Canary started strong with a few bumps, but over the past year, they've worked consistently to strengthen their product and improve based on user feedback. They've corrected issues with night vision, added social sharing, and made friends with products like Wink and Google Home. At the same time, they regressed by moving several features from the free to the premium column before moving some back after much backlash.
- Wide Angle Lens
- Solid Night Vision Performance
- Accurate Temperature Readings
- Frequent Changes to Free Features
- False Alarms Caused By Lighting Changes
Canary Image and Video Quality
As a camera, Canary is a performer. I would say it's just as good as Nest Cam with a similar feel and video performance including the emblazoned logo across all footage. The difference is that Canary physically looks inconspicuous. It doesn't look like a camera, and it certainly blends in with other tchotchkes. The camera is said to record in 1080p; I am assuming it may dumb down if needed, but nothing on the app indicates that this is something you can manually control. Regardless, the footage produced by the camera is crystal clear.
The camera offers a 147-degree field of view which is slightly larger than Nest Cam's. It has a slight fish eye effect, which isn't terrible, and it also features 3x digital zoom so that you can take a closer look at things if needed. The digital pan and zoom feature works during live streaming, but also on recorded footage. This is particularly helpful when looking at night time recordings.
All-in-all, the night vision performance is respectable. The camera suffered for a long time from an issue that would cause it to send alerts when swapping between day and night vision. The team at Canary has been working on making the device smarter, and they've made some strides. Though false alarms are much less common this year than they were last year, they do happen. Once you recognize that this is a software issue and not a security threat, it's easy to move on.
Canary has also made strides on the devices ability to live stream. In the past, the camera faced around a six-second delay, but thanks to a recent update, the wait to view a live stream has been cut in half.
If you want to compare Canary's hardware specifications to other cameras like the Dropcam, FLIR FX, or even the Piper NV, I suggest checking out this article.
Canary Camera to Enhance Home Security
Canary packs more power than just a camera. It has multiple sensors that can provide limited home security. Canary is limited because it puts too much responsibility back on the homeowner. For example, let's say that Canary detects motion. Did you know that there is no option to have the siren automatically sound? This seems silly to me. Why have a siren if it isn't going to help scare people off or better yet wake me up if someone comes in while I'm sleeping? I want to know if someone is in my home. I want to know EXACTLY what's going on so I can get my ass out of bed and start prepping. Canary takes a passive approach. It detects motion, it sends you an alert and sends a clip to the cloud. If you happen to be near your phone, you will probably receive the push notification, open the app, and check out the clip. At the bottom of the clip, you are presented with several options for dealing with the situation.
A. Record it.
B. Sound the Siren.
C. Make an Emergency Call.
D. Use Two-Way Talk (but only if you're a "Member")
That's a lot of responsibility for people who work, eat, sleep, bathe, and do other things. In preparation for this, Canary will soon launch a professional monitoring plan. For $10 per month, you can have someone watch your back 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and according to your individual preference. Want them to wait 5 minutes before calling the police? Cool. Want them to call your neighbor and your mom before calling the police? That's cool too. The premise is that you are still in control. Canary will first try to contact you to get the all clear, and if they can't reach you, they will follow your plan which might include calling the police on your behalf. It's a reassuring notion and better than most security cameras.
Canary motion alerts are based upon a learning algorithm. Over time, as users tag footage on Canary, the system should become more intelligent. To me, this wasn't apparent until recently. When I first heard that it could learn, I assumed it would be more like the Nest thermostat or even Netatmo - teach it for a couple of weeks and let it fend for itself. However, teaching Canary and seeing the results has been a very slow, gradual process. Also, the device doesn't learn from you and adjust to you. Instead, it learns from all users and aggregates the data to make the overall system more intelligent. Canary is also promising to add person detection. They will activate the feature via firmware updates, but it's not clear whether the feature will be a free feature or if it requires a membership.
To help reduce false alarms, Canary offers a feature called Masking. From the mobile app, you can create shapes to exclude areas within the camera's field of view. If you're familiar with zones, Masking is similar. You can also adjust the motion detector's sensitivity level to make sure you receive enough alerts, but not too many.
Canary also features sensors for environmental health. The sensors monitor air quality, humidity, and temperature. Within the app, you set limits that are acceptable to you. For example, you may want your home's temperature to stay between 60 and 80 degrees, if the temperature of your home falls outside of the range you've set, Canary will send an alert.
From a privacy perspective, Canary has taken a few precautions. Video is encrypted using 256-bit encryption, and video is stored using AWS. Also, the Canary device has a colored light on the bottom for physical reassurance that the camera is doing what you want. When the light is red, this means the system is armed. When there is no light, the camera is in privacy mode. I've set mine up to go into privacy mode when I'm home (except for at night when the camera is scheduled to watch my back). The feature automatically arms when I leave and automatically turns on privacy mode when I'm home. And yes, it works - so long as I have my smartphone connected to my home's Wi-Fi.
