Power in numbers

Amazon Cloud Cam

Intelligent security

Nest Cam IQ

The Cloud Cam may not be as advanced as the Nest Cam IQ, but it's significantly cheaper and still offers all the essentials most users would expect from a home security camera like night vision and motion alerts. Even with a free account, you can still access the last 24 hours of activity footage.

$120 at Amazon

Pros

  • Extremely affordable
  • Can differentiate human from animals and other objects
  • Integrates well with other Amazon products

Cons

  • No facial recognition
  • No continuous recording

The Cam IQ is one of the best security cameras money can buy, with excellent facial recognition, a sharp 4K sensor, and continuous recording. It's better than the Cloud Cam in almost every way, but for nearly three times the price, it isn't necessarily a better value for most people.

$299 at Nest

Pros

  • 4K sensor with facial recognition
  • Available in indoor and outdoor models
  • Google Assistant built in

Cons

  • Disproportionately expensive
  • Doesn't work well with Amazon devices

It seems like every brand is trying its hand at the connected security camera game these days, from longtime accessory brands like Belkin and Logitech to smarter home-focused companies like Nest, and now, even Amazon. The new Amazon Cloud Cam offers many of the same features you'll find on industry-leading smart cameras, all at a much more affordable price.

At just $120, the Amazon Cloud Cam costs less than half the price of the popular Nest Cam IQ, which runs a pricey $299. In fact, Amazon bundles the cameras together at a discount, meaning you can grab three Cloud Cams for only $290. So why on Earth would you buy the Nest Cam IQ when you can literally order three of Amazon's cameras for less money?

AI versus affordability

Don't let the cheap price fool you, the Cloud Cam is a very capable security camera. It records 1080p video, day or night thanks to its built-in night vision, and features two-way audio so that you can remotely talk to any guests or unwanted intruders. With a free account, you can review the last 24 hours of activity from the camera — it doesn't record continuously, but it'll record clips any time it detects motion within its wide-angle view.

$120 is a steal for any smart security camera, let alone one this powerful.

With a paid subscription, you can get access to up to 30 days of video history, as well as person detection; in other words, the Cloud Cam is smart enough to be able to differentiate a person from, say, a dog or cat, and will only notify you of human activity. If the Cloud Cam covers more ground than you care to see, though, you can also set up Zones so that you're only alerted of motion within specific regions.

Even though the Cloud Cam doesn't continuously record, you can still access the live feed at any time through the Cloud Cam app. Of course, being an Amazon product, the Cloud Cam integrates with Alexa-powered devices as well. You can use Alexa to display your live feed directly on your Fire TV, Fire Tablet, Echo Show, or Echo Spot. If there's one downside, it's that the Amazon Cloud Cam is only available in the U.S. right now, whereas the Nest Cam IQ is sold in many countries, including the U.S.

Amazon Cloud Cam Nest Cam IQ
Camera 1080p 1080p
Field of view 120 degrees 130 degrees
Wi-Fi 802.11g/n 802.1ac
Live view Yes Yes
Continuous recording No Yes
Face recognition No Yes
Subscriptions Start at $7/mo Start at $5/mo

Just like the Cloud Cam, the Nest Cam IQ offers 1080p video with night vision and two-way audio, but it actually uses a 4K sensor to allow you to losslessly zoom into points of interest within the camera's field of view. This allows you to retain clarity when punching into a subject, which can be especially helpful when trying to identify the face of an unwanted intruder.

Speaking of faces, the Cam IQ not only has person detection like the Cloud Cam, but it features facial recognition as well, able to identify specific people and only alert you to the presence of unknown faces. This helps cut down on the number of notifications you'll get from the Cam IQ, as opposed to the Cloud Cam which notifies you of any person detected — including yourself.

Facial recognition cuts down on the number of false alarm notifications you'll get.

With a paid subscription (which starts out at only $5 a month or $50 per year), you can also access 24/7 continuous video recording and between 5- and 30-day surveillance history. As smart as these connected cameras can be, they can sometimes miss things you might have wanted to see, so a full video stream of the last 24 hours can be useful to have. Like the Cloud Cam, you can also set up Activity Zones to only monitor specific areas within the camera's view, and the Nest Aware subscription service can even automatically create zones if it detects doors.

The Nest Cam IQ isn't compatible with Amazon's Alexa service, but it does work with Google Assistant, allowing you to cast your Cam IQ's video stream to a Chromecast-enabled device. On the flip side, it also has Google Assistant built in, allowing you to use the Cam IQ as a sort of Google Home through its included speaker.

The Nest Cam IQ is undeniably better than the Cloud Cam, but is it really so much better that you should spend three times the price on one? For the vast majority of people, probably not. The main idea behind connected cameras is security, and in that respect, no amount of AI features can beat out simply having more cameras and covering more ground. Even for those who are deeply entrenched in Nest's ecosystem of thermostats, video doorbells, smoke alarms, and home security systems, you're probably better off just downloading one more app and picking up a few Cloud Cams — even if you only need one, you'll save nearly $200 by going with Amazon's offering.

Power in numbers

Amazon Cloud Cam

Get the security of multiple cameras

For the price of a single Cam IQ, you can buy three Cloud Cams in a bundle and cover more ground around your home. With everything from night vision to two-way audio built in, the Cloud Cam has more than enough features for most people.

Intelligent security

Nest Cam IQ

For those who want the best of the best

It may be overkill for most people, but the Cam IQ's ability to detect and announce whose face it's seeing can be incredibly useful. Combine that with a tack-sharp 4K sensor and continuous recording, and this is easily one of the best smart security cameras around.

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