back to article Nest Cam: A compelling piece of hardware-software

It was only a few years ago that everyone was scoffing at futurists who claimed that we would all be streaming our music rather than buying digital or physical copies. But I want to own my music, bellowed many. I want physical CDs, not computer files. When digital files became more useful and usable, there were more reasons …

  1. RNixon

    But for how long?

    These service-backed smart home gizmos are great, until Nest decides it's no longer profitable to support, turns off the server, and your $300 hardware is now a useless brick.

    You know, like they did with their Zwave hub.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: But for how long?

      Also, I wonder how much hardware they'd have had to add to the package to provide the "better alerts" and "activity zones" without a subscription? Or indeed a card slot for "video history". Probably not $120 worth which is what a 12 month subscription will cost you.

      That's the other problem with these devices: they're a poor value proposition, deliberately under-engineered for maximum long term revenue potential or premature obsolescence whichever is the most profitable.

  2. Youngone Silver badge

    Nice

    I enjoyed reading that review, even though the whole way through I knew I am not the target audience for this product.

    I just kept thinking "Yes, but what happens when updates for this device stop being released"?

    Also, I can't help wondering what network services are running on these things, and who are they talking to? If Nest decide to change the terms of service and sell your info to their advertising "partners" what then?

    I will stick with my slightly dumber network cameras thanks, at least I have control over the FTP server they send their pics to.

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Not a complete review.

    Where's the discussion of setup and passwords? Where's the discussion of security?

    And there is the concern raised by a previous poster... what happens when Nest decides to dump this one? They're a part of Google/Alphabet and we know how the mothership likes to cast off services into the void.

    Sorry, but I'm not compelled.

  4. Kevin Fairhurst

    Also...

    No mention of fitting - how do you get this connected to power, is PoE an option if your wifi won't penetrate your outside wall, is configuration easy even when adding multiple cameras?

    Would also be worth knowing if any such devices can do facial recognition, allow you can add names to people, and then set it to ignore warnings when certain people arrive between certain times...

  5. Oscar Pops

    Good to see some genuine innovation - These days having Tb's of local NAS is not uncommon, so hopefully manufacturers trying to push us into pointless subs for cloud storage will soon die - this model lost Ring my custom and I'm getting close to giving up on Apple too.

  6. Christopher Lane

    What would be really nice...

    ...is this kind of hardware/software experience but the ability to point it at storage you own i.e. iCloud, Amazon, OneDrive, local NAS etc. I suppose that's where they make their money, subscriptions et al.

  7. Christopher Lane

    What would be really nice...

    ...is this kind of hardware/software experience but the ability to point it at cloud storage you already ̶o̶w̶n̶ rent i.e. iCloud, Amazon, OneDrive etc. I suppose that's where they make their money, subscriptions et al.

    On a slightly unrelated note (to this particular device), I never quite "get" the local storage thing for security devices either. If the criminals are brazen enough to break in to your house then going the "extra mile" and nicking the NVR or NAS etc is nothing to them. Once the footage is gone forever, the nice shiny camera is as useful as a damp sock. Sure you could bolt the box down, shield it in 1/4 steel plating and position gun turrets around it but I'd gladly just pay another £100 for the device and it allow me the option to point to cloud storage I already subscribe to. Another option is for the manufacturer to add £50 to the price of the device and charge £1 a month to "turn on" the feature there by saving them Lord only knows how much on data centres, storage, cooling, backups etc etc.

    I await the inevitable down votes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What would be really nice...

      No down vote from me but if the criminal hides their face from the camera then all you've got is a video of someone breaking in... which doesn't much help.

      Someone daft enough to expose their faces to the camera is also probably daft enough not to know what a NAS is and will probably stick to nicking the TV, jewellery etc.

      Even if you did get the photo and the person hadn't hidden their face my experience is that the police wouldn't be interested anyway........ All they want to do is give you a leaflet on how to be a victim and issue you with a crime number for the insurance.

      Personally I prefer to pay €40 a month for an alarm system which alerts me and is monitored by a center who will dispatch someone and call the police if appropriate. It also means I don't need to worry if I'm our of phone signal range on holiday or if I just want to turn off my phone!

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: What would be really nice...

        I don't need to worry if I'm ... on holiday or if I just want to turn off my phone!

        Exactly. Why would I want to be bothered by Jehovah's Witlesses or double glazing salesmen when I'm not even at home, never mind adding "I think I saw someone" text messages to the "Have you got PPI?" ones. I have a deadlock on the door, and insurance. If some scum does manage to get in I think I'd prefer not to have my holiday spoiled when I can do nothing about it.

      2. Manolo
        Devil

        Re: What would be really nice...

