We tested the Google Nest Cam smart home camera with battery in indoor and outdoor use, including AI features. What can you expect from the Smart Cam?
Google’s smart home ambitions are on the rise. The Google Assistant controls more and more smart devices and is expected to become even more universal with the upcoming smart home standard Matter. At the same time, the company’s own product range of Nest devices is steadily increasing.
In addition to the smart speaker Nest Audio and the smart display Nest Hub 2, Google’s smart cameras are the primary standouts. AI features and extensive application possibilities meet a moderate price.
I had the Google Nest Cam Outdoor or Indoor with Battery (what a name!) in a long-term test for two months and spied on my dogs via the Nest Hub 2 – indoors and outdoors.
Hint: Anyone who decides to buy a WLAN camera with cloud storage should think carefully beforehand about how much they trust the manufacturer or how important privacy is. Since it is not possible for us to check whether the manufacturer’s specifications regarding security and privacy are adhered to, we will not go into this separately in the test. The manufacturer’s information about security and privacy can be found in the product details section.
Google Nest Cam Outdoor or Indoor with Battery: Review in a nutshell
The Google Nest Cam is an excellent smart home camera for indoor and outdoor use with a solid to good image quality. The range of functions is lush even without a subscription and allows many individual adjustments. However, there are some drawbacks in terms of storage, since there is no option to save data locally. A monthly fee is charged for the convenient AI functions in the Nest subscription.
Advantages of the Google Nest Cam with battery:
- robust object detection of humans, animals, vehicles, and more
- many customizable functions
- image can be divided into alarm zones
- good night vision
- battery lasts up to two months
- versatile mounting options
- strong magnetic mount
- extensive AI functions (e.g., face recognition)
- machine learning on the device
Disadvantages of the Google Nest Cam with battery:
- large design
- no local storage option
- AI functions only for paying subscribers
- continuous history only for paying subscribers
- event-based history without subscription only for the last three hours
- limited use via Nest Hub 2
Product details Google Nest Cam Indoor or Outdoor with battery
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Nest Cam: Powerful battery and flexible use
With its 8.3 x 8.3 centimeters, the Nest Cam is not exactly small. On the other hand, I can attach it almost anywhere without any problems. The camera itself and its detachable base are magnetic and hold tightly to metal surfaces, even without screws.
In outdoor use, the Nest Cam remained firmly in place even in winds of 80 km/h and snow flurries. Mounting material is also included, and there is a tripod thread on the bottom of the camera. Only the stand has to be purchased. The built-in battery keeps the camera flexible for several weeks before it has to be charged.
Convenient operation in the Google Smart Home
Like all smart home devices from Google, the Nest Cam is also set up and controlled via the Google Home app. For initial setup, a QR code is scanned and the Home app takes care of the rest. The process is child’s play and can be completed in just a few minutes.
Since it is a Google device, Alexa users are, of course, left out in the cold. The Nest Cam can only be added to the Google Home system, where it can be integrated into automatic processes or routines. I access the camera’s image either via the smartphone or the Google Nest Hub 2, whereby the latter takes a bit longer to establish the connection.
On the smart display, the options are also limited. Get battery status and video live stream – that’s it. I can start the live stream via voice command on the display, but the two-way communication only works via the Google Home app. The sound quality is sufficient for short conversations. However, even the built-in noise suppression cannot completely block wind and passing cars.
Good and stable picture by day and night
The Nest Cam achieves a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 at 30 frames per second with its 2-megapixel color sensor. This is not a masterpiece, but it is sufficient for most home applications. The picture remained stable in the test even in low-light conditions and movements were displayed smoothly. In rare cases, image flickering occurred, but it was restored after a few seconds.
Properly placed, the camera easily captures rooms up to twenty square meters. The six-fold digital zoom also allows me to inspect smaller corners of the room, although the quality of the image then drops significantly. When the camera is recording or in a live stream, a green status LED lights up. To prevent unnoticed spying, the light cannot be deactivated.
If you want to keep an eye on your home garden at night, you’ll benefit from the six high-performance infrared LEDs. I can see up to six meters away in the darkness and keep an eye on my dogs, for example.
Wide range of functions without local storage option
In addition to the standard features for smart cams, such as a live video stream to the smartphone or smart display, the Nest Cam masters numerous customization options for motion detection. I can choose whether the camera registers people, animals, or vehicles, all three together or any form of movement at once.
Within the lush detection range of 110 degrees horizontally, I can leave out certain areas and define alarm zones. This is particularly useful if, for example, a window overlooking the street is in the camera’s field of view, which means that passers-by or vehicles are constantly being unintentionally detected.
Each zone can be customized and optimized for different use cases. Among other things, I can divide the image of my dining room into three parts: One area detects only people, the other only pets, and the last any form of movement. This saves battery and reduces notifications. If you use gapless recording, however, the image is still recorded outside the alarm zones.
If the Nest Cam registers motion, I get a notification immediately. The detection ran excellently during the test and without false alarms. Latency was mostly under one second. In the event-based history, I see the video recorded for the duration of the registered motion. In the basic version, Google’s servers store events from the last three hours. There is no local storage option. Only in case of a WLAN failure does the Nest Cam store up to one hour locally.
Face and object recognition with AI costs extra
With the paid subscription service Nest Aware, the cloud storage can be extended to up to 60 days of event-based and ten days of gapless recording. The price starts at five euros per month and includes all Google Nest Cams in a household. In case of theft, Google helps out with a replacement device under certain conditions.
Also available only with a subscription is intelligent object recognition, which uses machine learning to recognize sounds or faces. It takes a few tries to get the face recognition to work. I have to face the Nest Cam several times from different angles and in different lighting conditions until the artificial intelligence can reliably identify me.
Nest Cam: AI functions are processed on the device
According to Google, the AI functions are processed on the device and do not move to the cloud. However, I have to store the images of new faces in a database. It doesn’t work completely without the cloud after all.
If the Nest Cam accidentally classifies objects as faces, I can show it its embarrassing error by taking a screenshot of the scene in question. Through image analysis, the cam then learns that the captured object is not a human face and does not repeat the mistake. I can also manually clean up the face database.
Face detection mostly worked reliably during my tests. Only in low light and at night did the Nest Cam occasionally struggle to recognize me. Noise detection was not available to me in the test subscription.
Conclusion on Google Nest Cam Outdoor or Indoor with Battery
The Google Nest Cam is an excellent smart home camera for indoor and outdoor use. Despite its size, the Nest Cam remains flexible to use. This is ensured by an enduring battery and the diverse mounting options, above all the strong magnetic plate, which also defies strong gusts of wind.
The Full HD image quality of the 2-megapixel color sensor is solid to good with usual exposure. Six infrared LEDs provide a clear view even at night. There were no image dropouts over many weeks.
The Google Nest Cam’s feature set hardly leaves anything to be desired. The object detection (human, animal, vehicle, everything else) works impeccably and did not deliver any false positives. The more advanced AI options like face recognition are convincing when trained. However, a paid subscription is required for this.