Canary All-in-One Home Security System Review

Canary All-in-One Home Security SystemThe Canary All-in-One Home Security System is more than your basic home security camera.  It’s also somewhat less than a home security camera.

Funny how I stumbled upon the Canary.  I was looking for a home security camera that combined remote monitoring of temperature, humidity and basic home security camera features.  I’m always worried about the furnace breaking when I’m not home or air conditioning going south.  I suppose I could get a Nest thermostat but decided I wanted to it as part of my security camera since I know there are a few that have this capability.  The Canary monitors much more than motion, it also checks on environmental metrics such as air temperature.  More on that later in the review.

The target customer for these cameras is more than your average person looking for a home security camera.  These are marketed as all-in-one home security system complete with alarms.

Software

You can access the Canary All-in-One Security System with your iOS or Android smartphone.  The manufacturer web site allows login but video cannot be viewed, just the cameras that you have defined with the current temperature, humidity and air quality.

A bit of an introduction on the software.  These cameras aren’t complicated to use.  In fact, there are far fewer customization options on these apps than any other camera I have seen.  I guess it’s done on purpose since the target audience for the Canary isn’t the same as other home security cameras.  However, with simplicity in mind, you would think they would include a more substantial manual versus the few pages that are included.  I had to visit the manufacturer web site numerous times to figure out anything beyond the initial connectivity.

Setup of a Canary is fairly simple.  Download the Canary app.  Plug it in, touch the top to activate the Bluetooth, connect your smartphone to the Blue tooth connection.  Then connect using the smartphone app.  That’s pretty much all there is to it.

The Canary All-in-One Home Security System features motion, temperature, humidity and air quality alerts.  However, these alerts don’t activate themselves.  You need to go into the settings then notification screen.  The settings can be invoked by tapping the three horizontal lines at the upper right on the home screen of your app.

Motion notification, once established, can be tuned using the notifications part of the app.  You can alter the sensitivity from least to most sensitive.  The Canary lacks the ability to define motion zones.  This feature is present on many of the Canary’s competitors and helps to dramatically decrease false alerts.  You can read about how these work on a Samsung SmartCam here.  An example of when these are useful would be if you wanted to eliminate motion from a small dog.  Using motion zones, the lower four feet can be eliminated from motion sensitivity.  The Canary looks at the entire room without a way to eliminate any areas.

So you may get a lot false alerts.  These can be reduced 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.

You can also reduce false alerts by teaching the Canary when an alert is false.  Supposedly, the Canary will learn from its false behaviors and improve over time.

Canary provides 24 hours of free cloud storage with this camera.  You have the ability to download video clips to your phone but most do it within the 24 hour window.  The Canary cloud video is stored on AWS servers.

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.

There is no ability to change the video quality so you will be streaming at 1080p all day.  If your internet service provider has usage caps, this can become problematic.  Not sure why they cannot dumb it down like other cameras.

Connectivity

The Canary All-in-One Security System connects to your wireless router at 2.4GHz using 802.11 b/g/n.  Expect a few hundred feet between the camera and wireless router at best.

Hardware

You get great video quality with the Canary.  The 1080p HD video is very clear, as it should be.  The 147 degree wide angle lens helps to capture close to the entire room if placed in a corner or against a wall.

The camera might have the best night vision of any camera I have used.  The image is extraordinarily clear even when it’s pitch dark.

The camera has some features not found in other home security cameras.  Especially in the way of environmental controls measuring room temperature, humidity and air quality.  You can establish alerts based upon selected ranges for temperature and humidity.  I want to be alerted when the temperature exceeds 78 because that means my air conditioner isn’t working right.

Air quality is a measure of changes in pollutants including carbon monoxide, cigarette smoke and host of other contaminants.  The Canary isn’t a substitute for a dedicated carbon monoxide or smoke detector (at least not according to their site).

There’s an integrated microphone but no speaker.  This means the device cannot be used for two-way communications.

Speaking of two-way anything – a serious flaw on video playback is a 5-10 second lull.  Unlike other home security cameras where you will view near real time, the Canary has 5-10 second lull.  I am guessing this has to do with seeing the video off the cloud servers versus the camera itself.  If just using this for home security, it’s probably not an issue.  But it’s something to be aware of.

The included integrated siren is pretty darn loud.  The siren is set off manually while watching live video.  You can tap the button on the bottom to scare off potential intruders or scare the heck out of someone you know.  You can also call emergency numbers that are pre-programmed based upon your location.

This is a big home security camera versus others I have used coming in at 6 inches high and 3 inches wide.  They weigh a little under a pound.

There is no on-board storage with a Canary.  It’s all cloud.

Mounts

This part isn’t applicable.  The Canary stands on a flat surface and it’s not made to be placed anywhere but on a flat surface.  You can’t mount it to a wall unless you want to purchase a small corner shelf.

Fun and Different

The Canary All-in-One Home Security System is considered by some major home insurers as a security device and you can qualify for an insurance discount.  State Farm is one of those insurance companies.  Since I don’t have my home insurance with State Farm, I cannot speak to the discount amount.

Summary

The Canary All-in-One Home Security System has a limited audience.  The camera, while producing an excellent quality video, lacks features that could put it on par with other home security cameras like the Nest Cam, Samsung SmartCam or FLIR FX HD.

However, I would say that if you want a plug and play camera with minimal complications, the Canary might be a good choice.  It’s especially good for those with limited technical abilities.  The added environmental features are somewhat unique and if important as part of your monitoring requirements might also make this a good selection.

Quick Specs:

Video QualityField of ViewCloud SupportSD SupportNight VisionMobile/Web AppAlertsOutdoor
1080p147 Degrees24 hours freeNoYesYes/NoYesNo

Manufacturer Link:  Canary

All of these articles are written by someone (me) that figured out how to do this stuff the hard way.  I have owned and tested dozens of cameras.  Manufacturer support varies.  There are a few good companies that provide timely answers when you have questions.  There are several that sell you the camera and seem to have little interest in post sales support (which leads me to finding out stuff the hard way).