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Nest Camera Review – Is It Really Worth the Cost?


Ludovic Rembert —

Last Updated on

In 2019, Nest Cameras have been making news headlines for various reasons, one of them being their ability to catch “porch pirates” just at the moment they are plying their wicked trade. Porch pirates are low-life criminals taking advantage of the current wave of e-commerce and package deliveries, these parcel thieves target homes with porches and stoops where Amazon, UPS and FedEx drivers usually drop off packages as instructed; in a recent incident captured by a Nest camera in Nebraska, police detectives described these home security devices as having the potential of being “game changers” because in terms of making their investigative work easier, thus increasing the likelihood of solving cases and recovering stolen goods.

Man from Nebraska caught stealing by Nest Camera
Package delivery thieves

Aside from helping to stem the criminal tide of porch pirates, Nest cameras were also a significant focus of the 2019 Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View.

At this major tech event, Google executives introduced Nest Hub Max, a home automation control device that effectively combines technologies developed by Nest and Google in recent years. The Nest Hub Max intuitively works with Nest cameras; it features a colorful 10-inch touchscreen, integrated camera, an impressive speaker/microphone combo, and an advanced version of the Google Assistant.

Nest Hub MaxThe introduction of the Nest Hub Max was momentous not only because it seems poised to surpass the Amazon Echo family of smart speakers, which can be used as home automation hubs, but also because it marks the beginning of a new era for both Google and Nest. You have to remember that Nest Labs has been developing smart home technology since 2010; at the time, the company seemed to be all set to be acquired by Apple because of its design philosophy, but Google stepped in four years later.

For nearly a decade, Nest Labs developers have pretty much worked on their own, and they have produced amazing products such as the legendary Nest Learning Thermostat, but tech analysts always wondered when a full collaboration with Google would start. That day has arrived, so from now on the old Google Home Hubs will be Nest Hubs, and you will be able to control your Nest camera and other devices through the Google Assistant; by the way, there is also a smaller version of the Nest Hub Max in case you live in a smaller space such as an apartment or loft.

No Nest Camera review will be complete without mentioning Rick Osterloh, a Google senior vice president who was recently appointed to oversee the company’s Devices and Services team, which intends to elevate Google as a hardware brand. What this means for prospective Nest camera buyers is that their future purchase will be part of the new Google and Nest Labs ecosystem; in other words, your Nest devices will sync perfectly with your Android smartphones, Chromebooks, Chromecasts, Pixels, and even the Chrome web browser. Big things are in store for Nest, and this is a good time to start getting into what Google has envisioned for smart home automation.

Nest Cam Indoor – Protection Inside the House

Nest cameras are not like the IP cams often sold as part of home security systems that you are supposed to figure out on your own. Like all other products developed by Nest Labs engineers, Nest cameras are high-end devices specifically designed to stand out from the competition.

Nest Cam IndoorFor many individuals who are new to the world of smart home automation, the Nest Cam Indoor is an ideal entry point. This particular Nest cam has been around for a couple of years and has captured quite a few home invasions through thew Nest Aware security service, which is available on a subscription basis, thus making it one of the most popular models. Standing at 4.5 inches tall and 2.8 inches wide, the Nest Cam Indoor is discreet enough to place anywhere; it can monitor and record in just about any lighting condition, and it can stream at a steady 1080p HD resolution without hiccups. The wide-angle view extends to 130 degrees, and the speaker/microphone functionality provides an audio quality that will rival expensive smartphones.

Additional features include:

  • Full remote access through the Nest App
  • Smooth zoom and enhance functions
  • Remote home assist
  • Intercom functionality
  • Ability to set up family accounts

All in all, this Nest cam looks like the type you can clip to the top of your monitor for desktop Skype sessions, but it actually provided powerful home security functionality.

