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Nest Cam review: a slightly pricey way to secure your home

Zach Miners | Aug. 10, 2015
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. With Nest's motion-sensing camera, that prevention will put a dent in your wallet.

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. With Nest's motion-sensing camera, that prevention will put a dent in your wallet.

The Google-owned company, which makes a smart thermostat and smoke detector, recently launched its first home security camera, the Nest Cam. It offers higher-quality video and smarter motion detection than its predecessor, the Dropcam, which Nest acquired last year. But with a bunch of similar cameras on the market, some of which come with cheaper or even free cloud storage plans, the Nest Cam is not necessarily a smart buy.

After testing it for a couple weeks, I found the camera effective at detecting certain types of motion. But whether it's worth the US$200 -- and at least $10 per month extra for access to the recorded video, which is important to make the product really useful -- depends on your security needs and the type of activities you want to monitor.

Of course, the Nest Cam could more than pay for itself if it thwarts a break-in attempt or helps identify someone who vandalizes your property. But aside from that, for a single person like me, who lives alone without pets to keep an eye on, and whose apartment doesn't look out on the street, the Nest Cam may not justify its cost.

You should also consider rival products, like the Canary camera, which costs $250 but has a free recorded video plan, or the Simplicam, which costs $200 including its cheapest one-year recording subscription.

Still, the Nest Cam could make a nice gift for my parents, whose dog routinely jumps onto their bed when they leave home. And the camera has a speaker, so you can comfort -- or scold -- your pet via the microphone on your smartphone.

What it does

The Nest Cam records video, stores it in the cloud, and lets you watch it later on your smartphone or desktop. You can also watch the video live, which means you don't need a cloud subscription. The camera sits atop a small stand that swivels and also comes with a wall mount. It requires a Wi-Fi connection and needs to be plugged into a power outlet.

Detecting motion and sound is what the camera is all about. If it detects motion in its field of view, or picks up a sound, you'll receive a notification on the Nest app when that happens.

The camera includes free access to live video. That means you can always peek at what's happening in your home at any given moment. But to get the most out of the camera, you're going to want a Nest Aware subscription. That lets you review the recorded video from the past 10 or 30 days, depending on the plan you choose. The 10-day option costs $10 per month, while the 30-day option costs $30 per month. The subscription price gets cheaper for additional cameras.


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