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Security is a major reason why people are adopting smart home technology. Not only do digital locks and cameras help monitor comings and goings, but sensors can help save homes and valuables in times of crisis or potential disaster
Not only do they keep homes safer, but can track pets, record family moments and generally monitor the comings and goings of the household.
Being fixed devices, there are limits to their usefulness depending on the size of your home, and also, despite being “smart home” devices, they aren’t really all that smart and can easily be triggered by your pets, moving light, insects and other false alarms, so if you scare easy these might not be for you.
That said, if you see something untoward on the app screen, you can trigger the alarm, or call the authorities, so it could save the day. We compare both camera units by their key features, specifications, and pros and cons to work out which one could offer you the best security for your smart home.
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Key Features to Consider: Canary vs Piper
The Canary connects to your smartphone via WiFi, so there’s no smart home hub required. It offers 1080p video through a 147° wide angle lens, with night vision, and digital pan, tilt, and zoom.
It also packs in a temperature, humidity, and air quality monitoring sensor to alert users to environmental changes. There’s also a 90 dB siren to deter criminals or attract local attention if you’re away and a call the emergency services feature if there’s a serious situation.
Canary’s subscription plans offer 2, 7 or 30 days of recording keeping, with unlimited video downloads and varying levels of video bookmarks. Without a subscription, you can only save the last 12 hours of video and view five clips. The top subscription adds another $299 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. You can read out full stand alone review of the Canary here.
The Piper has a 3.4 megapixel camera (also 1080p) as the focus feature, with night vision built in, an improvement on the previous 2 megapixel generation of Piper devices. It offers a 180-degree immersive view with motion sensor and sound detection, 2-way audio chat and a loud 105 dB siren.
It requires 3 AA batteries which will kick in case of a power failure, so it can still record, but since your router will likely go down during an outage, then it can’t send information or notify you. Piper features three basic modes; home, away and vacation, but you can customize them to your needs.
Users get text or email alerts if it detects something, so users can check in. If there’s something interesting in the video feed, users can use pinch to zoom, with a digital close up perhaps showing more detail.
With Z-Wave, it can also set off other smart lights or devices around the home as people come or go.
Pros and Cons of Both
Pro: The first thing smart home users are asking these days is, “are my security devices themselves secure” with previous generations of web and nanny cams easy to hack into and monitor. Canary offers AES 256 bit encryption from the device, to the Canary Cloud, and to your app, so criminals can’t take a peer.
Pro: Canary comes with a 60-day guarantee and a year-long warranty. And it can help reduce your home insurance with various providers.
Con: The subscription definitely weighs against it, but if you can get away without then is not a requirement, but you know if you miss something, it could vanish off the service before you can get to it.
Pro: Of course, if you’re not around, then it can send message to other family member phones, so they can investigate any issues.
Pro: The Piper comes with WiFi and compatibility with Z-Wave controllers, so is a more flexible solution if you have other smart home devices. You can use monitoring activity to trigger other devices, and can link multiple cameras together for improved security.
Pro: If it can’t get hold of you, then you can preset other contacts who may be able to help. If there’s something on the video, then the app can record 60 seconds of action.
There are no monthly fees with the Piper, so it could be the better solution if you’re on a budget, but it does put the onus on the user to capture any action.
Pro: The two way chat also makes it useful as a nanny cam, or just to keep in touch with the family when away from home.
Con: One often reported weakness with the Piper is that once an alert is triggered, there is no remote re-activate feature. You will need to head home to reset it. The company is aware of this and a fix should be in the pipeline.
Comparison Between the Canary vs Piper – At a Glance
|Dimensions||3” x 3” x 6”
|5.5” X 7” X 8.8”|
|Color options||Black, Silver or White||Black or White
|Camera||32 MB flash RAM; 64 MB DDR2 storage||2 GB, 32 GB SSD storage|
|Price||See here for latest||See here for latest|
| WiFi, Z-Wave
Other Options to Consider
It’s worth mentioning that there are plenty of other smart security cameras on the market. At AllHomeRobotics, our team has reviewed many of them:
- Nest Cam: Nest is the big elephant in the room. There are definitely drawbacks, but it’s important to consider that Nest (backed by Google) is building out a suite of smart home products. You can learn more about the range of nest compatible devices here. With an eye to the future of your smart home, it’s worth looking at. You can check out the Nest Cam here.
- Guardzilla: For a cheaper smart cam, it might be worth checking out the Guardzilla here. For less than $100, it’s a pretty good value relative to the two units discussed here.
- Oco Smart Cam: Oco is another interest alternative that is even cheaper than the Guardzilla above. You can read more about it here.
Bottom line is that there are many cheaper option than the Piper or Canary, but few with the number of features and resolution quality. Arguably, the Nest Cam is their biggest competitor.
You can read comparisons of both the Piper and the Canary to the Nest here:
Final Recommendation – Which Would I Go With?
The major weakness with any of these systems is that they cover only one room or space. With no moving parts, you need a bunch of them for a reasonable sized house, and there’s no mention of them being suitable for outdoor use (short answer: they aren’t very suitable).
That makes them an expensive proposition, the Piper supports up to five units.
Then there’s positioning them, those of you with OCD will find tracking down the perfect spot almost impossible, but we’re sure everyone will eventually find somewhere suitable.
With all that done, your actual usage will vary greatly. Frequently travelers will be checking in all the time, while those with families might just use them as a standard web cam.
In terms of specifications, it is hard to differentiate the two devices, both have night vision. But, the Piper’s Z-Wave feature likely to make it more popular with dedicated smart home owners. If I had to make I choice and only could get one, I’d go with the Piper (see here for the latest deals).
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!