Nest Cam IQ Outdoor review

Updated for 2020: Nest's outside security camera long term test

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
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Update: This Nest Cam IQ Outdoor review was first published way back in 2018. But, given its still Google's flagship outdoor security camera, and we've been living with it for over two years now, we thought it was only right we update the review to reflect the latest software updates and changes to see how it compares to the current crop of security cameras on the market.

Read on for our fully updated for 2020 Nest Cam IQ Outdoor review.

Nest's top outdoor security camera went live at the end of 2017 and like its IQ Indoor brethren, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor added a bunch of advanced tracking features to the smart security camera mix, with a focus on recognising and tracking people around your property.

Being a Nest Cam, it already has a healthy smart home ecosystem to tap into, and existing Google Home users will have no bother adding the IQ Outdoor to their other devices. But while it's certainly bigger than what came before – is it better? And how does it compare to the newer models that have gone live in the two years plus that it's been on sale.

Read on to find out…

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor review

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor: Design & installation

Bigger is most certainly the word. The days of huge rectangular CCTV cameras are long gone – but the IQ Outdoor is definitely there to be noticed. Measuring in at 12.8 x 9.3 x 9.3cm and weighing 568g, it's around 40% bulkier than the non-IQ Outdoor.

Now, I've got my IQ Outdoor stuck on the side of my house where it's visible from the street – I like that it can be noticed, it adds to the feeling of security. And, let's face it, it's hardly an eyesore: the slick design of the last three Nest Cams are a far cry from the now-dated looking Dropcam-reborn original.

However, compared to newer outdoor security cameras, such as the Arlo Pro 3, TP-Link Kasa Outdoor and the Ring Spotlight, it's definitely quite a bulky design.

On the face is a LED light above the lens, which you can choose to have shining green when it's on (again, a nice noticeable feature for a potential bad-guy), and the rim will even light up a nice deterrent neon blue if you choose to talk through the camera… but more on that in a bit.

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Installation, as with any outdoor bit of tech that requires wiring to the mains, is a bit of a faff. Nest arranged a 'pro' to come round and do mine, but essentially you're looking at drilling a hole through whatever wall you need to get through in order to get it plugged in. If you've got outdoor power, that'll work, but you'll have a job hiding the 7.5m (25 feet) cable.

The cable locks into place on the camera, which in turn is attached to the base station (the bit you screw to the wall), so it's all pretty secure. It's not as flexible as the magnetic approach of the original Outdoor's base - but there is still some angle adjustment possible once it's all in place.

The IQ Outdoor has been upped to an IP66 weatherproof rating – which means -40°C to 45°C (-40°F to 113°F) operating. It shouldn't go down if the weather gets a bit rough but I have had to replace my IQ Outdoor in the past year as the power-cycle failed; most likely due to moisture getting in. Search around the forums and it seems to be quite a common complaint.

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The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor works on 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi at 2.4GHz, so make sure you've got a strong Wi-Fi signal where you're planning on putting it. It may be that you need to invest in an outdoor access-point of sorts.

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor review

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor: Features

Let's get to the meat of what the IQ Outdoor offers in features because, slightly better video features and quality aside (more on that further down), that's what you're basically paying for with Google's latest security camera. (Oh yeah, Google owns Nest – but you knew that already, right?)

First up is person alerts. Not actually a new thing for a Nest Cam but the IQ duo both offer this as standard. What this means is that you'll get a notification that a person has been seen rather than just motion detected (you can still have the latter too if you want, but it can be turned off in the device's settings).

These person alerts go further if you cough up for Nest Aware (see next section for more on Aware). With an Aware subscription you get familiar face alerts, so not only will your IQ tell you a person has been spotted, it will tell you who it is if it's someone it sees regularly, and if it's someone you've named in the app.

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The camera on the IQ Outdoor is also superior to the regular Cam Outdoor – it has a 1/2.5-inch, 8-megapixel (4K) colour sensor, with 12x digital zoom and enhance, close-up tracking view and a 130° diagonal viewing angle. Jump down to the video quality section for more on that zoom, and what it means for everyday use – but essentially it allows for a much more in-depth understanding of what's going on in a scene.

In order to deter any unwanted lingerers around your property, the IQ Outdoor features Nest's Talk and Listen HD audio tech. What this means is you can bark "Get off my land!" at any strangers you don't like the look of – and they'll hear you clearly thanks to the big speaker grill on the base of the Cam. You'll also hear their reply much more clearly as a result of an upgraded 3-microphone array. When you talk through the Cam IQ Outdoor, the RGB light around the edge will also glow blue – much as it does when using Google Assistant on the IQ Indoor.

Talking of Google's Assistant, it's not on board the Outdoor IQ – for obvious reasons – but you can control on/off switching, and viewing the Nest stream on a Chromecast-enabled device through your GA tech. Likewise with Alexa and an Echo device with a display.

