Canary's all-in-one security camera was the top-rated indoor camera on our website for a couple of years, and rightly so. After all, it has the right specs, it tested well, and it works. Canary is now hoping to extend their success to the great outdoors with their latest camera, Canary Flex. Does it live up to the hype?
Hardware & Installation
Flex is a weatherproof indoor/outdoor camera with an IP rating of 65. It works in temperatures between 4° and 113°F, rain or shine.
Flex is designed in the shape of a capsule. It's 4.35 inches tall and 1.9 inches in diameter. The lens is located on the upper part of its IR-transparent faceplate, while the lower half holds its microphone, speaker, motion sensor, and a ring of LED lights. At the back of the camera, you will find the charging port and a reset button.
One of Flex's best features is easy installation. It ships with a magnetic swivel base that can stand on any flat surface or mount to walls. It holds Flex using a strong magnet, which also allows you to twist the device in any direction. There are also four other mounts (sold separately) designed for specific installation applications.
First is the Secure Mount, which holds the camera securely in place using a screw thread instead of a magnet.
The second is the Twist Mount. It has a flexible tail that you can wrap around railings, pipes, branches, etc.
The third is the Stake Mount, which can stick in the ground. It helps you hide Flex behind plants for discreet monitoring.
The fourth mounting accessory is the 4G LTE Mount, made possible through a partnership with Verizon. It connects Flex to the cloud via 4G/LTE to eliminate the need for Wi-Fi.
The first three mounts are now available for purchase, while the 4G LTE Mount will be available shortly.
Another thing that makes Flex easy to install is its ability to go wire-free using the included battery. When running on battery, Flex can stay powered-on for two months between charges. However, during testing, we found the battery life to max out at about one month. Alternatively, you can plug the camera into a power outlet and use the battery as a backup.
Image & Video Quality
Flex’s camera is capable of FHD (1080p) resolution, but it's set to stream 720p videos for optimal quality. As Canary's FHD picture is one of the reasons it fairs so well on our site, the lower quality video was noticeable and disappointing. Like the original Canary, you can’t manually adjust Flex’s streaming resolution, but it will adjust to changes in your bandwidth so make sure to test your internet strength before placing the camera.
Flex has a wide-angle lens with a viewing angle of 116 degrees. It can also zoom digitally and is capable of seeing up to 25 feet in the dark thanks to its IR LEDs (hidden behind its IR-transparent faceplate). The IR LEDs, like Canary's night vision, activate automatically with the help of an ambient light sensor.
Unfortunately, Flex doesn’t have WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) or HDR (High Dynamic Range). Both technologies let cameras adjust to both dark and light areas at the same time. As a result, captured images are still clear even if both dark and light areas are present in a single frame. Without either, Flex may not perform well in certain situations, especially outside. For example, when a person facing the camera is standing in front of a bright window, his face may become too dark to recognize.
Flex to Enhance Home Security
Flex protects your home using its PIR motion sensor. To make the sensor more intelligent, Flex is equipped with computer vision and the ability to learn.
Smart Motion for Home Security
When plugged into a power source, Flex uploads clips of motion events to the cloud for analysis. The cloud will then decide whether you should be alerted or not. However, Flex does things differently when running on battery. To prolong its battery life, not all clips are uploaded to the cloud. Instead, the camera runs an advanced computer vision algorithm to first determine if the activity should be uploaded or not. The clips that go to the cloud are further filtered to get rid of false alarms. While this might sound like it will slow the process down terribly, it all happens faster than you might think. However, we did find that Canary was slower to send event alerts than competitors Blink and Arlo Pro. The good news is that battery power does not inhibit your ability to live stream. If your smartphone is connected to WiFi, 3G, or 4G, you will be able to live stream from anywhere.
The second way Canary tries to make alerts more relevant is through the use of learning algorithms. Canary doesn't just learn from you, it learns from all users. Improvements affect the entire cloud. So whether you're a new or a long-time user, your camera is as smart as all the other Canary cameras. When users tag motion alerts they receive, Canary gets smarter. For example, when you receive an alert, you can tag it as a person, shadow, car, pet, etc. Doing so will improve the camera’s ability to recognize real events and ignore false events. During testing, we were rather disappointed by Canary's ability to learn. While Canary indoor has had some time to learn, Canary has not had any time to learn what it's like to live outdoors. Our camera was set off by tree branches, bugs, and cars.
In addition to intelligence, motion sensitivity is adjustable from the mobile app. I suggest playing with the sensitivity level to find your sweet spot: catches events but reduces false alarms.
Notifications and Modes
If you're familiar with the indoor Canary, you know that it includes home health sensors as well as a siren, both of these features are missing from Canary Flex. For now, the only event Canary is capable of monitoring for is motion.
If motion is detected, an alert is sent to your smartphone via the Canary app. The notifications can be set to your default tone, or you can use Canary's custom tone to help it stand out from less important alerts. When you open an alert, it will lead you to a clip of the event. After watching the clip, you can make an emergency call, watch a live feed, or mark it as "everything is fine". You can also bookmark the clip, tag the event to help the cloud learn, post a comment for other users to see, or share it on social media. As a side note, you can also watch a live feed from your Apple TV. If you're a Canary Member, you can also watch from your computer.
Thankfully, as false alarms do occur, you have some control over alerts. The primary way to control alerts is through the use of modes. Canary has four modes: auto, home, away, and night but not all modes are free. Users without a paid subscription will have access to auto-mode, Home Mode, and Away Mode. Using the Auto Mode, the camera will arm and disarm based on your phone's presence. Home Mode is also free but paid members will be able to customize it. For example, when in Home Mode you can decide if the camera should be set to private or if it should record video. If you decide to turn on "record video" you can also decide if you want alerts or not. Night Mode is also customizable for paid users. You can schedule night mode, and you can decide if the camera should record video, send alerts, or if it should be set to private.
Aside from security, your privacy is Flex's top concern. To make sure data coming from your Flex is safe from hackers, they use AES 256-bit encryption and secure web transfer. The cloud is also encrypted.
Working with Other Devices
To enhance Flex's ability to protect your home, you can add other devices. For one, you can connect the camera to a Wink home automation system. According to Wink,
The Wink App will allow you to set the Canary into any of the following three modes: Armed, Disarmed and Privacy. You can also integrate Canary into Shortcuts, Schedules, and Robots within Wink as well.
Of course, you can also add an indoor Canary and soon, Canary Plus. Plus is slated as a Homekit-enabled indoor camera.
Flex doesn't have a local storage option. Instead, all video clips are stored in the cloud. But you can share an unlimited number of recorded clips. If you have a Canary Membership you can also download an unlimited number of recorded clips to your smartphone and save them to your preferred storage media.
Recently, Canary moved from cloud plans to Canary Membership. All Canary Members can store videos in the cloud for 30-days. After 30 days, the oldest videos are removed to give way for new videos unless you've saved them as a bookmark. A dedicated Canary agent will also be provided to assist Members in case of theft or incidents. They will also reimburse up to $1,000 of your homeowner's insurance deductible for qualified incidents. Fourth, a Membership is required in order to access Canary's two-way audio feature. And finally, Canary Membership extends your device warranty to 2 years and provides access to Canary's web portal which mimics many of the features found within the mobile app.
Canary Membership is optional; you can still use up to 4 cameras for free. Free users are given 24-hours of storage for 10-second video clips.
The cost of a Canary Membership will depend on how many cameras you have.
|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 and Away||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
Flex's main selling points are its ability to withstand harsh weather and run on batteries. During testing, we found that the battery life was short and false alarms were high. We like the flexible mounting options, free cloud storage, and the camera's design, but unfortunately, we feel Flex doesn't live of up to the hype created by the original Canary. While it is a good camera, it's not as good as Canary indoor or it's closest competitor, Arlo Pro.
You can buy Flex now for $175.00.