back to article You've been baffled by its smart thermostat. Now strap in for Nest's IoT doorbell, alarm gear

Nest unveiled a new outdoor camera, doorbell and security system this morning in San Francisco. We were at the launch event and afterwards wandered over to a demo area, where we got to try them out first hand and flood willing Nest employees with questions. Here's what we learned. The doorbell needs a wired connection This …

  1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Big Brother

    "If you want 24/7 monitoring, that's extra"

    Actually, it's included.

    But not in the way you think.

    1. hellwig Silver badge

      Re: "If you want 24/7 monitoring, that's extra"

      We found some great deals you might like on:

      - 55-inch 4K HDR TVs

      - 17" Laptops

      - Jewelry

      - Grandma's ashes

  2. handleoclast Silver badge
    Coat

    It's cheaper,

    since this will sell mainly in the US, to hire an illegal Mexican immigrant. No wires. Good facial recognition. Deters burglars by simulating a human presence (the people who hire illegal immigrants rarely regard them as human beings, so would regard it as a simulation).

    1. Robert Moore
      Coat

      Re: It's cheaper,

      It's cheaper,

      since this will sell mainly in the US, to hire an illegal Mexican immigrant.

      But what if I hire one of these "Bad Hombres" I keep hearing about?

      1. Anonymous Blowhard

        Re: It's cheaper,

        "But what if I hire one of these "Bad Hombres" I keep hearing about?"

        I think you'll find they're the best kind of deterrent against intruders...

    2. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: It's cheaper,

      Yes, but I want a security system that's automatic, not Manuel-ly operated.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: It's cheaper,

        Nah, that's the European variant. He's from Barcelona...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's cheaper,

        Qué?

  3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Erm, is this the same Nest who got tired of one of their old devices, stopped supporting it, and also effectively remote disabled it. Apparently Google were too poor to afford to keep a server running. And after all, only a small number of our users were affected...

    I'm happy to deal with Google. They've done some great stuff. Just don't ask me to trust them.

    1. oldenoughtoknowbetter

      Yes it is, which is why Nest is firmly on my "Never buy anything from them" list.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      "I'm happy to deal with Google. They've done some great stuff. Just don't ask me to trust them."

      Exactly. Just because I use a service, use it every day, doesn't mean I would rely on it.

  4. martinusher Silver badge

    They haven't quite figured this out

    Standard old school doorbells have power on them all the time; the power comes from a transformer, through the electromechanical doorbell itself then off to the push button. The push button contacts are connected in parallel with a small bulb which illuminates the doorbell button. Its a very old setup, dating from at least the 1920s, and may bell be the first use ever of phantom power on a signalling circuit outside of telephony.

    So that's the battery charging taken care of. No wait ... lets get everyone to rewire their doorbells.

    The other problem stems from sticking a couple of hundred dollars' worth of kit on the wall beside the front door. It might survive OK in an affluent Californian neighborhood but in the inner city area of Manchester I used to live in it would have a life expectancy of the order of minutes. (So what if its got no resale value? It looks expensive....)

    1. Rallicat

      Re: They haven't quite figured this out

      Gotta see what the full kit-package looks like.

      I recently got the Ring Pro and -for the most part- they included the stuff you need to wire it in, even a replacement power supply transformer for the consumer unit.

      Nest will need to 'think of everything' to avoid having to buy lots of extra stuff to get through installation.

      As for theft, Ring have a measure of theft 'insurance' in that -depending on the circumstances, they /say/ they'll replace it if it's stolen. Nest need to match/beat the service as well as the specs.

      1. missingegg

        Re: They haven't quite figured this out

        RIng appears to live up to their promise: my best friend has a Ring that was stolen, and Ring supplied a replacement without any hassle.

  5. Ian47

    Why are not more devices getting their power from PoE? Things like network video cameras for security have been PoE for ages. Or power induction like the charging pads for latest fondleslab phones, but focused such that you can place the power on one side and the device on the other.

    Batteries just seems like such an odd choice here when there are existing solutions in the market.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Batteries just seems like such an odd choice here when there are existing solutions in the market.

      Batteries keep working after the burglar's been in the meter cupboard and shut the power off. Whether that's true of the whole Nest security system the article isn't clear. But in the UK, where most houses built over the past thirty plus years have externally accessible and unsecured electricity meter cabinets (with a master switch), any effective alarm needs full battery back up for a considerable time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Any good alarm system has backup batteries to cope with power outages - but don't rely on them alone to run - and keeps them charged when power is available.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Any good alarm system has backup batteries to cope with power outages

          That's true. But will this Nest system be FULLY battery backed up for ALL sensors, for the wireless hub, for the controller, for a cellular modem? I'm guessing that's a lot more power than the trivial amounts required to keep a current low tech wired alarm "live", which means that the battery backup needs to be a lot bigger, or has a shorter period of cover.

