Nest returns! Everything you need to know about the Cam Outdoor

Smarter, tougher home security from the original Nest Cam's outdoorsier brother

"What happened to Nest?": that's what many a geeky gadget fan has been pondering since Google launched the Home speaker but left off the name of the smarthome brand it bought back in 2014.

Surely making the insides of your own four walls more techy was the very reason for the purchase?

Turns out Nest has been quietly doing what it does best - developing a super-smart security camera.

The Cam Outdoor aims to do for your home's exterior what the last Cam did for the interior; namely make it more secure through smarts and simplicity. It looks a darned sight better than the many alternative eyesores, too.

Here are the five things you need to know about the Nest Cam Outdoor from our brief hands-on with the device.

1) It’s much sturdier than you’d think

There’s no denying the Nest Cam Outdoor is rather dapper. Ignoring the tech inside it, this security cam is essentially a white bauble with a magnetic back; you can attach that magnet onto a metal pipe or fixing, or place it manually by digging out your drill.

Worried about the camera and magnet coming apart? Don’t. The Palo Alto-based company has built Cam Outdoor to survive an eagle attack. Something that apparently does actually happen in California.

The camera also has IP65 weatherproofing, so even damp eagles are no threat. Nor the British Winter. Curiously, its cable and attachments actually go one step further and have IP67 protection, so they can pretty much survive total submersion. Chances are you’ll be able to spot that level of flooding yourself if it hits your home.

2) It’s not wireless - and that's a good thing

Think about it, a wireless security camera is guaranteed to run out of battery at precisely the moment the burglars turn up. With the Nest Outdoor Cam plugged into an external power socket, or wired into your home, that problem is eradicated.

For the half of UK households that have an external power socket, this installation will cost nothing. If you belong to the unlucky other half, then you can pay one of the 4000 companies in the Nest Pro installation network to do the job for you at a cost of roughly £100, depending on your home.

3) It’s got all the smarts you'd expect from Nest

Let’s talk about the camera itself. A Full HD affair, it’s gleaming glass lens is built for durability, while its white casing surround is there to lessen UV absorption and reflect sunlight. As with the Nest Cam, it’s also got an LED indicator, speaker and built-in mic for communicating with anyone who pops up to your front door.

Basically, you can use it to tell the postman where to drop a parcel, or shoo any sketchy looking blokes away to your neighbour’s premises. This trick works at night too, thanks to the Cam Outdoor’s IR LEDs that enable night vision.

4) But Nest still hasn’t cracked facial recognition

If there’s one big feature that’s been missing from Nest’s security cameras it’s facial recognition. Unlike the excellent Netatmo Welcome, both the Cam and Outdoor Cam use a Home/Away assist geofencing feature to detect whether you (a.k.a. your phone) are away from home. Crucially, this relies on everyone you live with installing and setting up the Nest app on their smartphones. Something that at least one person is going to be too lazy to get on with. Facial recognition is far less fiddly alternative.

That said, facial recognition is imperfect and tricky to train, so this missing feature probably isn’t a deal-breaker. Especially as Nest’s app is plenty handy to begin with and allows you to control all of your Nest products at once.

With Nest Cams specifically, you can take a room-by-room view of your property or check up to four cameras at once. As ever, video quality will automatically adapt to the bandwidth available to avoid any dropouts, while digital zoom enhancement is retained across both cameras.

5) The Cam Outdoors should cost the same amount as a Nest Cam

Why only ‘should’? While the Nest Cam Outdoor is launching in the States with the same $199 price tag as the original Nest Cam, there's a chance that Brexit could throw a spanner in the exchange rate works when it makes the trip to Blighty.

If Nest does manage to keep the pricing consistent in the UK, we should be looking at £159 for the Cam Outdoor. That's mighty affordable compared to most outdoor security cameras.

There is a catch though, and it comes in the form of the Nest Aware subscription service. To access the 30-day video recording history of your camera you need to pay £8 per month for your first camera, and another £4pm for every extra. As you can imagine, giving your whole house the Nest treatment is going to get might pricey.

You do at least get a free 30-day trial to the service when you buy a new Cam, and can cancel your subscription at any time. So if you only want continuous video recording when you’re off on holiday, that’s perfectly feasible.