nest camstars4Rating 4.0
Reviewed by Paul
The Nest Cam Security Camera is the new version of the Dropcam Pro. They’ve upgraded the quality of the resolution but some of the changes aren’t to the liking of customers.

They felt there was a backward step with the changes to cost to accessing recorded video.

The camera has also been integrated with Nest and a variety of other Home automation devices from other suppliers.

The camera can provide you with a clear view of your home and more so you know what is happening while you are away.

It seems from the video online that it has caught some great moments of people’s children and pets.

Importantly for a security camera it has also captured video of criminals entering premises and stealing items when the premises are vacant and occupied. It has helped the police in identifying the criminals.

In this review, we look at how well it operates as a security camera as well as its’ other uses.

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Installation

To set up and install the camera is quick and easy. It only takes a few minutes.

It requires a WiFi connection which is 802.11 a/b/g/n using either 2.4 or 5.0 GHZ.

Also required is one of the following devices: iOS device running version 8.0 or later, Android using 4.0 or later or a Windows PC version 7.0 or MAC operating system 10.9 or later.

If setting up with Android or iOS device you also need Bluetooth LE enabled and the free Nest app on your device.

To set up with a computer you need a USB port to plug camera into initially – once set up it doesn’t require this connection and works with your WiFi and is plugged into a wall socket for power

The upload speeds needed to get a reliable streaming and recording is for 720 p is an average upload speed of 200 kbs and a peak of 500 kbs (when there is lots of activity) and at 1080 p it is an average upload speed of 450 kbs and a peak speed of 1200 kbs.

Set up either by smart device or computer is step by step and if you follow the instructions it should go without a hitch. There is nothing technical involved with downloading the App being the hardest step!

nest cam priceWhen setting up there is a QR code on the back of camera which you can use your device to scan into the App to help with set up – so don’t install the camera before you’ve done this – otherwise it can be a little difficult if you’ve mounted it!

The camera can be installed anywhere indoors (it isn’t waterproof) you can plugged it into a wall socket with the USB cord and adapter. It is 9.8 feet long. You are warned not to use a USB extender to increase distance.

Some people do install it outdoors but this isn’t covered by the warranty (it’s not waterproof). It is rated for temperatures between 32 and 104 Fahrenheit.

It comes with a stand so it can be placed on a shelf or table and has mounting plate and hardware for attaching to a wall or ceiling but shouldn’t be installed more then 6.5 – 13 ft above the floor. It can be swiveled around to get the view the area that you want to cover. If mounted upside down you can rotate it so the image is seen right side up.

Contract/Subscriptions

nest cam installedThere is no contract to use the camera or subscription fees when you use the camera for live feed and alerts to your phone or night vision. This is included in the cost of the camera.

But if you want to store video you have to pay a monthly or annual fee (still no contract). This is on the company’s cloud server and there is no option to store video locally or elsewhere. The cost of this is probably the biggest complaint expressed in reviews from customers.

For the first 30 days you get the 10 day storage option on a trial basis to give you chance to check it out for free.

They have 2 levels of fee for the paid service known as Nest Aware

10 days rolling storage up to 100 GB storage – £10 a month or £100 a year

30 days rolling storage up to 300 GB storage – £30 a month or £300 a year

The subscription is payable by camera per home (your second camera if at a second home/location is at full price) with the second and subsequent cameras per premises being discounted by 50%. (You can see more on the pricing here when mixing up plans and locations).

If you cancel your subscription you are given a prorated refund or credit (if you are changing plans) all your video history and settings are lost at that point but any saved video or time lapses are stored in your account.

As well as providing video storage you can get better focused alerts and use activity zones for more customized alerts. It uses an algorithm that can be used to determine if it “saw” a face or trees moving in the background to determine whether to send an alert. It can also determine if someone is speaking to send an alert and not just because of noise of the air conditioning.

Activity zones give you the ability to tailor your alerts to particular areas so that you only get notified when there is movement in the area you mark up on the cameras view. You can color code them so you know them by color on your alerts and when you searching through stored video.

With this you can make sure you are alerted when a door is opened or something valuable is moved or the drinks cabinet is accessed.

You can use the activity zone in a retrospective fashion too. If something goes missing from an area or an incident happens in area that you hadn’t highlighted you can create one and it will mark movements on your timeline saving you from having to go through hours of recorded storage to find the moment when it went missing or occurred.

Support

You can contact Nest 24/7 by phone or email. This is much better than most camera systems out there which only give you the option for phone support during business hours. These hours mean you can contact them when you are at home from work with the camera in front of you to resolve issues you may have.

