If you have any interest at all in smart home security, you’re going to want to invest in an outdoor security camera. Whether you need just one to protect your front door, or multiple cameras to provide additional security, you’ll want to have a quality camera that offers a positive experience.
Two of the best outdoor smart home security cameras available today are the Nest IQ and the Arlo Pro 2. These two cameras are considered among the best in the smart security camera industry and come highly recommended. While the cameras offer similar specifications and features, there are a few slight differences between them.
Of course, you’ll want to choose the right one for you and your situation. So let’s take a closer look at the Nest IQ and the Arlo Pro 2 so you can get a better idea of which one works for you.
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The Nest IQ (read here my full review!) is the newest addition in a line of home security devices that Nest provides. Nest Cam IQ outdoor security camera is designed specifically to handle any type of weather. Where the Nest Cam outdoor failed, Nest IQ has built in additional power and features to improve user experience and device performance.
For starters, the Nest IQ offers an upgraded image sensor, improved audio, and a facial recognition feature that is able to differentiate between people and other motion. On the downside, the installation might require drilling a hole in the side of your home, so bear that in mind as you learn about the device.
Features and Design
If you are familiar with the Nest Cam, then you’ll recognize the Nest IQ, since it’s like the Nest Cam on steroids. Encased in a white enclosure, the Nest IQ has an IP66 rating for weatherproofing, which means it is well protected against dust and water, making it ideal for outdoor use. You can swivel or tilt the camera on the included mounting arm so you can point it in the direction best suited for your needs.
The power adapter for the Nest IQ is not waterproof, so it must get its power from an indoor source, but the twenty-five-foot cable is plenty long enough to find an outlet. The cord is waterproof, so you don’t need to worry about it getting wet, and since it’s flat, it can be easily moved out of sight. Where you run into problems is finding a way to connect it to an internal outlet. Unless you have an opening near your mounted Nest IQ, you’ll have to drill into the side of your home and pull the cord through.
You’ll get high-quality video with the Nest IQ, which provides a 1080p feed via Nests High Dynamic Range (HDR) capabilities. The Nest IQ camera also offers a two-way audio system which includes three microphones and a loudspeaker. All of this, plus the Nest IQ supports 802.11ac wifi.
On top of the Nest IQ, you’ll find a ring of light that glows blue as you are setting up the device, which will turn to yellow if it identifies an issue with connectivity. Since you want to be protected at night, as well as during the day, the Nest IQ has LEDs which offer up to fifty feet of coverage, along with sound and motion detection.
You’ll get twenty-four-hour streaming with your Nest IQ, and unlike other security cameras, Nest is always recording. An additional feature that the Nest IQ camera offers is motion tracking. When the sensor is triggered, the camera will find the object in motion and follow it until it leaves the IQ’s field of view.
To use many of the Nest IQ features, including twenty-four-hour recording, you’ll have to sign up for a subscription plan. As with most plans, the more you pay per month, the more benefits you receive. Here is a quick overview of the plans available with the Nest IQ:
- Tier One – Five days of video history, personal alerts, twenty-four-hour recording, intelligent alerts, activity zones, and familiar face alerts.
- Tier Two – Ten days of video history and all features in Tier One.
- Tier Three – Thirty days of video history and all features in Tier One.
If you already own a Nest device, like a Nest Thermostat or Nest Protect, you’ll use the same application used for them with your Nest IQ. If not, just head over to the iOS or Android marketplaces and downloaded the Nest application.
The application launches to the home screen which lists all your Nest devices, along with the status of each. If you want to launch your camera, just tap on the Nest IQ, and you’ll see a live feed. If you want to move forward or backward in the video, swipe left or right. Once you find what you’re looking for, you can watch the video or make a clip which you can share. Like many video applications, if you want to view full-screen, just turn your smartphone on its side.
If you want to access the settings for your Nest IQ, select the icon that looks like a gear located on the top right of the home screen. The settings menu allows you to enable Home/Away Assist (this feature uses Geofencing to disarm or arm your camera), turn the IQ on or off, and configure notifications and schedules.
In the settings menu, you can also leverage the Familiar Faces option to add faces of residents in your home and frequent visitors to the database. Settings also allow you to turn on zoomed motion tracking, configure wifi settings, control the microphone, and share your camera with family or friends.
Of course, since the IQ camera is a Nest device, it plays well with additional Nest products. It also interacts with smart home components that support Works With Nest. If you’re interested in smart lighting, the Philips Hue is one such device that interacts with Nest. You can also integrate August Home Locks, Skybell doorbells, and many others.
Lastly, the Nest IQ works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice commands, and works with If This Then That (IFTTT) applets to create additional smart behaviors and tasks.
