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

Canary's Flex in day and night vision modes.

Screenshots by CNET

Select "Watch Live" to view your video feed.

Screenshot by CNET

One flexible Canary

In addition to its easy hub-free installation, the Canary Flex is also very simple to use. To preserve battery power, you have to press the "Watch Live" button on the home page to see the live video feed.

This is also where you can check the quality of your Wi-Fi connection and view the status of your rechargeable battery. You can also sign up to receive notifications when your battery is getting low, as well as when it's fully charged.

Select "View Timeline" on the bottom of the same page to pull up a time stamped list with video clips of any activity detected by the Flex's built-in sensors.

All of this worked very well, with only slight lag times and the occasional grainy image, likely due to a temporarily spotty Wi-Fi connection.

But my favorite Flex feature relates to its auto-adjusting security modes. Canary's software taps into your location using your cellular signal, Wi-Fi and GPS info. After you enter the address where your Flex is located, the app will automatically switch among Home and Away modes for you.

You can also customize these modes manually and program Night mode separately based on your sleep schedule.

Basically, when it notices the whole family is away from home, the app should automatically switch to Away mode. That's when you'll receive activity-based alerts. And when the software believes someone is home, you can choose how you'd like to receive alerts.

It's easy to extend access to other family members, too. Simply select "Settings," "Members" and "Add a member." Enter in their name and email address and they'll get a message asking them to accept the invite, download the app and create their own account (which will link with your account and give them access to your Flex camera). The Flex's security modes worked well for me throughout testing and provided a layer of security beyond typical DIY cameras.

The verdict

If you're looking for a live streaming HD security camera with a ton of installation freedom, I'd highly recommend the $199/£159 Canary Flex. This versatile camera is just as comfortable sitting on a living room table connected to a power adapter as it is mounted to your backyard fence, relying on rechargeable battery power.

The $250/£300 Netgear Arlo Pro is a reasonable alternative, but it costs more without adding much value. And, if you're just planning to keep your camera inside connected to a charger, you might also consider the $199 Nest Cam ($150 at Amazon) Indoor since it offers a lot of the same features as Flex, but bumps the resolution up to 1080p HD.

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