Nest Cam Review — Is This Wi-Fi Security Camera Right For You?

Recording what goes on when you’re not home can go a long way toward not only making you feel more secure, but also toward ensuring that if anything does go wrong, you’ll have all you need to know all the details. The Nest Cam is a simple way to know what’s going on at home from anywhere and has plenty of options for notifying you when something goes wrong. It’s also simple to review footage and share it with others.

Pros And Cons Of The Camera

High-quality footage with enough contrast for bright roomsFree option is limited — if you want more than 3 hours of footage stored you’ll have to pay
App integrates with other Nest products for a whole-home control panelMany neat tricks are only available in the web app, which can be a little clunky
Zones let you target alerts for just the important areasNo battery option for temporary placement of the camera somewhere else
Plug-and-play setup gets you recording quicklyDoesn’t work with Apple’s HomeKit
Sightline feature is extremely accurate in picking out important movement
Great speaker for talking to pets, children


Nest starts things off right with a pretty painless setup. Simply unpack the device, set it up on the included stand and plug it into a nearby outlet. After scanning the back of the camera with the free Nest app, it automatically connects to the internet and is ready to start recording.

The mounting options for the Nest Cam are plentiful. You can use the included base to simply set it on a shelf, table or ledge, or the integrated magnets let you snap it to any magnetic surface.

If you’re looking to mount it to a wall, the included screws and mounting plate ensure a secure spot for getting the best view. You can even mount it to a tripod for temporary monitoring, for example to keep an eye on snowfall or the construction crew renovating your kitchen.

Once it’s in place, the camera easily rotates to make sure you have a level view of your surroundings, while a joint lets you make minute adjustments to ensure proper framings.

One thing to remember is that the Nest Cam relies on a constant source of power from an outlet. While some cameras let you temporarily move them and keep recording on battery, you’ll need to think about how to hide the white, 10-foot cord and where the closest plug is before purchasing your Nest Cam.

Nest Cam Review — Is This Wi-Fi Security Camera Right For You?

After setting your Nest Cam up, you can just walk away and it’ll start recording. But if you want to dive into security, you’ll want to manage the zones its monitoring and the notifications you receive.

With Zones, you can set up areas where you want to either ignore movement, or pay special attention to movement. For example, if Fido is always running around on the living room floor, you can set it up as a zone and then opt out of notifications of movement in that area. But you can also set up a zone for the couch, and get an alert when Fido’s up there.

You can also get detailed notifications on your smartphone or email. Person Alerts let you know when the Nest Cam thinks it has spotted a person, as opposed of a falling leaf or passing car. You can also turn off notifications when you arrive home so your own movements and noise aren’t sending out alerts.

However, both Zones and Person Alerts are part of Nest Aware, the company’s subscription service. In addition to the above features, Aware also increases the cloud-stored footage from three hours to up to a month, depending on your package. For $10 per month or $100 per year, you get 10 days of recorded footage, while $30 per month or $300 per year gives you 30 days of recordings.

If you’re looking to beef up your home security and not just see what your pets are up to all day, Nest Aware should probably be part of your budget. However, the price and perks are inline with other web-connected cameras and well worth it for the security it provides.

Reviewing Footage From The Camera

The quality for the Nest is stellar. You get a 130-degree view of the room, enough to take in almost everything important if you stick your camera up in a corner. Plus, the 1080p quality makes it easy to spot details across the room, and you can even digitally zoom in on footage to clearly tell what’s going on.

However, all that quality can eat up bandwidth. If your internet is slowing down, Nest Cam can send 720p footage instead to ensure you’re not left with gaps in coverage, but you’ll lose some detail in larger rooms where the action may be taking place further away.

The contrast range on the Nest Cam is pretty wide. It can handle bright sunlight streaming in without blowing out anything but the brightest whites. And dimmer corners of rooms are still pretty visible throughout the day.

Nest Cam Review — Is This Wi-Fi Security Camera Right For You?

With Nest Cam’s night mode, infrared light illuminates the room in light only the Nest Cam can see, so it can make out what’s going on even on moonless nights. It automatically switches to night mode, so you’ll never miss a movement in the shadows. The downside to night mode is that there is no color, so it can be hard to make out just what is on the move sometimes. And the camera’s software seems eager to switch, meaning an afternoon cloud can set your system into night mode.

When it’s time to find the footage you want to review, Nest’s software makes it pretty easy. With the Sightline feature, you can see GIF-like previews of a clip before you load it up. Once you tap on it, you can view just the part that caused the alert and even share the clip from there.

Sharing clips is about as easy as sharing a Facebook post. From the smartphone app, just find the clip you want to send, hit the share button, and post to Facebook, send in an email or share via text with your phone’s built-in options.

If you want to do some fancier sharing, jump on the web app. From there, you can select any chunk of day you want and share it. You can even create timelapses, condense whole days down to two minutes.

However, you’ll have to log onto the web version to create timelapses or clips that fall outside the movement Nest noticed. That kind of functionality would be much appreciated on the app so you can easily share your clips over text, social media or email.

Another downfall of the timelapses is that there’s no option to just focus on the interesting parts. So if you’re doing a kitchen remodel and take a break to go out to lunch, that time where nothing is happening still ends up on the timelapse.

Key Features Of The Camera

Key Features
1080p video with night vision capabilities
130-degree field of view
Two-way talk function
3-hour cloud recording free
Nest Aware starts at $10 per month or $100 per year for 10 days of footage
Nest Aware also includes Zones and Person Alerts for smarter notifications
Streams video over Wi-Fi
Powered via included micro USB cable
Included wall mounting bracket


The Nest app puts you right into your footage. From the moment you open the app, you’ll see a preview of the what your camera sees right now. With a tap, you can jump into a live view and hear what’s happening in the room. You can then quickly scroll back in time with the flick of a finger.

But the same app lets you control your other Nest devices, including the smart thermostat and the Nest Protect smoke and CO2 alarm. Having the control of all three in one app makes it simple to manage your smart home without bouncing around your smartphone. Plus, the Nest Cam can turn on and off with the same system that sets your house to Home and Away temperatures with the Nest Learning Thermostat.

Nest also works with an expanding number of other smart devices, including light bulbs, smart locks and even washing machines. The Works With Nest program lets services leverage the predictive features of the Nest thermostat to smartly turn on and off, take advantage of energy saving periods during off-peak hours and enhance security.

However, not everything works with Nest. Most notably, Apple’s HomeKit will likely never work with Nest systems, since Nest owner Google competes directly with Apple. Make no mistake, the iOS Nest app works just fine on iPhones and the web app is fine on Macs, but the Siri control and tight iOS integrations likely won’t be coming for Nest. If you don’t mind working outside the Apple ecosystem, the Nest Cam is still a great buy.

Should you buy?

If you’re looking for a simple way to start feeling a little more secure, or you just want a way to keep an eye on your home or office from afar, the Nest is a stellar option. With a simple setup but plenty of pro features, it can fit many people’s needs without breaking the bank on a full security system.

This might be good for you if you:

  • Have big, bright rooms
  • Want to get targeted notifications about movement in specific areas
  • Have other Nest products
  • Want to talk to your pets, children or other people in your home from afar

This might not be a good fit for you if you:

  • Are on a budget and want more than 3 hours of footage
  • Want a flexible option that can occasionally be moved around the house
  • Want to share footage frequently
  • Are an Apple die-hard who wants this to fit into their connected home