Nest Cam IQ: A Step Forward in Smart Cameras

Nest Cam IQLots of hype around Nest’s latest invention had us awaiting the availability date with bated breath.  The Nest Cam IQ is finally here.  Was it worth the wait?  Maybe.

Nest is Google’s flagship home automation brand.  They make lots of devices but to us, we know them as the premier home security camera company.  Their quality is normally among the best available.  Software is easy to use.  Other camera companies often follow Nest’s innovation.

Of course, this all comes at a higher cost.  So, let’s dig into the details with our hands on review of the Nest Cam IQ.

Software

You can access the Nest Cam IQ through an iOS or Android device.  The camera can also be accessed from a web browser.

Setup of the Nest Cam IQ is very easy.  It’s done using the Nest app on your smartphone.  Just scan the UID code and the camera is recognized.  You will be prompted for the wireless network password.  Next thing you know, the Nest Cam IQ is added.  It’s the same Nest app used to control any other Nest or DropCam cameras you might have.  The Nest Cam IQ will appear as just another camera along with the others that already were present.

Since the Nest infrastructure is controlled from the cloud, your login will provide access to all the cameras, not your phone.  This means that other people that want to view the Nest Cam IQ (or other Nest cameras) can do so by either sharing your Nest logon or using a different one if you grant sharing access to them.

The included manual is a one page card that has three drawings showing how to set the camera up.  That’s a missed opportunity.  Those that are technically less inclined may not explore some of the functionality hidden within the app or accessed from a browser.  As of the date of this article, nothing beyond basic setup can be located on their site either.

Motion and sound detection is standard and so the home and away feature (also known as geofencing).  When your device (your phone that controls the cameras) is away from home, the cameras can be set to turn on and detect motion.  Then turn off the camera.  Saves you a lot of false alerts in terms of motion and sound alarms.  You can have multiple family members identified to your camera to further refine the desired results.

A paid subscription to Nest Aware will provide a feature called activity zones.  Most cameras include this feature at no charge but you need to have a paid subscription to Nest Aware for this valuable feature.  Use activity zones to limit motion detection only to a defined subset of the video.  For example, you might want to limit motion detection to a doorway.  It’s also useful to limit motion detection to exclude places where a pet might be walking.

One of the big selling features of the Nest Cam IQ is facial recognition.  This feature has been around for awhile as part of the paid Nest Aware service.  Now it’s free as part of the Nest Cam IQ.  Sure enough, it recognizes a face when you enter the room.  You can assign a name to name to the face and the camera will call you out by name.  Once a face has been detected, the Nest Cam IQ zooms in and follows the person.  It’s very well done.

However, there are a few problems with facial recognition.  First, you currently cannot filter alerts by face.  This seems like an obvious one.  Why would you want to be alerted when the face is yours?

Secondly, and this is one that became bothersome, the Nest Cam IQ cannot differentiate a real live human from one on television.  That’s right, get alerts for all your favorite Yankees, or in my case, Doctor Oz.  A detailed article on how to avoid false facial alerts is worth a read but there’s no way to currently improve this issue.

Video quality selection is available through the settings with four presets ranging from low to high.  Your camera will do its best to only use 200 GB per month.  At least that’s what the app states.

The Nest Cam IQ, like all others from Nest integrates with more software than almost any other home security camera.  We like using IFTTT for automating alerts and integrating it with other services and hardware.  A detailed article on how to automate using IFTTT and Nest Cam is applicable to the Nest Cam IQ and worth a read.

Hardware

The Nest Cam IQ measures 4.9 inches tall, 2.9 inches wide, 2.9 inches deep.  It weighs in at a little more than 12 ounces.

The camera attaches via a ball and socket to a weighted base.  Out of the box, this camera is designed to stand on a table or shelf.

The power cable is different from other cameras made by Nest.  No micro USB.  It’s sort of halfway between a standard USB and micro USB.  Cables from an old Nest Cam or DropCam Pro will not fit this camera.

These are indoor cameras.  Although it might look similar to a Nest Cam Outdoor, only use these indoors away from the elements.

Audio is fully supported.  A two-way conversation can be held by pressing the microphone in the Nest app.  That makes it difficult to have a two-way conversation with someone on the other end.  Audio quality is quite good on both the camera and on the phone.  The Nest Cam IQ has a three-microphone array which did help hearing the person near the camera.

The Nest Cam IQ features a 130 degree wide angle lens.  Generally speaking, it’s enough to cover an entire room if positioned on a corner shelf.

A 1080p (1920 x 1080) lens at 30 frames per second delivered an extremely clear video quality during the day.  There’s an 8-megapixel (4K) color sensor with 12x digital zoom providing top quality video.  The overall quality can be adjusted in the software settings which comes in handy in places where bandwidth might be challenging.

Extremely clear night vision is provided with 940nm IR LEDs.  We were impressed with the quality of night vision video.

Recording to an on-board SD card is not supported on the Nest Cam IQ.  The only way to see history is via their cloud service.  A scaled down version of Nest Aware is included at no extra charge with this camera.  It allows access to event video from the past three hours.  That might be adequate for many.  Any amount of time beyond that requires the paid subscription

Connectivity

Almost everything is supported by the Nest Cam IQ at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz using 802.11a/b/g/n/ac.  The 5 GHz band will provide the best coverage from shorter distances (figure less than 30 feet).  Use 2.4 GHz for anything further.

Mounts

Nothing beyond the weighted base is provided.  Fortunately, the Nest Cam IQ has a standard 1/4″ – 20 threaded screw hole at the bottom.  This is what is found on most tripods and standard camera mounts.  This opens a lot of possibilities for mounting options.

A more detailed article on alternative mounts for the Nest Cam IQ can read here.

Fun and Different

The close-up tracking view is new.  This feature enables the Nest Cam IQ to zoom in on motion and follow the person around the room while zooming in.  It’s almost like having a cameraman behind the camera.  Turn this feature on using the option found under video settings.

When it comes to different, it’s worth noting that some places do not allow the collection of biometric information without prior permission.  Apparently, Nest considers Illinois to be one of those places so they do not offer facial recognition in this state.  Check your local laws and regulations before turning on this feature.

Summary

The Nest Cam IQ is a high end well made camera that has the highest technical specifications out of all the cameras made by Nest.  If you buy into the whole Nest home automation integrated infrastructure, adding in new options like standard facial recognition and 12x zoom, this is the camera to get.

Quick Specs:

Video QualityField of ViewCloud SupportSD SupportNight VisionMobile/Web AppAlertsOutdoor
1920x1080130 DegreesYesNoYesYes/YesYesNo

Manufacturer Link:  Nest

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