Review of Smart Home Security Cameras: Canary, Nest Cam, iSpy, Tenvis and DIY!

Home Security

Home security no longer needs a massive investment of cash, huge installations and loads of mess. There are modern, contemporary solutions available at a great price. Here we walk you through a few of your options…

Canary
Canary are a relatively new entrant to the home security market, but they are definitely disrupting it.

The canary is a device which sits on a surface (table, shelf, etc) and as such it need no complex installation. The device is controlled and accessed via a mobile app with support for iPhones (find the app here) and Android.


Setup is easy, using the app you hook the Canary up to your wifi network, add members of your household to the device and then position it sensibly so the wide angle camera gets a good shot.

Videos are motion activated and streamed up to the cloud. This is important because if a thief steals the actually canary, you’ll still have all you videos. We’ve found the motion activation to be a bit sensitive, causing it to be set off by pets regularly. Recent software updates enable you to control the sensitivity of this though.

On top of high definition video with audio, the Canary also monitors the temperature, humidity and air quality of your home. This means that you should be alerted to fires also.

When there is movement in the house (and the app has detected that you are not home) you will get a notification with the associated video. You can then take action, either calling the emergency services or setting off a rather loud alarm in your home.

What’s particularly convenient, and perhaps unintended with the Canary, is that it doesn’t actually look like a camera. This means that you can leave it on a table surface and thieves won’t hide their faces from it!

Beyond the cost of the initial device, Canary offer you subscriptions which determine how long your videos are stored in their cloud service for (and hence are available in the app).

All in, for the price, the Canary is a very well equipped, useable and capable device. As it requires no physical installation into the building it is great for renters, but to be honest the usability of the app makes it great for home owners too.

Find it on Amazon here: Canary All-in-One Home Security Device

Nest Cam
Nest (now owned by Google) have been in the home automation market for some time now. Their Nest thermostat has been a massive hit in the US, and their Nest Protect Smoke Alarm has gained good traction in the UK too.

The Nest Cam is their home security offering (although it is advertised as having uses beyond security), and looks a lot like a traditional webcam.

It comes with some handy clips so that it can be mounted in various places around the home. Again, it requires a web connection and everything is accessed through their mobile apps and, a big bonus if you are already a best user, it will talk to your thermostat or smoke alarm.

Unlike the Canary it stores everything (in the cloud) rather than just motion activated clips, although it has ‘algorithms’ which determine when you need to be notified.

As with the Canary there is a storage plan which determines how long the videos are stored online for you.

Find it on Amazon here:Nest Cam Security Camera

Wifi Camera with PC Software

This option is a rather DIY approach, but is very flexible. You will need three things:

  1. A network camera, preferably with a wifi connection
  2. Software to control video recording from the camera
  3. A computer to store the videos on

Optionally you may also require some kind of cloud storage such as Dropbox, Microsoft Onedrive, Google Drive or iCloud.

First up you need to configure your camera. We found the Tenvis range acceptable cameras that produce recognisable images. However the quality is low and the colours are just all wrong. To configure the camera you first have to plug it into an ethernet connection (physical network cable), discover the camera’s IP address with the Tenvis discovery tool, log in using the web browser interface and finally connect it to your wifi network. The web interface is not particularly simple and is for the more technically minded.

You can then move your camera around the house (assuming you’re in wifi coverage) and view a live feed from your camera over your home network.

Next you need some software to control the recording of images. We use iSpy which is free and good software. You can configure it to store videos when they are motion activated and you can tweak many many parameters to do with video configuration and storage – again, not for the faint hearted but certainly a powerful tool.

This could be it with you up and running with a video recording system. However, we would recommend that you store the videos in a cloud storage device so that if your computer is corrupted or every stolen you still have your videos.

Summary
There is no real compelling case to go for the DIY solution anymore (unless you have a webcam kicking about the house).  The solutions from both Canary and Nest are very comprehensive and seriously simple to use.  We’d take either, but would recommend the Canary for the simple reason that it doesn’t actually look like a camera!




About the Author

James Harley
James lives in London and is a keen author in the consumer telecommunications space. He always has a keen eye on the latest news, offers and deals available to broadband users.

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