What’s Better Canary, Piper, Angee, or Nest Cam?By - 12/01/2016
Home automation is a hot topic and Canary, Piper, Nest Cam, and Angee are four of the hottest products that fall somewhere between automation and self-monitored home security. I’ve personally tried all of them except for Angee, and I live with Canary, Canary Flex, Nest Cam, and Nest Cam Outdoor.
Canary is a camera that started shipping last year. Canary Flex is the newest Canary. Piper nv is the latest version of Piper, adding night vision and other upgrades. Nest Cam is the newest version of Dropcam. And Angee is an in-progress project successfully funded on Kickstarter. All of the devices have several things in common. They all have the option to function without monthly fees, they are all easy to install and setup, and they all provide some level of home security.
Video Quality – Who is the best?
While Canary, Piper, and Angee offer many built-in features, the primary feature of all four units is video surveillance. All offer FHD video (even Dropcam thanks to a recent change). That said, as Canary Flex is an indoor/outdoor camera, I’ve compared it in greater detail to the Nest Cam Outdoor separately. You can check that out here. They all also offer night vision, the only exception being Piper, Piper nv’s predecessor. While there are subtle differences between the units, all offer a reliable experience.
Video Quality Winner?
The winner for video is Nest Cam. Nest decided to focus on one thing and they got it right. The camera offers night vision and bank-level encryption. It also has 8x zoom. However, Canary is a close second and the picture quality is truly stunning. It’s important to remember that there is so much more to picture quality than resolution. In testing the cameras available, these two options are superior to Piper. Angee is, of course, TBD.
|Buy Here||Buy Here||Buy Here||Buy Here|
|4 Stars w/|
|3.5 Stars w/|
|4 Stars w/|
|Google Play Rating||3.4 Stars||3.5 Stars||4.1 Stars||TBD|
|iTunes Rating||3 Stars||2.5 Stars||3.5 Stars||TBD|
|Home Automation||Works with Wink & IFTTT via Wink, Homekit Coming Soon||Z-Wave, AllJoyn certified, and IFTTT||Works with Nest & IFTTT, Stringify||Plans to Work with IFTTT, LIFX, Ring, Nest, Sonos, and August|
|Resolution||1080p||1080p||1080p (Dropcam is 720p)||1080p|
|Viewing Angle||147-degree (Flex is 116°)||180-degree||130-degree||350-degree, Mechanically Tracks Motion|
|Night Vision||Piper NV Only|
|Two-Way Audio||One-Way (Flex is Two-Way)|
|Door / Window Sensors|
|Battery Backup||Flex Only|
|Text or Phone Call Alerts|
|Internal Siren||Manual (Flex No Siren)||Automatic|
|Supports Motion Zones||With Nest Aware Plan|
|Auto Arm/Disarm||Rule Based Only|
|Indoor / Outdoor||Canary Indoor, Flex Indoor/Outdoor||Indoor Only||Nest Cam Outdoor Sold Separately||Inside|
|Local Storage||Download Clips, Video Sharing||Download Clips||With Nest Aware Plan||1.5GB Local Storage|
|Cloud Storage Cost||$0 – $19.99 per month||$0||$0||$0|
|Cloud Storage Amount||24 Hours – 30 Days||QTY 1000, 25 second clips||3 Hours, Snapshots Only||1GB|
|Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now|
How is video stored?
Canary video is stored in the cloud. The free plan lets you view the last 24 hours of footage recorded. It includes the option to download an unlimited amount of clips and create unlimited bookmarks. You can share video via text, email, or even to social sites like Facebook. Their paid plan is called a “Membership”. With Membership you get 30-days of video history, Incident Support, and a 2-year extended device warranty. Membership is $9.99/month/device, $14.99/month for 2-3 devices, or $19.99/month for 4 devices plus $4.99 per additional device. All plans support up to 4 cameras and one location.
Nest Cam and Dropcam footage is also stored in the cloud. Both Dropcam and Nest Cam users can review three hours of snapshot activity for free. If you prefer more, they offer two cloud storage options and both options carry a monthly fee. The base cloud package offers 10 days of rolling video storage. The pricing for the base package starts at $10 per month, or you can bump up to the 30-day plan for $30 per month.
Piper does not offer rolling video storage. Instead, Piper, and Piper nv, record video when a security event occurs and they do so for free. That’s right, free. You can save up to 1000 snippets of recorded events in the cloud at no additional charge. You can also download an unlimited amount of clips to save locally.
