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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Google Nest Cam with floodlight assessment: good safety digital camera, awkward design

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In case you’re going to put in one out of doors safety digital camera at your own home, a floodlight digital camera is the best choice. You get lights and a digital camera in a single unit to seize all of the motion and also you don’t need to mess with charging batteries or drilling holes via your partitions for energy cables — a floodlight cam can go wherever you could have current out of doors lighting. It’s a win-win good residence system. The one downsides are a excessive upfront worth and a extra concerned set up.

Sadly, the brand new Google Nest Cam with floodlight ($280) doesn’t remedy both of those points, being one of many dearer floodlight cams and having the oddest design and set up course of. However, regardless of these failings, it’s a wonderful floodlight digital camera and has a number of advantages over the competitors — which is multiplying.

These advantages embrace a built-in battery backup for if the facility goes out, clever movement sensing so the floodlights aren’t at all times going off when a moth flies by, and on-device processing that interprets to a lot speedier alerts — essential for a safety digital camera.

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The Nest Cam with floodlight is functionally a Google Nest Cam (indoor/outdoor) magnetically hooked up to 2, high-powered 2,400 lumen-producing, motion-sensing lights. It has all the identical digital camera specs — 1080p HD video with night time imaginative and prescient, a 130-degree diagonal area of view, two-way audio, IP54 climate resistance, and a built-in battery.

It may additionally document as much as three hours of event-based video clips at no cost and has free good alerts for movement, individuals, automobiles, and animals.

The specs are corresponding to the competitors, though it’s the narrowest area of view by 10 levels. Ring provides 140 levels in its Floodlight Cam Plus ($180), and Eufy’s $300 choice has a 360-degree rotating digital camera and 2K video, which is similar decision Arlo provides in its battery Flood Cam Professional 3 ($250) that may be powered with an AC adaptor. The brand new Wyze Floodlight Cam has the choice of two cameras, so you possibly can survey two angles over 130 levels every.

The Nest Cam with floodlight is similar digital camera because the Google Nest Cam.

It attaches magnetically and is then hardwired in through a brief magnetic cable.

A siren is the one lacking function on the Nest Cam that’s discovered on all of the competitors. In case you pay for Nest Conscious, you do get the choice to name 911 straight from the app, however the lack of a loud alarm to scare off a possible intruder is an enormous omission right here. Moreover, each Eufy and Wyze have the choice of onboard storage, so that you don’t have to pay for a cloud subscription to view recorded video.

With the Google Nest Cam, a Nest Conscious subscription (beginning at $6 a month) is crucial in the event you’re planning to make use of this digital camera as a safety system. When you get three hours of event-triggered recordings at no cost, that’s not going to do a lot good if there’s somebody creeping round your property at 1 a.m. however you don’t see the alert till you get up at 6 a.m.

A subscription provides 30 or 60 days of event-based recordings, 24/7 steady recording, the wonderful Acquainted Faces function, and sound alerts — though just for carbon monoxide and smoke alarms, which is much less helpful for an out of doors digital camera. I do miss the “canine barking” and “individuals speaking” alerts that got here on the older Nest IQ cams.

The Google Nest Cam is designed to be put in on a wall moderately than beneath an eave. However even with this barely odd setup, it labored properly as a safety digital camera.

My colleague Dan Seifert reviewed the Google Nest Cam, and his ideas apply right here — it is a good digital camera with respectable video high quality. Nonetheless, it’s not as nice because the Nest IQ cameras have been, whose 4K sensors and longer digital zoom made it simpler to hone in on particulars equivalent to a reputation badge or license plate. The digital camera can also’t routinely zoom and pan as its predecessors might (and the Arlo can), a helpful function for an out of doors safety digital camera as it may well monitor somebody additional round your property.


Daytime footage is sweet sufficient to determine individuals however in the event you zoom in it will get pixelated shortly.

However when paired with the floodlights, the Google Nest Cam will get a clearer image at night time — the added lumens permitting for full-color night time imaginative and prescient. Whereas this doesn’t assist with distance, it does present extra element.

Google has additionally applied the lighting management properly, providing you with as a lot management over the floodlights as you get with some other good gentle. You possibly can flip them on and off and dim or brighten them with voice management or within the Google Residence app. You may also add them right into a Routine, to allow them to come on while you depart and switch off while you arrive residence.

These are safety lights, although, so even on the dimmest setting, they’re nonetheless shiny, and I wouldn’t plan on utilizing them as out of doors accent lighting.


Nighttime footage is crisp and clear (as much as 20 toes) and when the floodlights kick on (triggered by particular person detection on this clip) you get full coloration.

There’s additionally loads of management for deciding what triggers the lights and when. You possibly can select a number of from movement, stay viewing, and any digital camera occasion (equivalent to individuals, animals, automobiles) to activate the lights at night time, and there are 4 daylight sensing choices to find out how darkish it must be earlier than they arrive on. There’s additionally a setting for the way lengthy the lights keep on as soon as activated, from 10 seconds as much as 5 minutes. Within the Residence app you may as well flip them on or off like common lights, with no timeout.

