Piper was our top-rated indoor camera of 2015, but it was passed by over the years and has since gone EOL. FLIR FX should also be on the list of technology that's become less relevant over the years. That said, Canary was our top-rated indoor camera for 2016 and 2017. Though it no longer remains on top of the list, it's still a good camera. Nest Cam is one of the most popular indoor security cameras. It offers relevant security features though most require a monthly subscription. So which camera should you buy?
|Piper nv EOL||Canary||FLIR FX||Nest Cam|
|FoV||180 degrees with dewarping||147 degrees||160 degrees with dewarping||130 degrees|
|# of IR LEDs||12||12||6||8|
|Indoor or Outdoor||NO||Separate Outdoor Camera Available||YES||Separate Outdoor Camera Available|
|Smart Motion||NO||Motion-Learning Algorithm, Masking||Smart Zones and RapidRecap®||Activity Zones, Depth Sensing, Face Detection (Nest Aware subscription required)
|Other Sensors||Temperature Sensor,|
|Temperature and Humidity Sensor||No Extra sensors|
|Alert Methods||Push, Text, Email, Phone, LG TVs||Push (Supports Canary Custom Tone)||Push Alerts||Push and Email Alerts|
|Mobile Apps||iOS and Android||iOS , Apple TV, Android||iOS and Android||iOS , Apple TV, Android|
|Home Automation||Series 500 Z-Wave Controller,|
IFTTT, AllJoyn certified
|Works With Google Home, Wink and IFTTT via Wink (HomeKit Coming Soon)||NO||Echo Show, Works With Nest, and IFTTT|
|Cloud Storage||Free Cloud Storage||Free Cloud Storage,|
Optional Upgrade Plans
|Free Cloud Storage,|
Optional Upgrade Plans
|Snapshots Free, Video Storage Requires Plan|
|Local storage||Unlimited downloads to phone's gallery.||Unlimited Social Sharing||8GB to 64GB microSDHC||Download to phone's gallery with Nest Aware subscription.|
|Wireless||802.11 b/g/n and|
Series 500 Z-Wave Controller
|802.11 b/g/n||802.11 b/g/n||802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth Low Energy|
|Video Compression||H.264 Compression||H.264 Compression||H.264 Compression||H.264 Compression|
|Battery Power||3AA Battery Backup||NO||3.7v DC 1130mAh||NO
|Installation Level||Easy Installation||Easy Installation||Easy Installation||Easy Installation|
|Color Option||Black or White||Silver, Black, White||Black||Black|
|More Info||NA||Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now|
|Read Review||Read Piper|
|Read FLIR FX Review||Read Nest Cam Review|
How do these cameras compare?
A chart can’t tell the whole story.
Canary is a learning system. It uses algorithm-based motion detection so that over time the alerts sent when motion is detected become more intelligent.
Canary offers some features for free and some through a monthly plan. The free plan allows for access to clips from the last 24 hours, unlimited sharing, and bookmarks. It also supports up to four cameras. If you need more storage, you will need a Membership. With a Membership, you'll have 30 days of video history, access to full-length clips, as compared to thirty-second clips with a free plan, two-way audio, access to the web portal, Insurance Deductible Reimbursement, and Dedicated Incident Support. Insurance Deductible Reimbursement means that Canary will reimburse you up to $1000 of your homeowners or renters insurance deductible for qualifying incidents. Also for qualifying events, Canary will assign a dedicated agent to help you sort and find relevant footage. If you have one device, a Membership is $9.99 per month. If you have two or three devices, it is $14.99 per month. You can add unlimited devices to your Membership but you'll need to tack on an extra $4.99 per month for each camera.
Some pretty cool technology backs FLIR FX. This list includes smart zones which allow you to draw areas within the camera's field of view virtually. These zones tell the camera which areas you want monitored versus ignored. They also offer RapidRecap. RapidRecap is an email program sent to users condensing an entire day's footage into a few seconds of footage by overlapping the footage and time stamping activity. Like Canary, you can use FLIR FX for free or pay for premium features. The free plan includes three RapidRecap video per month and 48 hours of event storage. Their $9.99 per month plan adds unlimited RapidRecap videos and seven days of event storage. Finally, their $19.99 per month plan includes unlimited RapidRecap videos and 30 days of event storage.
FX is the only camera of the five that we've not tested, and for a good reason. Though the technology sounds enticing, other reviewers have shared that it doesn't live up to expectation. Often, testing something in-house gives a vastly different experience than promised. Of all the cameras, this is the only one I wouldn't recommend to a friend.
Nest Cam is Dropcam Pro’s predecessor and it is one of the most well-known security cameras on the market. Perhaps the most noticeable difference between Dropcam and Nest Cam is that Nest Cam records in 1080p. Also, Nest Cam is thinner and has a magnetic base.