As mentioned in the previous section, if you don’t have the Nest mobile application, you’ll want to go to the iOS or Android marketplaces and download it. Once you have it on your smartphone and an account created with Nest, the rest of the installation is pretty straightforward.
Open the application, then tap on the gear icon located in the top right corner. There you’ll see an option to add a product. When prompted, find and scan the QR code on the camera, then select the corresponding location (Outside/Front Yard/Backyard/Driveway). Once that’s completed, the application will connect to the camera and guide you through the rest of the setup. One nice feature with Nest’s setup is that if you have an existing Nest device online, the application will automatically use your wifi to configure the Nest IQ for you.
When you have your Nest IQ added to the application, you’ll then want to validate that it provides a live video stream. Once that is done, decide where you want to place your Nest IQ, run your cord to an inside outlet, and you’re all set!
The Nest IQ provides an excellent video stream, offering 1080p quality with excellent detail and color. You’ll notice no distortion or flickering with your feed, and the night video provides excellent black and white coverage. Motion events like small animals or debris shouldn’t set off the motion sensor, and the Nest IQ can detect the difference between people talking and animal noises (like a dog barking).
The Nest IQ outdoor camera is a great security camera option, packed with plenty of features. You won’t be disappointed with the facial recognition feature, and the camera’s ability to distinguish between people and other less conspicuous motions. If you already have devices that are part of the Nest family or work with Nest, the Nest IQ makes sense for you.
While the Nest IQ is a little more expensive than its counterparts, it offers features that not many of its competitors currently have available. Unfortunately, you may have to do some drilling to install it, but the additional benefits may be worth the hassle. Certainly, if you decide to go with the Nest IQ outdoor camera, you won’t be disappointed.
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor or Nest Cam Outdoor? Find out here!
Arlo Pro 2
Netgear’s Arlo Pro 2 is the successor of the Arlo Pro, a smart outdoor camera that offers users sound and motion detection, geofencing, rechargeable batteries, and integration with many smart home components. The Arlo Pro 2 provides everything the Arlo Pro provides, plus a few additional features.
The device itself provides 1080p video streaming quality, as well as Amazon Alexa voice command support. Additionally, when the device is plugged into an outlet, you can use a feature referred to as Look Back, which gives you the option to see events a few seconds prior to the sound or motion sensor triggering.
Design and Features
If you already own an Arlo Pro, the design of the Arlo Pro 2 won’t come as much of a shock as the two are almost identical. The only noticeable difference between the two is the size of the front panel, which is a little smaller on the Arlo Pro 2.
The Arlo Pro 2 is glossy white, and its housing boasts IP65 waterproof requirements. If you decide to buy the Arlo Pro 2 camera kit, you’ll also get a base station, wall mounts, adapter cables, ethernet cables, and rechargeable battery packs. In the back of the device is a magnet for attaching the camera to any metal enclosure, or you can mount it on a flat area.
On top of the Arlo Pro 2, you’ll find a button labeled Sync and a switch that releases the rear battery compartment. One of the cool features on the Arlo Pro 2 is that its batteries last for up to six months before they need recharging. When it’s time to recharge, just bring in your camera and plug it into the adapter. Of course, the camera works just as well with AC power if you prefer not to go the rechargeable battery route.
As mentioned previously, the most noticeable upgrade in the Arlo Pro 2 is the ability of the camera to record and stream in 1080p. You’ll still have the two-way audio available in the Arlo Pro, along with the night vision LEDs, and digital zoom functionality.
Included in your kit is a base station, which indicates power, camera connectivity, and network connectivity via LEDs on top of the device. You’ll also notice a Sync button on top, which is used for pairing your Arlo Pros. On the back of the base station, you’ll find a LAN port, two USB ports, a power jack, and a power button. The base station supports 802.11n wifi technology, and also has a 100dB alarm that can be enabled to sound when sound or motion sensors are tripped.
The Look Back feature is one of the newer technologies available with the Arlo Pro 2. Look Back lets you view the three seconds of video prior to the sound or motion event occurring. It’s a nice feature that allows you to get a better idea of who or what tripped the sensor. Another new feature with the Arlo Pro 2 is Activity Zones. This feature only reports on activity and motion that occurs within a specified area. The drawback to these two features is that the Arlo Pro 2 must have a power supply in order to use them.
