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Nest Cam review: Beautifully simple, but simply expensive

Tom Morgan
4 Dec 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
159
inc VAT

Nest Cam is a delightfully simple IP camera that integrates with Nest’s other smart home tech, but the subscription model is expensive

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Nest, the smart home company behind the original smart thermostat and the smartphone-connected Protect smoke alarms, bought IP camera company Dropcam last year, but has waited until now to launch its first Nest-branded camera. The Nest Cam is an evolution of the existing Dropcam camera, built to slot into Nest’s existing range of smart home equipment.

The camera itself is incredibly simple, with a clean and stylish design that you won’t mind leaving on display. The 1080p camera sensor sits on top of an articulated stem for easy adjustment, with a magnetic base that lets you fix it vertically to a fridge or kitchen appliance without having to break out any screws. A tripod thread in the bottom will let you fix it just about anywhere else as well.

You only need to connect the power adaptor to get the Nest Cam online, as setup is handled entirely through the iOS and Android companion apps. There’s no need to plug a base station into your router, as the camera connects to your existing Wi-Fi connection. When adding a new Nest product through the app, you use your smartphone’s camera to scan the QR code on the back of each device. Your phone then connects to the Cam directly, letting you add your router's Wi-Fi details.

The smartphone apps let you adjust settings, change video quality and set recording schedules for when you’re home and don’t need the camera to record, but the most useful function is live view. You can get a live feed from your camera virtually anywhere you have mobile phone reception, and the frame rate stays remarkably high even on 3G. You can toggle between 1080p and 720p recording, but image quality, particularly in faces, remains excellent at the lower quality setting.

With all your footage uploaded to the cloud, you don’t have to worry about someone stealing the camera and leaving you with no way to identify them. Placing the camera in a prominent position should help positively identify any would-be intruders, and thankfully picture quality remains high at night on account of the infrared night vision LEDs. The image quality is among the best we've seen from an IP camera - a daytime clip is available here.

The camera also has an integrated microphone and speaker, which you can use to listen in through the app or speak using your smartphone’s microphone. There’s naturally a second or so of delay between you speaking and the sound being produced by the camera, but it’s ideal if you want to use a Nest Cam for keeping an eye on your pets. A quick “get down” will let your dog know it’s not OK to take over the sofa while you’re at work.

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