Piper was our top rated indoor camera of 2015. It was top rated due to its multi-purpose design, built-in battery backup, and home automation that can be used to increase your home's security. However, things never remain stagnant in the world of technology. Canary was our top rated indoor camera for 2016. It's my personal favorite, and with recent improvements, it remains on top of the list. While Piper offers better overall home security and automation, Canary is a simple to use home security camera. Though these may be my favorites, there are other indoor security cameras to consider including the FLIR FX, and Nest Cam.
|Piper nv||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||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 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||Buy Now||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.
The Piper NV is unique because of its ability to perform home automation tasks. It can perform lighting and small appliance control so long as you purchase additional Z-Wave accessories. You can add door and window sensors so that alerts are sent if the parameter of your home is breached or so that you can receive phone calls when your loved ones return home. Another thing that sets Piper apart from the rest is that it plays well with lots of other devices. Piper has a Marketplace tab within their app to help users find compatible Z-Wave accessories. Piper also has an IFTTT channel that allows you to connect the camera to other smart home devices. Finally, it is an AllJoyn certified device. This certification allows it to work with a greater range of devices including LG TVs.
Unlike the other three cameras, there are no premium plans with Piper. This is both good and bad. It’s good because all current features are free. It’s bad if you feel like you need more video storage than they currently offer. As a side note, the predecessor to the Piper NV is called "Piper." The original Piper lacked night vision, and also the camera quality was not as good as it is on the Piper NV. However, if you plan to use multiple cameras, you can mix and match the Piper and the Piper NV. They are completely compatible, and you will save money if you don’t need night vision on all cameras.
The biggest con to buying Piper is that they've been stagnant for a long time. It's been over a year since they've rolled out a major or valuable update. Part of this is due to an 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 have yet to comment on their plans for Piper. With the future of the device uncertain, I'd say use caution before investing in Piper.
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 does offer monthly plans. The free plan allows for access to events 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 ten-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 the two is that Nest Cam records in 1080p, Dropcam initially recorded in 720p though they've recently enabled 1080p recording on Dropcam as well. Also, Nest Cam is thinner and has a magnetic base. As Nest Cam is newer and better, it should be your choice when trying to decide between the two.
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. Nest Cam can also automatically arm or disarm itself through geo-fencing - 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.
As a camera, Nest is simple and neat. 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. 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.
Activity Zones ties into another feature: Sightline. Sightline is a feature that makes it easier to sort through recorded footage using the mobile 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. From the bottom of the app, you can also press to activate two-way talk. 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. This is true for both Nest Cam and Dropcam owners.
For those who are Nest Aware subscribers, will also be able to create a time-lapse 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. How much storage you’ll get will depend on your subscription. 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.
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 these cameras do you find most appealing? In summary, the Piper nv offers the most robust home security as you can connect it to door/window sensors, extra motion sensors, smoke alarms, and other home automation devices. It also offers battery backup for added protection, but the device's future is uncertain. In my opinion, Canary is the best security camera. It's simple. It's a camera. Nothing more, nothing less. I love that it automatically arms and disarms itself, which means that my forgetful nature will not leave my home unprotected. Nest Cam is a good option as well, and the video quality is the same as Canary's. I recommend the Nest Cam over Dropcam as the technology is newer and better. Finally, I would not recommend the FLIR FX to a friend. It doesn't seem to perform as promised, but it is the only camera of all the options that we have not tested.
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.