Nest Cam IQ

£299 | $299 https://nest.com If you want to see your kids, pets and bur­glars in Full HD, look no fur­ther

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Although The Con­nected Home feels like its at­tract­ing the in­ter­est of those who are not nerds, rich folk and/or early adopters, there are only two ar­eas to date that have re­ally thrived.

One is Alexa and Google Home – soon to be joined by Ap­ple’s take on home AI, the HomePod – and the other is smart se­cu­rity cam­eras.

If you do want a cam­era of this type, the Nest Cam IQ is as good as it gets. Of course, given its price – which is al­most dou­ble that of the last Nest Cam, and nearly triple that of some­thing like the old Log­itech Cir­cle or Nokia Home – it should be.

De­sign and setup

This re­ally is an ex­em­plary prod­uct in terms of setup. Un­box, plug in via a lengthy USB ca­ble that fits seam­lessly into the base, open the Nest app, click the big ‘+’ but­ton and scan the QR code on the base. Ob­vi­ously if you don’t have the Nest app you’ll have to down­load it and set up a Nest ac­count. But that’s still per­fectly straight­for­ward.

The Cam IQ is quite at­trac­tive and feels pre­mium and weighty. You can crane its neck up or down and even when look­ing down from a height, the heft of the base makes top­pling un­likely. The Nest Cam IQ can also eas­ily be mounted on wall. How­ever, since there’s no weath­er­proof­ing, the Cam IQ is un­suit­able for out­door use.

Se­cu­rity also seems sound, with 128-bit AES with TLS/SSL se­cure con­nec­tion and the op­tion of two-step ver­i­fi­ca­tion of any ac­count changes, with a code be­ing sent to a spec­i­fied de­vice to be en­tered be­fore any change is al­lowed.

Video qual­ity

This is where the Cam IQ earns its high price. The sen­sor here is of 4K res­o­lu­tion. For stream­ing pur­poses, that is down­graded to Full HD, but the qual­ity is no­tice­ably higher. This is, of course, sub­ject to the qual­ity of your home Wi-Fi and your phone’s mo­bile data con­nec­tion, though, es­pe­cially if you’re watch­ing a live stream.

Seen on your mo­bile via the Nest app, footage can eas­ily be paused, panned and zoomed, and if you have Nest Aware (more on this shortly), the soft­ware also makes a pretty good stab at auto zoom­ing on any hu­mans it detects – don’t worry, as well as show­ing a zoomed view, it is still film­ing the full frame, so you can switch be­tween both.

The Cam IQ’s 4K sen­sor is also used at full res­o­lu­tion to cap­ture still im­ages of peo­ple that it spots. Now 4K in this case, equates to an 8MP still, but it still gives clearer and more iden­ti­fi­able re­sults than most smart cam­eras. Video footage is stored in the cloud for three hours, or if you have a Nest Aware sub­crip­tion for 10 days at £8 per month or 30 days at £24 per month.

The real ques­tion is, do you re­ally need the Cam IQ’s greater clar­ity?

For se­cu­rity pur­poses, maybe not. In most cases, you’ll be able to tell if a per­son in your house is a fa­mil­iar face or an in­truder even at lower res­o­lu­tion. The­o­ret­i­cally, a clearer face shot might be use­ful in sub­se­quently se­cur­ing an ar­rest or con­vic­tion, but if they’re wear­ing a mask, all you’ll have is a higher res­o­lu­tion view of their bala­clava.

Ad­di­tional fea­tures

The Cam IQ works ef­fec­tively as a two-way com­mu­ni­ca­tions de­vice thanks to an ex­cel­lent mic ar­ray

“The Cam IQ’s 4K sen­sor is used at full res­o­lu­tion to cap­ture still im­ages of the peo­ple that it spots”

and very clear speaker. There is a bit of a time lag over a 3G/4G net­work, but it’s usu­ally ac­cept­able. Over Wi-Fi, you could use the Cam IQ as an in­ter­com quite eas­ily, how­ever.

Night vi­sion is also se­ri­ously im­pres­sive, and un­like on older cam­eras, there’s very lit­tle in the way of vis­i­ble in­fra-red light to give the game away to bur­glars.

App and Nest Aware

It was some­thing of a bone of con­tention with the orig­i­nal Nest Cam that it re­quired an £8 per month/£80 per year sub­scrip­tion to Nest Aware to make it use­ful.

That’s be­cause smart alerts were im­pos­si­ble with­out one. Any move­ment of any kind – house­hold pets, shad­ows or even a plas­tic bag blow­ing past the win­dow – would trig­ger an alert.

Nest Cam IQ, be­cause of its much greater pro­cess­ing power, is able to recog­nise that a shape is a per­son and no­ti­fies you only when it spots a per­son, as op­posed to any­thing else. This does re­duce the num­ber of alerts. How­ever, you are still go­ing to get them ev­ery time any one of your house­mates, fam­ily or friends comes into view, and in a busy house­hold, that gets old fast. The same ap­plies if you set it up to snoop on the road out­side. On a busy street, it’ll pick up any­one walk­ing by and let you know. So re­al­is­ti­cally, you do still need Nest Aware, and ev­ery Cam IQ comes with a 30-day trial sub­scrip­tion.

That’s be­cause this cloud-based ser­vice of­fers a raft of fea­tures that should be of­fered as stan­dard, in­clud­ing de­tec­tion of fa­mil­iar faces and the abil­ity to name them.

We only had the Cam IQ up and run­ning for three days and it was al­ready pretty good at recog­nis­ing mem­bers of our house­hold, and stopped no­ti­fy­ing us ev­ery time we walked into our own of­fice. You can turn off no­ti­fi­ca­tions when you’re at home en­tirely, though.

Nest Aware also en­ables you to set spe­cific zones within the cam­era’s field of view that it scans for peo­ple, ex­clud­ing ev­ery­thing else. Door­ways are an ob­vi­ous ex­am­ple, and, when point­ing your cam­era out of the win­dow, the area im­me­di­ately in front of your door, so you pick up vis­i­tors but not passers-by. Get­ting these zones the right size and shape throws up some prob­lems, but it’s help­ful. Nest Aware can also alert you to sounds – specif­i­cally dogs bark­ing or hu­man voices.

Sum­mary

The Cam IQ is a great piece of hard­ware. One ob­vi­ous trick that Nest has missed out on, though, is in­clud­ing an alarm ele­ment. It makes the Pro­tect smoke alarm; why couldn’t its cams trig­ger that when an in­truder is de­tected?

That could be ei­ther an au­to­matic func­tion – although that would al­most cer­tainly lead to false alarms – or by you fir­ing it via the app af­ter be­ing alerted. Bosch’s new suite of con­nected de­vices do of­fer such a func­tion.

For keep­ing tabs on your fam­ily, in a non-sin­is­ter way, the Cam IQ does have its uses. With its abil­ity to recog­nise fa­mil­iar faces (al­beit only with Nest Aware), Cam IQ is ideal for get­ting those re­as­sur­ances about your loved ones.

Less use­ful, but more valu­able, these kind of cams are all great for cap­tur­ing video and stills of kids and pets at play, or do­ing amus­ing things that may earn you many likes and shares on YouTube. This one just hap­pens to do it at higher res­o­lu­tion and with greater clar­ity than all its ri­vals.

The state of the art in con­nected cam­eras, although we’d sooner have a proper se­cu­rity sys­tem.

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