For the most part they respond and quickly to question and issues. When I contacted them by email with questions they were very quick and gave detailed answers too.

The product has a limited warranty of 2 years.

Nest Cam Cameras

nest cam in businessThe camera gives you a 130 degree fixed view with a resolution of up to 1080p (you can choose 720p or 360p to help with bandwidth and connectivity) and 3 megapixel sensor for clear images at night and day.

The camera view can’t be panned or tilted remotely. It does have a digital zoom with the ability to enhance the view for a better view. You do this by pinching and stretching on your phones screen. You can enhance the view to show more detail. It can zoom up to 8X and does give a good view – it doesn’t end up all pixelated or blurry or something else of value (jewelry, alcohol cabinet or gun cabinet etc).

You can leave the camera to stay set to zoom in if you want to just focus on that area of the cameras view. It does mean you will only have a video history of that view. You might want to do this if you want to focus on your baby and crib.

At 1080p the video can be choppy and is more likely to drop out due to WiFI interference and signal strength. Most people set it to 720p where it is a more reliable connection and view. The image isn’t as clear but it is clear enough to see what is going on and identify someone.

The image is clear during the day where it is in color and also clear at night to the edges of the view which is black and white using infra red LED to illuminate the area.

When in night vision the camera is not blinded by a flashlight it filters it out so it stay in night vision mode so you can continue to see what is happening.

On the front of the camera at the top is a status light that tells you whether it is working normally, it is powering up, there is a problem or someone is watching the live stream or watching the video history.

Below that in the center is the lens of the camera that is surrounded by the 8 IR lights for night vision. At the bottom of camera is a microphone with the speaker at the right side of the camera. At the back of the camera is a micro-USB where the USB cord is plugged in to connect to the power supply.

The speaker and microphone allow for reasonably coherent conversations with people in your home. You can listen into room and hear what is being said. There can sometimes be a little delay due to internet connection quality and speed..

It does come in only one color – black but the USB cord is white for some sort of strange contrast reason – I’d prefer more color choice – maybe a slightly off-white color so it could better blend in with light colored rooms and match the cord.

To protect your privacy the Nest Cams (from the manufacturer when I contacted them) use 2048-bit RSA private keys for key exchange with the cloud service, and encrypt video using AES-128. Which should keep your video and details secure providing you make sure you also secure your passwords – don’t let people know them or choose easy ones etc.

Video Storage

Video storage is only available with the paid subscription service on Nest’s cloud storage service. There is no options to save locally or to another service.

If you are using the video recording service at 720 p you’ll use 60 GB of upload bandwidth and at 1020 p is 140 GB bandwidth.

If you are having problems with the recording quality or gaps you can change the recording quality to 360 p or 720 p from 1080 p but you should record at best quality you can.

The cloud storage provides you with a timeline to make it easier to jump to points of time you want to watch.
When reversing or fast forwarding it does jump in 30 second blocks which does mean you can sometimes miss things and jump back and review frame by frame at normal speed.

When looking at your history you can delete the video history of a camera when you want. It deletes all recorded video for that camera to that point and it can’t be recovered. It doesn’t delete any saved video clips or time lapses. It would be better if you could just delete the video section you wanted to get rid of it but it is better than previously where you couldn’t delete it at all.

When there has been an alert been sent for motion or sound or activity zone the time line is marked to make it easy to jump to that point.

You can make video clips and time lapse recording that you can download to keep and/or share with others as often as you like – for important moments like your child’s first steps (for grandparents or if one of the parents missed it etc) or a security event you want to share with the police.

Alarms

nest cam box in homeThe system does not have an audible alarm. Currently the camera does not integrate with any alarm systems directly although Nest’s Thermostat.

To use this camera with a security system you need to monitor and control them with separate Apps at the moment.

The Scout Alarm Wireless System can be controlled by an App that comes with entry sensors and motion sensors to give more coverage of entry points and rooms. It is designed for self-monitoring over the internet but for a monthly fee you can have cellular network backup in case of internet outage and have it professionally monitored.

With the nest cam you can check your home when you receive an alert from Scout or alternatively if you get notification from Nest you can sound the siren which in most cases will scare intruders away as they don’t like the attention.

Notification

nest cam alert receivedYou can receive motion and sound alerts to your phone by push notification or email with both the free or paid service. Other alerts you can receive are if your camera disconnects from the WiFi for more than 30 minutes or it is removed from your Nest Account.

The initial alert you receive comes through very quickly normally at the most a few seconds after the incident.

