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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Nest Cam Outdoor review:

Nest's hardy outdoor camera watches over your roost

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The Good Nest Cam Outdoor comes with crisp HD video resolution, wide-angle glass lens, long extension cord and 3 hours of free cloud storage. It also plays well with other Nest products via the same Android and iPhone app.

The Bad The alerts are still sporadic -- you won't get one every time activity takes place. If you want Person Alerts and select other advanced features, you will have to pay a monthly fee for the Nest Aware service.

The Bottom Line Nest Cam Outdoor is up there with Netgear's Arlo as a highly recommendable DIY outdoor camera -- you'll just have to decide if you'd rather deal with Nest's power cord or Arlo's batteries.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall
  • Features 8.0
  • Usability 7.0
  • Design 8.0
  • Performance 9.0

If you like Nest Cam Indoor, you're probably going to like the $200/£150 Nest Cam Outdoor, too. That's because Nest essentially took its wide-angle high-definition indoor-only camera, wrapped it in a weather-friendly finish and offered it up to folks looking for a DIY outdoor camera.

That may seem a touch lazy to some, but Nest's indoor camera is great, so the team simply applied its core specs to another product. That's not all the Google/Alphabet property did, though.

Nest also updated its app to give every user 3 free hours of event-based cloud storage -- a significant upgrade that makes it more competitive with other DIY cams on the market. Now available for sale in the US with plans to expand internationally later this year, Nest Cam Outdoor is an outside-rate security camera I can comfortably recommend.

Venturing outside

There are quite a few outdoor-rated DIY security products on the market. Here's a non-exhaustive list of of the field today:

The vast majority of the products listed above are specialty outdoor products. The SkyBell HD Wi-Fi Video Doorbell, August Doorbell Cam, Ring Video Doorbell, Ring Video Doorbell Pro and Bird Home Automation DoorBird Video Doorbell, for instance, are all doorbell cameras. That means you'll have to replace your existing buzzer to set up one of these camera-equipped Wi-Fi versions. Similarly, you'll have to replace an existing wired outdoor light to install the Kuna Light Fixture.

Panasonic's Outdoor Home Surveillance Camera Kit worked fine, but was quite dated and we haven't yet reviewed the Panasonic Nubo, Ring Stick Up Cam or Kuna Toucan. But the Netgear Arlo is a solid competitor to Nest's Outdoor Cam. Take a look at the two cameras side by side:

Comparing Nest Cam Outdoor and Netgear Arlo:

Nest Cam Outdoor Netgear Arlo
Price $200/£150 $180/£135/AU$240
Color finish White White
Power source 25-foot extension cord 4 CR123 lithium 3-volt photo batteries
Resolution 1080p HD 720p HD
Live streaming Yes Yes
Continuous recording Yes, with Nest Aware No
Cloud storage Free 3-hour event-based snapshots (Optional 10-day or 30-day continuous recording and storage with Nest Aware subscription for $10 or $30 per month) Free 7-day event-based video clip storage (Optional 30- or 60-day event-based video clip storage with Arlo subscription for $10 or $15 per month)
Local storage No No
Mobile app Yes, Android and iPhone Yes, Android and iPhone
Web app Yes Yes
Night vision Yes Yes
Alerts Motion and sound (Person Alerts added with Nest Aware) Motion only
Activity zones Yes, with Nest Aware No
Operating temperature range -4 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 40 degrees Celsius). 14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (-9 to 50 degree Celsius)
Third-party integrations Works with Nest, IFTTT IFTTT

While these cameras do share a lot of similarities, they have one major distinction -- their power source -- and it's really up to you whether you want to deal with a power cord or batteries. The Outdoor Cam's 25-foot power cord is long enough to give you quite a bit of leeway if your outdoor outlets aren't near your ideal installation spot. Still, you have to find a way to minimize the look of a long white cable hanging outside your house.

A battery-powered model like Netgear's Arlo makes installation easier, but you'll have to grab the camera from its installation spot periodically to swap out those hard-to-find CR123's.

I also have a question about theft with both of these units. Both Nest Cam Outdoor and Arlo look nice, but they have white finishes that aren't especially discreet. They also attach to their bases via magnets, making them simple to steal. For Nest Cam Outdoor, I'd suggest using the included clips to secure the power cord as a minimum precaution. Presumably you'll also get video footage of any thieves.

App stuff

When Nest announced the US retail availability of its Nest Cam Outdoor on September 8, it also launched a pretty major software update for both Android and iPhone. You can check out this post for the full details, but here's the gist:

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