A totally wireless security camera that you can place anywhere around your home, the Google Nest Cam (Outdoor or Indoor, Battery) makes it easy to keep an eye on things from afar.
This latest Google Nest Cam is part of a new batch of Nest devices, which also includes the Google Nest Doorbell (Battery). As the name suggests, the big selling point is that they feature a built-in rechargeable battery, so you don’t need to install them near a power point.
The fact these Nest Cams are also weatherproof makes it easy to install them exactly where you need them, inside or out. If you’ve previously dismissed the Google Nest camera range as impractical for your home, because you need to install cameras in hard-to-reach places, it might be time to reconsider.
The ability to install the cameras without running any wires is handy for renters who are looking to give their home a smart overhaul.
Of course, running cameras on batteries brings with it a new range of challenges. Thankfully there are optional weatherproof power cables so, where possible, you still might decide to run some cameras on AC power. Alternatively, there’s an optional solar panel.
Google Nest Cam (Outdoor or Indoor, Battery) details
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The Google Nest Cam (Outdoor or Indoor, Battery) is very easy to install. It comes with a flat wall mount which attaches to any surface with two screws. Alternatively, there’s an optional stand for indoor use, if you want to sit the camera on a shelf.
The camera attaches magnetically to the wall mount or stand. This makes it easy to remove the camera for recharging. There’s also a traditional mounting thread on the bottom of the camera.
Google includes a short 60-cm charge cable in the box. This is fine for recharging and might be enough to constantly run the camera on AC power if a power point is very close at hand. Alternatively, Google sells optional 5 and 10-metre weatherproof cables.
Set up is also simple, just scan the QR code on the front of the camera and dive into the Google Home app to follow the steps.
App and notifications
Thankfully, there’s a lot of granular control when it comes to notifications. This way, you’re not bombarded whenever the camera sees something of interest – called an “event”. Every time an event is detected the camera starts recording, so cutting down on events helps extend the battery life.
To reduce the number of events and notifications, you can automatically disable the cameras when they detect your phone is at home. This also helps protect your privacy. Alternatively, you can leave the cameras on all the time but only elect to see notifications when you’re away from home. Surprisingly, there’s no built-in scheduling option to automatically turn the cameras on and off each day.
Of course, things get more complicated if you don’t live alone, unless everyone installs the Google Home app on their phone and sets their Nest Cam preferences.
In the name of privacy, there’s the option to only use the camera’s microphone when viewing the live feed and not when continuously uploading video in the background (so you can’t go back and listen to conversations). Alternatively, you can disable the microphone completely and just view the video.
Google Nest Cam (Outdoor or Indoor, Battery) Specs
6.46 mm (1/2.8 inch), 2-megapixel
Up to 1080p at 30 FPS, HDR
Field of view
6 high-power 850 nm infrared LEDs, Up to 6-metre illumination
Full-duplex 2-way audio with noise cancellation
802.11b/g/n (2.4 GHz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
-20°C to 40°C
Length: 8.3 cm, Width: 8.3 cm
Battery versus AC power
One advantage of battery-powered cameras with built-in storage is they can continue to record events during power and internet outages. Events can include when the camera detects a person, pet, vehicle, movement or sound. You can also adjust the sensitivity and create zones in the camera’s field of view, to ignore events in certain areas.
Video clips of events are stored in the cloud but, by default, they’re only available for you to review for three hours. The $9 p/m Nest Aware subscription extends this to 30 days, plus it adds support for facial recognition. The $18 p/m Nest Aware Plus extends this to 60 days, plus it adds a 24/7 video history for the previous 10 days. The subscription applies to all your Google Nest Cams, including the doorbell.
It’s important to note that, even with a subscription, the Google Nest Cam (Outdoor or Indoor, Battery) won’t keep a 24/7 video history when running on batteries. It only uploads video when it detects an event, or when you access the camera remotely from your smartphone to see the live view. This ensures it only needs recharging every few months.
You can view clips or the live feed using the Google Home app on iOS or Android. One downside of running on batteries is that, unlike cameras running on AC power, you can’t quickly glance at the live view from the Google Home app’s Camera dashboard. You need to tap on the camera to wake it.
Alternatively, you can ask any Google smart screen in your home to show you the live view from a specific camera. Unfortunately, there’s no way to view your cameras on a PC or Mac, not even in the browser. You might find this frustrating if you’re not already wedded to the Google ecosystem.
The Google Nest Cam (Outdoor or Indoor, Battery) offers impressive picture and sound quality, both day and night. During the day, the picture is sharp and colours look rich but not overblown. After dark, the monochrome night view is crisp.
Thanks to HDR, the camera does a good job of handling difficult lighting conditions, such as bright background lighting.
The wide field of view, 1080p resolution and digital zoom are sharp enough to get a good view of people’s faces inside. Outside, you might struggle to make out faces in the distance. It’s worth noting that it’s only a 2-megapixel camera. Some rival camera makers offer more megapixels and sharper resolution at this price point.
The Google Nest Cam (Outdoor or Indoor, Battery) is a great option for Google-centric homes that need to install cameras in hard-to-reach places. The smart notifications – such as distinguishing between people, pets and curtains moving in the breeze – really helps the Nest Cam range stand out from the crowd.
That said, it’s important to note that you’re paying a considerable premium for the battery. The new Nest Cam (Wired) is roughly half the price at $169, but it’s designed for indoors. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an outdoor wired-only equivalent in the new Google Nest Cam range (except for the expensive floodlight). It’s also worth considering the options from the likes of Ring and Arlo before taking the plunge into Google’s camera ecosystem.
Would I buy it?
Maybe, if I was already invested in the Google ecosystem and I really needed the built-in battery.
Google Nest Cam (Outdoor or Indoor, Battery)
With smart notifications, the Google Nest Cam (Outdoor or Indoor, Battery) is a great option for Google-centric homes.
Value for money
Ease of use
Battery or AC power
Easy to install
No PC/Mac access