Google Nest Cam with Battery Review CNET

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Chris Monroe / CNET

Google is back in smart home safety saddle with a new $ 180 Nest Cam. It is battery powered, rated for outdoor or indoors use and stands for rival Arlo and Wyze for smart features and technical specifications. But is it really the best?

For $ 180, it’s not the most or least expensive. The specifications are also mid-range and pair for the smart cam track. What you get from Google for the first time is free smart warning features, activity zones and processing on the device thanks to a new machine learning chip. In the end, it’s hard to recommend to its aforementioned competitors — unless you live in a household that is only ready.

Read more: Google Nest has just launched its new indoor security camera and searchlight camera

Like

  • Free smart alerts
  • Indoor / outdoor use
  • Great Home app interface

Dislike

  • Still expensive
  • Only 3 hours clip included
  • Heavy and large

Design

Technically, the new Nest Cam is called “Nest Cam (outdoor or indoor, battery)”, but it’s a handful to write, so we’re simply referring to it as Nest Cam in this review.

The new Nest Cam is designed for indoor or outdoor use. It is IP54 rated, which means that even though it is weather resistant, it is not waterproof. It comes in one color (snow, read: Google white) and you can mount it either magnetically or with the included wall plate, screws and anchors. It’s battery powered, but you can buy a $ 35 weatherproof power cord to follow if you prefer a wired outdoor installation.

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Nest Cam comes with a charging cable and wall plate for mounting.

Molly Price / CNET

The camera itself is magnetic and clicks easily on the included base. Although this thing is almost a pound of 14 ounces, the magnet feels strong enough to hold the camera on the base. The Nest Cam is 3.27 inches wide, about 1.25 inches larger than the Wyze Cam V3. The design is sleek and simple, but this statistic adds up to a chunky feeling unit.

If you choose indoor use (I would not; more on that later) you can place it on a $ 30 sold separately that comes with a charging cable to act as a sort of dock.

Specifications and battery life

This new Nest Cam has all the camera statistics you can expect to see, e.g. 1080p HD video, night vision, a 130 ° diagonal field of view, 6x digital zoom and two-way audio. These are not unique specifications. No, you really do not need better technology than that to monitor your backyard. 1080P resolution serves you well and the night vision works fine.

I would like to see a wider field of view, especially since the camera on the magnetic tripod is not very adjustable. I had to find the perfect height shelf to see my living room and not the ceiling. The indoor stand enhances this a bit.

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A charging stand for indoor use is sold separately.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Battery life is the big issue with smart home appliances like cameras, lock and doorbells. Remember to add AAs to yours August lock is annoying and therefore also need to remember to charge your doorbell or surveillance camera. Google told me that Nest Cam’s battery life depends on factors like activity, temperature, and camera settings.

Google estimates that the battery lasts somewhere between 1.5 and seven months, depending on these factors. I charged our camera to 100% and 24 hours later I was down to 97% in standard battery mode with the auto battery saver enabled. It’s about four months’ battery under the exact circumstances. There are options in the Home app to adjust the frequency of event recordings, video quality and clipping length. There are also three battery modes to choose from if you do not want cherry-pick power settings.

The Google team provided these battery life estimates:

  • Busy: Approximately 1.5 months battery life (approximately 20-25 recorded events per day)
  • Typical: Approximately 3 months battery life (approx. 9-12 recorded events per day)
  • Funny: Approx. 7 months battery life (approx. 2-4 recorded events per day)
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Home screenshots using Nest Cam.

Screenshots by Molly Price / CNET

Feature freebies

Google sunsets the old Nest Cams and Nest Cam IQs. A line update was a long time ago and I was happy to hear that Google includes more free features in the new Nest Cam and the new wireless version of its Nest Doorbell.

Without a Nest Aware subscription, you will still receive customizable activity zones alerts. You can configure them in the app – in a menu buried deep in the camera settings. Each zone can have its own group of alerts. For example, you can set half of the display to notify for animals and the other half to notify for vehicles.

