The Nest Cam Indoor WiFi camera earned an impressive overall rank in this video review. This easy-to-use camera earns high marks in most metrics, 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 a connection to your baby wherever there is an internet connection. Still, we caution parents that WiFi connections can fail and lose connection without warning. Despite that, the Nest Cam performed well in our tests with only a 1-second delay and no connectivity issues. This is one of the best WiFi monitors we've seen.Editor's Note: We added new information to this gear review to help you in your buying decision process. This update happened on March 25, 2022.
Nest Cam Indoor WiFi Review
Pros: Internet range, great images, versatile long term use
Cons: No internet / no monitor, disappointing sound
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Nest Company started in a garage with 16 employees. In December of 2010, they created their first Nest Thermostat prototype. 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. Shortly after the thermostat, Nest created smoke and CO2 detectors that integrate with their app and software for more home protection. In June of 2015, Nest released the new Nest Cam (formerly Drop cam made by Google). 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.
- In case your internet isn't fast enough to properly support the monitor, be sure you buy from a retailer with a simple return policy.
- Test the monitor right away to ensure sufficient bandwidth. Even if you can stream movies, video monitors upload and download using more bandwidth than normal streaming.
- We recommend parents use a separate device for monitoring. We don't recommend using your phone to avoid losing monitor connection when on a call.
- Change the default password! When you skip changing the password, it is much easier to hack in and look at your baby.
The Nest works anywhere there is an internet connection. Both the camera and the parent device will need an internet connection of some kind to monitor the baby.
This camera connection can happen with WiFi or Ethernet cable depending on preference. Nest Cam can be viewed via a computer, a smartphone, or tablet with a data plan. WiFi 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 poor score for sound clarity that is on par with most of the WiFi options we tested.
The sound from the Nest Cam didn't offer the best clarity and didn't do well in tests 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 lack of adjustability 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 has impressive image quality compared to the video monitor competition. While the video you see depends on the device you use, the quality is primarily a result of the camera quality.
The Nest Cam daytime images are excellent with impressive colors.
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 look pixelated. This pixel look is likely a result of digital zoom versus a true zoom feature. However, you can still see the baby's features, and the image is sharp enough to read the letters on the eye chart.
Night images for the Nest Cam are some of the best, and the quality is pretty incredible with more "light" and brightness than you see in the daytime images. With this camera, you will have no problems viewing your baby and all the action in the middle of the night.
Ease of Use
The Nest Cam is fairly easy to set up, even if you need to connect to your device manually. 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 simple and intuitive if you are comfortable with technology.
This monitor is the easiest WiFi product to zoom and pan (though not a true pan as the camera is not remotely controlled). It doesn't offer many on-screen features, but most are in the onscreen menus. The mic button is easy to locate, but the other features are a few clicks away, much like most of the competition. This monitor has a 1-second delay in what you see and what is happening in the room. This delay is less than the other WiFi options but not as good as the dedicated monitors. It also has an audible alert when monitoring if you prefer that to a baby's crying. The app for this camera does not continue monitoring if you use the device for something else.
The Nest Cam is on par with the other WiFi options in the review for battery life. 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 with the same device.
The Nest Cam will only work if you leave it open (it will email alerts, but that is not sufficient 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 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. We also recommend using a device other than your smartphone for monitoring so you keep constant contact with your baby.
The Nest Cam has many features and can be used in conjunction with ten additional cameras in one home and unlimited homes connected to one account.
This camera is designed as a security surveillance camera and is not explicitly designed with a baby in mind. However, it does have some additional features parents will be looking for, including:
- Two-way talk
- Sound activation
- Movement detection
- 8X digital zoom
- Night vision
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 monitors, the EMF readings decrease as you move 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 use.
After researching the various security issues of each WiFi-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. Barring the option of not using a video monitor at all, nothing is completely failsafe. However, we are confident that the Nest has what it takes to make most parents feel secure 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 WiFi cameras to determine possible security issues:
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.
- Update any firmware for your camera
- Do not use the default password
- Choose a password at least 8-10 characters and use a combination of lower/upper case letters, numbers, and special characters
- Change passwords regularly
- Limit what the camera can see
- Unplug the camera when not in use since many cameras can be remotely activated
Should You Buy the Nest Cam?
It is hard to beat this impressive camera for all things monitoring or security. This useful camera is compatible with other Nest cam products, offers great video, and is easy to use and set up. While it doesn't offer great sound, none of the video products do. We love that this camera can be used for years and can forgive its lack of baby-specific features because the price is reasonable and the quality is good. We think it offers what most parents will actually use and avoids the fancy baby features most parents stop using within a month or so.
What Other Video Monitor Should You Consider?
If you want baby-centric features, the Nest Cam is not for you. As it wasn't developed with babies in mind, it lacks some of the features parents think they want, like lullabies and nightlights. The iBaby Care M7 WiFi is a better bet for a feature-heavy device. This WiFi option performed well in most metrics with great video and so many features you'll likely forget what they are. If your goal is a one-and-done monitor with movement monitoring capabilities, we think the Nanit Pro is the best choice. This monitor is a WiFi option that offers great visuals and movement monitor accessories.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz
Honest, objective reviews. Led by a Pediatrician.
BabyGearLab was founded by a Pediatrician Mom with a mission to provide a reliable, independent, source of information to new parents. Our experts have tested thousands of baby and kids products to share key performance, health, and safety findings. We spend tens of thousands of dollars crash testing car seats to inform our ratings. And, we combine our review work with gobs of expert parenting advice. To assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing by people who care.Learn More