Canary Software Behavior
Canary offers an iOS, Apple TV, Android Wear, and Android app. When I purchased the camera, software was their biggest issue. The app was beautiful and easy to use but didn't always work. It had little problems like slow live streaming, black recordings, automatic arm and disarm failures; however, they've made great strides this year. The app is not only beautiful; it's functional.
Back to the simplicity of the app, the home screen is where it's at. On the bottom left-hand side of the home screen, you can swap modes and also see users that are or are not at home. The middle of the screen has a quick button to live stream and also a summary of your home's environment. The top right is the menu where you can quickly add another Canary, check out your profile, get help, add other users, or even customize your unit.
Canary Video Storage
All Canary cameras include limited cloud storage at no cost (24-hours), but the freemium plan is limited to four devices. Also, the system records 30-second clips instead of one continuous video event. If you want more, you will need a Canary Membership.
Canary Members receive multiple privileges. First, they have access to 30-days of video history plus an agent to assist in recovering footage for qualifying incidents. If your home is burglarized, you will also qualify for reimbursement of up to $1,000 toward your insurance deductible. Second, they have access to a web app in addition to the mobile app. From there they can live stream footage and view recorded events. Third, Canary will enable the ability to use their two-way talk feature. Fourth, becoming a Member will enable you to customize your modes. Fifth, events are recorded as full-length videos, not video clips. Finally, the warranty of covered cameras will be extended to 2 years. The cost of becoming a Canary Member is defined by how many cameras you want to include.
|Number of Supported Cameras||Up to 4||1||2-3 ($4.99/month per additional camera)
|App Access||Mobile Only||Mobile and Web App||Mobile and Web App|
|Modes||Home, Away, and Night||Home, Away, Night + All Customizable||Home, Away, Night + All Customizable|
|Cloud Storage||24 Hours||30 Days||30 Days
|Insurance Deductible Reimbursement||NO||Up to $1,000||Up to $1,000
|Warranty||1-Year||2-Year Warranty||2-Year Warranty
Once footage is recorded, you can easily access it from the Canary app by swiping up on the home screen. One nice feature of the recording screen is that you can sort footage based upon bookmarked footage or even footage that occurred while the system was armed. When viewing recorded footage, you have a couple of options.
A. Bookmark the recording so that it isn't deleted when you reach your video history limit.
B. Tag the event to help train Canary. You can tag it as a person, pet, sunlight, shadow, reflection, TV screen, computer screen, moving fan, motion outside, or as yourself.
C. Mark the event as "everything is fine."
D. Post a comment, which will be shared with other users. Kind of like group chat for a security event.
E. Share it on social media.
You can share an unlimited amount of clips at no charge. You can share them via text message, email, Facebook, Gmail, and potentially other apps.
As a side note, Canary does not offer any internal storage, only cloud.
Compatible Third-Party Devices
Canary doesn't have to work alone. For starters, it is compatible with the Wink smart home system. Using the Wink app, you can control your Canary system as well as add the camera to your shortcuts and schedules. Soon, Canary will launch a HomeKit enabled camera called Plus. Details are TBD. In the meantime, you can check out their second camera, Flex.
Flex is a weatherproof indoor/outdoor camera that can operate at temperatures between 14° and 113°. You can plug it into a power source or use it as a battery-powered camera. It has a FHD resolution with a 116° wide angle lens. Flex will work with Canary through the Canary app. You can also use more than one Canary or Flex via the same app login. If you do, all of your cameras will work together to help protect your home.
Finally, Canary works with Google Home. The integration allows users to check their HomeHealth status. For example, you can ask Google Home for your home's temperature, humidity level, and air quality. If you opt for a Canary Flex over the indoor Canary, you will have different Google Home options since Flex lacks indoor Canary's HomeHealth sensors. Instead, you will be able to check on Flex's battery. You can ask Google Home if Flex is plugged-in and you can ask for its current battery level.
A Quick Summary
To sum this all up in one paragraph, Canary is an indoor security camera with a siren that also monitors your home's air quality. The camera hardware is powerful, and the software has made great strides over the past year. You can get free cloud storage with Canary, but there isn't an option for local storage.
Canary comes in white, black, or silver.
Canary on Amazon $188.33
Canary on Canary.is $249.99
Canary on VerizonWireless.com $249.99
11/17/2017 After removing features from the Basic plan, Canary decided to add them back. They also announced person detection.
8/16/2017 Launch of web app, instant streaming, and two-way audio
5/31/2017 Canary has added Masking
4/27/2016 Updated as Canary now allows unlimited social sharing and works with Wink.
9/21/2016 Updated subscription plans and added Flex
12/1/2016 Canary now works with Apple TVs