Last but not least, comes Angee. Angee also uses cloud storage with no monthly fee required. It uses smart triggers and video loops to record activity in a manner that is very similar to Piper. They offer a small amount (1 GB) of cloud storage with little details on how the storage offering will work. One thing that sets Angee apart is that they also offer onboard storage, which can hold about 1 hour of HD video and record footage even if the camera is offline. For those who want more storage, Angee may offer paid cloud plans in the future, details on the plans are TBD.
Video Storage Winner?
The winner is Canary. When you’re trying to review footage, being able to see rolling video is better than short clips or snapshots, giving Canary an advantage. Also, you can share an unlimited amount of video, allowing you to save footage locally. Depending upon how Angee performs when released, it may be a close second. They plan to allow you to store clips, they will also have local storage that can continue to function without power, thanks to battery backup.
Which Mobile App Reigns Supreme?
All four cameras support Android and iOS. Nest Cam and Canary also work with Apple TV.
For as long as I’ve been using it, Canary’s app has been easy to use. The app lets you view video footage as well as set alerts. It also helps you track air quality and analyze your home’s activity, though I’ve found this feature to be useless.
The only issue I’ve had with Canary’s app is the same issue I’ve had with other camera apps; occasionally there is a serious lag when viewing video from a remote location. If you’re worried about something and want to check in, this can be frustrating. Viewing video when you’re connected to Wi-Fi is much better than using 3G or 4G.
Canary’s Apple TV app allows you to view a live video stream and view recorded clips from all of your Canary cameras.
Piper’s mobile app can be used to set up modes and alerts. Alerts can be sent via text, email, or phone call. Of all the apps, Piper’s app is the most robust. This is both good and bad. When I worked for another website, I had several readers who worked as engineers. They loved Piper and loved the app. Most people aren’t engineers and they don’t think like engineers, and for them, Piper’s app can be overwhelming.
Nest Cam has consolidated all of their cameras, including Dropcam and Nest Cam Outdoor, under the Nest app. In addition to cameras, the app supports the Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect, and Nest Aware services. The Nest app also includes the option to add family members so you can share access to your Nest products with those you trust and a “home and away” feature to automatically arm and disarm your camera. However, after using the family sharing feature, I found it flawed as family member access is not customizable. For example, you can’t give your family access to just one camera nor can each family member set their own alerts. As an example, I gave my family access to a camera placed at my grandmother’s. They can now view the camera at my grandmother’s and also the camera I have at my house. There is no way to limit their access. And while they want alerts from my grandmother’s house, they don’t want alerts from my house. Unfortunately, it’s all or nothing.
Finally, although the Nest app provides an overall clean experience, the app is not impervious to the issues facing the Canary app. It also works best when streaming video from Wi-Fi and viewing video from a PC works better than using the app.
Angee plans to launch an iOS and Android app simultaneously. They will also offer a web browser experience. At this time, there is little information about the app, but they have shared an app preview. From the app, you should be able to view who is home and who is away as well as view a detailed activity timeline that includes logs from your camera and any attached sensors. Through the app, you can also set up push notifications of events, view saved video clips, live stream from your camera, and customize settings.
Mobile App Winner?
Nest Cam. The app is clean and simple to use. There is also very little latency when trying to view video and they frequently provide updates and new features. Canary is a close second on this one. Their app is also simple to use and navigate.
Smart Home = Smart Products
Canary offers several built-in automation features, like a temperature sensor, humidity sensor, and air quality sensor. You can set acceptable levels within the app and receive alerts if something falls out of range. For example, you can receive an alert if your home’s temperature rises above 80 degrees.
Canary’s focus is on security and also your home’s environment. Though Canary does not have any smart home features of its own, it can work with Wink. Right now, the two are limited to arm/disarm triggers. If you leave the house, Wink can arm Canary. If you unlock your door, it can disarm Canary, and so on. While this is useful, Canary already had a fairly good automated arm/disarm feature through geo-fencing. If you want to connect them in a more useful way, you can tie Canary’s mode changes to channels on IFTTT via a Wink shortcut. You can then connect Canary to lots of smart things, from Amazon Echo to Philips Hue.