Nest Cam Outdoor – Security Beyond the Walls

Nest Cam OutdoorAs its name suggests, this Nest cam model is designed for outdoor installation. It is larger and more visible than the indoor model reviewed above, as it should be, but not so large that it would be impossible to conceal if so desired. The weather and climate resistance of the Nest Cam Outdoor is rated IP65, which means that it will withstand rainy and wintry conditions between –4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

All the indoor features are found in the Nest Cam Outdoor, with the addition of a more robust night and infrared camera system for sharper vision. As Nest cameras continue to make the news for preventing home invasions and other security incidents, sophisticated burglary crews are bound to take notice and skip homes protected by these systems; it should be noted that “professional” thieves do everything to not get caught, and they are likely to choose less risky targets.

Nest Cam IQ Indoor – Intelligent Home Monitoring

In the few months since it was introduced, this camera has been getting fantastic reviews across many technology magazines. As its name suggests, the Nest Cam IQ Indoor is a smarter version of its original indoor cousin; it is about the same size and combines the design elements of its outdoor and indoor camera models.

This device is more than just a security cam; to a great extent, it provides many of the features you would expect from a smart home automation hub, including a built-in 6-core processor running a special version of the Android operating system so that you have full access to the Google Assistant. In essence, this camera doubles as a smart speaker, and it also offers intelligent vision.

Nest Cam IQ IndoorMain features of the IQ Indoor:

  • 4K camera with 8-megapixel color sensor
  • Advanced zoom and enhance complete with close-up tracking view
  • 130-degree field of view
  • Smooth HDR video capture at 30 frames per second
  • Infrared vision and ambient light sensors that can control smart lighting systems
  • Three sensitive microphones and a stereo-quality speaker
  • Wireless WEP, WPA and WPA2 security and advanced connectivity. Data is captured, stored and transmitted with 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard supported by TLS/SSL protocols

As can be imagined, this Nest cam works better with a Nest Aware subscription; however, you can review up to three hours of snapshots even if you do not subscribe to the service. The artificial intelligence algorithms that control the smart vision of this device will minimize triggering false alerts; for example, your dogs will not be mistaken by intruders. While this Nest security cam is one of the priciest in the market, being able to control the Google Assistant will save you from having to purchase a smart speaker for your home automation system.

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor – Advanced Threat Detection

Nest Cam IQ OutdoorLike the IQ Indoors, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is an impressive and stylish-looking peace of hardware loaded with AI features. Fans of high-tech thrillers and espionage movies where security cameras track suspects on their own and follow their every move will be delighted to known that this is what the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor precisely does.

Not only is the IQ Outdoor camera rugged and tamper-proof but also smart enough to focus on human shapes acting suspiciously and track them before sounding the alarm. All the features of the IQ Indoor, minus the Google Assistant, can be found in the IQ Outdoor; moreover, the versatile hinge can rotate the camera on a 360-degree axis, and the speaker/microphone combo provides enhanced audio functions suitable for outside use.

Let’s say you have installed smart locks in your front door and you are expecting guests from out of town; with the IQ Outdoor cam, you can be remotely notified when they arrive, and you will be able to clearly talk to them before letting them in.

What You Need to Know About Nest Labs Cameras

Google has made a substantial investment in Nest Labs for the purpose of building a brand known to be at the forefront of smart home automation; as such, you can be assured that Nest devices are top-of-the-line products, but they also need a certain technology infrastructure in order for them to deliver their maximum potential. Specifically, slow Wi-Fi home networks may prevent you from experiencing the full range of features of Nest cameras. Bandwidth is a significant consideration; if you intend to enable constant Nest cam recording, you will upload speeds of at least 2 Mbps. In situations where the Wi-Fi network is not optimal, you will have the option to modify video capture and recording settings with regard to image quality and bandwidth.