After you’ve received the initial alert you won’t receive another notification for another 30 minutes – the company say this makes managing them easier from a user’s perspective, however you may miss something important in the meantime. In particular if the first alert was a false alarm such as you leaving home and within that 30 minute timeframe there is an intrusion. (A DIY home security system would help in this situation).

With the Nest Aware subscription (the name for the cloud recording subscription) you can also receive activity zone alerts.

If you have Nest Protect you can receive notifications too. If smoke is detected you’ll receive a notification and it will record video even if you don’t have the Nest Aware subscription.

If you select to get emails these can only be sent to your Nest A/c email.

With both the free and paid service you may miss an important alert until it is too late if you can’t use your phone or it doesn’t have service. With the paid recording service you do have a record of what happened to go back to.

You can’t schedule when you receive alerts or not but you can schedule turn the camera off or disable notifications manually at the time you don’t want to receive,

It is possible to have other people access your cameras and receive notifications to help with monitoring. This is done by sharing your account and user details with them giving them the same rights as you do to change settings and access camera etc. You do need to be careful who you share this information with to ensure you don’t run into issues with some using it vindictively or carelessly.

The company is working on rectifying this but didn’t have an ETA when I contacted them.

Remote Monitoring

nest cam remote monitoringIt is possible to monitor your camera from anywhere in the world that your smart device or computer can get a signal/connection although you will be charged for data usage if you’re not using local WiFi

It is possible to share the camera publicly if you have something you want to share with the public. You do this within the settings. When you’ve finished you can turn it back to private and it can no longer be seen by people you shared it with.

In one account you can monitor multiple homes or locations and cameras. Your limits are a total of 20 cameras and the maximum per location or home is 10. This allows you to monitor vacation homes, rentals (when vacant) or business premises from the one place. If you want more than these maximums you’ll need to set up another account.

Unfortunately you can only monitor one camera at a time, so you need to switch from camera to camera if there is action taking place over multiple cameras’ views. You can do it quickly but sometimes you either need it to keep up or just want to do a quick survey without having to flick through your cameras.

The App on Android and IOS is relatively easy to use and navigating around to monitor and view recorded video and to make changes setting. Using it on a computer is fairly easy too. It might not be the prettiest looking App but it is functional for monitoring your home.

As with all Apps there seems to be problems when they roll out an update but they do sort these out in a short time period but it is annoying and frustrating in the meantime. All suppliers of these internet security cameras seem to have this problem.

Battery

There are no batteries required for the camera . It plugs into the electrical outlet using the cable and adapter supplied. When there is a power outage the camera is down also – there is no backup battery supplied.

Sensors/Detection

Motion is detected by the camera comparing a ” historical picture” it has of its view and comparing it to the current view.

To reduce the number of motion alerts you can set up activity zones when you have Nest Aware – the storage subscription services.

Door/Window Contacts

One of the issues that has resulted in theslip back in ratings that was seen with the Dropcam Pro has been the reduction in the functionality from that previously available.

It no longer has Geo Fencing, you can’t view multiple cameras at once, you can’t share access to camera without giving them full access to your account and you have to pay for all video storage whereas previously you had video storage for a day

The biggest complaint being that you have to pay for storage and the price you are charged each month. Many say they didn’t realize there was a charge. The product listing on Amazon should make this clearer – it doesn’t mention a payment.

Most customers believe that get an excellent camera that is easy to use and provides a good image day or night for monitoring their home and anything else they want to watch.

Setting The Camera

nest cam side viewYou can manually set the camera to on and off from anywhere you can get a signal to get the level of monitoring you want. You may not want the camera on when you are at home and up and about but may turn it on when you retire to bed for the night. This can be set by camera and is entirely in your control.

You don’t have to rely on your memory to set the camera you can set up a schedule for when the camera is active and when it is off to suit your lifestyle. It can be set up on day by day basis or for a week. In a week it can turn on and off again up to 32 times in total.

If you have Nest Thermostat you can have the camera tied to the manual Home and Away updates to that i.e. when you set the Thermostat to Away the camera turns on but can’t sync it with the auto on/off function as it works on the presence of a human not on the owner or designated person(s). So a criminal could enter and the thermostat goes to home function and turn the camera off.

Otherwise there is no geo-fencing option for the camera to turn on and off as you and your family come and go.

Control Panel

nest cam back viewThere is no control panel it is all controlled through your App and the company’s servers – the camera sends information to the servers for processing and the servers send information back.

