We’ve been using Google’s fleet of Nest cameras for a while and have always been massive fans of these neat little home security gadgets. They’re super simple to use, offer a vast array of features and the excellent video quality means you can watch over your property even when the sun goes down.
But despite our unwavering enthusiasm, there has always been one issue when wanting to install one of these internet-connected devices on the outside of your home as they all need to be wired into the mains to power them up and get them recording.
That means you’ll need to start drilling holes in walls or set about installing an outdoor plug which isn’t cheap or exactly easy. Thankfully, that’s all changed with Google now launching a Nest Cam that has a battery tucked inside.
So, you can simply charge it up and get an instant view of the back garden right on your smartphone.
Now, you might be wondering if this idea really works and how Google has made a camera that doesn’t require you to climb up a ladder every night to charge it back up again?
Express.co.uk has been putting the Nest Cam (battery) through its paces and here’s what we think.
One thing to note: it’s definitely worth making sure the placement is correct before pummelling screws into your home. As soon as that mount is attached you’re all good to go with the camera simply sticking to it via a very strong magnet.
This not only makes it simple to remove and refill but also allows it to be twisted and moved for the perfect viewing angle. Now you might be thinking that every day you’ll need to get up a ladder to refill the camera but this is where things get clever.
This Nest device only switches on when it spots something or you physically switch on the live feed from your phone.
We’ve had ours screwed to the wall for the past three weeks and it still has over 30 percent left in the tank – that means you can expect at least a month of usage before you’ll have to get the plug out.
It is worth noting that the battery will drain faster the more the camera switches on.
So, if you live on a busy street and have the device watching over the front door it will need refilling faster than a back garden that often remains empty.
If the Nest Cam does see something you’ll be sent an instant alert and a recording will also be stored via the app.
Google isn’t being such a scrooge this year and, unlike previous cameras, owners now get three hours of recordings.
It’s better than nothing but to get the most out of these devices you will need to sign up to Google’s Nest Aware plan which costs £5 per month. It’s well worth it as this subscription is for all of your cams and features 7-days of recordings.
Of course, this is a camera so what is the video quality like? Google promises up to 1080p at 30 FPS resolution which sounds pretty impressive.
In reality, the quality is fine with clear images and a good level of detail. However, we’ve definitely seen better and things can get a little distorted especially when you try zooming in on an area of the footage. The night mode is also just about good enough to watch the foxes as they rummage through your bins and make a mess on the patio.
Image quality could definitely be improved but this is still a brilliantly easy and effective way of keeping watch over the outside of your property.
One final feature that’s worth a mention is the “event” alerts which can be tweaked to include facial recognition and specific activity zones. This will allow you to get a message when the camera spots your kids arriving home from school but also stop endless warnings when people aren’t actually near your property. Pets and cars can also be added which really does help cut down on warnings popping up on your phone that simply become a hindrance and not a help.
So that’s all the good bits but is anything that should make you look elsewhere. The simple answer is yes, with the app being one of our biggest bugbears.
In the past, all video footage was available to view via the excellent Nest app. For some ridiculous reason, these new cameras don’t work with this first-class application with users being asked to switch to the Google Home app instead.
Although this means everything, such as Google-branded smart speakers and cameras, are in one place the Home app is simply not as user friendly with the whole experience feeling pretty clunky.
A good example of this is how quickly the live camera footage loads. Power up the Nest app and you’ll instantly see what is going on outside but with the Home app you have to start tapping on different settings just to see what’s going on outside.
For some strange reason, our iPhone keeps getting very hot when using the Google Home app and that’s not something we’ve ever experienced with the Nest application. Our next issue is the charger as Google’s cable comes with a unique connection on the end of it.
It’s not the standard USB-C which means if you lose it you’re going to need to head to Google’s store to buy a new one.
Weirdly, Google’s other new product – the Nest Doorbell (battery) – does come with a USB-C connection so we have no idea why they’ve made this very odd decision.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the cameras take around 5 hours to refill so you need to make sure the battery boost is performed at a time when you’re OK for things not to be recorded.
GOOGLE NEST CAM VERDICT:
PROS • Battery power makes it simple to install • Attractive design • £179 is a nice price
CONS • Not compatible with Nest app • Video quality could be better • No USB-C charging
If you’re looking for an outdoor security solution that doesn’t require expensive installation then the Nest Cam (battery) is now a very good option.
It’s simple to set up and you can have it screwed to your walls in a matter of minutes.
The battery life can last as long as a month and there’s also plenty of useful features that mean you won’t get endless and very annoying alerts.
Image quality is good, although we have seen better, and the neat design means it won’t look out of place on even the smartest of homes.
Sadly, it’s not all good news and we especially hate the new way of viewing footage via the Home app. Why Google is abandoning the Nest app we have no idea but it’s a very odd decision.
Our only other issues with the camera include those slow charging times and lack of USB-C charging – whatever you do, don’t lose the unique cable that comes in the box!
Although it’s not perfect this new camera is very good and really does offer an easy way to watch over the outside of your home. Burglars beware!