall, Zmodo’s cloud plans are priced in that sweet spot for the industry average, and they include helpful features, too.
We don’t mind rolling up our sleeves when we have to. But with Zmodo we didn’t have to. We found the cameras to be as easy to install as other top contenders, like Arlo and Blink. The truth is, any security camera brand worth its salt is making products that offer easy DIY installation. People don’t want to fuss with drilling, wiring, and all that nonsense.
With Zmodo, all we had to do was plug in our devices (don’t worry, they are wireless, this was just to power it up). Then we downloaded the MeShare app and created an account. Next, we hit “+” to add a new camera and waited for it to connect to our WiFi network. Then we had the ability to customize our kit by adding camera names and adding even more cameras to the system. And that’s it! We were finished in about 2 minutes.
Of course, we still had to mount the cameras around our home. But the devices go up with a couple of screws, so there’s really nothing to it. The indoor cameras are even easier to get up-and-running, as they mostly sit on a flat surface (no drilling required).
Remember: The Zmodo Greet Doorbell camera is hardwired, so installation is a little more involved, but it’s still relatively easy to install on your own with only a screwdriver.
We ran Zmodo security cameras through our simulated break-in and package theft tests. The cameras were plenty responsive, and we were all-around impressed with the resolution and recording options. Keep in mind that we did sign up with a cloud plan, but otherwise, we had Zmodo’s basic indoor and outdoor security cameras in place, and one advanced model, the Snap PT.
We found the camera system to be fairly simple, with a handful of features that we really liked. For instance, we were able to control our Zmodo Snap PT with the smartphone app, scanning our great room while away from home. This camera in particular gave us an incredible field of view, with 360-degree rotation that is rare to find in any camera under $200.
The instant alerts were also helpful, and Zmodo cams include two-way talk, allowing us to communicate with anyone within earshot. A couple of other things we liked were the night vision feature (it really does work up to 90 ft.) and the custom motion zones.4
FYI: Setting the Zmodo custom motion zones can be a little tricky, and bear in mind that you’ll need a paid subscription plan to access this feature.
We think Zmodo cameras are simple to use, but almost too simple. You don’t really get the advanced functionality as you do with Nest Cam IQ devices, for instance. But then again, Nest Cams are quite a bit more expensive than Zmodo’s budget-friendly products. We do wish, however, that Zmodo offered a little more pizazz in the features department, even if we had to pay a little more to access it. At any rate, here are the Zmodo features we liked most.
The user-friendly app makes it easy to live-stream video from virtually anywhere, review alerts, playback videos, customize your devices, and manage the cameras in your Zmodo kit.
You can tap into voice control using Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. This is a great feature, but note that most of our favorite systems now offer it.
Get crystal clear video quality with Zmodo’s high-resolution cameras. While 1080p HD is nice, we’d like to see Zmodo come out with a 4K camera.
With Zmodo’s infrared night vision feature, you can see up to 98 feet in the dark and still pick up high-level details (like license plate numbers).
Especially impressive in the Snap PT cameras, you’ll have free reign to pan and tilt the device 360-degrees for nearly unlimited field of vision.
Review your last 12 hours of video history with Zmodo’s free basic cloud storage. Paid subscription plans are available for longer video history and other features like time-lapse videos and video sharing.
You can customize detection zones so that you only get alerted to specific activity. This helps to reduce false alarms and gives you greater control over your camera system.
We had access to Zmodo’s self-help portal, which was helpful, but nothing to write home about. If you’re looking for basic installation tutorials, troubleshooting guides, and the like, then you’ll want to start here at this online portal. Otherwise, you can call in for phone support.
Keep In Mind: Zmodo sells various smart home products, so you might not get someone who’s particularly helpful with cameras. We found it to be hit or miss.
As mentioned, Zmodo’s customer support center is located in Illinois, so we were able to get a helpful English speaker on the line without a problem. The rep we spoke with was courteous and knowledgeable, but we’ve heard it can be a mixed bag. Note that we also had the option of getting in touch via live chat or email.
Who doesn’t love a little customization here and there? With Zmodo, you’ll have a few add-ons and upgrades to choose from. These options aren’t as extensive as, say, Ring’s lineup of accessories, but the menu seems to be growing by the year. One nice thing about Zmodo that you just can’t get with many security camera providers is door/window sensors. So if you ever want to build out a full home security system, Zmodo has the goods.
|Zmodo Accessories||Product Type||Price|
|Greet Lite Doorbell||720p HD Video Doorbell Camera||$59.99|
|Door/Window Sensor (2 Pack)||Home Security Entry Sensor (New)||$39.99|
|Door/Window Sensor (4-Pack)||Home Security Entry Sensor (Refurbished)||$39.99|
|Beam Wi-Fi Extender||Device Range Extender||$49.99|
You might also find additional upgrades in your quest for customization. But as far as we know, these products (below) are no longer available direct from Zmodo. They are either out-of-stock or discontinued. These add-ons include:
We’ve been doing this a long time, so we’re usually skeptical of super-cheap security products. They are usually made with substandard materials, and the internal electronics tend to act up over time. Not Zmodo!
These little home security cameras pack a punch, especially considering the budget-friendly price point starting at just $29-$39 for indoor and outdoor cameras. The cloud subscription plans are a little more expensive than the industry average, but that’s to be expected.
We’d recommend Zmodo if you’re on the market for basic- to mid-level home protection. The cameras offer easy DIY installation, and we found the video resolution to be on-par with cameras that cost 3-4x more than Zmodo. That said, we do wish they would rename their 4-pack camera kit to “Quad Zmodo.” Say it out loud fast and you’ll understand why.
Yes, Zmodo currently offers two outdoor security cameras, the 1080p Indoor/Outdoor cam and the Torch 360 cam.
Yes, but the free cloud plan is limited when it comes to features like video history. You will only get 12-hour video history, whereas the paid subscription plans offer up to 30-days of history (and other features).
No, the best resolution that the brand offers is 1080p HD. We’re hoping they add a 4K resolution security camera to the lineup. We’ll keep you posted.
Actually, yes. Similar to the big brands like Ring and Nest, Zmodo offers door/window sensors so that you can enjoy total home security.
Yes, Zmodo offers remote smartphone controls using their MeShare mobile app. It’s available on iOS and Android devices.
While Zmodo cameras do work with Alexa and Google Assistant (voice control), they lack other third-party integrations for smart home automation.
Medium.com. (2018, September 28). Huaqiangbei, the biggest electronics market in the world — Shenzhen, China.
Zmodo.com: About Us. (2020). Security Camera Provider.
Consumer Electronics Show. (2020). CES.
Night vision. Wikipedia. Retrieved May 28, 2020.