Today’s home security cams are certainly bright, but not many feel genuinely smart. Right now, they’re more Milhouse than Lisa Simpson.
With skills like face recognition and zone monitoring rarely fitted as standard, you’ll often be bombarded with alerts or miss key bits of action.
To be fair, Nest Cam Indoor is rarely guilty of such misdemeanours and has both of the above features, albeit locked behind its £80 (RM445) per year Nest Aware subscription.
But the Google-owned company has been busy working on something properly next-gen: a 4K security cam that reminded me of CSI’s ‘zoom, enhance’ scenes, while looking a bit like Pixar’s little anglepoise lamp.
The Nest Cam IQ isn’t a replacement for the Cam Indoor. Instead, it’s a next-gen alternative with unique skills that stem from its 4K sensor. And having seen what it can do, it’s going to be hard to go back...
Nest Cam IQ design: the friendly face of home surveillance
There are two ways to design a security cam: make it look like a relation of ED-209 (like the Netatmo Presence), or hide its burglar-catching intentions in an innocent shell.
As you can see, the Nest Cam IQ has gone for the latter, and it works really well. The design is clearly based on the Nest Cam Outdoor, but there’s something much more charming about it in the flesh. A new LED ring light shows when it’s recording, and the all-round friendliness mean you’ll be happy to place it pretty much anywhere.
This versatility is boosted by a nicely designed hinge, which lets you turn it 180 degrees in either direction horizontally, or 160 degrees vertically. I’m no hinge specialist or a subscriber to Hinge magazine, but even I found myself nodding at its weighting and smooth rotation.
Still, even a cracking hinge can’t eclipse the Cam IQ’s clever new hardware and software skills...
Nest Cam IQ features: the smartest cam in the room
So what makes the Cam IQ so special that it costs almost twice the price of its rivals? There are six highlights, which I’ll go through in order of coolness.
For starters, unlike its 1080p rivals, it has a 4K sensor with HDR. It doesn’t actually record or stream in 4K, because that’d probably drop-kick your home network. Instead, it uses that extra resolution to help its software do some image fine-tuning and next-gen tricks.
The best of these is called ‘Supersight’. If the camera detects an ‘unfamiliar face’ (and you have it set-up to record ‘unfamiliar faces’), it’ll automatically zoom in on that person and follow them around the room, like they’re starring in a slapstick burglar comedy. Sadly, it doesn’t also overlay the Pink Panther theme music, but it’s a cool trick that’s done digitally rather than relying on a potentially noisy motorised stand.
A close relation of Supersight is ‘familiar face alerts’, which you’ll have to pay extra for as part of £80 (RM445) per year Nest Aware subscription (it's also only available on the IQ). It again combines the 4K sensor with Google’s face recognition tech to help identify family members and create a (slightly scary) library of mugshots. This means you can use the Cam IQ as a kind of family tracker, making sure the kids genuinely did come straight home rather than via the skate park.
I was initially sceptical about the need for the Cam IQ’s 4K sensor and HDR, even if it does mean you do a proper 12x ‘zoom, enhance’ on a burglar’s face to see details like eye colour. After all, we’ve found 1080p cameras like the Nest Cam Indoor to be perfectly capable of picking out a face during the day or night.
But after seeing it in action, the real benefit of the extra resolution are features like Supersight and familiar face alerts. Both are certainly cool, if still more of a luxury than a security cam essential. Talking of which...