Finally, Canary teased the launch of a HomeKit compatible camera. Details on the integration are TBD. Of course, I assumed this would be Canary Flex, but it’s not. “Canary Flex is not currently HomeKit enabled”, but Canary Plus will be, when launched. And while we’re on the topic, Flex can’t do everything Canary can do. Let’s compare the two.
|Upright Only||Upright or Wall-Mounted|
|Indoor||Indoor or Outdoor|
|One-Way Audio||Two-Way Audio|
The Piper nv has the most robust home automation offer out of the box. Like Canary, it has built-in temperature and humidity sensors and it can send you alerts if your temperature is too high or too low. Piper also has built-in Z-Wave communication. You can add compatible door/window sensors, smart switches, smart dimmers, outdoor smart switches, micro smart switches, water sensors, LED light bulbs, motion sensors, and range extenders. Piper has also announced that they will add support for Z-Wave smoke sensors and smart locks later this year. They do plan to expand further into home automation and are certainly set up to do so.
While Piper cannot control all devices directly, it can connect to several devices through IFTTT. IFTTT is a third party application that allows Piper to speak to other connected devices including Nest, Philips Hue, Amazon Echo, and even self-monitored home security systems like Scout. Using IFTTT, Piper will connect to other devices using recipes that work in an “If This Then That” format. For example, if Piper detects motion, then turn on my smart lighting. Another way to connect Piper to other devices is through the AllSeen Alliance. Piper is AllJoyn certified and can work with other certified devices including LIFX light bulbs, Musick, and LG TVs. Through this partnership, Piper is able to send alarm notifications to other certified devices. For example, you can have your LIFX lights turn on or a notification flash across your TV if Piper detects an event.
Dropcam and Nest Cam, as standalone units, are not set up for home automation. However, they are such popular devices that they are compatible with a number of other systems, such as Works with Nest. Through Works with Nest, the cameras can connect to other compatible devices for added protection. They can also connect to the Nest Protect and the Nest Learning thermostat.
Nest Cam has a slight advantage over Dropcam, as it also has its own IFTTT channel. The channel works just like Piper’s and you can currently connect the camera to tons of other internet connected devices and services.
Angee is also planning to combine home security with home automation. They plan to launch their own IFTTT channel and they sell security tags. Tags are sensors that can be placed to monitor for activity. They can monitor for motion as well as open/close movement. For example, they can let you know when someone enters your front door. The camera will also include both temperature and humidity sensors.
Finally, Angee has plans to be an Amazon Echo-like personal assistant. In theory, you should be able to ask what time your child came home, for a weather update, or even command smart devices using your voice. During their initial campaign, they also claimed integration with LIFX, Ring, Nest, Sonos, and August. Will this actually happen? How will it work? I don’t know. I’ve reached out to the founder of Angee for an update, stay tuned.
Smart Home Winner?
The winner is Piper. The ability to connect to smart home devices directly is useful, but the ability for it to connect to an open/close sensor is important for home security. From a smart home perspective, the options are rather vast, thanks to IFTTT and AllJoyn Certification. However, Nest is clearly a close runner-up and if Angee delivers as promised, they would absolutely get a nod in this department.
While not full-blown home security systems, all four systems can be used for self-monitored security. They all offer some form of motion detection with alerts sent directly to a smartphone. Then, when an alert is received, all four systems allow you to log-in to visually confirm the incident via a mobile app.
Canary has a built-in siren that can reach 100db to warn intruders, as well as a 3-axis accelerometer which will notify you if someone has tried to tamper with or move your Canary device (although the latter feature has never worked for me). The biggest downside to Canary’s siren is that it’s not automatic. You must catch someone in the act and press the siren button in order for the feature to work. And like a real home security system, it has multiple modes. It can sense when you are home or away and can change its settings accordingly.
Finally, with a Membership, Canary offers Incident Support. With Incident Support, they will assign a team member to help you sort through your video history to find evidence if your home is the victim of a burglary.
Canary Flex offers a new level of home security as it can be powered using a battery and can work inside or outside. It also has the option for 4G wireless so that you can monitor areas that do not have WiFi access. They also sell several accessories that will allow you to monitor anywhere. With the right accessory, you can hang it from a tree, put it in a cabinet, place it on a porch, or set it on a table.
Like Canary, Piper has multiple modes. You can set rules for home, away, or even vacation. It also has a built-in siren that will sound automatically if motion is detected. As mentioned above, Piper will record events to the cloud for free. It can also connect to open/close sensors to monitor entryways and windows as well as an external motion sensor. Its built-in temperature sensor can be set to send alerts if your home’s temperature gets too high, like in the event of a fire.