There are also several newer models of Nest Cam, such as Nest Cam Outdoor (outdoor version of Nest Cam), Nest Cam IQ (indoor camera with a 4K image sensor and optional facial recognition), Nest Cam IQ Outdoor (weatherproof outdoor camera with Nest IQ features), and the upcoming Nest Hello video doorbell. However, after testing Nest Cam IQ, I feel that the original Nest Cam still offers the best value for home security. If you want to learn more about our Nest Cam IQ experience, feel free to read our hands-on review here.
In regards to home automation, Nest Cam Works with Nest, and it can perform multiple tasks. For example, it can trigger your Nest Thermostat's Away mode when you leave the house, and it integrates with the Nest Protect Security System. Nest Cam can also automatically arm or disarm itself through geofencing - basically sensing the presence or lack of presence of your smartphone. It also has its own IFTTT channel so that you can create recipes using Nest Cam as both a trigger and reaction. It also works directly with Amazon Echo Show. Using your voice, you can ask Alexa to stream videos from Nest to your Echo Show's screen.
As a camera, Nest is neat and straightforward. Even so, it is powerful enough to protect your home. That is especially true if you subscribe to Nest Aware, Nest’s premium service. A Nest Aware subscription will make your camera smarter. It uses advanced algorithms to give Nest Cam depth-sensing and face detection abilities, which reduce false alarms and make motion detection smarter. It will also let you create Activity Zones. Let's say that you want to monitor your foyer, but only want to know if someone is at the door while ignoring other areas. You can use the software to draw a virtual square around your door, and Nest Cam will recognize that it needs to monitor within the space you've defined while ignoring the rest. Another way Nest Aware adds intelligence to your camera is by enabling smarter sound detection. Instead of listening for sounds, you can set your cameras to notify you if it hears specific sounds like dogs barking or people chatting.
Activity Zones tie into yet another feature: Sightline. Sightline is a feature that makes it easier to sort through recorded footage using the Nest App. From the app, you can see a live view, all marked activity (color-coded by zone), and a snapshot of the activity so that you know if it's something important or something you should ignore. What's unique about the snapshot feature is that everyone has access. Even if you don't subscribe to Nest Aware, you can still view up to 3 hours of snapshots for free. From the app, you can also press to activate two-way talk.
For those who are Nest Aware subscribers, you will also be able to create a timelapse video from your video recordings. Nest Cam can turn up to 30 days of footage into short clips. And finally, Nest Aware will let you record and store videos to the cloud. The amount of storage you get will depend on the subscription you choose. You can get 10 days of video history for $10/month or 30-days of video history for $30 per month. Both plans come with all of the described Nest Aware features.
Take note that while all Nest cameras are eligible for a Nest Aware subscription, the features you get will depend on your camera model. The Nest Aware features outlined above apply only to Nest Cam Indoor, Nest Cam Outdoor, and Dropcams. Nest Cam IQ, Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, and Nest Hello offer additional benefits to Nest Aware subscribers. For example, instead of Person Detection, they offer Familiar Face Alerts (facial recognition).
Good news: You’ll receive a 30-day free trial of Nest Aware after you purchase your camera. You can either continue your subscription or not.
Bad news: Nest Cam doesn’t offer free cloud video storage, but you do get 3 hours of snapshot history for free.
Which Camera is Best?
So, which of the above cameras do you find most appealing? In summary, Nest Cam offers the most robust home security experience as it can connect to door/window sensors, motion sensors, and other home automation devices. Nest Aware adds advanced features like zones and person detection. So long as you're willing to pay, it adds significant value to your home's security. Canary is simple. It's a camera. Nothing more, nothing less. I love that it automatically arms and disarms itself, which means that when I ultimately forget to arm the camera, it arms itself. Finally, I would not recommend the FLIR FX to a friend and Piper is EOL.
10/16/2017 Updated with new Nest products, and Piper EOL
8/17/2017 Canary adds two-way audio and web portal access for Members.
1/23/2016 Updated to add AllJoyn certification.
4/27/2016 Canary supports unlimited social sharing.
9/9/2016 Nest Cam adds sightline and free snapshots
9/20/2016 Canary changed subscription service and added more free cloud storage.
Piper is Discontinued
For the past year, we've warned that Piper's future felt uncertain. Piper's future is now known, and it isn't good. Piper will continue to be a supported product, but it's no longer sold.
A little background on Piper:
The Piper NV was unique because of its ability to perform home automation tasks. It was able to perform lighting and small appliance control via Z-Wave accessories. Users were able to add door and window sensors and more. Piper had a Marketplace tab within their app that helped users find compatible Z-Wave accessories. Piper also had an IFTTT channel that allowed users to connect the camera to other smart home devices. Finally, it was AllJoyn certified. This certification allowed it to work with a greater range of devices including LG TVs.
Unlike the other three cameras, there were no premium plans with Piper. This was both good and bad. It was good because all features were free. It was bad if you felt like you needed more video storage.
The news of Piper's demise comes post acquisition. Piper, formerly owned by Blacksumac, was acquired by iControl. Alarm.com acquired the part of iControl that owned Piper. Alarm.com is a great company, but they have their own line of home security cameras and they never commented on their plans for Piper. Now it's clear that their plan for Piper was no plan at all.