Canary Reviews

Canary Security Camera Review

Hardware Criteria8.5
Software Criteria7.9
Video Storage7.4
Hands-on Authority and User Reviews7
Home Automation5.5
Encryption, Encoding, and Care10
7.7
Reader Rating: (32 Rates)5.3

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 and made friends with products like Wink and Google Home. At the same time, they've regressed by moving several features from the free to the premium column, upsetting a formally loyal customer base.

GOOD

  • Wide Angle Lens
  • Solid Night Vision Performance
  • Accurate Temperature Readings

BAD

  • 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 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

CanaryCanary is more than 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. Sound the Siren.

B. Make an Emergency Call.

C. 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 has teased the launch of a professional monitoring plan, though a launch date is yet to be announced. For $10 per month, you can have someone watch your back 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 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 adding person detection via a firmware update. Person detection will help reduce false alarms by sorting out events that do not contain people.

To further 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 which users are home and which users are not. The middle of the screen has a quick button to live stream and a summary of your home's environment. The top right side of the app allows for menu access. From the menu, 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 five devices. For free, 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. 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.

 Free
$9.99/month,
$99/year
$4.99/month/additional camera
Number of Supported Cameras
Up to 5Up to 5Unlimited
Live-StreamYES
YES
YES
App AccessMobile OnlyMobile and Web AppMobile and Web App
Motion-Activated AlertsYES
YES
YES
Person DetectionYES
YES
YES
Package DetectionNO
Flex OnlyFlex Only
Two-Way TalkNO
YES
YES
ModesHome, Away, and NightHome, Away, Night + All Customizable Home, Away, Night + All Customizable
MaskingCanary All-in-One and View OnlyCanary All-in-One and View OnlyCanary All-in-One and View Only
Cloud Storage
24 Hours30 Days
30 Days
Clip Length30-SecondsFull-LengthFull-Length
Video BookmarksUnlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Video DownloadsNO
Unlimited Unlimited
Social SharingNO
Unlimited Unlimited
Incident Support
NO
YES
YES
Warranty
1-Year
2-Year Warranty
2-Year Warranty
Buy Canary All-in-One
Buy Canary Flex
Buy Canary ViewBuy Now

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 on 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. (Members Only)

If you are a Member, 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 local 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.

Second, Canary works with Google Home and Amazon Alexa (Echo Show, Echo Spot, Fire TV). The integration with Google Home 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." Using Alexa, you will be able to conjure up a live feed using your voice. For example, you can say, "Alexa, show me my Living Room," and your camera's view will pop up on your screen.

Third, you can add multiple Canary devices to one account. 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.

You can also add the new Canary View. View is an inexpensive ($99) indoor home security camera that mimics many of the same features as the Canary All-In-One. It records in 1080p FHD, offers night vision, intelligent motion detection, geofencing, end-to-end encryption, and more. So how is it different? It's cheaper, lacks HomeHealth sensors, lacks a siren, and an Ethernet port (wireless only).

Soon, Canary will also launch a HomeKit enabled camera called Plus. Details are TBD. In the meantime, you can check out their second camera, Flex.

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 and can be found on Amazon.com

1/8/2017 Added info on Canary View and the new Amazon Alexa integration.

12/17/2017 Membership fee has changed and removed free downloads and social sharing.

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

1 comment

  1. Vanessa Stanley 11 July, 2016 at 11:11 Reply

    Canary now has partnerships with Liberty Mutual Insurance and State Farm. If you have insurance through one of these two companies, you might be eligible for their Smart Home Discount Program.

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