Nest Cam Outdoor Unboxing & Setup

Nest is a well known name in Smart Home technology, but so far we've not had any of their products in the New Home Tricks house.  All that's about to change, as we've now installed the Nest Cam Outdoor!  Here I take you through the unboxing and setup process.

Security is one of the more popular elements of Smart Home Technology.  Protecting your home is something many of us want to do.  Perhaps the easiest way to do this is through the use of a 'CCTV' camera.  The term 'CCTV' is something of a misnomer, since we're not really talking about a 'circuit' here.  Today's typical Smart Home cameras aren't wired, instead using WiFi networking, apps, and other technology to provide you video coverage in and around your home.

The Nest Cam Outdoor provides one such example of a Smart Home camera.  Designed for use outside the home, the Nest Cam Outdoor offers HD 1080P video coverage wherever you need it.  The app gives you motion detection alerts.  Also, if you subscribe to the cloud video recording feature, you can go back and review what's happened in the past.

Why Nest and not Ring?  As you'll be aware if you've read my previous articles, we have the Ring Video Doorbell Pro installed at our front gate.  Ring make their own range of Smart Home cameras.  Well, I guess the main reason is for comparison purposes.  Whilst the products are a little different (camera vs smart doorbell), there's enough in common to compare.  Video quality, usability of the app etc.

We've installed the Nest Cam Outdoor to cover the side passageway leading to the main entrance of our home.  Our main door isn't at the front of our home, rather at the side in a passageway formed between our home, and the house nextdoor.  To access this passageway, you must pass through a front-gate, which is where the Ring Video Doorbell Pro is installed.

The Nest Cam Outdoor is positioned above and back from the main door, so we get a good view of both the door itself, the passageway, and the gate.

So, what's in the box?  Well you get the camera itself of course, as well as the various mounting components, power supply and installation guides.  The camera is solidly built and weighty, and has a hardwired connection coming from the rear.  This terminates into a USB-A connection with a retaining clip around the outside of it - more on that later.

The second part of the power supply plugs into the mains socket, and it accepts the cameras USB-A connection via a hockey-puck style link at the end of the mains cable.

The camera itself has no obvious point for screwing in any coupling for mounting it to the wall - but then you realise it actually attaches to the mounting plate magnetically, making it infinitely position-able.

Setup is recommended to be done before you physically mount the camera.  Download the app from the app store for your phone (Android or iOS), run it, and create your account.  Then, add a device, scanning the QR code on the back of the camera to get started. You then choose where the camera is to be installed.  After this, you're given some warnings about the camera not being suitable for being in direct sunlight, or at temperatures above 40C, or below -20C.

That 'no direct sunlight' note came as something of a surprise.  This is an outdoor product, surely it should cope with sunlight?

Next steps are to choose your WiFi network and supply the WiFi key / password.  After that, you see a preview of the live video from the camera, and you're done.  Then it's onto physical installation.

It's here that we hit our first complaint.  The USB-A connector, plus the retaining ring around it, make for a very chunky connector.  You've got to get that through your wall somehow!  You'd have to drill a rather large hole to make that happen. There's no way to remove the retaining ring, and there's no way to remove the cable from the back of the camera.

I found some videos online of some rather brave modders who did remove the USB connector, but I wouldn't recommend this.  Aside from anything else - your warranty is going to be void immediately!

Interestingly, in the newer Nest Cam IQ Outdoor (the 4K version), this problem is solved.  Nest made the cable removable from the rear of the camera, and they made it USB-C, which is a much smaller connector.  It's a shame the original Next Cam Outdoor didn't get a 'v2' refresh with a similar connector.  I didn't want the IQ variant as it's a big jump in price just to get 4K (which we didn't need), and a smaller connector.

So, instead - we got creative.  Rather than modding the device or cable, we instead sought to find some alternative power source that could provide USB power.  This proved more tricky than it needed to be since - basically, the power requirements of the camera are a little high.

Our first power source didn't work quite right.  It provided enough power for the camera to run, but on activating the camera microphone for remote-talk, the camera would crash.

The second power supply we found worked well.  We purchased a small external housing unit to shelter the power supply from the elements, and mounted this on the wall a few feet away from the camera.

In summary, we had the camera mounted (on an angle bracket to give it the best view of the passageway), the cable then runs into a housing-box and plugs into our power supply.  From this, the power supply cable then runs into the house via a hole in the wall (a much smaller one than would have been required for the Nest connector), and into the mains.

Does this approach protect the warranty? I don't know. I guess we are still using an non-Nest power supply (Nest say that you really should use theirs), but at least we're not having to mod the cable, or drill very large holes in our house!

With all this work done - everything seems to be working very well. We get a good video feed of the side passage to our main entrance.  Alerts seem to be coming through when motion is detected, and we get a free-trial of the 'Next Protect' cloud subscription that is available if you want to retain your videos.

Now that we have this video coverage, we can move on to a special Smart Home project that I hope to tell you about soon! Also in the near future, I'll post up an overview of the Nest app, and how it works with the camera.