Nest Cam Review

Nest is best known for its smart thermostats, but the company has continued moving forward into other areas of the connected home. They have a powerful and innovative set of home security cameras and digital hubs, along with broad compatibility with third-party smart home ecosystems.

9.2
/10
Editor's Rating

  • Innovative person detection technology
  • Choice of free or paid plan options
  • Compatible with third-party platforms
Aliza Vigderman Gabe TurnerExpert
Last Updated on Apr 27, 2020

Nest is a giant in the smart home space. Owned by Google, who we assume you’ve heard of, Nest began in 2011 with the Nest Learning Thermostat,1 a smart thermostat that can learn people’s heating and cooling schedules within a few days. After the company acquired Dropcam three years later, the Nest Cam Indoor2 was born, followed by the Nest Cam Outdoor, the Nest Cam IQ Indoor, and the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor. Fortunately for you, our experts have tested out each and every Nest camera, and here’s what we thought.

Nest Cam IndoorNest Cam OutdoorNest Cam IQ IndoorNest Cam IQ Outdoor
Price$199$199$299$399
Wireless or Plugged InPlug-inPlug-inEitherPlug-in
Resolution1080p HD1080p HD1080p HD with 4K sensors with HDR and intelligent imaging1080p HD with 4K sensors with HDR and intelligent imaging
Field of Zoom881212
Field of View130130130130
Infrared Night Vision
Two-Way?✓- 7x more powerful speaker than Nest Indoor
Localxxxx
Cloud3 hours free, or 30 or 60 days with Nest Aware subscription3 hours free, or 30 or 60 days with Nest Aware subscription3 hours free, or 30 or 60 days with Nest Aware subscription3 hours free, or 30 or 60 days with Nest Aware subscription
Smart Platform IntegrationGoogle Assistant, Philips Hue lightbulbs, Amazon Alexa, etcGoogle Assistant, Philips Hue lightbulbs, Amazon Alexa, etcGoogle Assistant, Philips Hue lightbulbs, Amazon Alexa, etcGoogle Assistant, Philips Hue lightbulbs, Amazon Alexa, etc
Artificial IntelligencePerson detection with Nest AwarePerson detection with Nest AwarePerson detection, facial recognitionPerson detection, facial recognition

Key Similarities

Nest Cameras
The full lineup of Nest cameras.

After extensive testing, here are the main similarities that we’ve found in all of Nest’s cameras:

Power

We plugged all of the cameras into power. That meant that we didn’t have to worry about the battery running out any time soon, although some people may prefer wireless home security cameras.

Video

Nest Cam Indoor Video Display
Our hands-on test of the Nest Cam Indoor.

In livestreaming our Nest cam footage, we saw that all of the cameras have the industry standard of 1080p HD video, which made for a crisp image no matter which camera we were testing.

Of course, we’re not just looking for high video quality; we’re also looking for a wide field of view, because, especially for our outdoor cameras, we want to have maximum visibility for our home security. Luckily, we enjoyed the Nest cameras’ 130-degree fields of view, which certainly let us see enough of our home to monitor it properly.

Advice: For maximum visibility, we recommend placing your Nest camera in the corner of a room as opposed to flat on a wall.

Audio

Since all our Nest cameras had speakers and microphones, we were able to use the Nest app3 to speak to whomever the camera showed. This feature was especially helpful when giving our dog walker instructions while we were at work.

Night Vision

Nest Cam Indoor Night Vision
Our Nest Cam Indoor night vision test.

We didn’t just test out our Nest cameras during the day; we also tested them out at night and were pleased with the black and white footage made possible by the cameras’ LED sensors. We actually prefer this option over color night vision from a bright white light, as the cameras’ LED sensors are much less noticeable than a spotlight. In fact, the majority of our guests didn’t even notice our Nest outdoor cameras, even though they were capturing their every move (but not in a creepy way, we promise).