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor review

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor: Nest Aware

Nest Aware, apart from the familiar face feature we mentioned above, also throws in extra smarts such as zones - so you can get specific alerts from dedicated areas – 24/7 recordings, sharing of clips, timelapses and more.

The good news here is that, in mid-2020, Google made Nest Aware a much more appealing prospect; by cutting the cost and making it so as all of your Nest devices were covered by one subscription plan. See the updated 2020 details for Nest Aware plans here.

The long and short is there's now a two-tier model: the basic Nest Aware, which offers 30 days of event video history and cover all of your Nest home security cameras for $6 per month; or Nest Aware Plus, which bumps you up to 60 days of event video history and 10 days of 24/7 video history, costing $12 per month.

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Features such as Intelligent Alerts and Activity Zones are available on both tiers, and Google also introduced event-based recordings with the new Nest Aware plans, which will act as an alternative to 24/7 recording and only start recording when the camera detects motion or sound.

One thing to be aware of though - the new Nest Aware requires that you migrate from a Nest to a Google account, if you haven’t already done so. You can, if you wish, keep your current subscription as well.

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor review

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor: The Nest app and ecosystem

You just one app is needed for all of your different bits of Nest kit; you don't need multiple apps for the spectrum of different devices.

The Nest app shows your household (with multiple users on offer, so the whole family gets control) and spilts your home by rooms, giving you control over each device based on its location in your abode. You can change the settings for your various devices, add and move devices, see your video streams, silence your alarms… anything your Nest kit can do, you can control in the app, basically.

When it comes to the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, it will just sit alongside all of your other existing Nest Cams (and the Hello Doorbell) and will ping you notifications such as motion detection, a person detected or a familiar face. The IQ Outdoor will also help to tell your Nest household when you are home or away.

Jumping back to the IQ Outdoor within the app – which is on iOS, Android and the browser – and you'll be able to tweak the settings, view live streams and recordings, zoom into areas and a whole lot more.

Nest also works with many other smart home hubs and platforms such as Yonomi and IFTTT, so you'll also be able to add plenty of automations based around what your Cam IQ see on those too.

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor: Video quality and bandwidth

Try and ignore my amazing skills (i.e. a middle-aged man struggling to keep a toddler's ball under control) and focus on the details. This is Full HD 1080p, at 30 frames/sec, H.264 encoding with HDR, in decent light – but check out the detail on those leaves on the tree, the expressions on the school youths' faces and the letters on the van that goes by. This is a far-cry from the grainy CCTV days of the 1990s. You can even see the pin-code for the padlock on my shed.

Okay, you can't… but you can see that the quality is there. As it is (or at least should be) on any decent smart security camera. Where the Nest IQ Outdoor goes further is the 12x digital zoom courtesy of a 4K image sensor. I can't actually show you that on a video, as the recording stays the same – but here's a screengrab of what happens when you do (the main view zooms in and the full-picture remains in the corner)…

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor review

Now, the cool thing is that the IQ Outdoor (like its Indoor brethren) actually zooms in and follows people around automatically – that's the Supersight feature you may have heard about. When it works it's brilliant – it's like having your own AI security guard on-point. But it's buggy as heck and you'll find plenty of forums online of Nesters complaining that the close-up tracking isn't working. A software update is incoming, apparently.

With regards to night vision, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor was a touch oversaturated, but that's probably down to there being a lot of white wall in shot, on the side of the house where I've got it mounted. Still, you can clearly see this absolute douche-bag cat (not mine) spraying his (her?) filth all over my grass. No wonder I've got dead patches on my lawn.

In terms of data usage, Nest advises that with the best video quality expected you can expect to use 400GB a month, but that's based on it being on all of the time. You'll need a 4Mbps upload speed to view Full HD videos without stuttering.

Of course, you can lower the quality, and everything is dependent on whatever else is using the Wi-Fi in your house. I've obviously got a ton of kit connected to my router but I can't say I've ever experienced anything more than minor buffering from my multiple Nest Cams, with my 60-70Mbps connection.

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
When it went live a few years back Nest's top outdoor camera was one of the stand-out performers in an ever-growing market and it's impressive that, in 2020, it remains so. Yes, it comes with a premium price tag in a time where security cameras are getting cheaper but, if you're looking for one the most feature-rich cameras on the market, tied into a superb ecosystem (with a vastly improved premium model on top), then the Cam IQ Outdoor is still a top choice.
  • Packed with intelligent tracking tech
  • 12x HDR zoom
  • Great Nest ecosystem and app
  • HD 2-way audio
  • Expensive
  • The best features cost more
  • Installation requires DIY skills
  • Supersight can be temperamental

TAGGED    security cameras    nest

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