Cheap Nanny Cams
Cheapest nanny cam is the one you already have – your webcamera or video camera.
Next step up would be a low-cost CCTV camera that connects directly to your TV and offers real-time picture. You would need to use VCR (or specialized digital device) to record video from CCTV camera. Majority of low cost “nanny cams” and “spy cams” are CCTV cameras.
And the “Cadillac” solution would be high-res wireless video camera and digital video recorder (which also works as a webserver for remote monitoring). Very nice, but expensive.
Video camera – straight forward to setup. Hide it under the pillow and you are done. Disadvantages – limited view of the field, pretty noticeable and no motion detection.
Webcamera – there is plenty of software that turns your computer and webcamera into motion detection camera. Some of them are free and some of them cost few $$. You usually get what you pay for, but start with a free version just to see if your webcam is good enough for spying. Disadvantages – difficult to hide, requires your computer turned on, picture quality is bad at night and low light. Benefits – you can monitor from any location, get motion detected videos and alarms.
CCTV cameras – inexpensive, easy to setup and use in real time. Requires VCR for recording and no motion detection capabilities – which is a deal killer most of the time. Use only if you have an old camera around, but do not spend money buying a new one. If you are a little technical – you will do much better with low-end IP cameras like Axis M1011-W, or if you are not sure in your networking skills – then get good webcam (like Logitech Orbit or Logitech Ultravision) and try it with software based solutions.
Home security systems – There are plenty of choices. Kits start from $300 and go all the way up to thousands. There are plenty of webstores with sales people waiting for your call – so just go ahead and call. Good kit requires very little configuration, so you will be fine.
Specialized Nannycams – Usually a basic CCTV camera in nice packaging (like Teddy Bear). Image quality is pretty bad and useless at distances more then 20 feet. Usually indoor only. I would avoid at all costs. You would be better of searching for specialized baby monitor.
Several gadget sites also sell small cameras that they call “spy cameras”. Theses would work too as cheap nanny cams, but you always get what you pay for – image quality on those cameras makes it useless in dark rooms.