That level of specificity is nice if you are monitoring a large area at multiple intervals. I can imagine creating a zone that warns me if the dog leaves the yard and escapes out into the driveway. There are also warnings for people and general movement. It’s all thanks to a new machine learning chip on board the Nest Cam.

Included without a subscription, you also get a three-hour event history, and you can download each clip. It sounds like a lot and at first I was impressed. Then I thought of the Wyze Cam V3 I use at home, which includes 14 days of event history for free. Several times during my test, I came across an event that I was notified of, and took note of later, to realize that it was no longer available at the time I remembered to check.

In one case, I could only see half a clip because I just happened to see it when it expired, at. 2: 59: 30-ish. It can certainly be a personal issue, but I’m probably not the only one who gets busy and forgets to download the clip.

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Chris Monroe / CNET

This is where the Nest Aware subscriptions start. Subscribe to Nest Aware for $ 6 per Month, you get knowledge of face recognition and audible alarms (smoke, broken glass and carbon monoxide), the ability to call 911 from the Google Home app, and 30 days of event video history. Upgrade to Nest Aware Plus for $ 12 a month and you get all of these options plus 60 days of video history and 10 days of video recording 24/7 if your Nest Cam is wired.

The included free smart warnings are probably plentiful for most people. Familiar Faces is a good touch, but definitely something I would categorize as a luxury. Add Familiar Faces, and your camera notifies you of named people as synced to your Google Account. Audible alarms are perhaps more practical, especially if you travel frequently and want to know when something is not right. I’m glad they’re included in the $ 6 option and not behind the Nest Aware Plus payment wall.

What really makes the Nest Aware subscription almost necessary are the limits of the free three-hour clip storage. Going from three hours to 30 days will make a world of difference for most users. It eliminates the mental strain of having to remember to download a clip quickly before it is gone.

Confidentiality and security

If you are concerned about security, Google is ready to make its latest promise. Video recordings on the new Nest Cam are encrypted during transport and at rest on Nest servers. According to the Google team, these are the most vulnerable points in the data life cycle.

Processing of these animal, person and vehicle detections – as well as recognition of Familiar Faces – all takes place locally on the device. Nest Cam’s machine learning chip does it all. There is no cloud processing. It is not the strongest encryption on the market. Ring encrypts end-to-end, but only on wired devices, and only if you sign up.

A green LED light tells you when the camera is processing or streaming video to a viewer. Add the camera to your Home and Away routines, and you can choose to record video only after you leave home. Home and Away presence detection is powered either by your mobile device or sensors in selected Nest products.

Another security-related thing caught my eye on the Google Store page for the new Nest Cam. If someone removes your camera (easy to do with the magnetic camera-to-base application), they replace it for free. What is the catch? You must file a police report and provide Google with a copy within 30 days. You can read more about camera theft replacements on Google’s support page.

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Nest Cam is mounted magnetically on its base.

Chris Monroe / CNET

What else is out there

You have options these days when it comes to outdoor cameras. Google’s Nest Cam is not the best when it comes to specifications or price.

The similar, yet smaller, lighter and more weatherproof Wyze Cam V3 is only $ 37 and includes 14 days of clip storage. Even if you add the Wyze Cam Plus subscription to people and object detection, you’re still well below the $ 180 mark to around $ 60 for the camera and a one-year subscription.

Then there’s Arlo’s new $ 200 Pro 4 camera with a 2K resolution and a wider field of view than the Nest Cam. We loved Arlo Pro 3 and yet the new Pro 4 is even better than its predecessors. Not only does it come with great features and reliable service, but it is actually our favorite outdoor security camera the year’s. You can read our full review of the Arlo Pro 4 camera here.


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Are you going to buy it?

If you have your heart set on a Nest Cam, do not worry. This one works well, and it’s not even the only camera Google is launching this year. There will also be a wired version for indoor use only. We do not have an availability date yet, but Google tells us it will cost $ 100 – their cheapest camera offer yet.

Nest Cam does everything I would expect from it. It works seamlessly with the Google Home app, and Nest Aware offers several great feature upgrades. Still, it’s hard to sell to me for $ 180 unless you really invest in having Nest products in your home.

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