Canary Flex review: This is what a smart security camera looks like

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The Good Canary's $199/£159 Flex installs fast, it's well designed and its app is easy to navigate. It's also a highly versatile camera that can watch over your house from pretty much anywhere.

The Bad The Flex is limited to 720p HD live streaming, it has a smaller 116-degree field of view and it currently only works with Wink for smart home integrations.

The Bottom Line The Canary Flex isn't perfect, but its adaptability, simple app interface and excellent design make it a great choice for anyone who needs a lot of flexibility in their home security setup.

8.2 Overall
  • Features 7
  • Usability 8
  • Design 10
  • Performance 8

Canary's $199/£159 Flex definitely lives up to its name. Not only is this rechargeable, battery-powered indoor/outdoor security camera portable, its strong magnetic base and swiveling body design make it extremely easy to find the right viewing angle. The app is smartly designed, too, with an activity log of motion-related video clips and auto-adjusting Home and Away security modes tied to your phone's location.

You are limited to 720p video for live streaming, and the Flex currently only works with Wink on the smart home compatibility side of things. But Canary says it's working on an IFTTT channel and, in future hardware, integrations with HomeKit, Apple's Siri-based smart home platform.

Factor in the Flex's many optional accessories, including a Verizon 4G LTE mount, and there are few standalone DIY security cameras that offer so many potential use cases. Look no further than the Canary Flex ($125 at Amazon) for an HD live streaming device that's truly flexible.

Meet the Flex

The Flex is Canary's second security camera, following a successful Indiegogo campaign for its inaugural all-in-one indoor security system back in 2013. But the home security market has changed quite a bit since then. Yes, indoor high-definition live streaming cameras are still important, but many companies are introducing models that can go from your living room to your backyard with minimal effort. Enter: the Canary Flex.

Take a look at what the Flex can do versus the $200/£159 Logi Circle and the $250/£300 Netgear Arlo Pro:

Comparing rechargeable security cameras:

Canary Flex Logi Circle Netgear Arlo Pro
Price $199/£159 $200/£159 $250/£300
Color finish Black, white Black, white White
Type Indoor/outdoor Indoor only Indoor/outdoor
Power source Rechargeable battery, power adapter Rechargeable battery, power adapter Rechargeable battery, power adapter
Resolution 720p HD 1080p HD 720p HD
Expected battery life Two months 3 hours (12 hours in power save mode) Six months
Field of view 116-degree viewing angle 135-degree viewing angle 130-degree viewing angle
Live streaming Yes Yes Yes
Continuous recording No No No
Cloud storage Free 24-hour event-based video history (Optional 30-day event-based video history for $10 per month) Free 24-hour event-based video history (Optional 14- or 31-day event-based video history for $4 or $10 per month) Free 7-day event-based video history (Optional 30- or 60-day event-based video history for $10 or $15 per month)
Local storage No No No
Mobile app Yes, Android and iPhone Yes, Android and iPhone Yes, Android and iPhone
Web app No Yes Yes
Night vision Yes Yes Yes
Alerts Motion Motion (Person alerts with Circle Safe Premium subscription) Motion and audio
Activity zones No Yes No
Two-way audio Yes, but Canary hasn't activated the feature yet Yes Yes
Operating temperature range -4 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 40 degrees Celsius) 32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 40 degrees Celsius) -4 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 40 degrees Celsius)
Third-party integrations Wink No IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings

Given that the Logi Circle is indoor-only, has a short battery life and doesn't work with any smart home products from other manufacturers, it really can't compete with Canary's Flex or Netgear's Arlo Pro ($191 at Amazon). But, the competition gets a lot closer when you look at the Flex and the Arlo Pro.

The Arlo Pro promises a longer battery life of "up to six months" compared with the Flex's two-month charge (Logi's lasted about four hours). After about a week of testing, the Netgear Arlo Pro's battery indicator still shows a full charge, while the Canary Flex is showing a slightly diminished battery around the 80 to 90 percent mark.

Netgear's rechargeable indoor/outdoor camera also has a wider viewing angle and offers seven days of free cloud storage (as opposed to the Flex's 24 hours). You'll also get a web app with Netgear's camera, as well as integrations with IFTTT and Samsung SmartThings. The Flex's third-party integrations currently include Wink, although the team is working on potential IFTTT and Apple HomeKit support.

Ultimately, I prefer the Flex's app interface and its fast hub-free setup -- the Arlo Pro requires the installation of a rather large hub that you connect to your router during initial configuration. The hub does have a built-in 100-decibel siren, but that might not make a difference if your router is located in your basement or some other out-of-the-way location in your house.

Netgear sells its Arlo Pro cameras in one or multiunit kits with the hub (since this is a required accessory). The one camera kit costs $250 -- 50 bucks more than a standalone Canary Flex or Logi Circle.

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