One of the easiest ways to get into the world of smart home devices is to invest in a security camera. Google has been making a big play to embed smart, connected devices to the home through Google Home and their acquisition of Nest. The Nest Cam IQ integrates into the Nest app and includes facial recognition and very sharp images.
The Nest Cam IQ requires a mains power connection that's delivered by a small power adaptor with a USB-C cable that plugs into the back of the Cam IQ. Once it's powered on, there's a simple set-up process to follow that links the camera to your Google account and lets you access the camera remotely.
It's worth noting that if you bought this camera a while ago and have been remiss with the software updates, Google Home integration has been recently added. There's no support for Apple Home and the Alexa support is quite thin - hardly surprising given the three parties are currently battling for smart home dominance.
As I'd previously installed and reviewed the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, I didn't need to go through every step from the start.
The camera comes with mounting screws so it can be attacked to a ceiling but it's not made for outdoor use.
Alerts and image quality
The Cam IQ is designed to send alerts when it recognises a person wandering past or some other movement. Image quality was excellent from the 4K sensor. I've looked at a numbe of cameras over recent months and the Cam IQ's images are easily the best.
However, it's worth noting that while the sensor is 4K, it currently records and delivers video at "just" 1080P. You can zoom into images at up to 12x via the digital zoom.
The facial recognition feature allows you to train the Cam IQ to recognise partocialtr people. This is similar to the Netatmo Welcome I looked at a little while ago. It can be set to alert you when someone unfamiliar enters its 130 degree field of view.
You can also tell it to stop providing notifications when you're home although you'll need to give the camera's app access to your location.
When you first set the Cam IQ up, you're given a free 30-day subscription to Nest Aware. This online service captures all the footage from the Cam IQ so you can review everything it sees. It holds a rolling 30-day window of your footage.
After the 30 days, you'll need to spring for the ongoing annual or monthly subscription.
There are three pricing tiers:
- 5-day video history$70/year or $7/month
- 10-day video history$140/year or $14/month
- 30-day video history$300/year or $30/month
My gut feeling is that the middle tier will be good enough for most people unless your place is unattended for long periods of time. Given you'll receive alerts if someone the camera doesn't recognise is in it's field of view and you can view and save that footage as soon as you receive an alert, the rest of the footage, for most of us, won't be of any use.
The big update that was delivered in a recent firmware update was the integration of Google Assistant into the Cam IQ. That means it can respond to "Hey Google" using its integrated microphone and speaker.
As well as working as a security device, you can use the Cam IQ to automate other devices around your home, as long as they place nicely with Google Home. For example, if you have the camera mounted on the ceiling in your lounge room, you can set it to turn a lamp on, assuming it's connected to a smart switch device or has a connected light bulb like the Philips Hue, when someone enters the room. That can be set to only happen in the evening and keep the light on for a certain period of time.
There's also support for IFTTT so you can connect it to other devices and services.
Price and availability
Here's the kicker - the Nest Cam IQ is not cheap. At $479 it is very much priced at the premium end of the scale. To put that in some context, there are three and four camera sets from other manufacturers that ship for that kind of money.
This is a connected camera with facial recognition that can integrate with a bunch of other gear in your home of office and the image quality is outstanding. So, you're paying a premium price for a high-end product.
There's a lot to like about the Nest Cam IQ if your budget can stretch.