What is the difference between a webcam and an IP camera?

Perhaps the single biggest question we get from customers is “What is the difference between a webcam and an IP camera?”.

There are generally two major differences between a webcam and IP camera.  It should also be said that IP cameras are also called wireless cameras or wireless network cameras.


A webcam will general cost about $30 to $60 if have buy one for your computer.  Most laptops sold these days have one built it and most PCs will include one.

IP cameras cost between $100 and $300 dollars.  The reason why the range is so wide is that there are MJPEG and H.264 IP cameras and because the cost of IP cameras seems to be decreasing rather quickly.


The biggest difference between a webcam and an IP camera is convenience.  A webcam requires a computer or a laptop to be “ON” in order to record or broadcast video while an IP camera can connect to your home’s network via an Ethernet cable or wirelessly to your wireless router at a distance of about 100 feet.

Because IP cameras don’t require any sort of computer to be “ON”, they are much preferred by people who are serious about seeing what’s happening around their house.  Webcams may work great for a quick, short-term situation but if you computer goes to sleep or shuts down, you’ll lose the ability to monitor the situation.

If you’d like more information about the difference between a webcam and an IP camera, I have written a few more blog posts on subjects related to using a webcam or IP camera for home video surveillance:

Read this before using your webcam for home security

Using a webcam for home security

iWatchLife IP camera security

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