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Nest Cam Outdoor review - hands on - Chat with delivery drivers via the first outdoor Nest

Seth Barton
14 Jul 2016
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Great looking and easy to use, the Nest Cam Outdoor is a security camera you'll actually want to own

External security cameras aren't the prettiest things around, looking more suited to protecting warehouse stock than your home. In fact, many are designed to look intimidating, rather than blending in tastefully. While they may help keeping your house safe, you could argue they're committing a crime against the appearance of your home.

So after improving the appearance (and usefulness) of your thermostat and smoke alarm, Nest is now making an exterior security camera that you might actually want to put on your home. The new Nest Cam Outdoor certainly looks like nothing else I've seen for external use. It sits alongside, and frankly looks considerably better than, the existing indoor-only Nest Cam.

Before I get onto the details of the new camera, it's worth making a couple of quick points about the existing model. While pretty much all homes need a thermostat and smoke alarm, the camera has always been the more optional part of the Nest triumvirate. It's also the only one that requires an annual subscription of £80 to make full use of its capabilities. It's a good product but it's not quite as easy to recommend as its siblings.

The Nest Cam Outdoor is an egg-like device with a magnetic fixing. You (or an approved installer) screw the baseplate onto the wall of your home, preferably somewhere out of reach. The camera itself then firmly grips the base plate, it's easily strong enough not to be dislodged by the weather (or by birds Nest assures us, though that's a potentially brilliant opportunity for headline fun). You can turn it easily enough though to make lining it up really easy, using the app at the same time to perfect your shot.

Now with that magnetic mount, you'd think that anyone with a ladder could make off with your fancy new camera in a flash - though you'd likely get a good pic of their mug in the process. However, the power cable is captive and firmly attached to the device. Note that it's attached to the camera, not the mount, so it's not as neat-looking as it could be. A system that allowed the cable to be optionally fed back through the baseplate would have been nice, but admittedly I can't see how that would work with the excellent magnetic mounting system.

With the cable ran back through a hole in the wall, or secured with clips running down it to an external plug socket, the camera should be plenty secure. The initial cable is USB (but fully waterproofed) which then runs to a waterproof adaptor and finally a plug socket. There's a total of 7.5m of cabling, which should be sufficient for most installations.

As before there's a microphone and speaker, so you could talk to a delivery driver if you're not at home, or simply shout at next door's cat doing its business in your rhododendrons. The speaker has been tweaked for outdoor use apparently. Specifications otherwise remains as before with high-quality 1080p video, a 130-degree wide angle view and night vision with a range of around 7m.

If you just want email alerts when movement is detected, along with live video streaming to your phone, then you buy the device and you're good to go. If you want a cloud-based archive of footage then you'll have to sign up to the £80 per annum Nest Aware service, with an additional £40 for each camera after the first. I still think this is a little steep and take-up would be far higher if it cost half that amount. You can now sign up month-by-month for £8 though, letting you cover your big annual holiday without paying all year.

The new Nest Cam Outdoor won't be available until towards the end of the year, due to problems with getting the power cables sorted for European regulations. It should cost around the same as the indoor version, which is £159, but that's unconfirmed at present due to currency fluctuations.

In other Nest-related news, there's an update to the app that allows for a room-by-room view with access to all your Next devices by location and a bigger camera preview. Also coming near the end of July, is an Apple Watch app, allowing you to control your thermostat from your wrist. Nest is looking into Homekit, there's "no plan to support Homekit for the launch of iOS 10" but they are "looking into how this technology evolves".

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