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The Nest Cam should have been another hit for Nest, having picked up the device from the acquisition of Dropcam. However, things haven’t quite turned out as rosy as the Google company might have hoped, so when smart home buyers are looking for a home security or monitor camera, the field is wide open.
Enter Canary (read my full review here!), another company with big plans for the smart home market. It offers a slightly boxy unit that packs in a range of sensors and features to try and make itself more than just a webcam.ome insurance, which could be a good reason to get one.
Both are static units, placed where you leave them, which increasingly leaves users either wanting something more mobile, or forcing them to buy multiple units, for example Canary offers a two pack saving about $20.
With a range of roving bots coming to the market soon, how long before these static smart home gadgets are considered old hat? But, if you need some security today, we compare these two devices to find out which is the most flexible, based on features, pros and cons.
Continue reading for the full analysis…
Contents (Jump to)
Key Features of Both Smart Cams to Consider
Canary Smart Cam
- No Smart Hub Needed: The Canary is generally under $200 (list price – see latest price here) and is a WiFi enabled device that connects directly via WiFi to your smartphone, so there’s no need for a smart home hub, and it should work in most regular sized homes without the need for signal boosters.
- High Definition Video: It offers full high definition 1080p video output, with a 147° wide angle lens to give viewers a decent look around a room.
- Night Vision: There’s also a night vision mode, plus digital pan, tilt, and zoom, which while not as useful as the physical version, may have its moments.
- Additional Smart Features: To add to its smart credentials, it also features temperature, humidity, and air quality monitoring sensors to help monitor the local environment and alert users to any drastic changes. As a piece de resistance, there’s also a 90 dB siren to deter burglars or other unwanted visitors. This can help attract some attention if you’re away. There’s also a feature to call the emergency services if you see something really serious going down.
- Optional Subscription Data Storage Fee: Naturally, Canary doesn’t just want to sell you a camera. It has a range of subscription plans to store your video and data online, offering recording keeping, video downloads and video bookmarks to note important moments.
- 12 Hours of Base Video Cloud Storage: If you go without the subscription, you can only save the last 12 hours of video and view five clips. That might be fine if you’re rarely away from home, but not much use to world travelers. The highest-end subscription tacks on $300 to the price tag.
In theory, the Canary is smart and will learn about regular movements, but users still get plenty of false alarms, so consider that feature a work in progress. NOTE: You can read my full stand alone review of the Canary here for more details.
- Builds Off the Popular Dropcam: The $199 list price Nest Cam came out as something of a minor upgrade compared to the original Dropcam with some features missing, but improvements in other areas. If you still have a Dropcam, upgrade to the Nest app and you get improved event playback and a timeline view.
- Slowly Adding Features: Since the launch, Nest has been slowly adding those missing features back, but it put the company on the back foot. If you need several units, Nest sells a three-pack for a bundled discount, saving you $100.
- Smart, But Isolated: The Nest is a modern, yet isolated smart home device, it doesn’t talk to other devices or smart services, and requires the subscription service to keep saving data.
- Subscription Tiers for Data Storage: The Nest Aware subscription costs $100 a year (or $10 a month) for 10-day playback and $300 a year (or $30 a month) for 30-day playback, with access to greater saving of files and monitoring abilities.
- HD Video + Night Vision: The hardware offers HD quality video, night vision mode and a 130-degree field of view that can show more of your home or whatever’s outside your window.
- Multiple Zoom Levels: There’s an eight times digital zoom for a closer look, but depending on the light, that can become rather blotchy.
- Can Communicate Remotely with People: As a smart device, you can interact with people via the Nest Cam, using the speaker and microphone using a smartphone app.
- Requires Hard Wires: Despite being a little unit, the Nest Cam must be wired-in to be active, which can limit its positioning.
- Flexible Mounting Structure: It can be flexibly mounted thanks to the provided magnetic stand and wall mounting plate.
Pros and Cons – Things to Like (or Not)
- Pro – A Bit More Surreptitious: The Canary is a pretty boxy unit compared to the Nest, but it does look less like a camera, so an eagle-eyed burglar may be less likely to notice it.
