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Nanny Cam Review: Nest Cam

Angela Bruso
Jan. 11, 2018

Real Care.com employees test various home monitoring systems and give their honest feedback. Learn how one family fared with the Nest Cam.

Image via Stocksy.com/Bonninstudio

I often find myself daydreaming about what my 18-month-old is up to. Whether he is singing a song in his crib, or spending the day with our babysitter, the idea of "just checking in" is one that I am really excited about. I am out of the house about 11 hours a day during the week, so I wanted to capture big moments even when I'm not home.

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About the Camera

The instructions seem overly simple. The Nest camera is designed to work with your smart phone so I assume there are more step-by-step type instructions once you get into the app. I'm a millennial, I got this.


Ease of Install

OK the app was really easy to install, and the camera basically just plugs in. The Nest boasts a 60-second set-up, and that is mostly true, except it took me forever to realize that you have to "add" the camera to the app to be able to see it. I just kept clicking on the little camera before I realized I had to go into "settings" to set it up. Maybe that's obvious, and felt a little silly, but everything else was so blatant that I feel like this was a misstep by the instruction writers. The packaging is really pretty though.


Features

You can control pretty much everything about the camera from the app. It has a really wide lens so you can see most of almost any room it's in, and you can zoom into an area, but the camera doesn't tilt or pivot, so no bending around corners, which was kind of a disappointment. 

I had a corner of the room in mind that I thought would provide the most bang for our buck because you should be able to see most of the living room, and at least part-way into the playroom. As easy as the camera is to put up (magnetic base or screw-in), you need to have an outlet close by to plug into, which meant a cord dangling down the way, which meant I'll have to find a more baby-proofed set-up that was less than ideal, but will do the job I suppose. 

  • Video Clarity and View: The clarity is pretty good! You can record in 1080HD but be warned that the camera gets warm when recording this way, so you may decide 720 is just enough for you. Daytime records in color and night vision records in black and white, it's a little grainier, but for a room that is pitch black, it's pretty good! 
    Image via Angela Bruso

    I should note here that there was one night I decided to put the camera in the baby's room overnight. He woke up crying about an hour earlier than usual, and when I picked him up out of the crib, he was pointing right at the camera, as if he were demanding to know what the green light was. The night vision lights seem to light up the room quite a bit, which he noticed and will take some getting used to. I opted to move the camera back to the main living space instead. (Note: I later learned that there is an option to turn the indicator light off. Problem solved!)

  • Live Viewing: Being able to view from my phone made live viewing super easy. There is a delay, but it's minimal (a second or two, maybe?). I've opted to turn the indicator light off, which makes is easier to ignore, and my nanny says she hasn't even noticed it. 
  • Remote Pan and Tilt: There is no remote pan and tilt on this camera, but the lens is very wide and you're able to zoom into sections of the room very easily. 
  • Recording Options: The Nest provides a free trial of cloud storage. I wouldn't normally pay a monthly fee to access the camera's history, as I primarily use it for live view, but after the trial expired I found myself missing it. It was very cool to watch back in the night, and figure out exactly what that weird noise was that you heard the baby making last night will definitely consider adding this subscription feature back in.
  • Battery, Plug-In or Both? I really wish there was a battery-operated option. I had pretty limited options near a baby-proof outlet. 
  • Sound and Other Features: While there is a two-way communication option, this felt invasive to me, and also confused my dog. But I loved having the option and the cloud recording services turned out to be a big differentiator. 


Cost

This currently retails for $199 on Amazon. The monthly cost of video history is $10/month or $100/year for 10-day video history. 30-day history is $30/month or $300/year.


Overall

Grading Rubric for the Nest Cam
Graphic via Angela Bruso

This is a great camera. The phone app makes it easy to access wherever/whenever you are and the sound and video quality is good. The camera's wide angle captures a really large area, although the camera does not rotate remotely. You lose quality when zooming in but the night vision has relatively good detail. The extra subscription cost to access camera history seems like an avoidable cost, but this is a nice option when using this camera for security or a baby/pet monitor. The camera also offers movement notification and you limit this to special areas, so instead of getting a notice every time my dog by, I could customize this to the room's doorways, making it a smart and efficient monitor. The only downside to this camera is that it works best at a high angle, but you are limited by having to plug into a wall. So think about placement before purchase. But overall, I'm really happy with this camera, and have caught a few memorable moments that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. 


*Care.com does not endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes, or services. The views and opinions of authors expressed on Care.com do not necessarily state or reflect those of Care.com, and they may not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.

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