I used a lot of security cameras over the last three years, and I realized that there are two features I need more than anything else: Google Home integration and privacy. A lot of cameras now integrate with Google's smart home ecosystem, but they tend to have iffy security practices to say the least — just look at what Eufy got up to. So I didn't want to use any unknown Chinese brand even though these security cameras usually offer a decent feature-set and a great value.
That left major brands, and for a while, I was content with Ubiquiti's cameras. I liked the fact that the data was stored locally on a UniFi Dream Machine Pro, and Ubiquiti's hardware was fantastic. UniFi Protect — the service used to monitor cameras and get real-time alerts — had a lot going for it as well, and the only issue was that these cameras wouldn't integrate with Google Home.
Ultimately, I just decided to buy a Nest Cam Outdoor. I bought the battery-powered model 18 months ago, and it has been great. It easily ties into Google Home, shows a live feed on all the Nest Hub devices in my home, and I don't have any qualms about the safety of the data — this is Google, after all. Basically, the Nest Cam is the only security camera I trust to work reliably and deliver the features I want, and it's now on sale for $119, $60 off its usual list price.
The Nest Cam Outdoor holds up incredibly well in daily use, and you can easily view the security camera's footage from anywhere. It ties into Google Home seamlessly, lets you configure activity zones, automatically knows the difference between a person, animals, and vehicles passing by. The best part is that this particular version can be used indoors or outdoors, and as it runs off a battery, installation is a breeze.
The Nest Cam Outdoor is pretty versatile; you can use it indoors or outdoors, and run it off the internal battery or hook it up to a power source. It's this versatility that makes it a great option for my own use case, and I have one mounted outside the front door and another inside the house. The only quibble I have with the camera is the battery life; Google says you get six months between charges, but I had to charge my camera once a month on average.
The other annoyance with the Nest Cam Outdoor is that you need to buy Google's Nest Aware to take full advantage of the hardware. The free plan hobbles the camera significantly, offering just three hours of video — making it entirely pointless. So you'll need to shell out $80 a year or $8 a month. The upside is that it's a flat fee that covers all security cameras and doorbells, and while I hate having to pay a fee to access the footage from my own camera, the Nest Cam at least has all the features I want, and is secure.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.