        "Even if you did get the photo and the person hadn't hidden their face my experience is that the police wouldn't be interested anyway........ All they want to do is give you a leaflet on how to be a victim and issue you with a crime number for the insurance."

        Ah, you must be living in the Netherlands.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: What would be really nice...

      Something happened yesterday which started me thinking on these lines. The doorbell was rung by some dodgy looking character asking for scrap. Ideally I'd have got the camera out and got a photo of his van just in case but didn't get chance.

      What would be an automated alternative? There's already a porch light controlled by a separate PIR detector. That provides a power source from mains and maybe, with a bit of surgery and an opto-isolator, a trigger signal. Combine that with a Pi, a camera and wifi - and the current Pi B already has wifi - I'd have a camera that could be paired with another Pi indoors recording onto an SD card snippets of anyone approaching the door. That would be so inconspicuous it's very unlikely to be taken in a burglary. No dependency on an external IoT service. In fact, if one of the Pis were set up as an access point they could have their own SSID and not need to be connected to my home network at all.

  8. whoosh
    WTF?

    "It has a lot of the lovely design touches.."

    Yes, like the cable sprouting out of the middle of the casing. Looks lovely, they must have spent at least no time at all "designing" that touch.

    1. Christopher Lane

      I also wondered about the cable. I personally would bring the cable inside to an internal socket so at least the little sods couldn't snip it! Except the 3m of camera attached cable is terminated with a ruddy great connector so you'd need a big hole instead of a nice cable sized hole finished with a plastic plug.

      I also agree with the comments above re criminals covering their face. However if plod have anything about them they would canvas the local area to see if any near or distant neighbours have CCTV that may have caught an image of the would be swag-wrangler making his way to and from the crime scene and match the trackie/shell suit etc.

      PS Sorry all for the double post earlier...bloody IE!!!

  9. Sauraus

    I'd be curious to know how the Nest camera compares to this: https://www.netatmo.com/en-GB/product/security/presence

    1. Mark 110 Silver badge

      That looks perfect for what I want. Particularly as it wil give me local storage which I can then sync to cloud. No subscription needed as far as I can see.

      Pricey though. 2 external and 2 internal is going to knock me back nearly £1k.

      Edit: The tags for the windows are a good idea too. Hmmm. Tempted.

    2. Mr Sceptical
      Paris Hilton

      @ Sauraus - ye Gods!

      £249.99 for a battery powered 1080P camera!! Did they price this back in 2012 when IP was ££££? Seems an absolute ripoff to me based on the specs and design.

      How exactly do you adjust the pan and tilt so you can mount anywhere other than directly infront of what you want to view? At a bare minimum a camera should allow 3 axis of movement so it can be positioned where it can see the whole required area - this only appears to have 2 axis adjustment. The shape also makes it really easy to push out of line with a stick, which you can't do with a dome camera (or decent box camera housing).

      Save your money and buy a 4 camera Hikvision kit (other makes are available) with NVR thrown in for half the price. It's pretty much plug and play.

      You just need to run the CAT5 - granted this can be the real reason why people buy these toys.

      Paris - cause she's just a good at making money from nothing too...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've gone down the "old laptop running Ubuntu server" and a few Ubiquiti UVC-G3 cameras route; not quite as cloudy and not for the amateur, but easy enough and excellent quality for a bit of surveillance. Can't recommend them highly enough.

  11. Lamont Cranston

    "And in a few years we'll wonder how we ever lived without them"

    Probably not, but I did enjoy reading about the improved user experience.

  12. tiggity Silver badge

    Streaming

    Have to quibble with the first part of teh article (before cam ness) re. streaming.

    I still buy music etc. on physical media & later convert it to a form friendly to play on digital devices..

    Given a lot of places I travel to in the UK have no mobile signal (in quite a few places none of the networks have a signal so change of mobile provider not a solution) then streaming is not a sensible option.

    Streaming is viable if you can nearly always guarantee mobile signal or wifi around - for lots of the UK that situation is just a fantasy - hint try a camping trip in some remote areas of Scotland.

    If I had a nest cam it would be by far and away the newest & most valuable bit of household tech kit & about the only think worth a burglars effort to nick!

    1. Mark 110 Silver badge

      Re: Streaming

      You would be surprised what a heroin addict will take to get their fix. All that music on physical media? All gone.

      I lost my entire CD collection (200 CDs) in a burglary 10 years ago and have been digital only since then.

  13. teebie

    'Much the same thing is happening right now at the interface of hardware and software that is the "smart home."'

    I doubt it. Even if you can persuade people that somehow there is a compelling reason to control their lights remotely, they will change their minds when they are sat in the dark for half an hour waiting for the software to update.