Dropcam and Nest Cam are only for video surveillance. They have built-in motion and sound detectors as well as two-way audio, but the motion detector is too sensitive to work as a home security device, unless you are willing to pay.
A Nest Aware subscription adds home security intelligence. It can add video history, better alerts, activity zones, person alerts, and the ability to create and save video clips. When you pay for Nest Aware, you are granted access to extra compute power, which is needed to run algorithms. These algorithms are used to intelligently decide which motion and sound events are important, and which are not. It can do this through face detection and depth sensing. Their newest feature, Sightline, also makes it incredibly easy to review video history from the mobile app. You can literally scroll through hours of footage and review snapshots at a glance. Finally, Nest offers an outdoor camera that can be controlled using the same app.
Angee is more than a camera, as it can connect to tags that help monitor entryways and windows. But, it also has some truly unique features that set it apart from the other options.
- 360° Rotation – Angee is part robot. It can automatically track motion and mechanically turn to follow activity.
- Automatic Arm/Disarm – Obviously, Angee isn’t the only camera with this feature, but the approach is unique. Angee uses a two-step authentication process. It doesn’t just rely on your smartphone; it also uses voice recognition.
- Angee offers activity zones for free. The camera includes 4 activity zones that you can use to designate what areas should be monitored and what areas should be ignored.
- Battery backup. Piper also has battery backup, but Angee’s approach is unique. If Angee loses power, it will continue to record footage to local storage and can run on battery power for approximately 8-10 hours.
Home Security Winner?
Piper is the winner because it can connect to open/close sensors and motion sensors backed by free video recording. However, Piper has one major flaw – it can’t automatically arm and disarm itself based upon your presence, at least not without help from something like Life360. Assuming Angee pulls through as promised, it also looks promising. It uses tags, voice recognition, and can mechanically track an intruder.
Warranty and Support
Canary units ship with a 1-year warranty, unless you upgrade to a Membership which offers a 2-year extended device warranty. They also offer a 60-day risk-free trial. If you don’t like it after 60 days, send it back for a full refund.
Piper can be returned within 30 days. They offer several troubleshooting documents on their site as well as an email address for additional support.
Dropcam and Nest Cam both ship with a 1-year “replace or repair” parts warranty.
Angee? I’m not sure.
Canary. Not only does Canary offer a warranty, but they are so certain that you will love your camera that they are willing to let you live with it for 60 days.
Buy Them and Overall Winner
If you don’t plan to buy a home security system, Piper offers the best all-in-one security set up. However, as far as home security cameras go, Canary and Nest are the best. For me, Canary has the edge. They both have excellent video quality, automatic arm/disarm, and some home automation. However, Canary offers more storage for free. And the free storage includes videos, not snapshots. Canary Flex allows you to monitor outdoors, has optional battery power, and you can even add 4G wireless. However, if you are willing to pay for Nest Aware, Nest Cam has the advantage. Angee also looks pretty amazing, but until I test it and it’s a reality; I can’t recommend it.
You can purchase Piper for $199 with free shipping Here.
You can purchase the Piper nv for $279.99 with free shipping on Amazon.
You can purchase Dropcam for $199.99 with free shipping Here.
You can purchase Nest Cam for $182.45 Here.
You can purchase Angee for $312 on Indiegogo.
Last Updated 12/1/2016
Canary and Nest Cam offer Apple TV support.
Read Previous Updates
08/18/2015 Piper supports water sensors.
01/02/2016 Added Nest Cam and more information on Canary as well as updated ratings.
01/15/2016 Added Piper support for smoke sensor, motion sensor, and door locks.
01/21/2016 Piper added AllJoyn Certification
03/10/2016 Nest now supports family access and geo-fencing.
03/31/2016 Nest has an IFTTT channel and also offers email alerts.
04/27/2016 Canary offers video sharing.
05/17/2016 Canary has added temperature, humidity, power lost, and air quality alerts.
05/19/2016 Added Angee
6/20/2016 Canary announces Homekit and Piper adds compatibility with the Fibaro motion sensor
7/28/2016 Nest Outdoor Camera and Person Alerts Added
9/8/2016 Nest adds Sightline, Outdoor Camera, Personal Alerts, and Snapshots
9/20/2016 Added Canary Flex
11/26/2016 Added Family Access Test Results
12/1/2016 Canary and Nest Cam offer Apple TV support