      2. Ronald van Raaij

        And of course it is much more difficult to jam a wireless signal! So a burglar cannot enter unseen. Oh Walt a sec...

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "But in the UK, where most houses built over the past thirty plus years have externally accessible and unsecured electricity meter cabinets (with a master switch),"

        Really? Any passing chav can turn off the whole house' power and run? Sounds like a recipe for a much worse version of Knock Down Ginger. My meter is on the outside, but the CU and master switch are on the inside.

        1. handleoclast Silver badge

          Knock Down Ginger

          @John Brown (no body)

          My meter, like yours, is on the outside and with no master switch.

          However, my meter (and I'm damned sure yours too) is adjacent to a 90A fuse in the same cabinet. A fuse is not a master switch, but yanking it out has the same effect.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Because PoE means:

      1) A thick Ethernet cable, which may not be easy to lay especially in older buildings

      2) A more expensive switch, or PoE injectors placed somewhere.

      Last time I replaced the doorbell system I chose a system able to work on two wires of the older system - including power. I don't have HD video and audio, but I guess I won't see Taylor Swift performing in front of it anytime soon...

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        on the 2 lower end ring video door bell they give the choice of battery and door bell wired power.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        but I guess I won't see Taylor Swift performing in front of it anytime soon...

        What if Tove Lo turned up and gave a brief flash? You'd miss it all.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why no PoE?

      Thick cables compared to Bellwire / or batteries, don't bend very well.

      Will need people to master terminating the cables into 8P8C plugs or be able to buy totally random sized cables and spool up longer ones cables (it buying you'll need to drill / fill 12mm holes everywhere)

      Need suitable switch / router (don't be fooled, many don't support PoE across all ports at full draw).

    4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Why are not more devices getting their power from PoE?

      Because very few homes have POE switches. And POE injecters (in general) are bulky and suck power out of all proportion to their actual use..

      And power induction is not only very short range but also disrupted by most of the materials that go into modern walls.. Brick? Forget it. Likewise modern-spec plasterboard (especially the variant that has a silver-foil liner to help minimise heat loss).

      Yes - you can get longer-range variants but they still suffer from needing to be used in free air rather than through a wall.

      Batteries just seems like such an odd choice here when there are existing solutions in the market.

      Batteries are a tried and tested technology that works in (pretty much every) situation. Inductive power or POE - not so much.

  6. Tim99 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    "Nest Connect – which is basically Google"

    Google and home security, what could possibly go wrong?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Nest Connect – which is basically Google"

      That statement is mandated by design by the designer.

  7. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Holmes

    Who is getting robbed?

    $1000 up front + $480 a year with a best-case scenario of not having to move wiring. With the typical Google project life expectancy, that's $2440 every 3 years for service. That doesn't compare well to paying for rare burglaries out of pocket, buying insurance, or GTFO of a bad place with a high rate of burglaries. It also doesn't compare well to a few Axis network cameras, UPS, PoE router, and a hidden network drive that would have no monthly fees and a life expectancy of 10 to 20 years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who is getting robbed?

      Yes, but you're talking about sane, considered options, that's not the market Google is aiming for.

      They're after the market that will voluntarily install Google Homeview (one that the Germans did earlier, but in a different way) and post their goodies for all to see on Facebook à la Kim Kardashian and is then surprised they eventually get robbed.

      1 - Google's mainstay is the collection and aggregation of personal data, and you now install AND a camera AND detectors in your home. I'm surprised they don't mandate the use of Android yet so they can track you further, but give it time.

      2 - it's wireless, FFS. Take a jammer of kill the power and detection and signalling facilities are gone. I want an alarm to also work with criminals who have a basic understanding of technology.

      3 - yeah, wireless cameras. It's good that we take care of safety so burglars can work out from outside when to hit you best and where. Although, I think that may be the one thing Google may address, because they want to be the only one spying on you. After all, that's how they make their living.

      So no thanks. I know about security, and this definitely ain't it.

  8. tom dial Silver badge

    Wireless security

    These two words taken together describe a null concept.

    Nothing electrical, let alone wireless, will grant access to my home, ever. That depends on massy mechanical thingies with physical keys.

    Mossback that I am, I also do not understand the need some perceive to control from a distance these things, as well of thermostats, light switches, and other things I use in the house and only when I am in the house.

    1. DanceMan

      Re: Wireless security

      "Nothing electrical, let alone wireless, will grant access to my home, ever."

      Look around right now at all the places suffering from lack of electrical power due to weather events or earthquakes. I agree, a pure physical lock is better.

    2. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

      Re: Wireless security @ Tom

      I'm similarly minded regarding my own home. Nothing electrical ever, wireless less often than that and something with Google fingerprints on it? Bwahahahahahaha!

