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(Pocket-lint) - Google expanded its Nest portfolio in 2021, not only with a battery doorbell and battery Nest Cam, but a smaller and cheaper wired indoor security camera too. 

Its name might be a little clunky - officially "Nest Cam (indoor, wired)" if you're going by Google's own site - but its design is anything but, plus it's got a great feature set too.

So if you're in the market for a smart security camera to watch over the inside of your home, look no further, especially if you have other Google smart home devices.

Compact design

  • Tabletop positioned or wall-mounted with two screws
  • Dimensions: 98.5 x 64 x 56.9mm / Weight: 93g
  • Operating temperature: 0 to 40°C
  • 45% recycled materials

The wired Nest Cam - which we'll just call the Nest Cam for the rest of this review, no need for all the brackets and commas - follows the same design principals as the previous Nest Cam IQ Indoor, but it's much smaller and more compact. It's also made from 45 per cent recycled material across its plastic elements - so it's more environmentally conscious compared to its predecessor.

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There's a dome-shaped base, which you can place onto some furniture, though it doubles up as a wall-mount with two screw holes for those who want to have the Nest Cam positioned in top corner of a room, for example. 

A metal hinge allows you to adjust its head - i.e. the main part of the device - to the angle desired. On the back of this head - which has a lovely matte finish - there is a power cord and a speaker, enabling features like Talk and Listen.

The front of the 2021 Nest Cam has a black plastic face, with the camera sensor positioned in the middle - as has been the case for previous models. There's a microphone above the camera lens and an LED light that sits above that, indicating when the camera is on, as well as when somebody is watching through live-view.

Pocket-lintNest Cam (indoor, wired) product shots photo 1

The smaller size makes the Nest Cam much more discreet than its predecessor. Google has paid more careful attention to the design of its home devices, like the Nest Hub Max, and the Nest Cams are no different - though the 2021 model feels like the company went one step further, offering a subtler overall finish.

Easy setup

  • Requires Google Home app
  • Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz)
  • 3m (10ft) power cable with USB-A connector

The Nest Cam is easily setup, though it is worth noting that like the other 2021 Nest devices this is achieved through the Google Home app rather than the Nest app.

You'll need a power source close by to where you want to position your Nest Cam - there's a three-metre cable supplied - as unlike the larger and more expensive Nest Cam (Indoor or Outdoor, Battery), there isn't the option to run off the built-in battery. Unlike that particular camera, this Nest Cam is not weatherproof, as its full name attests, so it's an indoor camera only.

Pocket-lintNest Cam (indoor, wired) product shots photo 9

You'll need to make sure you have a decent Wi-Fi connection too - although in the event of a power cut or Wi-Fi outage, the camera will continue to capture for an hour.

Once you decide where you want to position your Nest Cam, launch the Google Home app and you'll be taken through a step-by-step setup process. It's quick, simple and doesn't take long at all. Once that's done the camera is fully integrated with the Google Home app and you'll find the live feed in the 'Cameras' section, as well as under whichever room you have placed it in.

Smart features

  • Activity zones
  • Two-way Talk and Listen
  • Person/animal/vehicle motion detection
  • 3hr event history (without a subscription)
  • Familiar Face alerts, 30- or 60-day event history (with subscription)

The Nest Cam has a strong feature set - and while we do prefer the Nest app over the Google Home app because it's so much better and a nuisance that it can't be used here - many of those features are free to use without a subscription.

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Previously, some of the best features of the Nest Cam IQ Indoor required a Nest Aware subscription and although Familiar Face alerts - which, as it says, is all about recognition of those you know - is still locked behind the subscription, as well as more event history, there are still plenty that you can take advantage of without a subscription. 

You get person, vehicle, animal and motion alerts delivered to your smartphone. You can also open the Google Home app to scan through three hours of event history (more if you have a subscription).

There's also a two-way communication feature, allowing you to tap on the microphone icon in the Google Home app for your message to come through the speaker on your Nest Cam. You can even stream the feed to any Google Smart Display you have, like the Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max.

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We briefly mentioned the LED light on the Nest Cam - this is a solid green colour when the Nest Cam is on and recording. If a member of your Google Home family is watching the live stream, it will flash green.

There's also a Home and Away feature - something Nest devices have offered for a long time, starting with its smart thermostat. This feature uses your smartphone location to automatically turn the Nest Cam on or off. For instance: when you leave home, the camera can be set to turn on; when you come home, it can be set to turn off.

There is no way to set a schedule though, not even through Google Assistant routines. With the Nest Cam IQ Indoor, for example, you can set it to turn on at 10pm in the Nest app so it will record when you go to bed. This isn't possible in the Google Home app with no scheduling at all.

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Pocket-lintNest Cam (indoor, wired) product shots photo 17

You also miss out on a couple of other features, like built-in Google Assistant and the tracking feature offered by the Nest Cam IQ Indoor that will zoom in on an intruder and follow them around the room. That said, the Nest Cam is significantly cheaper than the Nest Cam IQ Indoor, so it's understandable.

Great performance

  • 2MP sensor, up to 1080p (1920 x 1080) at 30fps
  • 135-degree field of view, 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Night Vision, high dynamic range (HDR)
  • 6x digital zoom

The Google Nest Cam offers great video and image quality - day or night. It's not quite as sharp as the Nest Cam IQ Indoor but the colours are good thanks to high dynamic range (HDR), and there's a good field of view to see what's what.

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You can choose to record in High or Max quality - we had our camera set to High and we found this more than adequate, though you could choose Max if you're happy to use more bandwidth. There's no 4K video recording, with Full HD/1080p the max.

As mentioned, there are a couple of features missing compared to the Nest Cam IQ Indoor, so you lose quality and detail when you manually zoom in the Google Home app, rather than the camera being able to track a person automatically and zoom in without losing detail.

As the Nest Cam is able to distinguish between people, animals, vehicles and motion - like the rest of the 2021 Nest lineup - you only get notifications for things that are actually important to you, and this is true even without a Nest Aware subscription.

You can choose in the Google Home app what events you want to be notified about - we have people only as we definitely don't need to know when our cat is in the living room - and you can also set Activity Zones to further control what the camera records and what you are notified about. Overall, notifications are great with very little delay.

If you have a Nest Aware subscription, you can turn on Familiar Face Detection, which will allow the Nest Cam access to your face library and alert you more specifically when, say, Grandma is seen in the Living Room. The subscription also allows for 30-day event history (or 60-day event history in the US), which is a little more useful than the free three hours.

Verdict

This excellent indoor security camera - which is probably the best from Google yet - comes complete with a beautiful design, top image and video quality, and additional smart features too.

We'd like to see a scheduling feature added to the Google Home app for Nest Cam products, and we're hoping that in time the Google Home app will improve (at least so it's as good as the can't-be-used Nest app), but overall the features offered are executed well - whether with or without a Nest Aware subscription - and there isn't much to complain about. 

There are cheaper options in the indoor security camera market, but none of them look quite as attractive as the Nest Cam does. With a smart feature set, lovely design and great performance, the wired 2021 Nest Cam is a brilliant choice.

Also consider

Pocket-lintNest Cam (indoor, wired) alternatives photo 3

Nest Cam (Indoor or Outdoor, Battery)

This one offers all the same features as the wired camera, except it doesn't have to be wired - it can run off its built-in battery, meaning you have a little more flexibility in terms of placement. That includes outside, as the name says, so it doesn't need to be next to a power socket. It is quite a lot bigger than the wired indoor camera though, so not as discreet - we'd only use this one outside really.

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Writing by Britta O'Boyle. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published on 23 October 2021.