Nest Outdoor Initial Impressions

posted in: Nest | 0

nest-cam-outdoorYesterday Nest announced their first new product since Christ was a carpenter and the internet went wild.  No longer will lovers of Nest products have to prop their Nest Cam’s in windows.  For $199 you can now pre-order the grammatically incorrect Nest Cam Outdoor.

The new Nest Cam Outdoor features a 130 degree viewing angle, 1080p HD video, night vision, a microphone and speaker, a wire to plug it in (more on this later), smart alerts, and a magnetic or screw in mount.  It’s also weatherproof (waterproof) and can operate in temperatures from -4 to 104 degrees.  The Outdoor will work with the entire Nest lineup as well as the “works with Nest” ecosystem.  It communicates over Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth Low Energy.  The camera requires between 200 and 1200 Kbps of bandwidth to live stream and can use between 60 GB and 380 GB of upload bandwidth per month to store video in the cloud.

Like the Nest Cam Indoor, you don’t have to pay for Nest’s $10/month cloud recording service, however if you take that route you will just have a really expensive live streaming camera.  Paying the $10/month extortion fee gives you the ability to store up to 30 days of continuous cloud recording.  You will also get smarter alerts in that the Nest software will be able to tell you if it detects a person in its field of view, rather than an animal or random object.

Nest is touting this camera as being an easy to install alternative to other outdoor security options.  The magnetic mounting option means you can simply stick the camera to certain metal surfaces, plug it in and walk away.  More likely, people will wind up using the included screw in option to mount the camera, as most homes aren’t made of metal.  Nest also assumes that you have a plethora of external outlets available in prime mounting locations.  This basically limits you to mounting cameras near doorways, as they are the most likely place you will find outdoor outlets on most homes.  Then there’s the stylish wire used to power the Nest Cam Outdoor.  Nest provides you with a 25′ power cable and cable clips to keep it from flapping in the breeze.  In most situations, hiding this wire will be an issue.  And while 25′ may sound like a lot of cable, this will quickly get used up trying to hide the cable.  Assuming you want to mount the camera at an optimum viewing angle that is at least slightly difficult to steal, you’ll already need 8-9′ for a vertical run.  And if you are mounting the camera directly above an outlet, you’ll need to hide the additional cable somewhere as I doubt Nest wants you cutting the wire to length.

While the camera is easy on the eyes, it also looks very easy to steal.  That can be said about virtually any outdoor camera, but anyone using the magnetic mount with an exposed power wire should be exceptionally wary.  On the upside, if you pay the $10/month for cloud storage you’ll have a great video of the thief.

It’s impossible to avoid comparing this to video doorbells, such as Ring, as well as package outdoor surveillance systems.  Ring, and other video doorbells, sell at a similar price point.  They offer always on recording, a cloud storage system, the ability to hear and talk to people at the door and hi-res video with night vision.  Video doorbells, however, are meant for the singular purpose of monitoring your front door and alerting you to visitors.  While you can accomplish something similar with the Nest Outdoor, you will lose out on the doorbell features.

Assuming you plan to purchase more than one Nest Outdoor to monitor your home, you will begin to approach the price point of boxed surveillance systems.  Many of the budget friendly surveillance systems can be incredibly bad, but north of $500 you can find some quality systems offering four or more cameras.  All of these systems will come with an on site DVR and can require extensive wiring to link the cameras back to the DVR.  Some do offer battery powered cameras, but changing batteries can be expensive and dangerous depending on where you mount your cameras.  The more you pay for a surveillance system, the more features you will get.  Many will offer 1080p resolution, cloud recording options and smart features such as motion detection.  This may be the better option for anyone looking to buy multiple cameras.

Overall, I think Nest had to release an outdoor camera eventually but this is another example of iteration rather than innovation coming out of Nest Labs.  This hardly deserves the press it is receiving, as it is just Nest playing catch-up with an existing and established market.  If you love Nest products, maybe this is the camera you’ve been waiting for.  Personally, there are many, many other options I would consider before looking to purchase one (let alone many) Nest Cam Outdoor’s*.

* It is literally eating me up inside that to pluralize Nest Cam Outdoor I needed to use an “‘s” as “outdoors” is a word whereas “outdoor’s” is stupid.