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Hands-on Gear Review
Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi Review
Price: $199.00 List | $167.99 at Amazon - 16% off
Pros: Internet range, great images, versatile long term use
Cons: No internet / no monitor, disappointing sound
Bottom line: Really cool camera with lots of uses and great video for simple baby monitoring
The Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi camera earned the highest score in this review, tying with the iBaby M6S Wi-Fi baby monitor. This easy to use camera earned high marks in almost every metric including video quality, range, battery life, and features. With the only disappointing metric being sound clarity, parents can rest assured the Nest Cam has what it takes to keep an eye on baby. We like that the Nest Cam offers connection to baby wherever there is an internet connection, but we caution parents that Wi-Fi connections can fail and lose connection without warning. That being said, the Nest Cam performed well in our testing with only a 1 second delay and no dis-connectivity issues in our experience. This is one of the best Wi-Fi options we've seen. However, should the idea of delay or lack of connection leave you up at night with worry, then a monitor isn't doing its job, and you might feel more comfortable with a high scoring dedicated monitor like the Philips Avent SCD630 that won our Editors' Choice award for best dedicated monitor.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Video Baby Monitors of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Nest Company started in a garage with 16 employees. In December of 2010, they created their first Nest Thermostat prototype that was release in October 2011. In April of 2012 they released the first app and software to control the thermostat and in May of the same year the Nest Thermostat was available for sale in Lowes, Amazon and other retailers. Shortly after the thermostat, Nest creates smoke and CO2 detectors that integrate with their app and software for more home protection. In June of 2015 Nest releases the new Nest Cam (formerly Drop cam made by Google). Most recently Nest release the Outdoor Nest Cam for additional protection of all things home. Along the way the company grew and now has two locations in California where they continue to create and innovate. Nest is owned and operated by Google.
Tips for Wi-Fi Monitors
The following chart presents a comparison of the overall scores for the video monitors we tested. The Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi (shown in blue) earned a top score and a tie with the iBaby M6S Wi-Fi monitor. The significantly higher score and impressive rank make it clear why the Nest Cam earned Top Pick award.
The information provided below details the results of our extensive testing process for the Nest Cam. Test results and score for each metric were combined to create the overall rank and score.
The Nest Cam earned a 10 of 10 for range. This is the metrics highest score and ties with all the Wifi options. This camera works in any area where there is an internet connection. Both the camera and the parent device will need internet connection of some kind in order to monitor baby.
This camera can be a connected via Wi-Fi or via Ethernet cable depending on preference. Nest Cam can be viewed via computer, or a smartphone or tablet with a data plan. Wi-Fi can be a good option for larger homes or homes where a dedicated monitor may not work (over 4-5 walls of interception).
Audio / Visual
The Nest Cam earned a 4 of 10 for sound clarity. All of the Wi-Fi options received the same score for sound in our tests.
The sound from the Nest Cam does not offer the best clarity and didn't do well in testing compared to the competition. It has adjustable sound sensitivity, but it isn't great and no matter how we set it we couldn't turn off the white noise in the background. This means you will be listening to some kind of sound through the monitor all night. The sound was cutting in and out while we tested music in the room and it sounded grainy. The crying baby had a "tunnel" sound that echoed with some brightness.
The Nest Cam earned a 10 of 10 for image quality. While the images you see depends on the device you use for viewing, the image quality is also impacted by the camera quality.
The Nest Cam daytime images are really good with nice color, but they are not as good as those we viewed using the iBaby M6S Wi-Fi.
The zoom feature is easy to use and brings you close to the action, but it doesn't seem to enhance the image much and the picture can seem pixelated. This is likely a result of digital zoom versus a true zoom feature. However, you can still see baby's features and the image is clear enough to read the letters on the eye chart.
Night images for the Nest Cam are better than the night images and the quality of the images is pretty incredible with more "light" and brightness than seen in the daytime images. You will have no problems seeing baby and all the action in the middle of the night with this camera.
Ease of Use
The Nest Cam earned an 8 of 10 for ease of use; only the iBaby M6S Wi-Fi earned a higher score in this metric with a 9. The Nest cam is fairly easy to set up, even if it is a manual connection to get it running with your device. You can plug it into your computer and follow the prompts, or download the app and follow the online instructions. While not as simple as a dedicated monitor with the plug and play setup, it is still fairly simple and intuitive.
This is the easiest Wi-Fi monitor to use with zoom, and pan (though not a true pan as the camera is not remote controlled). It doesn't offer many on screen features and most can be found in the onscreen menus. The mic button can be found easily, and the other features are few clicks away much like most of the competition. This monitor does have about a 1 second delay in what you see and what is happening in the room. This is less than the other Wi-Fi options but not as good as the dedicated monitors. It does offer an audible alert when monitoring, if you prefer that to baby's crying. The app for this camera does not continue to monitor if you are using the device for something else. A slight delay, about 1 second.
The Nest Cam earned a 10 of 10 for battery life, on par with the other Wi-Fi options in the review. The camera itself plugs in and will not accept batteries, and your parent device battery life will depend on what device you use, and what other activities you are doing using the same device.
The Nest Cam will only work if you leave it open (it will email alerts, but that is not good for baby monitoring), but the battery life still depends on what you are doing with the device. Switching between applications, or taking phone calls while running the Nest Cam app will both interrupt monitoring and decrease battery life. In general, we estimate the battery life of most parent devices that run this application to have at least 10 hours of life if used only for Nest Cam monitoring.
The Nest Cam earned an 8 of 10 for features. This is one point lower than the high score for the metric of 9 earned by the iBaby M6S Wi-Fi, but it is a tie with the LeFun C6 Wi-Fi. This camera can be used in conjunction with 10 additional cameras in one home, with unlimited homes connected to one account.
This camera is designed as a security surveillance camera and is not specifically designed with baby in mind, unlike the iBaby M6S Wi-Fi that has features specific for baby. However, it does have some additional features parents will be looking for, including:
Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Levels
The Nest Cam camera has an EMF reading of 0.92 with the reader 6ft from the camera. On average, as with most of the monitors, the EMF readings decreased as we moved the reader further from the camera. We didn't measure EMF from the parent unit as this level will vary depending on the type of device you plan to use. Note that whatever device you choose to use, EMF exposure decreases the further away you get from the device.
After researching the various security issues of each Wi-Fi enabled monitor in this review we feel the Nest Cam, like its predecessor the Dropcam, is the safest and least likely to be affected or accessed by outside hackers. While nothing is completely failsafe, other than not using a video monitor, we feel Nest has what it takes to make most parents feel safe with the history and technology to back up their product and claims.
In 2014, Dropcam Co-founder and CEO said this about Synack, a 3rd party company that attempts to hack Wi-Fi cameras to determine possible security issues:
"The Synack folks were not actually able to remotely compromise any of our cameras — only ones they had physical access to. Most importantly, we have excellent security for preventing remote access. Our cameras won't communicate with anyone on the Internet, only Dropcam cloud servers, and to the best of our knowledge, we haven't had any intrusions or access to private data to date."
Nest does advise that parents keep their app up to date and avoid entering their username or passwords anywhere other than a Nest site or app.
Here are some general tips and guidelines that can help keep your camera safe from hackers:
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz
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