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Nest Cam review: This Dropcam Pro successor delivers top-shelf security

Michael Ansaldo | Nov. 10, 2015
While probably not worth the upgrade for Dropcam Pro owners, Nest's first security camera is great option for first-time home monitors.

Setup and usage

Nest Cam offers two painless setup options: via the Nest app on a Bluetooth LE-capable smartphone or tablet, or through the Nest website on a Mac or Windows computer. Using the app method, you’ll be required to scan the QR code on the back of the Nest Cam with your device; you’ll need to connect the camera to your computer via USB cable to do the website setup. In either case, the Nest setup wizard walks you through the process of adding the camera to your Nest account and connecting to your home Wi-Fi network.

Whereas most of the other security cameras in our guide seem designed to blend in with your home’s furnishings, Nest Cam’s all-seeing eye peered conspicuously from wherever I placed it, but perhaps that makes it more of a deterrent to bad behavior, whether by unsupervised children or intruders.

The Nest Cam maintained a strong connection to my Wi-Fi network, even when I moved it to an upstairs bedroom (our router is downstairs). Video was crystal clear, even with night vision turned on, and there was only moderate fish-eye distortion at the edges, usually when I placed it in a smaller room where it had a shorter focal length.

Nest Cam
A slightly upgraded Dropcam Pro, Nest Cam boasts improved resolution and a sleeker design. Credit: Nest Labs

The Nest app provides everything you need to manage the camera. Once you select your camera from the home screen, you’ll see your live video feed. From this screen you can turn the camera on and off, activate the mic, pinch-and-zoom in on a specific area, and view your history of motion events. From the settings menu you can change the video resolution, turn alerts on an off, and schedule the camera to automatically turn off a specified times or just when you’re home.

If you have Nest Aware account, this is also where you’ll be able to set your activity zones, create video clips and use other advanced functions. You can also control these features from the Nest web client.

Motion detection was pretty sharp in my tests. When the camera was trained on the center of my living room, the sensor was triggered only if a body—human or non-human—moved. It never sent alerts for incidental motions such as a fluttering curtain or leaves blowing in the breeze outside my patio window.

Sound detection was less predictable. While it paid no mind to the air purifier and fan running in my living room—proving Nest’s claim that it learns to filter our unremarkable noise—it also didn’t react to a loud hand-clap or to me moving items around on a table. But it was triggered by a cough.

 

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