Reviews

Review: Nest Cam IQ with face recognition and 4K images

Review: Nest Cam IQ, is most advanced smart camera to date. The camera is equipped with, among other things, a 4K sensor and face recognition.
4.6/5 - (50 votes)

In this review, we’re looking at Nest Cam IQ, Nest’s most advanced smart camera to date. The camera is equipped with, among other things, a 4K sensor and face recognition.

2017 is the year for various smart camera manufacturers to release an improved second generation. Nest is also releasing a new version of its camera, called the Nest Cam IQ. This smart camera has an even higher resolution, a new design and face recognition. In this review we look at the Nest Cam IQ.

What is Nest Cam IQ?

The Nest Cam IQ is an improved and more advanced version of the Nest Cam that we tested a year ago . Like its predecessor, this new camera is for those who like to keep an eye out and know what’s going on at home when they are not around. The price of the new model; 349 euros.

Compared to the previous generation Nest Cam, the image quality and audio quality have been significantly improved. Nest Cam IQ has a 4K image sensor (8 megapixels), can digitally zoom and sharpen 12x, and offers HDR (High Dynamic Range) images. The previous generation has to make do with an SDR image that has a resolution of 1080p. Thanks to two 940 nm infrared LEDs, Night Vision ensures that everything is evenly lit without a red glare. Nest Cam IQ’s speakers are seven times stronger than the original Nest Cam. Furthermore, the 3-microphone array guarantees clear sound thanks to the echo and noise suppression according to the manufacturer.

The camera encrypts the video images on the device before they are streamed and stored. The camera uses a 128-bit AES connection with TLS / SSL for this. In terms of design, we also see some small differences with the previous generation. Nest Cam IQ has a bright white polycarbonate body with a swivel base, allowing you to position it flexibly wherever you need an image at the time.

One of the new smart features of the Nest Cam IQ is that it not only shows what is happening, it is also smart enough to know the difference between a person and, for example, a cat. You will then receive notifications without needing a subscription. This subscription is required with the previously launched cameras to receive these ‘personal notifications’. The camera will then automatically zoom in and keep the person in view, so you know who it is and what he is doing. When you watch what is happening in the app, you simultaneously see a 130-degree wide overview of the room and the tracking function with a close-up view of the person in the house. 

Nest Aware subscription

Without a subscription, Nest Cam IQ offers 3 hours of looking back in time (with only screenshots of activities), watching live, talking and listening through the camera, and zooming in on images. You will receive a notification if something happens, but it is not possible to look back on what exactly happened. Especially for Nest Cam IQ, the ‘person notification’ as described above has been added.

With a subscription to Nest Aware (first 30 days free trial) you can expand this with familiar face alerts. These are alerts about who is in your house, such as the name of a family member, the babysitter or a stranger. To do this, you’ll need to identify familiar faces in the Nest app. With a subscription you also get intelligent sound notifications. These notifications notify you of off-screen events such as people talking or dogs barking.

With Nest Aware, you also have access to existing features, such as 10- or 30-day video history that you can search with Visual Line, create and share clips and time-lapses, and create activity zones with automatic door detection. In addition, Nest indicates that the Aware subscription adds powerful algorithms via the cloud that make it easier to distinguish movements. Think of pets, shadows, car lights, etc. It literally makes the camera smarter. For the subscription of 10 days looking back you pay 10 euros per month or 100 euros per year. The subscription where you can look back 30 days costs 30 euros per month or 300 euros per year.

Design

In terms of design, we immediately see that Nest has made a number of important changes. The new Cam IQ has become a bit more robust in terms of dimensions, is now available in white instead of black and comes with a new standard. The stand is made of plastic this time and the whole is a bit more flexible; 180 degrees horizontally and vertically almost completely rotated around its axis. The cable is also neatly concealed; connect the usb type-c cable to the base and you will no longer see a cable going towards the camera itself. However, unlike the first generation, this new model lacks a suspension mechanism in the box. The threaded connection is present, but the standard for this must now be purchased separately.

The camera looks like a small light or spotlight and is therefore a bit more robust than the original Nest Cam. Now that is not a disaster because the camera looks very sleek, is neatly finished, does not stand out too much and can be placed firmly, stable and at multiple angles. The part of the lens is still black. This time there are also LED lights, including the green light (can be switched off) so that you can see that someone is watching. A new LED ring lights up when talking through the camera. The camera cannot be used without a power supply this time either.