      I do understand the need some perceive though. If you think about the use case of an air bnb or warmshowers host for example. Being able to remotely set up one time access codes is a desire I can understand.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More of this IoT Shit? Thanks for the Spam again!

    El Reg slates both sloppy IoT security and infinite Google 'Slurp', so why promote Nest? At least review more gaming netbooks and desktops first, before promoting Google! Sorry to be blunt, but c'mon please Reg team!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don’t disarm when unlocking the door

    Don’t disarm when unlocking the door. You should get inside and close the door before disarming. If not then it encourages the violent (burglars for high end properties, rapists, etc) to hide behind you and rush you when you open the door. Also another reason to have a secondary panic alarm unset point on tag or a duress code on a pin code system.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don’t disarm when unlocking the door

      Yes, that happens with my neighbors - every time they enter the house the alarm fires offs before they disable it (the installers may have a strange idea of delays, or people can't disarm and alarm in time). It happens so frequently that alarms are now useless - every time one goes off you no longer care.

    2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Don’t disarm when unlocking the door

      Don’t disarm when unlocking the door. You should get inside and close the door before disarming. If not then it encourages the violent (burglars for high end properties, rapists, etc) to hide behind you and rush you when you open the door.

      The said 'violent' who are waiting for hours in the bushes will decide not to jump you based on when you switch your alarm off?

  11. bazza Silver badge

    Does This Count as CCTV?

    If I've read this right there's a camera on the door bell that is operating all the time, performing facial recognition, reporting visitors back to you.

    That's a CCTV system. And you'd have to put up a sign saying so to be able to legally use it in the UK.

    Overpriced Tat?

    I currently have a Nest thermostat. I ditched it's schedule learning as soon as the weather started turning cold and the heating started coming on at weird times of the day. Useless. Now it's just a glorified way of switching on the heating before I set off from the airport to come home.

    None of this Stuff Is Going to Work Whilst we Build Houses this Way

    The need for a low voltage wire was interesting. It betrays a wider problem in the IoT space; power. Almost everything I've tried has been severely hampered by being battery powered. Radiator valves, burglar alarm sensors, you name it. They would all work a lot better if they could be supplied with 12VDC from a mains powered source.

    None of this Stuff is Going to Work Whilst we Write Software this Way

    Of the stuff I have that is mains powered, it's then let down by the software. Frankly, it's all a bit shit. Burglar alarms, power switches; it's all pretty rubbish in some way.

    The one thing about Nest is that their software is reasonably OK, apart from the auto-scheduling. But on the whole the IoT world just doesn't understand software, and what it's got to do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does This Count as CCTV?

      That's a CCTV system. And you'd have to put up a sign saying so to be able to legally use it in the UK.

      Not true. The guidance from the Surveillance Camera Commissioner (yes, there is such an individual, and probably more than a few supporting oiks) is that domestic users should consider putting up notices, if their CCTV covers public spaces. That's only a recommendation. And if the CCTV doesn't cover public spaces, then even that doesn't apply - you have to consider the balance between informing people, and any deterrent effect on criminals. I'd suggest that genuinely incidental "overlap" coverage of public spaces would not count for the purposes, if you intentionally have a camera on the public highway outside your house you are recommended to have a sign. But you'd be technically compliant with a tiny sign adjacent to your doorbell that couldn't be seen from the street.

      The SCC guidelines are simple, clearly written guidance that's largely common sense. I'm not sure why its clearly written and sensible, those aren't attributes normally associated with government, but that's another matter

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Does This Count as CCTV?

        And if the CCTV doesn't cover public spaces

        Highly unlikely if it's mounted next to your front door, facing outwards. Yes, on larger properties, there may well be walls or greenery blocking the view of the public right of way, but in most British homes, putting a camera on the front door *will* have public spaces in view.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Does This Count as CCTV?

          putting a camera on the front door *will* have public spaces in view

          Big deal. You have two options: Ignore the recommendation for a sign on the basis that is not a legal requirement, or go and buy a sign, for £3.20 from Screwfix.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Nest Secure has to sit on a surface

    Cats

    Says it all really.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: The Nest Secure has to sit on a surface

      At least you can do away with the pot-plant to hide it behind, if it's under a cats bum. And any burglar would have to fight past teeth and claws to disable it.

      From experience of my own feline lord and master I would agree a nice warm box on a nice flat surface will just become a cat perch, especially now the weather is on the turn colder. At least until it gets full of fluff and hair and stops working having overheated.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: The Nest Secure has to sit on a surface

        And any burglar would have to fight past teeth and claws to disable it.

        Not in my house. The timid ones would run away and the permanently-hungry ones will just beg for food..

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

          Re: The Nest Secure has to sit on a surface

          The cats or the burglars?

          In our house, so far this week the little black predator has brought in a squirrel, a large rat and various small mice. Basically the only local rodentia he hasn't gifted us are any Pokémon that may still be around from Go...