Storage

We were a bit disappointed that none of the Nest cameras have local storage, which is typically in the form of a micro-SD card. Rather, all of our storage was through Nest’s cloud server, which we were able to access easily through the Nest app. Nest gave us three free hours of cloud storage, but we ended up buying more through Nest Aware. As you can see below, the prices are pretty affordable, which was not always the case with Nest. We ended up buying 30 days of cloud storage for only $6 a month, although we could’ve saved some money and signed up for a year for $60. If we ever wanted to add more cloud storage, 60 days would cost $12 a month or $120 a year, which doesn’t exactly break the bank.

Time Length (in days)MonthlyYearly
5$5.00$50.00
10$10.00$100.00
30$30.00$300.00

Motion Detection

All of the cameras can sense motion, so depending on the settings we chose, we could get notified every time the camera sees something move, a standard feature when it comes to smart security cameras. However, we opted to set our cameras up differently, as with motion-activated recording only, we got a bunch of unnecessary notifications from cars, pets, and other moving objects that aren’t people, but more in that in our artificial intelligence section.

Smart Platform Integrations

In addition to controlling them through the Nest app, we also controlled all of our Nest cameras using Google Assistant4 and Alexa. What commands did we use, exactly? Well, using Alexa, we had our Nest cameras’ footage show on our Echo Show devices or Fire TV. It was really cool to see our family on our big-screen TV, and being able to make this happen using our voices alone made us feel slightly like superheroes. If we wanted to get the footage off the screen, we could do that through Alexa as well. Google Assistant worked similarly; we streamed our Nest footage on our Chromecast, which we have in addition to Fire TV. In addition to the voice assistants, we set up our Nest cameras to work with Philips Hue smart lighting. We have a ton of smart light bulbs and fixtures in our home, so we had our lights adjust accordingly when we wanted to stream footage from our Nest cameras without glare. No matter which Nest camera we went with, we noticed that the smart home features were exactly the same.

The Nest App

Nest App
Preview of our Nest app testing.

While using all of the Nest cameras, we used the same Nest app whenever we were away from home. It was here where we viewed live footage, spoke to loved ones through two-way audio, rifled through cloud storage, receiving notifications, set up smart platform integrations, named people for familiar face alerts, and more. The app was super easy to use, and we loved how it integrated all of our Nest products under one virtual roof, from our Nest Learning Thermostat to our Nest Protect smoke and CO detector. Other Nest customers seemed to agree with us, as the app has a 4.7 on the Apple store and a 4.3 on the Google Play store.5 Since we last reviewed the Nest cameras, this app has gotten a lot less buggy, so thank you to Nest for making some vast improvements!

Key Differences

Of course, we also found a ton of differences between the Nest cameras, such as:

Power

The Nest Cam IQ Indoor is the only Nest camera we set up to be battery-powered, although we also tested it plugged in like the rest of the bunch.

Cost

We paid $299 for the Nest Cam IQ Indoor and $399 for the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, definitely a bit more expensive than other security cameras we’ve purchased in the past. However, the original Nest cameras cost $199 each, which wasn’t bad considering how well they work.

Money Saving Tip: If you want Nest on a budget, buy the Nest Cam Outdoor or the Nest Cam Indoor, as the IQ cameras are more expensive.

Video

When we live streamed footage or reviewed cloud storage, we noticed that the IQ cameras’ footage looked way better than the originals. That’s because only the IQ cameras have 4K sensors plus HDR, which made the light less distorted, especially for our outdoor cameras. In addition, whenever the IQ cameras saw a person, they automatically zoomed in on them, which was super convenient when we wanted to see who was on our lawn. Nest calls this feature Supersight, but we just call it Super Smart.

Obviously, we want our footage to be as detailed as possible, so we zoomed in eight times with the Nest Cam Outdoor and the Nest Cam Indoor. This feature was particularly helpful when we departed for a trip and were worried we left the oven on; it was easy to go into the Nest app and zoom into the oven’s digital display by pinching the screen. On the other hand, we zoomed in 12 times with the Nest Cam IQ Indoor and the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, but of course, we paid a higher price.

Audio

When we spoke through the cameras’ speakers, we noticed that the IQ cameras made us clearer to understand, based on the number of times we had to repeat ourselves to the dog sitter, which was zero with the latest models.

