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Google Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired) review: The best Nest yet

Google offers more features for free in its smartest Nest cam so far.

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This is the Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired) in Sand with the Maple Wood base. 

Molly Price/CNET

Nest Cams debuted in 2015, the year after Nest bought DropCam and was then bought by Google. Since then, we've seen several smart home security camera models -- including the now discontinued Nest Cam IQ Indoor and IQ Outdoor, which pitched facial recognition as a valuable feature for your home.

8.4

Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired)

Like

  • Attractive design
  • Lowest priced Nest cam yet
  • Free intelligent alerts

Don't Like

  • Short video clip history
  • Familiar faces isn't free

That leads us to the latest model on sale today, the Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired). That "wired" designation differentiates it from the recently released Nest Cam (Battery), a heftier model designed for indoor or outdoor use. The Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired) is entirely an indoor cat. 

At $100, it's the most affordable camera ever from Nest. It's also the smartest. With on-device machine learning for specific object recognition, sound recognition and some free video history, there's a lot to like. The price is high and other competitors offer similar smarts for less money, but Nest's camera is well-made, well-programmed and fully integrated into the Google Home app. 

Design

Design was a huge focus for Google with this new camera. Google often puts a little extra aesthetic effort into its smart home products, but the Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired) is especially pretty, as products go.

It comes in four colors and the light pink (ok fine, "Sand") unit I tested is the single color available with an attractive, maple wood base. Other colors include Linen, Snow and Fog, each with matching bases. I would've liked to see Google lean into personalization and offer interchangeable cameras and bases for customers, a la smartwatch faces and bands. 

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Here's the full range of tilt for the Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired). 

Molly Price/CNET

The stand and camera are one piece, so you can't detach them. The base has a built-in mounting plate and screws and anchors are included if you'd like to affix your camera to a wall or solid surface. The camera itself can tilt forward and backward thanks to a tiny, metal arm connecting it to the stand.

Overall, the design is simple and clean. The camera can tilt forward and backward and rotate 360°. There's also an option in the camera's app settings to rotate the video feed 180° in the event you need to mount your camera Spiderman-style, I suppose. 

Features

The Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired) is a pretty package, for sure. But there are brains here, too. Thanks to Google's new on-device machine learning chip, the new line of Nest Cams (Nest Doorbell, Floodlight, Wired and Battery models) include the latest software features like object identification, activity zones and Google Home app viewing and support.

The Nest Cam (Wired) can tell the difference between people, animals, vehicles and generic motion. Those notifications are free with your camera, as is 3 hours of event history. There were some questions about this when we reviewed the Nest Cam (Battery) and new Nest Doorbell, so let me be clear. You can view any events that happened in the last three hours for free. Once the event is four hours old, it is deleted from your history. If the dog runs through the living room at 1:00 p.m., you'll be able to see that clip until 4:00 p.m. After that, it is no longer accessible.

That's a pretty small window of time to review footage. For example, if something happens overnight you're not going to be able to review it. You won't know about it at all. That's the selling point for the Nest Aware subscription. 

Subscribe to Nest Aware for $6 per month and you'll get familiar face detection and sound alerts (smoke alarm, glass breaking and carbon monoxide alarm), the ability to call 911 from the Google Home app and 30 days of event video history. Upgrade to Nest Aware Plus for $12 a month and you'll get all of those options plus 60 days of video history and 10 days of 24/7 video recording. 

Camera specs for the Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired) are fine, but not particularly impressive across the broader category. You'll get 1080p video with HDR and night vision. Two-way talk is onboard as well as 6x digital zoom and a 135° field of view. That's 5° more than the Wyze Cam V3 and 5° less than the Ring Indoor cam.

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Nest Cam notifications for specific things and people work well. 

Screenshots by Molly Price/CNET

My experience with the Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired) was polished and easy. Setup was quick and I didn't hit any weird quirks while testing it out. The feed was crisp and sound came through surprisingly well. I could hear noises throughout my home, not just in the room I was monitoring. Notifications came within seconds on my Android smartphone and calling up the camera feed on a Google smart display worked as expected.

Privacy

Video footage will be encrypted while in transit from these video devices and while at rest on Nest servers and all the processing (like distinguishing between packages, people, vehicles and animals, or processing face biometrics) will happen on the devices themselves -- meaning that footage doesn't need to be sent to the cloud other than for storage purposes.

Encrypting at these vulnerable in-transit and at-rest points in the chain helps prevent unauthorized access to your data from would-be hackers and spying eyes. While Ring offers more thorough end-to-end video encryption, it's only on wired devices and it's something users have to opt into. Ring, of course, comes with its own set of privacy concerns

Competitors

If you're looking for a Google-compatible smart home camera, the Wyze Cam V3 still offers the most smarts per dollar. The Wyze Cam V3 works with Google Assistant for viewing on the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max. It's much cheaper at $35 and offers nearly identical camera specs and features. It's also sturdy enough for outdoor use.

You get a whopping 14 days of 12-second video clips for free. There's a five-minute cool down between clips. Add the $2/month Wyze Cam Plus subscription and you'll get unlimited video length, no cool down period, person, pet, package and vehicle detection, with facial recognition coming soon. 

What Wyze Cam can't offer is in-app viewing in the Google Home app. To view your camera on your mobile device, you'll need the Wyze app. Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired) can be viewed directly in the Home app. Honestly, that's the only pro I can muster when deciding which of these two Google-enabled devices to choose. 

Nest is best, for some

Yes. The Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired) is the best model we've tested from Nest. That doesn't mean it's the best fit for your smart home. If you're on a budget, use Alexa sometimes or want more cloud video storage for free, Wyze and Blink Mini are better options.

If you're looking for a Google-focused smart home security camera that offers quality construction, attractive design and industry-leading smarts, the Nest Cam (Indoor, Wired) is the answer. If you're also willing to pay extra for features like familiar faces or Nest Aware's monitoring capabilities, you'll have a user experience that checks all the boxes and then some. 

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