Unlike the Blink HD Wire-Free Home Monitor System which has a separate base unit to control the cameras remotely which cuts back on processing over your internet connection and allows you to have battery powered cameras and local storage.

Protection Against It Being Switched Off

If there is a power or internet outage the camera does not work – it turns off from that point.

The camera remembers the Wifi and it will re-connect. There will be limited times when it can’t do this automatically and you need to manually restart your WiFi as you do when you have any devices connected to WiFi from time to time.

If you have Nest Aware and there is power but no internet connection the camera can store up to 5 minutes locally and it uploads this once the connection is re-established while still filming and saving the current position when power was restored.

Coverage

The distance your camera can be from your WiFi depends on the strength of your WiFi signal but should be fine in most homes with a good WiFi siignal. The signal can be boosted with an extender or repeater that works with your router.

When Nest detects a weak connection it may switch to a lower resolution automatically to reduce problems of stuttering or choppiness – it can reduce down to 720 p or 360 p

Wireless or Wired

The camera communicates wirelessly with your WiFi system but does need to be plugged into the wall socket for power. It can use either 2.4 or 5.0 GHZ (standards for home WiFi).

Dimensions

The camera is 2.8 wide by 2.8 deep by 4.5 inches tall.

Features

nest cam boxThe box includes:

Nest Cam indoor camera

Stand

10-foot USB cable and power adapter

Quick Start Guide

Welcome Guide

Window decal

3 Nest screws and wall-mounting plate

Accessories

nest cam checking on the kidsAlthough there are no accessories as such for the system, it does work with some other systems.

One obvious thing is it integrates with other Nest products where it can work with the Thermostat (on/off) and Nest Protect for notification and recorded video (with or without subscription) in event of fire/smoke detection

The other smart home applications that it is compatible that have security use are:

MyQ Home control – see camera and receive alerts whenever someone operates your garage door

Skybell – is a 1080p video doorbell. You can turn the Nest camera on and off from the Skybell App

August Smart Lock – is a keyless entry system. With Nest you can see who entered or exited your home using the Nest cam from the August App when motion is detected

Phillips Hue – turns on lights when Nest Cam detects motion

The next two are not security devices but as the Nest Cam is often used to monitor pets and children.

It also works with

Petnet – works with this smart pet feeder so you can see them eating from the Petnet App

Mimo – these kimonos provide information on your baby’s breathing, activity, body temperature, sleeping position and sounds. You can view the Nest cam images through their App

Other systems you can get integration with are rachio smart sprinkler controller, keen smart home vent, chargepoint, stringify, weatherbug home, media labs, calida, webb apps and Roost Desktop Notifier (for Windows PC).

The cameras aren’t waterproof and aren’t designed to be used outside. Some people do install outside to help with viewing a porch area or their driveway. This can help with keeping a eye on deliveries or for seeing people interfering with your cars. They are pleased with the results too.

They either install it under the eaves out of the weather or put it into the third party Dropcase Waterproof Nest Cam Enclosure. It isn’t approved by the company and there has been some reports of the camera overheating. It also can void the warranty, so there is risk involved.

The company’s recommended solution is to point the camera out the window. For the best results it says to have it right up against the window to reduce glare and reflection especially at night when the infra red lights are on. If the area it is watching has other lighting you may be able to turn off the night vision thus avoiding the reflection. They also recommend that it not be put in direct sunlight to prevent it overheating.

Other people use the Nest Cam as a baby monitoring camera and they like how they can watch baby and get alerts when motion or noise. It is great for checking up on them and the night vision has a clear picture.

It can also be used in a nursery with slightly older children too, to keep an eye on them. You can speak to them through the camera which may help to soothe them without having to be there.

However, it does have a couple of things to be aware of when using as a baby monitor, and the company do point this out (when asked). It works on WiFi which can drop out particularly when on live stream where it can freeze giving the impression that nothing has changed. Also, as alerts are only sent every 30 minutes after the initial alert it means you can miss them waking up or being distressed for up to 30 minutes after the first alert.

Another popular use for the camera is as a nanny cam and it works well to check on how the nanny is looking after your child(ren) when you are away – similar to this is using to check up on a baby sitter or other workers in your home when you are away.

If you have pets this camera can be a great way to keep an eye on them while you are away. You’ll be able to see they are okay and what mischief they get up to. The ability to speak to them through the camera can be a good way to calm them if they are distressed.