- Pro – Secure Video Encryption: As far as the user is concerned, they want their video to be secure, and the Canary offers AES 256 bit encryption from the device, to the Canary Cloud, and to your app, so criminals can’t take a peek at your home or what’s going on within.
- Con – No Audio: One thing the Canary lacks is the audio option to talk to whoever’s at home, be it a pet, family member of burglar. That leaves the nuclear option of the loud alarm, which may not be appropriate.
- Pro – Remote Disabling: The Canary app allows users to arm and disarm the camera remotely, but generally gets a bad rap from users for lacking features or burying them.
- Pro – Extra Home Monitoring Features: The extra sensors allow you to monitor the environmental health of your home, which is a neat touch and a feature the app could make more of. Canary plans to launch a home monitoring service in 2016 that will respond to any alerts from your device.
- Pro/Con – Smart Learning/Takes a While: Nest Cam comes with the usual claims of smart, using software analysis to avoid false alarms and so on. However, will it will alert you if there is unexpected movement or noise around your home, it can still fall prey to ambling pets, light moving, shadows or background noise. However, it should learn about these and avoid them in future, but there’s a long way to go yet.
- Pro – Comes with 10 Foot Long USB Lead: The Nest Cam has to be wired to run, and it looks pretty distinctive. However, there’s a supplied USB lead that’s 10-foot, so you can just about install Nest Cam in some non-obvious places.
- Pro – Audio: While Nest users can talk via the microphone to whoever’s at home, users report delays in audio when trying to communicate, so this isn’t quite the perfect device which owners of other Nest devices might be expecting.
- Con – Can Heat Up: It also can get quite hot, so don’t leave it anywhere where small children can get at it.
- Con – Weaker Encryption Security: The Nest Cam does suffer from weaker security, using only 128-bit AES encryption which is theoretically easier to crack than Canary’s solution.
- Con – Weaker Night Vision: It also suffers from slightly poorer night vision, as it has fewer IR LEDs in its smaller housing, making it harder to see what is going on any distance from the camera.
- Pro/Con – Works Well with Other Nest Devices: It uses the Nest app to run, which comes with all the features to manage the Nest Thermostat and so on. That might be good if you’re in a Nest heavy home, but a bit of overkill otherwise, what’s wrong with one small dedicated app? It does provide motion alerts and easy access to the camera and microphone, but isn’t exactly well rated by users.
NOTE: The Nest Cam sometimes goes on sale for a nice discount. After missing a few sales myself, I decided to start this tracking page for the latest deals (typically around Holidays).
Quick Specs Comparison
|Dimensions||6” x 3” x 3”|
|4.5” x 2.8” x 2.3”|
|Color options||Black, Silver or White||Black|
|Camera||Full HD, night vision, digital pan and zoom||Full HD night vision, digital zoom|
|Price||(check here)||(check here)|
Final Recommendation – Nest Cam or Canary Security Camera?
These devices live or die by their cameras and the service they offer. Both are 3-megapixel class devices, so there’s not much differentiation there. The Canary does have a slightly wider field of view, and they both offer live streaming and night modes, which the Canary just edges.
If you want integration, then Nest Cam only works with the Nest Thermostat to trigger your home and away settings, otherwise it is a bit of a lonesome device.
Basically, both devices are okay for a spot of light home security, which improves the more units you have. However, their smartness is flawed, and their learning systems have a lot to learn, so don’t expect them to be perfect out of the box.
Overall, with similar specs and pricing, you could go by looks, or brand and not feel short changed, but if you need professional security monitoring (i.e., something that will run when the power goes out, which neither of these offer) then you need a bigger, beefier brand of service.
- I’d recommend the Nest Cam for users who already have Nest devices or desperately need the audio capability. You can see the best pricing for the Nest Cam here.
- Otherwise, I definitely prefer the Canary over the Nest Cam for all other cases. Check this listing for Canary pricing.