Canary Flex: Another Choice for Monitoring Outdoors

Canary FlexCanary has become one of my favorite home security camera makers.  One of the drawbacks of my Canary All in One Security System is that it can’t go outdoors.  The recently introduced Canary Flex just took the Canary lineup outdoors.

This is a trend that we are seeing in home security cameras.  Consumers want a way to monitor the outside of their home but want to do it more easily without having to hire an electrician and run a bunch of wires for power and connectivity.  The call for outdoor monitoring has prompted other companies to roll out easy to install outdoor versions of their successful indoor models.  We already reviewed several.  Nest did it with their Nest Cam Outdoor.  Arlo did it with their Arlo Pro.  Now Canary checks in with their Canary Flex.

Software

You can access the Canary Flex with your iOS or Android smartphone.  The Canary web site is very limited in capability without the ability to see video.  Avoid the web site as it currently serves little purpose.

These cameras aren’t complicated to use.  In fact, they are some of the easiest I have seen.  There are fewer customization options on these apps than practically any other home security camera.  That makes it easier for support, I suppose, but there are some features that would be nice to have.  For example, features that limit motion detection to a defined area are missing.  That’s one of my favorite ways to prevent false motion alerts.

Setup of the Canary Flex is very easy and few will have an issue.  It’s simple and completed using your smartphone app.

Motion notification, once established, can be tuned using the app.  You can alter the sensitivity from least to most sensitive.  The already stated absence of motion zones will result in false alerts.  You can reduce false alerts by training your Canary.  There are features to reduce these in terms of self learning but I have found that feature to have limited effect.

You can also reduce false alerts by adding the Canary app to everyone’s phone that lives in the house and activating location services.  Once that’s done, tell the Canary app to disarm or go into private mode when anyone is home.  But then again, these are outdoor cameras, so you might want to leave it be.  I would think that’s one of the times when you want to know about someone outside.

Motion is recorded to the cloud.  Canary has a nice free cloud plan that is one of the better available.  Canary provides 24 hours of free cloud storage.  You have the ability to download video clips to your smartphone.  That’s done on demand and, if you have the free plan, must be done within that 24 hour window.

An annual payment of $99 gets 30-days of cloud storage with unlimited downloads.  You also get an extended warranty and a $1000 insurance deductible reimbursement for property theft.  All of this is detailed in their announcement.  In addition, they are providing incident support.

Hardware

The first thing you will notice is this is a small but solidly built home security camera.  It is much smaller than it’s indoor cousin measuring 4.35 inches high and weighing about half a pound.

The included magnetic mount is really well done.  Best I have seen.  It’s perfect for this camera as long as you can stash it high enough so it can’t be reached or you’re really good at hiding the camera.

The Canary Flex provides HD video with a 116 degree field of view.  It’s adequate, but less than the competition, namely the Nest Cam Outdoor.  As expected in almost any outdoor surveillance camera sold these days, the Canary Flex comes with respectable night vision abilities that sport a 25 foot capability.

The Canary Flex can be powered by plugging it into an AC outlet or using the integrated battery.  The integrated battery is good for several days which isn’t long enough to be useful longterm.  The Arlo Pro is another outdoor camera competitor and their internal battery life is almost six months.  Taking the Canary Flex down every few days for a charge isn’t feasible for most so plan to use AC power.  Like any battery operated camera, battery life can be influenced by temperature, usage and activated features.

The environmental controls that are found in the Canary All-in-One are sadly missing from the Canary Flex.  It would have been nice to see the temperature and humidity outside.

There is an integrated microphone and speaker but two-way talk isn’t enabled yet.  I personally find that I rarely use the speaker or microphone on my outdoor surveillance cameras so this isn’t a show stopper for me.  It looks like some of the features are still under development.  I suppose they wanted to get this out to catch some holiday sales.  Can’t blame them for that.

Connectivity

The Canary Flex connects to a wireless router using dual frequencies of 2.4 and 5.0 GHz using 802.11 a/b/g/n.  The 5 GHz band gives the best throughput at short distances.  Since this is going to be outside, it’s likely that many will not be able to take advantage of the faster frequency and will need to revert to the traditional 2.4 GHz frequency.  Not many home security camera models have dual band and it’s nice to have if you can use it.

Mounts

A magnetic mount is included with the Canary Flex.  The mount is surprisingly strong and has no problem at all holding the Canary Flex.  The Canary Flex also has a standard 1/4″ – 20 threaded tripod hole on the bottom which enables the use of a variety of standard camera mounts.  Canary also made a trio of additonal mounts available for the Flex.  Read about Alternative Mounts for the Canary Flex if interested in further detail.

Fun and Different

Apparently Canary and Verizon have teamed up to provide an LTE enabled solution for transmitting video from the camera.  I haven’t seen anything like it to date.  I don’t have a lot of information about this however this could be the best reason to get the Canary Flex.  It means the camera can live in places not reachable by WiFi.

Summary

The Canary Flex isn’t bad for the price.  Are there better choices?  Maybe.

So who would be interested in the Canary Flex?  Those that already have a Canary camera and don’t want another app sitting on their phone.  Also, once the Verizon capability is available, it’s a bit of a game changer.  I see purchasers coming forward to take advantage of the LTE capability.

Quick Specs:

Video QualityField of ViewCloud SupportSD SupportNight VisionMobile/Web AppAlertsOutdoor
1080p116 Degrees24 hours freeNoYesYes/NoYesNo

Manufacturer Link:  Canary