Nest, smart home technology from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has finally arrived on Australian shores. It may have come seven years after being around in the US, but we are still only the 13th country in the world to get Nest devices. Three Nest Devices are currently available – Nest Cam Indoor, Nest Cam Outdoor and the smoke alarm – Nest Protect. These devices are touted to work together to keep your home safe. For example, the smoke alarm will ping the camera if it detects smoke, and the cameras will automatically start recording the incident. While all this sounds exciting and futuristic, and you might want to jump onboard, there are a few things you need to be aware of.
Nest Cameras come with:
- 130-degree viewing ability
- 1080p high definition video capture
- Live video stream view on mobile app
- Automatic back up for 30 days
- Ability to differentiate between man and animal
- Auto alerts on mobile app if it detects unusual activity
- Ability to learn different sounds, e.g. dog barking, person talking etc
- Automatic alert on setting every time you leave the house
- Mains operated connection – so no need to worry about battery life.
The Nest Protect comes with:
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detections
- Slow burning and fast burning fire detections
- Mains and battery-operated models
- Ability to keep working even if the power goes off
- Auto alerts to app in case of an incident
- Daily self diagnostics of sensors, speaker, alarm, battery level and wifi
- Auto scheduling of monthly alarm tests
Additionally, the smoke alarm will also
- Speak to you instead of ringing for minor incidents (e.g. steam from bathroom)
- Communicate with other Nest alarms installed in the house, so all will start ringing or talking, irrespective of the fire location.
The Nest cameras are pretty good compared to other smart cameras in the market. They don’t give off as many false positives – they will alert you fairly accurately for human shape detection and motion. If data is unclear (a false positive), they will send a different alert message, so you don’t panic unnecessarily. Similarly, the smoke alarms are also good at detecting false positives and will not ring for cooking smoke.
However, these devices don’t communicate with other devices outside the Nest brand – for example, if you had a different smart alarm, it probably wouldn’t get your Nest cameras to start recording. Also, many features of all three Nest devices are available only if you take the monthly cloud subscription.
The upfront cost of these devices is in the higher range – with the cameras costing $319 each and the smoke alarm costing $189. You also need to watch out for these additional costs that can quickly add up.
- Installation costs – mains connections for all devices have cabling and would require an electrician for proper connections
- Monthly subscription fee ($14 per month) for the cloud connection that activates many features by connecting your smart phone to these devices.
The biggest challenge facing Nest in the Australian market is our limited broadband speed. Nest devices are designed for the US, where the Internet is much faster than down under. Every single Nest Cam in your house will be uploading data to the cloud at around 400 Kbps, increasing to 1 Mbps if it detects a threat. If you have multiple devices using the Internet and 1 Nest device trying to upload so much data, your Internet speed is quickly going to drop to a snail’s pace.
Unequal bandwidth distribution in Australia means most of us can send data to the Internet much slower than we can download it. For example, on my Telstra fixed line, I can stream Netflix videos comfortably, but if I need to upload forty-fifty HD photos, it can easily take me five-six hours. My Internet would crash if I had even one Nest camera uploading in the background too.
The Nest cameras do let you choose lower video quality(720p) for upload. But even this will cause severe strain to our Internet connection. I guess it would be better to wait for NBN to roll out successfully before investing in such Internet heavy gadgets!