Price (RRP): $479/279/279
There is a plethora of security cameras and Nest, a Google company, has to be there too. But the Nest Cam family is just that little different, as other Google products tend to be.
My recent introduction to Nest was via its Nest 2nd generation smoke and CO detectors which nearly scored a perfect 5-out-of-5. These are what smoke detectors should be.
Well apply that same thinking to Nest Cam – the mix of design, hardware, software and now Google Assistant make them almost perfect.
Today we review the Nest Cam indoor, Nest Cam outdoor and the Nest Cam IQ with Google Assistant. As they all use the same Nest App, the functionality is similar.
Review: Nest Cam indoor, Nest Cam outdoor and the Nest cam IQ with Google Assistant
Download the Nest app for Android, Android TV, Android Wear, iOS, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Windows 10 or macOS – our tests were with Android. As far as I can find no other camera has so many controlling devices/OS.
- Create a Nest account (do not use Facebook or other third-party sign-ins)
- Set up your home and Wi-Fi login
- Add the camera/s via a QR code scan
- Play with a vast array of settings – we will come to that later.
You can extend the app’s functionality with Nest Aware – the Nest cloud. While I dislike subscription services almost every other security camera maker has them too. So, let’s see if my bias can reduce via cognitive dissonance.
Nest Cam IQ $479
This has the most features of the three as it has Google Assistant – but not all functionality you expect from a dedicated speaker. More impressive is sending its video output to a TV screen via a Google Chromecast.
For starters, it is cute in a Google Pixel way. Matte white chalk, egg-cup shaped, rounded exterior on a small pedestal. The front is all 130° FOV, HDR, glass lens camera, three-mics, PIR and IR lights behind a black fascia. The rear has a speaker that uses Google Mini’s quite good speaker technology – it’s loud and clear. Of course, that statement depends on Wi-Fi and Internet strength – in our tests it was excellent on both counts.
Power is via a 3m USB-C cable to the base of the pedestal – it is a shaped connector that only fits the IQ. The power supply is 15V/1.87A which is a part of USB-C PD 2.0 but we far as I can see the supply does not have 5V to 20V variable output. After using battery operated cameras and the issues of recharging, especially with solar panels where most do not work it is actually good to use a fixed power source.
The pedestal is for desk/ledge ‘sitting’ or has a standard ¼” tripod hole for the wall mount – a more permanent fixture. It has an almost 180° of swivel and up to 160° tilt.
The Nest Cam IQ camera is superb
The camera has an 8MP 4K sensor that enables 12X digital zoom without too much loss. This is called super sight and the camera can auto-zoom to the action.
It records the video stream in H.264, [email protected] and can fall back to lower resolutions if Wi-Fi bandwidth is an issue.
Wi-Fi is AC Dual band, 2×2 MIMO (10-points!) and it also has Bluetooth LE for initial phone connection. Add a six-core processor, and you can see why it costs a little more.
Note: If your home is relatively dark during the day, e.g. curtains closed or a dimly lit hallway it may revert to IR mono recording. If you are monitoring the entry door, consider placing a lamp or a Philips Hue IFTTT light in the area to enable colour recording.
Also, with 130° FOV, you need to consider the mounting height. At desk height (900mm) you may not get the full face of entrants. Ideal mounting height is probably 1.2m.
It is a 5-out-of-5 for hardware.
Nest Cam Outdoor $279
The design is very similar to the Nest Cam IQ except it sits on a magnetic base. But the internals reflects the job it has to do and the fact that outdoor camera seldom has strong Wi-Fi signals.
It has a 3MP, 1080p sensor, 130° FOV and records at H.269 [email protected] video. Because of the lower megapixels, it has an 8X digital zoom.
It ups the LEDs to eight 850nm for better IR 6m distance. It has a microphone and speaker in an IP65 weather resistant enclosure. In tests, the microphone and speaker clarity depend on Wi-Fi signal strength. Wi-Fi is N 2.4Ghz and Bluetooth LE to connect to a smartphone.