Pros

It is portable and can be quickly set up in a new home or you can take it with you on vacation

You can use PC, MAC , Android or IOS devices to monitor your home

Sends you alerts by push notifications or email when it detects movement or sound within seconds

Good clear image during the day and night to see what is happening and help identifying people if required

Video can be recorded online when subscription paid so can’t be taken by an intruder

Cameras can be scheduled as to when they are on and off so you don’t have to remember to set them

Able to digital zoom with enhance for getting closer view of important items

130 degree camera gives you plenty of coverage of a room or locastion

2 way audio for speaking and listening in to a room

View from anywhere you can get a signal

Set up is quick – it should only take a few minutes to complete. There is no technical knowledge required apart from downloading an App

Can set up actiivity zones (with subscription) so you get alerts when something happens in just that view

Cons

The isn’t designed for outdoor use, it isn’t waterproof, if you do use it outside you void the warranty

Can’t record/store video without subscribing to one of the monthly/annual plans

Camera has a fixed view – it doesn’t pan or tilt

After initial detection of movement or sound it waits 30 minutes before it sends next alert whichcan result in missing an event which is a concern when you don’t have cloud recording

At 1080 P resolution the video feed can be choppy and drop out due to WiFi problems

Can freeze when using live feed for extended times

No battery backup when there is a power outage

Dependent on internet and company’s cloud servers to be up

No audible alarm and can’t be integrated with a security systems

Does not have geo-fencing for auto on/off when you arrive or leave premises

Others can’t monitor or receive notifications without giving them full administration rights as you have give them your account name and password.

You can only see the live feed of one camera at a time

Nest Cam Consumer Ratings

nest cam reviewOne of the issues that has resulted in the slip back in ratings that was seen with the Dropcam Pro has been the reduction in the functionality from that available with the Dropcam Pro.

It no longer has Geo Fencing, you can’t view multiple cameras at once, you can’t share access to camera without giving them full access to your account and you have to pay for all video storage whereas previously you had video storage for a day

The biggest complaint in reviews being that you have to pay for storage and the price you are charged each month. Many say they didn’t realize there was a charge. The product listing on Amazon should make this clearer – it doesn’t mention a payment.

Most customers believe that get an excellent camera that is easy to use and provides a good image day or night for monitoring their home and anything else they want to watch.

Nest Cam

Nest Cam Price

nest cam 3 packIf you want to use these cameras for security as a minimum you need to consider having 2 but 3 is better as minimum.

Criminals normally break in through the front door followed by the backdoor as these are the easiest entry points for them to get access. Once they’ve gained access they head for the master bedroom as this is where most people have cash and other valuables stored.

For a home to cover the risk areas you want one to cover the front door, next the back door and then your master bedroom – either in the bedroom or the access to it (which could also cover access to other bedrooms too). With the 130 degree view of the camera you may also be able to cover windows which can be the next option as point of entry if the criminal can’t access the usual entry points.

They do offer a discount from time to time up to $100 for buying 3 at the same time.

On top of this is the cost for storing video which starts at $10 per month for 10 days rolling storage and $30 for 30 days storage with discounts for annual subscription and 50% for additional cameras per premise.

Comparing this with other cameras to get a feel of compariative cost Here are 3 popular althernative cameras:

The Piper NV only record when there is an incident and you get up to a 100 video clips stored of about 35 seconds at no cost. There is no coninuous storage or other plans available.

Or Canary offers same prices for 7 days or 30 days history but has a free option for 12 hours history or 2 day history for 2 days. This is for recorded events (not continuous) and covers up to 4 cameras.

Finally there is the Amcrest Pro HD 1080P where you can store video on Micro SD card, NVR or the paid cloud storage which is priced at 7 days for $6 per month, 14 days for $10 per month or 30 days at $15 per month.

When I checked the best deal was at Amazon where it qualified for free shipping and Prime. You can see the latest pricing and availability here:

Nest Cam

Summary

The camera has much to recommend it as a camera for monitoring your home, pets, kids and other things but it is expensive for video storage. However, you do get a good service for it.

It provides a very good quality image either recorded or live stream providing the WiFi signal is strong, it will step down resolution (to 720 p or 360p) if needed to get a constant feed.

Aside from price for storage which you need if you want to use it for security or to capture special moments, the other issue is that you have to share your account details with others if you want someone to help with monitoring your home which can cause a security issue of its own if you fall out with them. Otherwise you need to be on-call 24 hours particularly if you don’t have Nest Aware (video storage)

To get the most out of it as a security camera you do need to include it with a security system so that you sound the alarm and cover more entry points economically.

Overall it is a good monitoring camera to keep tabs on your home, family, contents and more.

Filed under: Reviews

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