Google’s Nest Cam (formerly the Dropcam, before Google acquired the company) is a newcomer in a market full of small surveillance or home monitoring cameras.
IControl is a more established brand, and its Piper nv is its latest model. The Piper’s rather mouthy product title, Smart Home Security System with Immersive Video Camera and Home Automation Controls, does at least explain exactly what the product does.
Both are designed to be easy to set up and monitor home camera devices, with the user keeping tabs on things via a smartphone app. The devices will alert the user should anything out of the ordinary happen.
We examine these models across their key features, pros and cons, and how they work as far as the user is concerned.
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The Nest tries to tick all the features that its smart home fan base would expect, HD quality video, night vision mode, plus a 130-degree field to show more of your home or neighborhood, with 8X digital zoom for a closer look around your property.
As a smart device, you can interact with people via the Nest Cam, using the speaker and microphone using a smartphone app.
The Nest Cam can be mounted anywhere by the use of a magnetic stand or the wall mounting plate. However, it does need to be wired in. The Nest Aware subscription costs $10 a month and gives you access to greater saving of files and monitoring abilities.
The Piper nv is a 3.4 megapixel HD security camera first and foremost. Its 180 degree field of view offers wider vision, while the pan and tilt control gives it extra fine-control and investigation utility. There’s a 105 decibel siren to warn off intruders, plus motion and sound sensors to help protect your home.
It can also help in the home automation role, using the app and Z-Wave to monitor door sensors, control lights and other appliances directly. Unlike the Nest Cam, it can run off three AA batteries, so can be placed literally anywhere within WiFi range for short term use.
The Piper NV has several operating modes, including Away, Vacation, and Stay mode, allowing different settings for different occasions, depending on occupancy and the level of alerting you want.
With all the home automation features, this is a really neat piece of kit that leaves the Nest standing in automated home terms, and isn’t that much more expensive.
One of the Piper’s finest features isn’t in the camera, but in the free cloud storage of the last 50 30-second video clips, something that most other products try and gouge customers with an over-priced subscription for.
Both devices have a microphone and speaker so you can talk to someone in your home, or a pet, or a baby if you’re using it as a monitor. Both use iOS or Android apps for control and monitoring.
Pros and Cons
Nest Cam is designed to be very smart, as you’d expect from the Nest people. it will alert you if there is unexpected movement or noise around your home, using clever code to prevent mistaken identity, shadows or background noise.
The clever system should help it avoid false positives, but so can clever positioning by the user.
The Nest Cam has to be wired to run, so it is not the most inconspicuous of devices. However, there’s a supplied USB lead that’s 10-foot, so you can install Nest Cam in some non-obvious places.
However, if anyone cuts the power, then your Nest Cam is instantly redundant, so won’t help if there’s a major issue at your property.
The Nest Cam also has poor night vision, making it hard to see what is going on any distance from the camera. Users also report delays in audio when trying to communicate over the device.
The nv, an upgraded version on IControl’s original, with nv standing for night vision, uses a 180-degree camera. You can focus on one of four areas while watching and focus in on one area.
A neat trick, but of uncertain use, given it reduces the video quality. Its night vision certainly seems better than the Nest Cam.
However, despite the higher-resolution camera, the Piper nv doesn’t do brilliantly when it comes to video quality, with blurry images and lack of detail.
Also, a major flaw with the Piper nv is that when an alarm triggers, it will record a 30 second clip, but the user needs to manually reset it before it will record again. Hopefully this will be fixed via a firmware update, but it is a major flaw as it could prevent recording of a crime or the person responsible.
The alarm itself is incredibly loud, which is good in an emergency, but bad if you haven’t set things up properly, for you and your neighbors, so careful configuration of settings is essential.
|Specs||Google Nest Cam||IControl Piper|
|Color||Black||Black or White|
|Sensors||3 megapixel camera, microphone and speaker||3.4 megapixel camera, Motion|
Temperature, Humidity, Light
|Price||$199 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here)||$279 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here)|
|Subscription||$10 per month|
Fans of the original Nest will obviously find the Nest Cam appealing, even if it isn’t quite up to the standards of its predecessor Dropcam – something Google plans to fix. However, it seems a pretty bare device compared to all the features of the Piper nv.
The ability to work alongside your Z-Wave devices is great, and the whacking great alarm will seriously frighten off an intruder, and with the locked in batteries, it will take them a while it shut it down.
However, if you’re not paranoid about security but want a better look around your home then the lower res but narrow angle of the Nest Cam provides a better image, which can be useful for monitoring and some of the fun features of the Nest product.
There’s much to recommend both products here, with the additional cost of the Piper nv more than made up for by its feature set. Decide what your priorities are for a home camera before buying, and you shouldn’t go far wrong with either of these.