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 more smart 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 $119.99, 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 $289.97. So why on Earth would you buy the Nest Cam IQ when you can literally order three of Amazon’s cameras for less money?
What the Amazon Cloud Cam does great
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 the former. 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.
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What the Nest Cam IQ does better
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.
Facial recognition cuts down on the number of false alarm notifications you’ll get.
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.
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.
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Which is better for you?
I’ve owned and used the Nest Cam IQ in the past, and I absolutely loved its AI-based features, particularly the facial recognition to cut down on notifications. I also like the 4K sensor for lossless zooming, and that the Cam IQ integrates with Google Assistant, which is my assistant service of choice. By all means, the Nest Cam IQ is a more capable, higher quality security camera than the Amazon Cloud Cam in just about every way.
But is it really so much better that you should spend three times the price on one? For the vast majority of people, I’d say no. 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, 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.
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