Nest Cam Indoor – Review

Users of Google’s Nest Cam Indoor rave about its fantastic image quality, excellent night vision and easy to use app. The downside is the cost – both upfront and to subscribe to its cloud storage service, Nest Aware.

Nest Cam Indoor

5 reasons to buy

  • Excellent video quality from its 1080p camera.
  • Night vision is also excellent – it is easy to see activity and make out faces clearly.
  • Customisable intelligent alerts, while requiring a subscription to Nest Aware, notify you if motion or sound is detected.
  • The camera is quick to set-up, boasting a 1 minute installation time.
  • Easy to use app.

4 reasons to avoid

  • The Nest Cam Indoor is a premium model with a high price point.
  • To access recordings beyond the past 3 hours, and to benefit from intelligent alerts requires a subscription to Nest Aware which can be expensive. This starts at £4/month for one camera.
  • Some reviews mentioned a lag in viewing recordings.
  • The microphone and speakers don’t live up to the same high standards of the video.

Nest Cam Indoor Specs

Feature Nest Cam Indoor Specs
Power Source Wired
Indoor / Outdoor Indoor
Compatability Alexa
Google Assitant
NOT HomeKit
Video Storage Cloud based (subscription)
Video  
Viewing Angle 130 degrees
Quality 1080p (Full HD) at 30 frames/sec
720p (default)
360p
Alerts  
Motion Yes – App / Email
Sound Yes – App / Email
Activity Zones Yes – with Nest Aware subscription
Functionality  
Live view Yes
Two way audio Yes

Video Quality

Experts and users agree that the video quality on the Nest Cam Indoor is excellent with good colour representation. The camera captures details (such as faces) well up to about 12m away. The app lets you zoom in up to 8x by pinching, but this can result in loss of detail.

The camera has a wide 130 degree field of view, which helps to capture more of the room.

Night vision is also excellent, allowing you to make out peoples’ faces and movements just as well in the daytime. Experts noted that the night vision doesn’t get confused by shining torches at it, as some do.

Bandwidth Required

Nest Cams use a maximum of 1.2Mbps bandwidth from your internet connection to stream at 1080p, which is the highest video quality. Note that this is per cam, so if you have more than one, it will require greater bandwidth.

Remember that this is upload speed, which will typically be slower than the download speeds advertised on your broadband contract.

By default, the Nest Cam is set to 720p video quality to save on bandwidth. This requires an internet connection with 0.5Mbps upload. If your internet connection can manage it, you’ll want to increase quality to 1080p to benefit from the better picture quality.

There’s also a lower quality mode, 360p, which would suit slower internet connections, but video quality is likely to suffer.

Viewing and Sharing Footage

Nest offers 24/7 live viewing of video for free. Some users noticed a small lag of a few seconds when viewing live video. While viewing, you can use two way audio to talk via the camera (to pets, family or alerting an intruder that you’re aware of them). You have the option of having the camera beep first to let someone know you’re about to talk.

Being able to watch live means that the camera could be used as a baby monitor. The LED on the camera is always on, and will blink when someone is watching live, but can be dimmed to avoid being a distraction.

It records continuously too – footage is held in the cloud, but the time which is retained depends your level of subscription to Nest Aware: the free plan allows you to retrieve just 3 hours of recorded video. Paid subscriptions allow you to extend this to up to 30 days, but they can be pricey as we’ll talk about later.

With Nest Aware, you’re also able to create short clips or timelapse videos which you can save or share on YouTube, Twitter or Facebook. This lets you share funny videos of things the kids or pets do when you’re not in the room.

Motion Detection and Alerts

The Nest Cam Indoor lets you choose to receive alerts if it detects motion and/or sound. These come in the form of app alerts or emails, which come with a picture attached.

With a Nest Aware subscription, alerts become even better – using Nest’s advanced algorithms to provide intelligent alerts:

  • Setting up to 4 ‘Activity Zones’ (regions of the area your camera covers) which let you turn alerts on/off for each. For example, you could set alerts for movement of your front door, but not activity on the street through a window.
  • Intelligent alerts help the camera do better at differentiating between types of motion and sound, so it could tell the difference between a dog barking and a person speaking.

Reviewers say that the Nest Cam’s alerts are good, with few false positives. However, the intelligent alerts use Nest’s cloud computing processing power and so are only available with a Nest Aware subscription.

Nest Aware subscription – costs and benefits

The Nest Aware subscription is required to use many of the Nest Cam’s features. This includes:

  • Access to video recordings beyond the past 3 hours.
  • Intelligent motion and sound detection
  • Activity Zones
  • Person seen alterts – it can tell you if it has seen or heard a person, rather than other motion or sound.

However, this subscription is costly, as shown in the table below, and the subscription charges can quickly exceed the initial cost of the camera.

Monthly Cost Recording History Intelligent Features
Free 3 hours No
£4/month 5 days Yes
£8/month 10 days Yes
£24/month 30 days Yes

Bear in mind too that Nest charge per camera, rather than a single subscription covering all your devices. However there is a 50% discount for additional cameras.

Installation and support

Set-up is super easy and takes about a minute. The app provifes a walk through to create an account, then prompts you to scan the QR codes of your camera to add it.

As is common, however, it doesn’t come with an instruction manual as such, however you can find Nest Cam Indoor installation instructions on Google’s website.

Installation is simple – the camera comes on a magnetic base which will attach to metal surfaces. Alternatively, it can be stood on a table, or fitted to a suitable spot on your wall or ceiling using the included mounting plate and fixings. The magnet in the base then securely attaches to the mounting plate.

The camera tilts through 180 degrees on its stand, so can be adjusted so that it points where you want it to.

Compatability

The Nest Cam integrates with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant (no surprise as Google acquired Nest).

There are advantages of pairing with other Nest devices. Rather than scheduling your camera to be on at hours you’re likely to be away, if you have a Nest Thermostat then you can use Home/Away Assist. This automatically detects if you are at home or away, and can be set to only alert you to motion if you are away.

Reliability

We’re not aware of any reliability issues with this device. Some users report that the basic features of the camera suffer without a Nest Aware subscription – as well as not having accegss to the subscription only features.

Anything else to be aware of?

LEDs always on

An update forced on the Nest Cam Indoor in August 2019 removed the ability to turn off LEDs when the camera is recording, although it can be dimmed. IT will also blink when being watched live. This has raised some concerns, including:

  • Making the camera more visible (e.g. to intruders) which defeats the point of what it is supposed to do.
  • When used a baby monitor (watching live), the flashing LED could be distracting for some children.

Customer Service

As we’ve said, installation is quick and usually easy. If you do run in to trouble, you can seek help from other users on support forums, or by contacting Nest directly (phone, chat, email or Twitter).

However, some users didn’t have a great experience when trying to resolve issues with Nest directly, particularly more complex problems and returns.

IFTTT (If This Then That)

Google withdrew its support for IFTTT when it discontinued the ‘Works With Nest’ programme in August 2019. Most users are unlikely to notice this, but for some this will limit their ability to create or use custom applets to control a Nest Cam.

Summary

The Nest Cam Indoor is an excellent camera in terms of ease of use and video quality. It’s positioned as a premium product and its price definitely reflects that however. The Nest Aware subscription service allows you to access recordings more than 3 hours old and unlocks some of its more advanced features. Just remember to factor in this monthly cost if you are thinking of buying.

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