The new, upgraded security camera from Nest is now on sale. This is the third smart camera from Nest, called . So does it live up to its name?
Well, it certainly boasts that it can tell the difference between a person and a thing, for instance. Let’s see.
Set-up is easy, as you might expect from Nest. Unpack the camera, which looks a little like a small, satin-white version of the Pixar desk lamp, Luxo Jr., plug it in and download the app. Scan the code on the base of the lamp with the app, and you’re mostly done.
A note here about the build quality. It’s great. And the details have been attended to. The USB-C cable that stretches from the camera to the charging plug has different ends so you can tell them apart, and one has a shaped plastic lug which perfectly fits the slot in the camera base. Neat.
Once you’re up and running, having placed the camera where you’re happy with it (you can wall-mount it if you like because the camera can be pivoted very precisely) you can see what the image looks like – the camera streams video constantly and you can see it on the app or on the web.
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Here’s one of the standout features of the Nest Cam IQ: the picture quality. The camera has a 4K sensor, way better than rivals. That doesn’t mean it streams video at that resolution, though. It does this at Full HD quality, which looks pretty good. Nest says it’s sharp enough to serve as useful evidence to the police.
No, the 4K is there in case it spots somebody moving across its field of vision. Like other cameras, it sends you an alert to let you know it’s spotted something. Nest, though, can track the person in the frame. It does this not by moving the camera, but by digitally zooming in on the image and tracking the intruder within the wide-angle (130-degree) total picture. Nest calls this feature Supersight and the 4K resolution is what makes that zoom-in possible while maintaining HD resolution.
The camera also has HDR (High Dynamic Range) capabilities to further improve the images it captures.
What’s more, it can even use face recognition learning to identify people. This means you’ll know if the moving person is your child arriving home from school or somebody you’ve never seen before.
Note that this last feature comes as part of Nest Aware, a subscription system that costs £80 a year, though you can also sign up to it on a monthly basis for £8 – handy if you’re going on holiday. The monthly subscription doesn’t renew itself so is very flexible. You might activate it a couple of times a year. With Nest Aware you can highlight areas in the camera’s view so when there’s activity in that part of the frame you receive an alert. The subscription also includes continuous recording, and you can create custom clips or timelapses.
The regular alerts, which include a snapshot of what the camera saw, and SuperSight cost nothing. The app includes a snapshot history of the previous three hours in case you miss an alert.
The Nest Cam IQ claims to be smart enough to distinguish between a person and thing. Leaving aside the philosophical connotations of such a claim, I found it pretty good at recognising that a parcel falling through the letter box did not require an alert. But it sometimes let me know when the dog got on or off the sofa.
I mean, to be fair, in my household she is very much a person, but theoretically it should have known not to alert me about this. Overall, though, I found the combination of good picture quality and well-judged alerts to be effective.
The Nest Aware subscription includes continuous recording of what the camera sees, so you have a 10-day or 30-day video history that you can browse at high speed. If you want the 30-day history the price is a higher, £24 a month or £240 a year.
Nest Aware also offers intelligent audio alerts so if the microphone hears someone talking it can let you know even if they’re out of sight. Useful to know if the dog’s spooked by an intruder, or if he’s driving the neighbours nuts because he won’t stop barking.
There’s a speaker, as well as three microphones. A blue LED ring lights up when you’re having a two-way conversation with your child or your dog or, I suppose, the intruder. Because it has separate microphones and a speaker it’s not the walkie-talkie experience of some cameras.
This is a high-end piece of kit with great build quality and lots of well-specced features.
It goes on sale today, .
The first models, and are still on sale and are cheaper: £159 and £179 respectively.