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Google Nest Cam Hands-On Review
Even with new and improved models out there, the original Nest Cam is still worth a look.
Nest Cam has long been a crowd favorite for its versatile placement options, easy installation, and smooth integration with all things Nest. Since this little camera came out a few years ago, Nest has built on its success and released newer, better versions of its security cameras.
So, we thought we’d borrow Hermione’s Time Turner, turn back the clock, and see how the original Nest Cam Indoor holds up and whether it’s still worth considering today.
(Spoiler alert! It’s still a pretty slick little camera.)
What we really like:
- Super easy installation
- Versatile placement
What we don't like:
- Nest Aware subscription recommended
Nest Cam Indoor specs and standouts
One of the biggest standouts for the Nest Cam Indoor is the versatile mount base that it carried over from when the Nest Cam used to be Dropcam. You can completely disconnect the camera from the mounting bracket and place (or drop) it anywhere you like. This versatility is only slightly spoiled by the need to be within a cord’s length (10 feet) of an indoor power outlet.
- Resolution: 1080p HD
- FOV: 130°
- Pan and tilt: None
- Power source: Traditional AC (indoor) power outlet
- Night vision: 8 infrared LEDs
- Dimensions: 2.8 in. x 4.5 in.
- Weight: 7.1 oz.
All the Nest Cam's placement choices, combined with 1080p HD resolution, make the Nest Cam a great choice for a nanny cam since you can install it in a discreet location and still capture a high-quality image.
Nest Cam user experience
Setup and installation
Setting up our Nest Cam actually took less time than getting it out of the box. (For real. That thing is packed in there pretty tight.) Nest has streamlined the setup process to make it as easy as possible. It’s a quick four-step process.
- Step 1: Download the Nest app and create an account.
- Step 2: Plug in and power on the camera.
- Step 3: Scan the QR code on the back of the Nest Cam.
- Step 4: Done.
Ok, so it’s really a three-step process, which is even better. The whole thing took about five minutes—two of which were spent trying to come up with a name for our house. (The Red Keep, by the way.)
At 1080p HD resolution, the Nest Cam was the best of the best when it first came out years ago. But that also means it still holds up well against the competition today. We set it up on our mantle and were able to make out clear details in the kitchen and living room area, 30+ feet away.
The Nest Cam also has a 130° diagonal field of vision, which meant we could keep an eye on multiple entrances (front door, garage entry, and sliding door) all within the same frame. Not every floor plan will allow for this type of coverage, but for us, the wide FOV was ideal.
Notifications and alerts
Nest’s notifications left something to be desired. We were a little disappointed because when we purposely triggered the motion detection, our Nest Cam took several minutes to notify us via email. It’s not necessarily a deal breaker since the Nest Cam does so many things well for a reasonable price, but it’s definitely something to consider if you prefer timely notifications.
It’s worth noting that if you pay for a Nest Aware subscription, you gain access to an Alert Summary feature, which does exactly what it sounds like—it gives you a summary of any notifications and alerts you received, all in one place (the Nest app).
The Nest Cam comes with some standout features like Activity Zones, Timelapse, and Nest integration through the Nest app. Keep in mind, some of the advanced features (Activity Zones and Timelapse) are available only with a Nest Aware subscription.
Activity Zones might be our favorite feature of the original Nest Cam. Basically, it allows you to select a specific area to focus on within the Nest Cam’s view. So, for instance, you can set up the camera to ignore the bottom half of the screen so you don’t get a notification every time your dog walks by (unless you want to). Or you can select the area around your entryway so you get an alert when someone enters your home.
Activity Zones is a very practical feature, and it helps the Nest Cam know when to notify you so your phone doesn’t blow up with needless alerts.
Just because you’re recording every minute of every day doesn’t mean you have time to review the footage. This is where Timelapse becomes your best friend. It gathers footage triggered by motion throughout the day and displays it to you in quick succession.
This means you review only the video clips that actually show activity instead of looking at hours of footage of your empty living room. You can jump to triggered footage and quickly scan for any unusual activity.
Nest Cam easily integrates with other Nest products through the Nest app. This used to be limited to the Nest Thermostat, but as Nest has released more smart home devices, integration is playing a much bigger role.
Nest is also set up to work with other IFTTT devices.
How much does the Nest Cam cost?
|Field of vision||130°|
|Pan and tilt||None|
|Wi-Fi compatibility||2.5 and 5 GHz|
|Night vision range||Yes|
|Learn more||View on Amazon|
MSRP for the Nest Cam Indoor is $199, but you can almost always find it for cheaper on Amazon or another online store. Less than $200 for an indoor security camera with the versatility and video quality of a Nest Cam? That’s really hard to beat. So, if you’re looking for the best bang-for-your-buck option, definitely check the Amazon price on a Nest Cam.
Nest Aware subscription
Paying for Nest Aware gets you two things. First, you get access to video cloud storage—beyond the abysmal three-hour storage limit you get for free. And second, you get to use the advanced features we mentioned above (mainly Activity Zone, Timelapse, and Alert Summary). Here’s what a Nest Aware subscription will cost you.
Data effective 06/15/2021. Offers subject to change.
We have a love-hate relationship with the Nest Aware subscription—that is, we love all the features it unlocks, but we hate paying for it. Technically, it’s an optional service, but if you want your Nest Cam to be anything more than a glorified live-streaming webcam, you should plan on paying the $5–$30 monthly subscription.
Recap: Is the Nest Cam good?
Don’t get a Nest Cam if you’re not willing to step up and pay for a monthly subscription. All the really cool features and capabilities come with Nest Aware—without it, Nest Cam is just a really nice live-feed camera.
That said, even after years of competition and upgrades, the Nest Cam Indoor is still a formidable security camera. Its 1080p video quality and 130° field of view compete with almost most cameras on the market today. And when you consider you’re getting that for less than $200, it almost feels too good to be true.
Still not sure if the Nest Cam is for you? Check out our Best Home Security Cameras review to compare your other options.
Or, if you like the Nest Cam Indoor but find it’s not techy enough for your taste, the newer version, the IQ, has facial recognition and other updates.
Is your house ready for a Nest camera?
Whether you pick the Nest Cam Indoor, Nest Cam IQ Indoor, or some other indoor camera, you need to get your home camera-ready.
Recommended internet plans
Your security camera needs a decent Wi-Fi connection to transmit data to your smartphone. We suggest a plan with a high download speed to make things easier.
|Xfinity Internet - West||Fast||$49.99*||Up to 300 Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios Home Internet||Internet 400/400||$64.99/mo.†||400 Mbps||View Plans|
|AT&T Fiber||AT&T Internet 300||$55/mo.‡||300 Mbps||View Plans|
Recommended mobile plans
To access your camera when you aren’t connected to the internet, you may want to look into a phone plan with unlimited data.
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