The installation

If we’ve learned anything from previous Nest products, it’s that installation is very easy. The Nest Cam IQ can also be installed on your smartphone with two fingers in the nose. Install the Nest app (available for Android and iOS) on your mobile device, create an account, scan the QR code on the bottom of the camera, enter the code of your WiFi network (or connect it via an existing Nest product) and give it a name.

The connection is established quickly and you can start using the camera immediately. In the Nest app you can indicate which room the camera is intended for, something that is especially useful when you have multiple cameras. In the home screen of the app you will immediately see windows of all cameras. This way you have a good overview of your entire house.

Placing the Nest Cam IQ is also a piece of cake; it is a matter of placing the camera in the desired position, connecting the camera to the socket, checking on your smartphone and you’re done. However, keep in mind that you place the camera close to an electrical outlet. A small disadvantage is that the plug that has to be put in the socket is very wide. With double sockets or power strips, this can cause you to lose an extra socket.

Settings

In terms of setting options, not much has changed compared to a year ago. Yes, Nest has improved the app several times, but the main functions are still intact. You can adjust all the settings of your Nest Cam IQ via the application, which is still very user-friendly and well designed.

For example, it is possible to have the camera activate automatically when you leave the house (link with your smartphone) and deactivate it when you come home. You can also create a schedule so that you can switch the camera on or off at specific times. Furthermore, the image quality can be adjusted (from low to high, from little to much bandwidth), you can activate or deactivate the night vision, you can rotate the image of the camera and you can share the camera with someone else using a password.

New is that you can have the camera follow an activity through a close-up, something that the higher resolution of the camera makes possible. In addition, this model has face recognition and there is an option with ‘familiar faces’. Here you can activate the function and when activated you will get an overview in this menu of all faces that have been labeled as ‘known’ by you as a user. You can also remove faces yourself.

There are also various settings for notifications and sounds / audio. For example, you can have a short sound signal played when you want to say something through the camera, you can mute or mute the microphone and you can indicate where (mobile and tablet or e-mail) you want to receive notifications when there is a movement, a person ( Nest Cam IQ only as default) or a sound is detected. If you have created extra zones, you can indicate whether notifications are only allowed if something happens in that zone.

Difference mobile and computer

What has also remained the same is the difference between the options you have on your smartphone (in the app) and via the browser. You can also log in via the browser of your computer, after which you have access to a number of extra options. Depending on your plan, you can browse the video history and view all notifications from all your devices (app or browser). When you log in via the browser, you can also create and share long clips (video clips) yourself, create and share time-lapses, view an overview view or a ‘by the minute’ view of a part of your Video History, and you can create activity zones. .

The latter option makes it possible, for example, to create a zone in front of the front door, after which you will receive a notification when something happens in that zone. You can also exclude a specific zone from notifications. Creating a zone is very easy and can be useful when, for example, you have pets that you do not want to be notified of or when you have a letterbox in the picture that you do not want to be notified every time a letter falls on the mat.

Quality and use

Nest has updated the application several times in the past year, and although the first version of the app was already clear and well designed, the most recent version is even more stable and user-friendly. The app is clearly arranged, offers access to all important settings and gives you everything you need to know about the Nest products in your home in one overview. The browser version is actually an enlarged version of the app, with some extra features. The home screen of both the app and the browser offers a thumbnail view of the live image from the camera. It is, however, somewhat easier in the browser to scroll through the timeline accurately and thus find activities back.

There are two new features of the Nest Cam IQ that deserve some extra attention in terms of performance; face recognition and high 4K resolution. Face recognition is a great feature for when people are at home when you are not. The camera takes close-up screenshots of faces that pass by, after which you see the notification of an unknown face on your smartphone. You can then indicate whether this is a familiar face, after which the face is placed in the library of familiar faces. There you can also name each face. This works quite accurately, but the camera has to see each person a few times before someone is properly recognized. After all, you do not draw the same face every moment and you are not always in the picture. In our experience, you have to save a face five times on average before the person is recognized as a ‘familiar face’ in 95 percent of the cases. If this is the case, the camera can still send you a notification, but with the notification that a familiar face (with name) has been detected.

