Google Nest Cam Indoor (2021) full review
Security cameras remain a popular smart home product and Google has updated the Nest Cam from 2015 with a 2nd-generation model for 2021. And it’s a lot cheaper at £89.99/$99.99.
Design & Build
- Compact and wall-mountable
- Only Snow (white) colour in the UK
- Part-made from recycled plastic
Considering the large gap between this and the Nest Cam Indoor, it’s no surprise that the 2021 model fits much better with Google’s other Nest devices. After all, Nest operated independently until 2018 despite being acquired by Google in 2014.
The Nest Cam for 2021, which Google differentiates with ‘(indoor, wired)’ has a stumpy and bulbous design. It’s quite cute looking for a piece of tech and looks like it could move around by itself in Pixar animation style at any moment.
I like the styling but it’s a shame that the camera only comes in white with a black lens surround (aka Snow), even if no choice of colour is normal for security cameras. I’m talking from a UK perspective here because we get the raw deal again.
In the US there’s also Linen, Fog and Sand with a maple base options which all look great. The latter carries a $20 premium, though.
Build quality is excellent as we’ve come to expect from Google own hardware. The ball joint on the end of the chrome mount means the camera can be angled in almost any position which is great and is nice a nice amount of resistance with a smooth motion.
However, despite the rubber underside of the base, the Nest Cam is prone to moving around. It doesn’t grip well enough and, in my experience, the wire can easily turn the camera round if you don’t provide enough slack.
You can wall-mount the camera which will alleviate this problem as the base twists off (screws and wall plugs are provided). Just note that it’s not designed for outdoor use, we’re talking internal walls.
It’s also good to see Google continue with a sustainable theme to its products with at least 45% recycled content across its plastic parts.
Specs & Features
- 2Mp sensor
- 135° field of view
- Full HD video with night vision
In terms of the core specs, the Nest Cam 2021 is a 2Mp camera with a wide 135° field of view via a 16:9 aspect ratio image and offering 6x digital zoom.
With phones coming with 64- or even 108Mp cameras, this seems very small but a Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 30fps is fairly standard for a security camera. It also has HDR support and night vision via infrared sensors.
Camera aside, there’s also a ‘high-quality’ microphone and speaker built-in to enable full-duplex 2-way audio with noise cancellation.
Performance & App
- Google Home app issues for setup
- Easy to use interface
- Limited to three hours history without Nest Aware subscription
Setting up Google devices is normally a breeze, especially if you’ve already got the Google Home app with other devices and rooms etc already in use. However, I had some issues with the Nest Cam.
For some bizarre reason, it was insisting on using the Nest Hub Max as assisting device. This was unplugged at the time so I got it going but it didn’t fix the problem. In the end, I had to completely remove the smart display from the Home app in order to get the Nest Cam added.
It’s essentially the same issue we found with the Nest Doorbell so isn’t an isolated event.
Once I got over that hurdle, using the Nest Cam was very easy and intuitive. As is the only camera I have in my setup, tapping the Camera icon at the top of the Home app goes straight to the live view. The feed often takes a couple of seconds to load but is nice and clear when it does and there’s minimal delay so it really is live.
A clear green LED above the lens on the camera is lit so anyone in the room knows that the camera is in use. Simply tap the microphone icon to enable 2-way audio which may not be the ‘high quality’ Google says but is perfectly decent enough to hold a conversation.
The Full HD image looks great on my Pixel 6 display and you can turn your phone to landscape to get a full-screen view, pinching to zoom in and out like you would on Google Maps. With the wide-angle view, you do get some fish-eye distortion for objects or people at the far sides of the image.
When the light isn’t good enough, the Nest Cam switches to Night Vision so you can still use it. Infrared LEDs mean the camera can still offer a monochrome image. By default, Night Vision is set to automatically switch on and off, as is the brightness of the status light.
Performance is decent and you can set 'events’ for people, pets or vehicles (if you want to point the camera facing through a window) or more vaguely ‘Motion’ which will include pretty much everything from car headlights to a door opening.
In the settings it’s also very easy to set up Zones, where each can have different events – perhaps you don’t want your dog to jump on a particular sofa, for example.
Overall, it’s a great experience that’s easy to use and works very well. The only negative I found was some false positives where the camera would send me an event notification for a person when actually no one had entered the room at all.
After a few times, I realised that it was the light out on the landing being switched on (with the door to the room open) that was triggering the camera. On a single occasion, a notification came through (I believe) simply because it was dark outside and the Nest Cam switched to Night Vision.
The History tab is where you’ll find previous events that have been recorded. It’s easy to load them up and scrub through the video. However, you’ll only get three hours of video history available and that doesn’t mean total storage, it means chronologically.
So, if you open the app at 3pm, you won’t see anything that happened before 12pm. It’s the biggest thorn in the Nest Cam’s side and stops it from being a great product. Even 12 hours would be a lot more reasonable so you at least have a chance of seeing something that happened, for example, while you were asleep overnight.
The reason is that Google wants you to subscribe to Nest Aware to get 30 days of history for the regular plan at £5/$6 per month or £50/$60 annually. You’ll need the Aware Plus plan to get 60 days and 10 days of 24/7 history which costs £10/$12 per month or £100/$120 annually.
As well as longer video history, Aware also gets you intelligent alerts like sound detection and it can also learn faces so you can get alerts for individuals rather than a generic person.
The Nest Aware page also mentions Activity Zones but as mentioned earlier, that’s something I was able to set up without a subscription.
Considering its predecessor was £159, the Nest Cam 2021 is pretty affordable at £89.99/US$99.99. You can pick up the older model for £79 but that saving is minimal for a six-year-old device.
In terms of indoor rivals, the Nest Cam is cheaper than the Arlo Essential Indoor at £119.99/$99.99 but there are lots of often much cheaper alternatives to consider such as the TP-Link Tapo C200, Neos SmartCam and Ring Indoor Cam – all of which are under £50/$60.
Check our chart of the best security cameras for all the top options.
The Nest Cam for 2021 (indoor, wired) is a nice little security camera from Google. It’s compact, well-made and affordable for starts – although there are cheaper options on the market.
Barring the frustrating setup process, the camera works very well via the Google Home app with an intuitive interface and a nice range of features.
It’s a shame the Snow colour is the only option in the UK, but the camera has bigger problems regardless of where you live. A few false positives are neither here nor there when the event history only stretches back a stingy three hours unless you sign up to Nest Aware.
This tarnishes an otherwise excellent camera, so unless you only want to use it for live drop-in, or you’re happy with paying a subscription, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Google Nest Cam Indoor (2021): Specs
- 2Mp colour sensor
- 135° diagonal field of view
- 6x digital zoom
- 16:9 aspect ratio
- Up to 1080p (1920 x 1080) at 30 frames/sec
- 24/7 live view
- Night vision (via Infrared LEDs)
- H.264 encoding
- 3 hours of event video history
- High-quality speaker and microphone
- Full-duplex 2-way audio with noise cancellation
- 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz) Wi-Fi
- WEP, WPA, WPA2, WPA3 encryption supported
- Bluetooth low energy (BLE)
- RGB status LED
- 3m cable
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