After acquiring Dropcam back in 2014, Nest waited another year to launch its own home monitoring camera. It wasn't much of an improvement over the old Dropcam Pro, and aside from releasing an outdoor version with weatherproof body, Nest has focused on improving its software ever since. But now the smart home company is back with a second-gen connected camera -- the Nest Cam IQ -- which features serious upgrades in the hardware department and an inflated price tag to match.
The $299/£299 Nest Cam IQ looks a lot like last year's Nest Cam Outdoor. In contrast to the very first camera, it has cute and curvy, all-white polycarbonate shell and a fancy, patented hinge that allows you to orientate the lens any way you want it. An LED notification ring now encircles the camera's eye, glowing green when anyone is viewing the live stream and flashing blue if the watcher begins talking through it. Behind the glass-covered front is one of the biggest upgrades: A new, 8-megapixel sensor capable of capturing 4K, HDR video in a 130-degree field of view.
A user will never actually see 4K footage from the camera, as it records and streams at a maximum resolution of 1080p. However, some of the new features exclusive to the Nest Cam IQ do utilize the 4K input before it's compressed. "Supersight," for example, uses the feed to digitally zoom in on areas where motion is detected. Say a burglar crawls in through your window. In the Nest app, you'll see a 4x zoomed, 1080p close-up of them entering, with a picture-in-picture of the main feed in the corner (which you can always switch to). Supersight will also track the thief as he moves across the camera's field of view.
Facial recognition is another new headline feature, powered by Google's "best-in-class" FaceNet technology -- this is by no means the first home monitoring camera with this functionality, mind. The Cam IQ logs any new faces it spots in the Nest app. You can then flag them as friends or family, and customize alerts so you're only notified when an unknown mug crosses the camera's path. But for this, you'll need a Nest Aware subscription that'll set you back $10/£8 per month or $100/£80 per year after your free 30-day trial expires.
For that, though, you'll also get the new "intelligent audio alerts" feature that hits you up if your dog starts barking or people are heard talking off-camera. This feature will also be available to anyone who has one of the older Nest cameras, too, and remember Nest Aware includes rolling ten-day continuous recording and cloud storage.
Thanks to the upgraded sensor and a better, six-core processor, person detection now happens on the device rather than in the cloud. This feature can distinguish between people, pets and objects (like a flapping curtain), but on the previous cameras it's available only to Nest Aware subscribers.
Better image quality and what that enables is undoubtedly the primary selling point of the new Nest Cam IQ, but there are other improvements to speak of, such as the two 940nm infrared LEDs for better night vision with no red lights. Three microphones promise enhanced noice/echo suppression and audio recognition, while a more powerful speaker (a seven-fold upgrade, apparently) makes remotely shouting at your kids to stop messing up the living room that bit easier. On that note, you can only communicate walkie-talkie style at launch, but new software that'll make the camera function like a persistent speakerphone will be released a few weeks later.
The new camera also supports the speedy 802.11ac WiFi standard and beyond the existing Alexa and Google Home integrations, things are going to get a little cozier with the latter. Later this year, Nest will switch on additional Home controls such as 'save this clip' and 'cast to my TV' commands.
All these immediate and future upgrades do come at a price, though. The Nest Cam IQ is $299/£299, or $100/£140 more expensive than the company's first indoor camera. Throw in a Nest Aware subscription and we're not talking about an insignificant amount of money (not that it's outrageously uncompetitive or anything). The new camera is launching in every market Nest is directly present in at the end of June, and is available to preorder online in the US, UK and several other European countries today.
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