Tech Tools review: Nest Cam

High definition security camera to keep a watchful eye

Nest Labs is looking to take over your home. From its "learning" thermostat" to the smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector, the company has been fast establishing itself in high-tech households of the future. And now there is a security camera to add to the mix.

The Nest Cam is the result of an acquisition the Google-owned company made in 2014, buying Dropcam for $555 million (€506 million). The internet-connected camera could be stuck anywhere and used for anything from a baby monitor and pet spy to a home security service you could access at any time.

The Nest Cam is the first product that has come out of that acquisition. It looks better than the original Dropcam, with a slimmer body, and it bumps the quality up to 1080p from the Dropcam Pro’s 720p. But is it worth investing in the new version of the camera?

The good

The quality of the Nest Cam is quite good. Although recording in 1080p may be overkill for footage that will more than likely be viewed over the web, it offers the higher quality option. That’s particularly evident in the night footage, with the 1080p video more detailed when the lights are turned off.


When you set up the camera initially though, the video quality is set to 720p to save on bandwidth for streaming. You have the choice to dial that down to 360p if you really want to destress your home broadband. Once it’s up and running, the Nest Cam is easy to manage. Everything is done via the app, with no buttons on the camera itself.

What it has is a status light that will show green when it’s capturing video and flash green when someone is watching the live stream. This can be disabled; it will still show when there are errors though. You can also listen in on the video stream and talk back – perfect if you’re using it as a baby or pet monitor, or if you just want to freak out whoever is in your house.

One of the good things about the Nest Cam is its integration with other nest products, so if you buy into Google and Nest's smart home plans, you can benefit further. If you have the Nest thermostat, it will automatically recognise when you leave the house and set the camera to "away" mode, for example.

You can also set the camera to turn on and off on a schedule determined by you and set through the Nest app. Motion and sound alerts can be set up so you are informed of any movement.

You can also rewind up to 30 days of footage from the camera – but that will require a monthly subscription to Nest Aware, which is an added expense. Launching soon on the Irish market it will cost from €10 a month initially. In the US it costs $30 a month.

The not so good

There’s something a little creepy about having the camera recording everything and uploading the footage to the cloud for review. Nest uses encryption and enough security to put your mind at ease, and it’s never had one of those embarrassing security breaches we’re always reading about. Still, it’s worth recognising that nothing can ever be 100 per cent, and you may want to consider carefully whether you want your camera footage stored anywhere for 30 days at a time.

As mentioned, this is a subscription service, so if you want to use it as a security camera with the ability to review footage, you may want to factor in that cost.

The rest

The Nest Cam comes with a magnetic base that means you can attach it to the fridge or any other magnetic surface. however, most people will probably want to mount it on the wall. With this in mind, Nest has included a wall mount in the box, to which you can attach the magnetic base when you need it.

The Nest Cam requires a constant power connection which may limit where you put the camera, although the included micro USB cable is long enough to do most people.

The verdict


A good way to keep an eye on things at home, but the subscription service may be a little pricey for some users.