The Nest Aware Service

All major tech companies are pivoting their operations towards offering services, and Google is no exception. Nest Aware is a security enhancement that continuously records the video and audio that Nest cams capture, up to 30 days. As of May 2019, Nest Aware subscriptions start at $5 per month for five days of recordings and smart alerts. This service adds a touch of artificial intelligence to your non-IQ Nest cams, and it is available through various bundles and discount options such as 50 percent off for additional cams.

The Integration Potential of Nest Cameras

Now that Nest has pivoted into a brand that is synonymous with Google smart home automation, you can expect plenty of product and service integrations in the near future. Google’s ultimate goal is for users to build Nest ecosystems in their homes; to this effect, the company wants to dazzle you with amazing Nest products so that you start to develop a sense of brand loyalty.

Nest thermostat mobile appThink about the IQ Indoor cam and its bundled Google Assistant; although you can always install this app on your Android smartphone and use it as a hub to control your Nest devices, you will likely feel tempted to speak directly to the camera.

The current integration options offered by Nest include thermostats, smoke detectors, home security alarms, doorbells, and smart locks. If you already have Nest cameras or use an Android smartphone, the next logical move will be to add more Nest products to your smart home network.

Nest Cameras and Monitoring Prices

When compared to to other home security cameras, you should expect to pay premium prices for Nest devices and cloud services. The IQ Outdoor, for example, costs nearly $350, and its indoor equivalent was recently reduced to $249 from $299. Nest Labs will often run discounts and offers for special occasions such as Mother’s Day and during the holiday shopping season, but even with these price breaks you may still find them a bit expensive.

Nest Aware prices

Nest Aware provides 24-hour recording services that uses the cloud to store the data, and the number of days on your video history depends on the package that you pick. Nest is known to be one of the more expensive home security systems in the market, and this seems to extend to their cloud monitoring services.

What is the Nest Customer Experience

As for Nest customer service, Consumer Affairs gives Nest better marks than Google, especially for users who subscribe to the Nest Aware service. Nest products are designed to work out of the box; however, their step-by-step installation guides tend to be more detailed and involved than many other smart home automation devices, and this is actually good in terms of privacy and security.

Being a Google brand, Nest Labs will not make a mistake of allowing installations with default username/password combinations; nonetheless, you may want to take the extra security step of routing your smart home network through the best VPN, preferably at the router level.

Nest has one of the most extensive guides on troubleshooting, installation, error control and maintenance in the market today. If DIY isn’t your cup of tea, then you can reach out to them through their Social Media pages, Email, and of course, their hotline.

Final Thoughts on Nest Cameras

In the end, Nest cameras allow you to be on the cutting edge of modern home security. Since you really do not want to skimp on an important matter such as monitoring your home, you cannot go wrong with one of these devices.

With the new direction that Google is taking with regard to smart home automation, Nest will likely be the smartest choice of products for some time, at least until Apple or Microsoft decide to start competing in earnest.

FAQs

Q: Can I Use Nest Cameras Without a Subscription?

A: Nest Aware services are entirely optional, but this is how the more advanced cameras deliver their full potential. The new 5-day Nest Aware subscription is reasonable enough for most people to try.

Q: Is the Nest Cam Waterproof?

A: The outdoor Nest cameras feature a weather and climate rating that indicates resistance to rainfall, but these devices are not meant to be submerged.

Q: Does the Nest Outdoor Camera Work With Alexa?

A: Nest products can be controlled with the Amazon Alexa smart assistant, which powers the Amazon Echo speakers, through what is known as “skills and recipes.” If you have an Alexa-powered product, you will want to say “Alexa, discover my devices” to see if a list of skills or “if this, then that” options is spoken or displayed. You will have to train Alexa to associate speech commands with what you want your Nest cameras to do.

Q: Do Nest Cameras Work Without Wi-Fi?

A: The functionality of Nest cameras without Wi-Fi and an active internet connection is limited to the point that it does not merit discussion. Ethernet connections are not a solution in this regard. Keep in mind that your broadband connection needs to offer 2 Mbps of upload bandwidth for optimal operation of Nest cameras.