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Features - more

In some of the other reviews, I've dinged cameras for the delay between the trigger event and recording start. I also had issues with even downloading clips. Nest Cam has no such problems. Because Nest Cam is constantly recording to the cloud (if you subscribe to Nest Aware), your entire video history is there for you to select and download as clips if necessary. It's up to you to decide if you want time before the event started and how long you want after.

If I had to complain about anything related to that, I guess I could wish that I were able to download the motion event with one easy click vs. going into the timeline and lining up where I wanted the clip to start and stop. But really, that's a petty complaint. In addition to creating normal clips, you can also create timelapses of video history.

Other features of the app include setting your camera as publicly viewable (great for daycares) and integration with Nest. The integration with Nest allows the Nest Cam to automatically record a clip and email you if the Nest smoke/CO detector detects an emergency, even if you don't subscribe to Nest Aware. Nest Cam can also start recording when the Nest Thermostat goes into Away mode. You can also set up schedules for recording if you don't want it to be constantly recording.

I've saved the best for last regarding the app. Nest Aware has an "Enhance" mode that is almost magic. We've all seen shows where the good guys take a blurry license plate picture, then zoom in and enhance so they can read the numbers and go nab the bad guys. We all sit there saying, yeah right, you can't make pixels just automagically sharpen up like that.

Well, with Nest Aware you can, but for live video only, which tells me it's being done via hardware vs. software. I tried to find out exactly how Enhance works, but all I could find was this snippet, "When you enhance the video zoomed in video (sic), your camera uses its entire image sensor to improve the video quality and show you more detail in the area you've zoomed. Since the camera is focusing on that one view, Video History won't record outside of the frame you've chosen until you go back to full-screen view." If you don't believe me, take a look at some before and afters.

Nest Cam Enhancement Example #1

Nest Cam Enhancement Example #1

Wow! You can see in example #2 that my dog's head position has changed, that's because Enhance can only be done to live video and not recorded history. The results however are very impressive. The camera was not moved, nor was any lighting added between screenshots.

Nest Cam Enhancement Example #2

Nest Cam Enhancement Example #2

In example #3, the writing and image on the bottle are much clearer than the before picture.

Nest Cam Enhancement Example #3

Nest Cam Enhancement Example #2

I wish I had an old license plate sitting around so I could do that test. But I need to note that unless you check in immediately at an alert, the Enhance feature isn't going to do you much good. Most of the time you would probably want Enhance for recorded video, which it's not available for. Nonetheless, I like the feature and I find it very clever.

Update 9/4/15

Since Nest Cam is constantly recording, it competes for upstream bandwidth. Since most of us have internet service with relatively low upload bandwidth (often 1 Mbps or lower), Nest Cam can effect other real-time applications such as FaceTime or Skype. The original Dropcam provided no ability to control bandwidth use and our testing found it could have a large effect on both up and downlink bandwidth.

Nest Cam provides an Image quality control that can be used to control bandwidth use. At the 1080p setting, I saw 800 Kbps of average bandwith use, with peaks as high as 1.2 Mbps when there was lots of activity.

Nest Cam Image quality setting

Nest Cam Image quality setting

Video and Image Quality

The Nest Cam app is great, but what does video look like? I did an in-depth comparison of Nest Cam to the Foscam C1 in the Foscam C1 review, so rather than repeat it all here again I'll have you go take a look at that review for the lowdown on image and video quality, especially concerning night vision. I did add a daytime video for Nest Cam though so we'll compare the Foscam C1 to the Nest Cam here.

Nest Cam motion indoor day
Foscam C1 motion indoor day

Both daylight videos look very good, you see the little stutter in the Foscam C1 video. You can also see that the Nest Cam has the wider field of view. Colors are nice, motion is very fluid and you could easily do a snapshot of the "burglar's" face there if you needed to. Can we say the same for night vision? Check out the Foscam C1 review to see.

Closing Thoughts

You don't get a free lunch with Nest Cam. Cost of entry is high and if you want any sort of video history you're going to be paying more on an ongoing basis.. Nest Cam also doesn't integrate into NAS surveillance systems, although it does integrate with other Nest products. Those negative points aside, you can tell a lot of time and effort has been put into the Nest app. It has some great features that I haven't seen in any of the systems we've looked at. The Enhance feature is astounding, the caveat being you'd probably need it more with recorded history, where it isn't available.

So the big question, Foscam C1 or Nest Cam? Well, if you are tinkerer who just wants to "mess around" with an IP camera, don't mind putting your own solutions together and don't want to spend a lot of cash, go with the C1. If you want something that just works, along with an app that works really well AND you have money burning a hole in your pocket, go with the Nest Cam. Nest Cam is a very good product and you won't be disappointed with the purchase.

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