Nest Cam review: Love it or leave it?
One night after a long commute from work, I was approached by two men dressed in all black while getting out of my car. It turns out the guy who claimed he was a cop actually wasn’t. I felt like my family’s safety was in jeopardy and that we needed something to help mitigate that. One component of the security measures we implemented was the Nest Camera. After about a year of use here’s my nest cam review.
I’m starting with cost because I think this might be the biggest hurdle to get over for anyone considering adding a Nest cam to their home security. Each of the Nest cams runs about $200, which isn’t too bad, but you also (pretty much) need to purchase Nest Aware which starts at $100/yr. Each camera adds $50 onto the yearly subscription cost. So at minimum you’re looking at $300 for one camera.
Straight out of the box, without Nest Aware the cameras will save up to three hours of past history, and of course you can view them live with audio.
I personally don’t mind a higher upfront cost if it eliminates recurring fees, but that’s not really what Nest is pushing here. However, I did see a video of someone setting up their own monitoring software to avoid these monthly fees. I can’t vouch if this works or not since I haven’t tried it, nor do I know if it violates any terms and conditions, so do so at your own risk.
In this regard I can only review the Nest Outdoor camera because I purchased two of those… One for indoor use and one for outdoor use. I liked that the outdoor camera was weatherproof, white, and easily mounted. Having the flexibility to place it outside if I wanted later was big for me. The outdoor Nest camera costs the same as the indoor Nest camera so I figured I was getting more for my buck and it would blend in better with my white walls. Pro tip: it does (I don’t think anyone has noticed the camera in our foyer unless we’ve pointed it out to them).
As an Architect I can say that the design is really impressive. It’s sleek and really simple to install. You pretty much just mount a strong magnet and stick the camera to it. The camera swivels really easily on the magnet in whatever direction you want. The worst part is figuring out what you want to do with the wire you had to run to an outlet.
You can set the image quality of your nest cam through the website or app to 360p, 720p, 1080p, or auto. 1080 ppi is HD quality. Obviously the higher the image quality, the more that your internet is being eaten up to capture the video.
The sound quality that’s picked up is okay. It’s not the best, but it does the job. You can hear normal volume conversations within the space and in an adjacent room (at least in our house with an open floor plan).
We had an ADT representative install some cameras that I didn’t really like… The refresh rate was low, the field of view was low, the quality was poor, and we were paying monthly for them. The ADT guy who sold them to us swore that they were top of the line for residential applications. He said that anything that captures more than snapshots would require a monitoring station with switchboards. This is simply not true and the Nest Cams show that.
But back to the installation… I was sad we hired someone to install these because there’s really not much to it. I thought the cameras were going to have to be hardwired and/or need new electrical outlets. That wasn’t the case for us. So as long as there’s access to an outlet and wireless internet (you may need a wifi signal extender), it’s pretty simple.
From what I can tell, the indoor Nest camera just plugs in and sits on the stand it comes with.
The outdoor Nest camera really only takes 2 screws to mount a strong magnet. Any additional screwing is for the clips to guide the wire where you want it go. I love this design, and it makes installation so easy.
Make sure that you test and pair your camera with the app BEFORE you mount it. I made the mistake of not doing this and there’s a number on the back of the camera that you need in order to install it. The numbers are really tiny so it was a bare to get the numbers, especially since I had already installed the clips and had only a few inches of cord to move the camera around.
One of the things I hated about the ADT cameras we had was that they only recorded if something happened in a small field of view. So the outdoor ADT camera only basically caught what was in front of our garage door… When I was looking to capture what was going on at our mailbox (about 20 feet further than what the camera was capturing). Furthermore the live/preview field of view you see on the ADT pulse app for the ADT camera was way smaller than the field of view it records video at. Total bummer.
The Nest cam records what it sees!
A lot of the power of the nest cam comes from what Nest Aware lets you do. So I’d be remiss if I didn’t also critique Nest Aware in this Nest cam review. In short, it has everything that I’d expect and I’m sure a lot more.
The display shows you all of your cameras and lets you easily select by clicking if you want to go into more detail. Once you select it, you enter a live view. At the bottom there’s a timeline where you can scrub through to see what’s happened. Any detected motion is highlighted on the timeline in grey which makes it easy to review that time.
I have found it a little difficult to view exactly what I want at the motion detected points on the app. I find myself sitting and waiting long periods of time for the motion to actually happen. You can jump or rewind in 15 second increments but that seems too much. Scrubbing through the history is a lot easier on a computer.
Nest Cam Review Bottomline: My Recommendation
I see the nest cam as a fundamental solution to our home security. Fortunately we haven’t really needed to use it for security purposes but it helps give us peace of mind. It’s also helped us in other ways like… the time our puppy got out of his crate and was tearing through the house. We could see how long he was out for and what he was doing. Our outdoor camera helped us realize that our lawn care guy wasn’t actually taking care of our lawn. We’ve also caught a handful of delivery people using our packages to throw hail mary’s. All useful information to have beyond security alone.
If you’re considering getting security cameras I’d recommend these. In my opinion they’re the best on the market, the design is sleek, and it’s a reliable company.
Have your own experience you’d like to add to this nest cam review? Leave them in the comments below!