Similar to the Nest IQ, the Arlo Pro 2 offers many different levels of support storage for your smart security camera. Here is some high-level information about what the Arlo Pro 2 plans offer:
- Basic – Connect up to five cameras, three months of technical support, seven days of cloud video storage
- Premier – Connect up to ten cameras, unlimited support, thirty days of cloud video storage
- Elite – Connect up to fifteen cameras, unlimited support, sixty days of cloud video storage
Similar to the Nest IQ, if you already own an Arlo Pro camera you don’t need to worry about the mobile application. However, if you don’t, you’ll find it on both the iOS and Android marketplaces. You can also access your cameras through a web browser if you prefer.
The application launches to the home screen, which lists all of your installed cameras, along with signal strength, battery status, and sound and motion detection. You’ll also notice a gear icon which lets you launch live video for each camera. While viewing live video you have the capability of recording, muting the speaker, having a two-way conversation, and taking a snapshot.
The settings for each camera include battery and signal levels, audio and voice settings, a motion detection test, and on/off controls. In your video settings, you can create activity zones, control night vision, and select your preferred power mode (Better Battery Life/Best Video/Optimized).
On the home screen, you’ll also find icons for Settings, Devices, Mode, and Library. Selecting Library reveals a list of video snapshots and recordings. You can choose any video to view, delete, favorite, or share. Mode menu allows you to control arm and disarm, motion and sound detection, establishing schedules, and adjusting your sound and motion sensitivity levels.
Also in the Mode menu is the option to set geofencing, which will arm or disarm the sound and motion detectors when you enter or leave a defined area. Your Settings menu you’ll use primarily to tweak and customize camera settings, edit your profile information, and grant or revoke access to family and friends. Devices returns you to the page which lists your cameras.
Like the Nest IQ, the Arlo Pro 2 supports many different smart home devices and works with IF This Then That (IFTTT) applets and channels. You can also integrate your Arlo Pro 2 into Smart Things smart home system, and it works via voice command through Amazon Alexa to show your video stream on a Fire TV or Echo Show device.
Installation of the Arlo Pro 2 is simple, even if you have no previous experience with Arlo cameras. You’ll want to begin by downloading the mobile application from either the iOS or Android marketplaces, then launching the app and creating an account. While you’re doing those things, pull out your base station and connect it to your router via the ethernet cable included in the kit.
Power on your base station and wait until the LEDs on top turn green. Once they do, select Add Device from the application home screen. The app should recognize the base station right away and add it to your account. Your battery packs come fully charged, so insert them into your camera and tap the Sync button on the base station.
After a few moments, the Sync LED will flash green. When that happens, go ahead and press Sync on your camera, then you’ll see your camera added to the list of devices. Repeat as needed for additional cameras.
The Arlo Pro 2 provides excellent 1080p quality videos with excellent image detail. It also offers a sharp picture at night, with black-and-white images up to twenty-five feet away from the camera. While the detection sensor works well, you’ll want to adjust the sensitivity to fit your needs. You may get a few false notifications if the sensor is set too high.
The Look Back feature works very well, showing footage from just before the motion detection sensor is tripped. You can also rely on the geofencing feature to arm or disarm the camera when you arrive at or leave your home. Sound and motion alerts arrive quickly when a sensor trips, and you’ll enjoy the ability to watch videos on your television via Amazon Fire TV.
With the Arlo Pro 2, you’ll get a weatherproof smart security camera that includes a base station, a built-in alarm, and a USB option for local video storage. The Arlo Pro 2 is wireless, comes with rechargeable batteries, and is easily installed anywhere around your home, provided it is within range of your hub. The 1080p video quality is a nice feature upgrade, as is the voice control capability with Amazon Alexa.
Going with the Arlo Pro 2 is a choice you won’t regret. The device has plenty of features and capabilities, is easy to setup and install, and its new Look Back technology lets you view video a few seconds before a motion-triggered event. These features and the capability to integrate with other smart home systems makes the Arlo Pro 2 a can’t miss smart security camera.
|Nest IQ||Arlo Pro 2|
|Mobile Application||iOS, Android||Android, iOS, Fire TV|
|Monitors||Sound and Motion||Sound and Motion|
|Cloud Storage||Monthly Fee||Monthly Fee|
|Power||Rechargeable batteries/power supply||Power supply|
The choice between the Nest IQ and the Arlo Pro 2 is a tough one. Both smart home security cameras come with plenty of features, and both are sure to make your home feel safer. Both are easy to set up and install, with only the Nest IQ requiring that you drill a hole in your home for setup.
While the Arlo Pro 2 comes with rechargeable batteries and doesn’t have to be connected to a power source, the Nest IQ offers facial recognition technology so you can determine who has been to your home. As you can see, both cameras provide their share of pros and cons, so no matter which smart home security camera you decide to go with, you won’t regret your selection.
Read here my full comparison of other home security cameras: