Nest Cam IQ Review

Nest Cam IQ is a 4K Indoor Security Camera

Hardware Criteria8.3
Software Criteria8
Home Automation10
Video Storage8.2
Encryption, Encoding, and Care7.5
Hands-On/User Reviews and Pricing3.5
Reader Rating: (2 Rates)3.3

Nest Cam is one of our favorite indoor cameras. It features powerful hardware and thoughtful software.

Now that Nest seems to have maximized Nest Cam's potential, we've been left to speculate what's next, and now we know. The answer: an indoor camera with a 4K image sensor. Meet Nest Cam IQ, Nest's latest indoor camera.

Nest Cam IQ Image & Video Quality

The most surprising thing about Nest Cam IQ is its 4K "resolution," delivered by a 1/2.5-inch 8MP color sensor. But here's the thing: Nest Cam IQ doesn't stream or record 4K videos. Instead, it lowers the resolution to 1080p. Of course, 4K plays a role. It all boils down to Nest Cam IQ's ability to zoom. All Nest Cams zoom digitally, which means that they crop out unnecessary parts of a frame enlarging the part that you want to see. The more you zoom in, the lower the image quality becomes. Nest Cam IQ's 4K resolution allows for up to 12x digital zoom vs. the original Nest Cam's 8x digital zoom. Aside from providing a better close up, IQ's resolution also helps enhance home security. More on that later.

(Want to learn more about optical and digital zoom? Click here.)

What about night vision and other features? They've remained mostly unchanged. Nest Cam IQ has a 130-degree field of view, two powerful 980nm IR LEDs for night vision (with no visible red glow), High Dynamic Range (HDR), and two-way talk. While this might sound the same as the original Nest Cam, things have been beefed up a tad. First of all, IQ's speakers now include an array of microphones with echo cancellation and noise suppression. The result is seven times more powerful than that of Nest Cam. And during testing, it was one of our favorite features. Audio is clear and crisp. Second, night vision is also more powerful than that of the original Nest Cam. We found that the viewing distance wasn't expanded, but the video quality is again crisper.

Nest Cam IQ to Enhance Home Security

As you probably know, Nest Cam is an excellent camera for home security. Unfortunately, not all features are free. Most of Nest Cam's smart features, such as person detection and motion detection zones, are only available if you subscribe to Nest Aware, a monthly cloud service offered by Nest.

The same goes with Nest Cam IQ though it does offer a couple of new security features without a Nest Aware Subscription.

Out-Of-The-Box Security Features

Digital Motion Tracking

Back to IQ's 4K resolution. The problem with low-resolution cameras is that when you zoom in to see an intruder's face, the image starts to blur out. What you'll end up seeing is a badly distorted image that potentially has little security value. No bueno. With a 4K camera, if you zoom in on an image, you'll still be left with a high-quality picture. In fact, if Nest Cam IQ sees an intruder, it will automatically zoom in on his face and follow him until he leaves the frame. In reality, what we found is a feature that works semi-well. If zoomed in ever so slightly, the picture retains its FHD appearance, if zoomed in all the way, the image is just as distorted as any camera.

A word of caution, don't confuse Nest Cam IQ's digital motion tracking with Koova's motion tracking feature. Nest Cam IQ doesn't pan mechanically. It simply zooms in and digitally moves the frame to follow the intruder restricted by its 130-degree viewing angle.

Person Alerts

Person Alerts is Nest Cam IQ's ability to distinguish people from other moving objects. It's essentially a feature that cuts down on false alarms. If it sees a cat, Nest Cam IQ will know and won't send an alert. If it sees a person or even just a head pop into the frame, it will know and will alert you.

Take note that this feature works with the original Nest Cam as well, but requires Nest Aware. With Nest Cam IQ, you can get Person Alerts even without a Nest Aware subscription.

Performance wise, this feature works well and significantly cuts down on false alarms. For both cameras (Nest and IQ), you can choose to receive person alerts, motion alerts, sound alerts, or any combination of the three. If you choose person alerts only, false alarms are almost completely eliminated. Motion detection and sound detection both work without a Nest Aware subscription.

Live Streaming with Two-Way Talk

Nest Cam IQ is also capable of streaming live videos to any smartphone using the free Nest App. When live streaming 1080p videos, Nest Cam IQ requires a minimum upload speed of 2MBPS and can easily consume 150GB to 600GB of upload bandwidth, depending on the amount of motion captured in the frame.

With the Nest app, you can also use two-way talk to speak to people and pets. Currently, however, this feature is more like a walkie-talkie feature. You need to tap a button on the app to speak and then tap it again to hear the other end. Fortunately, Nest has promised to improve this feature. Soon, you will be able to use full-duplex audio, which means you can simultaneously speak to and hear the person at the camera's end.

Activity History

Finally, you can review a 3-hour history of activity. However, the activity history only shows snapshots, not video clips. If you want to access video history or review older events, you're going to need a Nest Aware subscription.

Third-Party Compatibility

Out of the box, Nest Cam is part of the Works With Nest program and can intermingle with other Nest products including the Nest Learning Thermostat, Nest Secure, Nest Hello, and even the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor. It also has an IFTTT channel and can work with Amazon Echo Show.

Features Unlocked With Nest Aware

Familiar Face Alerts

Another shiny new feature, albeit only available with a Nest Aware subscription, is Familiar Face Alerts otherwise known as facial recognition. With Nest Cam IQ's face recognition technology and Nest Aware's machine learning ability, Nest Cam IQ claims that it can identify, categorize, and differentiate the face of family members from that of intruders. In reality, the feature is much less cool. It can tell you if it recognizes a person or not but don't expect it to categorize or differentiate in any way that adds value to your home security.

Take note that this feature is only available to Nest Cam IQ users, even if you're subscribed to Nest Aware. Without a Nest Cam IQ, you can't use Familiar Face Alerts. In addition, Familiar Face Alerts are not available in the state of Illinois.

Also take note that Nest has promised to further improve facial detection technology. "How?" is the question, though. We're hoping that they will make it possible to create rules. For example, a rule that notifies you if it doesn't see your kids by 4PM would be helpful.

Intelligent Audio Detection

Nest Cam IQ can detect loud noises out-of-the-box, but if you subscribe to Nest Aware, you'll get smarter audio notifications. What does "smarter" mean? Without Nest Aware, if your camera hears your dog barking, it knows it's a loud sound, but it doesn't know if the sound is important or not. With Nest Aware, Intelligent Audio Detection enables Nest Cam IQ to identify the sound of people talking and dogs barking. During testing, we found that sound detection worked best when the camera wasn't already capturing another event like motion or person detection. We also found that sound detection was slow to respond, with the camera requiring several minutes of constant sound before sending an alert.

NOTE: Nest Cam and Nest Cam Outdoor users who have Nest Aware subscriptions will also be able to enjoy Intelligent Audio Detection.

Motion Detection Zones w/ Door Detection

To further reduce false alarms, you can create motion detection zones. You can set these zones around critical areas so that you'll only get notifications of events that matter to you. In fact, Nest Aware can detect doors and create detection zones around them automatically.

Sightline, Timelapse Creation, Video Sharing

Finally, with Nest Aware, Nest Cam IQ gains access to premium features such as sightline, timelapse creation, and video sharing.

Sightline is an easy way of reviewing events using your smartphone. It highlights key events that you missed so that you can review them quickly without having to watch hours of videos.

Timeline creation and video sharing, on the other hand, allow you to create a timelapse video of recorded clips, download them, and share them with your family, friends, or the police.

Video Storage

When it comes to video storage, Nest Cam IQ is similar to Nest Cam and Nest Cam Outdoor. Without a Nest Aware subscription, you'll get 3-hours of snapshot history. With a Nest Aware subscription, you'll get access to 10 days for $10 per month or 30 days for $30 per month. Of course, adding a subscription also changes the game as you get actual video versus snapshots. And yes, Nest Cam IQ can record 24/7 with a paid plan.

Plan:Free10 Day 30 Day
Price per Month:$0 $10


Amount of storage:3 Hours of Snapshots10 Days of Video30 Days of Video
Cost For Additional Cameras:$0$5/month/camera$15/month/camera
Live StreamingYES
Zoom, Talk, and ListenYES
Activity Alerts to SmartphoneYES
Plan:Free10 Day 30 Day
Motion DetectionYES
Advanced Motion Alerts including Person Detection:Nest IQ Only
Person Recognition NO
Nest IQ Only
Nest IQ Only
Access to Video HistoryNO
Create and Share Video Clips:NO
Create Timelapses:NO
Activity Zones:NO
Discounts for Paying Yearly:NO
Home/Away AssistYES
Intelligent Sound DetectionNO

Working With Others

Nest Cam IQ, like all of Nest's products, works with the Nest App. If you have other Nest products, you can easily integrate them together, which is particularly useful now that Nest is expanding their lineup of products. They will soon launch Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, Nest Hello Video Doorbell, and Nest Secure (alarm system).

Besides working with other Nest products, Nest Cam IQ also works with third-party devices through the program Works with Nest. Nest Cam IQ works with smart lights, smart home hubs, doorbell cameras, and even pet cameras.

Nest Cam IQ also works with voice assistants, such as Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant. The camera works with Amazon Echo Show, an Alexa-enabled device with a screen. You can ask Echo Show to stream a live feed from Nest to Show's screen. Nest's integration with Google Assistant is more intimate. This winter, Nest will roll out a software update to all Nest Cam IQs that will enable you to talk to Google Assistant via Nest Cam IQ's built-in microphones and speaker. You can ask questions, add items to your shopping list, and control compatible smart home products. You can even ask Google Assistant to stream a live feed of your Nest Cam to your Chromecast. Unfortunately, you can't ask Google Assistant to play music through Nest Cam IQ's speaker.

Price and Availability

Nest Cam IQ comes at a cost, $299 to be exact. If you want more than one camera, the cost is a more reasonable $498 for a bundle of two. If you're a new Nest Cam owner, your camera will include a free Nest Aware trial. After the trial period ends, you can either opt out of the service or continue paying for it.

As mentioned earlier, Nest is expected to launch an outdoor version of Nest Cam IQ. The weatherproof camera is now up for pre-order for $349.

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