These choices considerably reduce down how typically I lit up the facet of my home the place I positioned the digital camera. I set it to activate solely when it noticed an individual and created an exercise zone to chop out my neighbors’ pathway, which is adjoining to mine. In comparison with the Ring Floodlight Digital camera put in on the opposite facet of my home (which additionally has particular person detection), it turned on a lot much less often.

The Nest Cam’s two floodlights are managed within the Google Residence app in the identical approach as different good lighting choices.

The choice to create exercise zones paired with good movement alerts prevents the floodlights from activating too typically.

I’ve two major points with this digital camera: the Google Residence app and the design. I’ll begin with the app. The Residence app does some issues properly — together with lighting management, and it’s nice that the floodlight is ready up identical to some other gentle within the app. But it surely’s not good for viewing or managing safety cameras; particularly, the timeline view is clunky, and the route into viewing occasions is convoluted (though I do just like the mini GIFs you get while you ultimately land on the Full Historical past web page). The {old} Nest app is a lot better, however Google is shifting away from it, and frustratingly, you possibly can solely use this Nest digital camera within the Google app.

Working example, there are not any controls for the floodlights within the digital camera portion of the app. You possibly can select what turns them on within the digital camera settings, however you possibly can’t modify brightness, flip them on or off, or dim them there. As a substitute, it’s a must to navigate over to the primary Google Residence management web page — about six faucets away — to do any of this. This seems like an oversight and is a irritating person expertise.

As for design, Google over-thought this one. A floodlight digital camera is an easy idea: lights with a digital camera within the center. Most of these available on the market right this moment look remarkably related, however the Nest Cam with floodlight has a base that’s nearly a foot lengthy. This implies in the event you’re putting in on the facet of your own home on a wall, the digital camera extends outwards farther than others do — giving the movement sensor beneath it and the digital camera itself a greater view. However in the event you set up it beneath an eave — the place all my current floodlight wiring is (and I’m not alone right here) — you find yourself with a really lengthy, ungainly wanting system dangling off the facet of your own home.

A clumsy design makes the Google Nest Cam tough for an under-the-eave set up.

Putting in the floodlight was additionally tough, primarily due to this awkward positioning. Attaching the wiring was much like any floodlight system; it’s good to hardwire it to your homes’ electrical wiring utilizing an ordinary out of doors junction field (and in the event you’re not snug with wiring, particularly whereas on the highest of a ladder, I might extremely suggest paying for knowledgeable to put in it — Nest provides this for $179).

The issue got here with getting the best angle for the digital camera. As a result of we needed to set up it primarily the wrong way up, the very quick wire that attaches the Google Nest Cam to the floodlights left little room for maneuverability. I couldn’t angle it excessive sufficient to seize the entire space I wished to.

Fortunately, the lights themselves have much more flexibility, and you may rotate them totally backwards and forwards, and simply place them to forged the sunshine the place you need it and never into your neighbors’ window.

Awkward design apart, the Google Nest Cam with floodlight carried out very properly in my testing. The lights reply precisely to the totally different movement occasions — solely turning on for individuals, animals, or movement when these have been chosen.

The facility cable, movement sensor, and microphone seen listed below are designed to go beneath the digital camera, however when mounting beneath an eave they sit sideways. The facility cable additionally prevents the digital camera from being positioned larger on the magnetic mount.

The lights additionally responded immediately to basic movement occasions as these use the movement sensor on the floodlight. The good movement activations (for individuals and animal) rely on the digital camera seeing the particular person or animal first, in order that they took a second or two longer.

Alerts additionally got here via on my iPhone 13 a lot sooner than these on the Ring floodlight digital camera I’m additionally testing, doubtless because of the Nest’s on-device processing. Nevertheless, Nest’s Acquainted Faces function nonetheless wants some work, telling me at one level it had noticed me outdoors, when it was truly the moderately burly Comcast tech on the market working with my connections.

If you’re invested within the Google Residence ecosystem, the Google Nest Cam with floodlight is your best choice when you have the wiring in place. It’s a more sensible choice than the battery Nest Cam and the Arlo Floodlight Pro 3, the one different floodlight digital camera that’s totally built-in with the Google Residence app (the place you possibly can view footage within the app and on a Nest good show). The Arlo has the same worth and will be put in with out wires if that’s a problem, however the lighting isn’t as versatile.

Not one of the new Nest Cams, which embrace an indoor/out of doors battery cam, indoor wired cam and doorbell cam, work with some other good ecosystem. So, in case you are working an Amazon Alexa or Apple HomeKit good residence, it is best to have a look at Ring, Eufy, Arlo or Netatmo’s Smart Outdoor Camera. These all work with Alexa, and the Netatmo and Arlo additionally work with HomeKit.

Pictures by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge



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