Nest Cam Outdoor review: Nest's hardy outdoor camera watches over your roost

"Your camera spotted a person."

Screenshot by CNET

Nest introduced 3 hours of free activity-based snapshots via a new feature called Sightline. Previously, you had to subscribe to Nest Aware for at least $10 per month to view past activity, but this 3-hour feature option at least gives users some glimpse into past events.

You can do even more with Sightline if you Subscribe to Nest Aware:

  • Time-lapse videos of events
  • Still images of important moments -- Nest says its algorithm curates which moments are most important and then selects the best image to showcase them
  • Activity zones

Nest also added Person Alerts for Nest Aware subscribers. Person Alerts isn't the same as facial recognition in that it can't tell who it sees, just that it sees someone. Still, it's a pretty significant addition.

Since everyone gets a one-month free subscription to Nest Aware from the date they set up their camera, I was able to test out all of these feature. Everything worked consistently well, with one frustrating exception. You still don't get an alert every time activity is detected. Nest says this is supposed to keep you from getting inundated with too many alerts. Fair enough.

Instead, it tries to determine what activity is the most important for you and uses Sightline's algorithm to show you the highlights. That could be a huge problem if you don't get an alert during a burglary, but a lot of people want complete control over their alerts so they can decide what's important and what isn't.

In terms of third-party integrations, I programmed Nest Cam Outdoor to send me a text when it detected either sound or motion via IFTTT. Nest Cam Outdoor doesn't show up as a dedicated IFTTT channel, but my camera still appeared in the list of available products via the general Nest Cam channel.

The verdict

Nest's Outdoor Cam is a top contender as far as outside-rated DIY security products go. Its HD live stream is solid, its new 3-hour cloud storage adds significant appeal for folks who aren't interested in paying for Nest Aware and its magnetic base makes it easy to install.

On the other hand, that magnetic design also makes it easy to steal, and the power adapter could be a major eyesore depending on where you install it. I would also like to see more options in terms of alert customization rather than having to rely on Nest's algorithm to handle everything for you. Still, the $200/£150 Nest Cam Outdoor is a very strong outdoor security device that I highly recommend.

Not sold? Take a peek at the battery-powered Netgear Arlo.

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