          And yes he does get fed twice a day by his humble minions.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: The Nest Secure has to sit on a surface

      Cats

      Especially if it's warmer than ambient..(and once 7kg of cat is enveloping it, it will get warmer than ambient.. a lot warmer.)

  13. Stephen Wilkinson

    My front door has frosted (well, wavy rather than clear) glass - I can see who it is without opening the door :)

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      And I bet your frosted door doesn't come with a hardcoded default password that lets anyone in!

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        And I bet your frosted door doesn't come with a hardcoded default password that lets anyone in!

        Never underestimate the power of a well-placed half-brick..

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      It's probably due to having lived my entire life in flats - where the windows, several storeys up are hardly a security concern - but the idea of glass on my front door makes me remarkably uneasy. It kinda seems to declare "I'm willing to bet nobody will ever try to break in here"...

    3. Warm Braw Silver badge

      I got the upgrade to fully transparent without having to pay a monthly fee.

      Also, I find that people can rap smartly on it to attract my attention. Of course, if I'm away from the house, I can't hear, but my non-presence is nevertheless communicated wirelessly to any disappointed visitor.

  14. rmason Silver badge

    Hang on.

    Have I got this correct?

    It's a doorbell, and you have to pay extra for an add on bit so it *makes an audible noise*?

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Hang on.

      ... but.. it's internet!

  15. Funkymunky

    Its all gone to the dogs

    Hmmmm, high cost of IOT allegedly good stuff vs the dog food for my two 40kg dogs..

    Downsides of IOT well known. Downsides of the dogs...well, someone has to pick up the huge amounts of crap & they fart occasionally.

    Very reliable, get free 24/7 monitoring, regular outer perimeter patrolling (including under the hedge where those invading cat bastards hang out) & very reliable face/smell yer bum detection.

    1. rmason Silver badge

      Re: Its all gone to the dogs

      @Funkymunky

      Also; cuddles.

      I bet this nest system doesn't do that.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Its all gone to the dogs

      That's what Google and everyone else are missing.

      We don't want facial recognition. Too intrusive, and able to be used on everyone walking past the detector. We want a system where only the person asking for admittance is scanned. So what better than a little electronic nose on a telescoping arm, which comes out of a recess in the wall and smells the visitors bum?

      This idea is genius! We could call it the iPong.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Its all gone to the dogs

      Downsides of the dogs...well, someone has to pick up the huge amounts of crap & they fart occasionally.

      s/occasionally/whenever he manages to persuade someone to give him something that upsets his delicate[1] stomach/* g

      where those invading cat bastards hang out

      No - that's the job of the home cat army. Which (according to the noises Senior Female was making at an intruder yesterday) acts as a Summon Monster spell for the dog to come and see what the Boss wants him to chase off..

      [1] He's a rescue. If he isn't fed a specific diet, unfortunate things happen..

  16. Blitheringeejit
    Facepalm

    Fundamental design flaw

    The thing about doors and people is, the people who stand outside the doors tend to be of varying height. So when you combine camera and push-button, you end up seeing a tall visitor's midriff instead of their face - or you put the bell so high that smaller kids can't reach it at all, or if they can, they can't get their face high enough for you to see anything more than a disembodied waving hand.

    And given the price. it would probably be cheaper to employ a full-time butler to answer the bloody door in the first place.

  17. gnarlymarley

    Ummmmmm, there is the possibility that network latency or dropped packets could factor in here. Dropped packets coupled with that latency mean TCP retries and that equates to someone leaving the door before you even know about the doorbell ringing.

  18. Cuddles Silver badge

    "an impressive product"

    In the same paragraph:

    "you couldn't see someone's face if they were close to the door"

    "it keeps not recognizing the same person"

    "assuming the pricing isn't too nuts"

    A doorbell with a camera that can't see the people pressing it, facial recognition that can't recognise faces, and whatever the price will certainly cost more than the fiver or so for a regular doorbell. I'm failing to see exactly what is impressive about this product.

  19. john.jones.name

    Nest Connect -> Bridge for Nest Detect as its a Zigbee

    Nest really... Really ?

    basically they have announced a zigbee bridge... with zigbee motion detectors these have been on the market for some time the nest addition is the delayed/silencing using a button which I can see anyone tripping it and seeing the light then accidently silencing.

    personally I think they need some external design and testing help

    (I'm happy to help them for a small fee)

    http://john.jones.name

  20. Lee D Silver badge

    £20 box off Amazon (GPS tracker/vehicle locator/auto-fuel-cut-off/etc. box - basically GPS + relays connected to GSM).

    One giffgaff SIM card on minimum payment (£5/month) so they don't shut it off.

    Wire into existing doorbell.

    Done.

    Sure, not a "commercial" product, but are you honestly telling me that it costs thousands of dollars to package that up in a neat box that just plugs in?

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