    At some point someone will find a way to hack into the camera by the front door and hurl abuse the people who are supposed to be delivering your shopping (or the Yodel deliveryman who was supposed to deliver shopping to someone who lives 2 streets away from you but decided to drop it at your house for some reason).

    'And in a few years we'll wonder how we ever lived without them'

    In a couple of decades future versions of Danny Wallace will appear on future versions of I Love The *0s mocking us for considering internet-enabled kettles.

    1. Andy E
      FAIL

      You mean like this: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/11/17/hackers_mac_pwning_expedition_help_ive_got_too_many_shells/ ?

      The hacker got into the chaps Mac and then had access to his Nest CCTV amongst other things. It's actually a frightening article if you have heavily invested into the IoT stuff for your home. The more you have the more they can mess with.

      Personaly I have an electric door bell that rings a chime when someone presses the buzzer. I'm in to minds over whether to revert to the good old physical door knocker.

    2. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

      Smart home

      In 1979 I was about to buy a first-ever computer, for the office-home. The two finalists were both from North-Eastern Ohio, curiously a "silicon valley" that wasn't, eh? The Ohio Scientific machine had a dealer, whom we visited in a nearby city. Either machine would have the power to do what we wanted. The Ohio Scientific dealer touted his brand's extra facility, which was, with the help of add-ons, to control lights going on and off in the office-home. For security and convenience. The demo went on for over an hour (remember, in 1979 a computer with 48K of RAM could cost $us5,000). Afterwards, my colleague and I disagreed about the value of the office-home automation facilities. I thought it had zero value; she thought it had negative value! Yet here we are almost four decades later and the smart home stuff is ubiquitous and sometimes imposed upon us, instead of toasters that just work.

      We went instead with the more standardized (for the day) option, a 64K RAM S-100 Z80 system running CP/M 2 with dual 8" double-sided, double density (1.2 MB) floppy drives. That's right, no hard drive or solid state memory. Ohio Scientific (OSI), with its proprietary system, fell off my radar after a while. Which makes sense in light of their wikipedia entry. If OSI had touted the smart home to electricity utility execs (i.e., people spending other people's money) instead of to end-users, would their founders have become early billionaires? Would I have become even crankier?

  14. ckm5

    NetGear Arlo - no wires!

    I've got a NetGear Arlo and am surprised it doesn't get more attention. The key feature is that the cameras don't need any wires at all, they are battery powered.

    I've had a bunch of other IP cameras, but really this is the best solution as you can just stick them anywhere.

  15. DougS Silver badge

    Strawman claims

    1) make a false claim that "everyone" was against something that is commonplace today

    2) equate that "something that is commonplace today" is equivalent to this new thing you're pushing

    3) imply "this new thing" will become just as commonplace

    Sorry, but digital copies of music != smart home technology. Especially subscription smart home technology that you have to pay ridiculous prices for.

  16. DougS Silver badge
    Stop

    Maybe you want to check the privacy policy first

    This camera is basically sending pictures of everyone who ever comes in your front door back to Google, which generally includes everyone who lives there, as well as all of your/their good friends. Do you really believe Google isn't going to run facial recognition algorithms to tie that to your identity and that of your kids - who no doubt have been tagged in pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or other social media via public accounts accessible to Google's search bots?

    Now their marketing/advertising engine knows where your kids live, when they are home or away, etc. Which I suppose they already know if they have Android phones, but now Google can also identify who their and your close friends are - the people who actually visit your home. Who needs the failed Facebook clone Google+ to tell them the relationships when you willingly PAY them to provide that info to them? Let's say their giant database knows Bobby's parents bought PS4 this Christmas. Thanks to your Nest cam, it knows Bobby visits regularly and is one of your son's best friends. So now the algorithm will decide to start putting more PS4 ads in front of his and your face so he'll ask for the same for his birthday...

    If I was going to buy some smart home technology, particularly a camera that sent video back to home base for processing, the LAST company I'd EVER buy from was Google or a company like Nest that Google owns. Why in the world would you want to give the largest data miner and advertiser on the planet access to video INSIDE your home? And pay them for it? You'd have to be a special kind of moron to think that's just fine.

    I wonder if a careful reading of the policy will tell you whether it STILL sends video back to home base even after your subscription lapses? So they can keep collecting data on you, even when you don't benefit from it.

  17. kmac499

    Why I won't buy a nest for my Nest

    One word anwser Revolv..

    If I can't host the smart hub of my IoT system I ain't interested. Why invest all the cash time and plain old PITA effort to install a system the supplier can kill at a moments notice. No matter how smart it is.

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