The 4K resolution is a feature that has its advantages, but may not be necessary for everyone. Thanks to the higher resolution, you can easily zoom in on a part of the image, for example to take a closer look at the door. Hardly any sharpness is lost. The higher resolution also makes it possible to follow an activity in close-up. If the camera detects something, it zooms in on that activity, so you can better see what’s going on. Fortunately, the image is not always streamed in 4K resolution, which would be at the expense of the bandwidth. Only when zoomed in do you benefit from the higher resolution. If you have the camera in a relatively small room where zooming in is not necessary, then the higher resolution is not a real necessity. Our experience is that – in our room – an HD resolution provides sufficient details. So it depends on how and where you want to use the camera. Incidentally, the night vision is also very tight and detailed, so you don’t have to miss much of the action in the dark. The entire room is sufficiently and widely ‘illuminated’ by the infrared LEDs. The microphones and speakers in the Nest Cam IQ have also been significantly improved, but we did not have much to complain about with the previous version. Having a conversation through the camera is simple and understandable, although you can now stand a lot further away from the camera and remain audible (both hearing the conversation through the camera and talking to it). so you don’t have to miss much of the action, even in the dark. The entire room is sufficiently and widely ‘illuminated’ by the infrared LEDs. The microphones and speakers in the Nest Cam IQ have also been improved a lot, but we didn’t have much to complain about with the previous version. Having a conversation through the camera is simple and understandable, although you can now stand a lot further away from the camera and remain audible (both hearing the conversation through the camera and talking to it). so you don’t have to miss much of the action, even in the dark. The entire room is sufficiently and widely ‘illuminated’ by the infrared LEDs. The microphones and speakers in the Nest Cam IQ have also been significantly improved, but we did not have much to complain about with the previous version. Having a conversation through the camera is simple and understandable, although you can now stand a lot further away from the camera and remain audible (both hearing the conversation through the camera and talking to it).

In terms of notifications, the Nest Cam IQ generally performs well, although we did receive some false notifications in the beginning. At the time, the camera was just pointing slightly towards the window, which may have caused the false reports. Although no activity could be detected here (not even on screen), the camera still indicated an activity. This largely disappeared by turning the camera a little further away from the window, after which 19 of the 20 reports were correct. It does not work completely flawlessly, but rather one wrong message too many than one real message that is missed. In order not to bombard you with (false) notifications, the Nest Cam IQ has a limit of one notification every 30 minutes. It doesn’t matter how much happens in 30 minutes, you will only get one notification. This has its pros and cons. On the one hand, you will not be inundated with notifications on your phone, but on the other hand, something can happen 10 minutes after a false notification, so that you don’t hear anything (or too late). In addition, it is good to know that an active internet connection (on both phone and camera) is always required for the whole thing to work with notifications. If you do not have internet on your phone for a while (or if you do not have internet for a few days when you are on vacation) then you will not receive any notifications until you have internet again. There is no possibility to receive notifications via SMS, for example. The camera can also respond to sound, for example a door slamming hard or a window being smashed. This is slightly more accurate than the motion detection. To date we have not had any reports of noise, of course the moments when someone walked in and made noise at the same time. A simple test with a slamming door did produce a message, so it works.

The color reproduction of the images is excellent, and the camera also copes well with bright parts in the image. The viewing angle of 130 degrees is sufficient, although we would like to see an even wider viewing angle in the next version to be able to really keep an eye on a room. Finally, the stability of the connection is an important plus. Where the Nest Cam could sometimes have a weak connection, this seems to be a lot better with the Nest Cam IQ. The antenna system in the new camera has changed and a 2 × 2 802.11ac processor is present. There is also support for the 802.15.4 IEEE standard. This means the camera is ready for Thread, Google’s IoT standard.

Conclusion

All in all, we can say that Nest has taken another big step forward with the Nest Cam IQ. The camera looks tighter and more beautiful than its predecessor, offers a higher resolution that is particularly advantageous for close-ups, comes with standard face detection and offers a user-friendly experience. However, for all this you have to pay 349 euros, which is almost double than the normal Nest Cam Indoor. We understand that the new features cost money and offer you something extra, but it is quite personal whether you really think you need those new features. A 179 euro Nest Cam Indoor also offers a very good user experience for video security at home. In addition – for all Nest Cam products – a subscription to Nest Aware is actually still a requirement. Only then will you get the most out of your camera, because looking back for 3 hours with only screenshots is limited. The Nest Cam IQ is one of the best smart cameras you can buy right now, and it also comes with the most advanced capabilities. But, you also pay a premium price for that; upon purchase and then for the subscription.

Pros

  • Easy in use
  • Face recognition
  • Good (4K) video quality
Negatives

  • Subscription still necessary
  • No hanging system
  • Pricey