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. While I liked Canary before, these improvements have made me even more thankful that I have Canary protecting my little space in the New York sky.
- Wide Angle Lens
- Solid Night Vision Performance
- Accurate Temperature Readings
- Works with Wink, But No Other Devices
- False Alarms Caused By Lighting Changes
Canary Image and Video Quality
As a camera, Canary is a performer. I would say it is just as good as Dropcam 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 Dropcams. 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 if needed. The digital pan and zoom feature works during live streaming, but also on recorded footage. This is particularly helpful when looking at nighttime 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. However, there are other hiccups like live streaming issues.
When trying to live stream video, my app occasionally hangs. In the past, I also had an issue where the screen would go black, but Canary's already resolved this issue 100%. In the past, latency also affected recorded video, but things are much better now. In fact, when I'm at home, I can watch recorded videos without any delay at all.
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.
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 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, and Android app. When I purchased the camera last year, software was their biggest issue. The app was beautiful and easy to use but didn't always work. It had little problems like those that we've already discussed - 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 adjust the mode or mode settings and also see users that are or are not at home. The middle of the screen is a quick button to live streaming 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). Free storage is split between all of your cameras. For example, if you own three Canary cameras, they will each have 8 hours of free storage. If you need more, you will need a Canary Membership.
Canary Members will be given 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. 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 ($4.99/month per additional camera)
|Cloud Storage||24-Hours (Split Between Cameras)||30-day cloud storage||30-day cloud storage for each camera||30-day cloud storage for each camera
|Insurance Deductible Reimbursement||NO||Up to $1,000||Up to $1,000||Up to $1,000
|Warranty||1-Year||2-Year Warranty||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 to social media.
You can also 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.
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 any local storage.
Compatible Devices and Pricing Comparison
Canary 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. More details are coming soon. In the meantime, you can checkout 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. It also has a two-way voice feature. 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.
Canary comes in white, black, or silver.
Canary on Amazon $188.33
Canary on Canary.is $249.99
Canary on VerizonWireless.com $249.99
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