Nest Cam review: A great security cam, indoors or out


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With this completely new and battery-powered iteration of the Nest Cam, Google’s smart home division continues to raise the bar when it comes to security cameras, setting a standard for usability (especially during setup) that most other device manufacturers can only dream of.

From a hardware perspective, the Nest Cam is a radical refresh of the old teardrop-shaped Nest Cam Indoor, designed with a tough, plastic, cup-shaped housing that adheres magnetically to its surface-mountable base (it looks very similar to the now-discontinued Nest Cam IQ). It’s reasonably weather resistant, carrying an IP54 rating (meaning its enclosure will keep out enough dust to prevent failure and that it’s protected from water sprayed from a pressure washer at a reasonable distance), so it can be used indoors or outdoors. (You can read all about IP codes at this link.)

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best home security cameras, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.
nest cam battery outdoor Google Nest

The 2021 version of the Nest Cam carries an IP rating of 54, meaning its enclosure will keep out enough dust to prevent failure and that it’s protected from water sprayed from a pressure washer at a reasonable distance.

The new Nest Cam can run on battery power, and Google says it should deliver between 1.5 and seven months of run time before it needs to be recharged, depending on usage. Alternatively, it can be used with its proprietary magnetic AC charging cable attached 24/7.

Don’t miss our our equally in-depth Nest Doorbell review.

Everything about the hardware feels designed to make things easy for the homeowner. The magnetic mounting system makes placement, aiming, and removal a breeze, and the magnetic charging cable is equally easy to use. The cable (which, at a mere 3.3 feet in length, is much too short) does come at the expense of compatibility of course; with a USB connection it would be easier and cheaper to run a long, generic cable to the device instead of having to resort to an extension cord or buying a longer proprietary one ($35 to $40 from Google).

nest cam app 2 Christopher Null / IDG

The new Nest Cam’s wide-angle lens provides a sweeping view of your surroundings.

One drawback with the magnetic mounting system is that it won’t work for tabletop/bookshelf installations; it really must be mounted to a wall or ceiling to be properly aimed. A $30 stand-and-charger accessory is available for those who want a less permanent mounting solution—again bumping up the total cost.

A wizard system in the Google Home app steps you through software setup with amazing ease, which primarily revolves around scanning a QR code that covers the lens while it’s in the box, followed by answering a few questions to connect the camera to your Wi-Fi (with support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks) and configuring some basic options to get recording going. I spent only a few minutes on this part of the process and never encountered any stutters or hiccups of more than a few seconds while waiting for a feed.

Video quality, at 1080p resolution, is on par with many competing security cameras, and the 130-degree field of view provides a nicely wide view of your surroundings. Two-way audio is also included. On the whole, I found the picture to be plenty clear, at least during the day. The camera’s night vision (infrared/black and white only) isn’t the best; the specs claim 20 feet of visibility, but I was unable to achieve that in my testing.

Out of the box, the Nest Cam offers live viewing and three hours of event-based/motion-sensed video history (all stored on the cloud, though the device has one hour of on-device storage in case your network dies). This can be upgraded to 60 days of event history with a Nest Aware subscription ($6/month or $60/year), or enhanced further by upgrading to Nest Aware Plus ($12/month or $120/year). That option adds 10 days of 24/7 video recording. Purchasing a Nest Aware Plus subscription is the only way to enable 24/7 recording, and the camera must be connected to an AC power source for that feature to operate.

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