Night Vision

While we could see clearly at night with any of the Nest cameras, the footage from the IQ cameras was much brighter at night, which made sense as they have more LED sensors than the originals.

Artificial Intelligence

Our Nest app capturing some outdoor motion.

Remember when we said we’d come back to motion detection? So, when it came to customizing exactly when we wanted our cameras to record, the possibilities were a bit different depending on the camera. For example, without having to pay for any additional service, we set the IQ cameras only to record when they detected people, not just any type of motion. With a few days of seeing mostly the same people, namely our friends and family, the cameras started to group faces together, which we then named in the Nest app. This grouping led to us getting super-specific notifications, not just that our camera detected a person but that Helen is in our front yard (Helen is our dog sitter, but we swear we know other people as well!). With the original Nest cameras, we had to sign up for Nest Aware to get these features. Before we bought Nest Aware, we received a ton of notifications throughout the day, especially from our outdoor cameras, when cars, animals, or any inanimate moving objects passed by. It became pretty annoying to be disturbed so many times throughout the day when it wasn’t necessary, which is why we ended up buying Nest Aware for the Nest Cam Indoor and the Nest Cam Outdoor.

Durability

Not to state the obvious, but we used the indoor cameras inside only, as we were worried about them getting damaged by rain or snow. The outdoor cameras, on the other hand, kept working even through various forms of precipitation.

Installing Our Nest Cameras

White Cord with Nest Cam Indoor
Overall, our Nest cameras were pretty easy to install.

Like 60% of all security systems,6 we had to install our Nest cameras all by ourselves. When it came to setting everything up, all of the Nest cameras worked nearly identically. Pretty much all we had to do was plug them in and connect them to our Wi-Fi network in the Nest app. The app guided us through the process step-by-step, and we had them set up in only a few minutes each. Of course, if you wanted to mount them, that would take a bit more time and some screwing, but we simply placed our cameras on flat surfaces and called it a day. But if you’re feeling too lazy for DIY installation, you can pay to get your Nest cameras installed by a professional for $99 each. Since we were a bit short on cash, DIY was a great option for us.

Monitoring Options

Nest gave us a few different options when it came to monitoring our cameras. No matter what, self-monitored through the Nest app, which included livestreaming footage, receiving notifications and controlling our cameras remotely. But we opted for a bit more protection through professional monitoring. Nest actually outsources its professional monitoring to Brinks. We chose to pay a monthly fee of $29 as opposed to $19 a month if we signed up for a year. Hey, we can’t help that we’re scared of commitment!

With monitoring, we also got cellular backup, which kept our cameras on in the event of a power outage. Of course, we also had Nest Secure installed, which made professional monitoring worth it, but we like that it’s optional, so you can avoid monthly fees if you really want to.

Recap

In our extensive testing of each, we found that Nest’s cameras are some of the highest quality on the market today, especially in terms of video and artificial intelligence capabilities. However, if you’d like to save money, we’d recommend buying the original Nest Cam Indoor and Nest Cam Outdoor as opposed to the newer, more advanced IQ cameras. No matter which camera you end up going with, they all worked really well for us and made it easy to stay on top of our home’s security, so you can’t go wrong with Nest!

Citations
  1. New York Times. (2011). A Thermostat That’s Clever, Not Clunky.
    nytimes.com/2011/12/01/technology/personaltech/nest-learning-thermostat-sets-a-standard-david-pogue.html

  2. Google. (2015). Say hello to Nest Cam.
    blog.google/products/nest/say-hello-nest-cam/

  3. Apple App Store. (2020). Nest App. apps.apple.com/us/app/nest/id464988855

  4. Google Assistant. (2020). Nest.
    assistant.google.com/services/a/uid/000000adfd134183?hl=en-US

  5. Google Play Store. (2020). Nest App.
    play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nest.android&hl=en_US

  6. PR Newswire. (2020). Parks Associates: 60% of Newly Acquired Security Systems Are Self-Installed.
    prnewswire.com/news-releases/parks-associates-60-of-newly-acquired-security-systems-are-self-installed-301017272.html