Power is in two parts. First, a 240V, 4.5m cable to a USB termination box that supplies 5V/1.4A USB. Then a three-metre USB-A cable to the camera – a total of up to 7.5 metres from the power point. This is great flexibility although I would not knock a discrete hole through a wall as the instructions suggest. It also has all the screws you need.
As the new design and for the thoughtfulness it is a 4.5-out-of-5 for hardware.
Nest Cam indoor $279
This is the original Nest camera. It shares much of the technology of the Nest Cam Outdoor but not the chalk white egg-cup design.
The camera has a 3MP sensor, H.264 [email protected], 130° FOV, PIR and 8 x IR LEDs (6 metres), microphone and speaker.
Power is via a micro-USB, 5V/1.4A charger, and a three-metre cable.
Wi-Fi is N dual band and Bluetooth LE for smartphone connection. It has a desk stand and a wall mounting plate.
You buy this if you don’t need the Google Assitant functionality of the Nest Cam IQ.
As an older design and at a lower cost is it a 4-out-of-5 for hardware.
The Nest Cam app
The Android app (and we presume iOS) enables geo-fencing to turn off the camera when home and on (away mode) when you leave. This applies to your smartphone or smartwatch.
Notifications come via email for people, motion or sound. You can set up the app on multiple family phones and devices.
At 1080p, Nest Cam requires 800 to 2,000 Kbps of upload bandwidth while streaming video. Cameras will use more bandwidth to stream video when there is more movement in a scene.
If you have older, stream-driven ADSL then it may be hard to get 1080p streaming because that is up to 2Mbps. NBN users will have no issues. Still set the bandwidth the Auto and it looks after everything.
You can schedule your camera to turn off and on again up to 32 times per week.
Unless you have Nest Aware option, activity is saved for a rolling five days as a series of short clips on your device.
In all the app is all you need for basic operation.
Nest Aware – ongoing subscription
All the neat stuff happens here – damn. But to be fair, it needs the power of the AI Nest cloud to do that.
If you subscribe to Nest Aware, your camera will stream all video to the cloud for secure off-site storage. The video-quality setting.
Unlike most camera’s it will continuously record/stream 24/7 for up to 30 days to the cloud. Most other services only record clips and can lose detail.
The cloud can learn to recognise a person (or persons) or pets – familiar face detection and unfamiliar face detection and send intelligent alerts.
It also allows you to set activity zones and guessing that it leverages Google’s massive AI capabilities for future enhancements.
GadgetGuy’s take: Nesting instincts take over
This is a Google product from its design and appearance to its dependence on AI cloud underpinnings.
Nest Cam IQ is interesting, but unless you need Google Assistant, I think it is a tad expensive. Still, as an all-in-one device, it has its place. 1080p video quality is perfect for this, and on good Wi-Fi/Internet its two-way talk is the best I have seen. Note that it does not do everything the Google Home Speaker can do.
The Nest Cam Indoor is all that you need if you have Google Assistant (Doesn’t everyone?).
Nest Cam Outdoors is a well thought out design, and I love the power supply flexibility.
The free app is all that you need for basic monitoring. It also does not flog your data allowance.
The paid Nest Aware with continuous recording does flog your data. Assuming full 1080p, it can be up to 30GB per hour – you will need NBN unlimited for that. It will also hog upload bandwidth – now that is not an issue for downloaders, but multiple cameras may be an issue.
On that point Arlo and now D-Link use a separate Wi-Fi base station – the latter allows for local recording as well. I am yet to be swayed either way, but it does make sense to keep major traffic off the Wi-Fi home network.
Still, the Nest buyer will want all that Google offers and it does that via Wi-Fi.
And don’t be too concerned about reports of Nest hacking. The problem is you – don’t reuse passwords, especially those generic ones you use for everything. Better still use two-step-authentication.
Overall without Nest Aware and local storage all the devices as an ecosystem score 4-out-of-5. If you can afford Nest Aware (and Nest gear) then its 5-out-of-5