Nest Cam with Floodlight review: Effective but pricey

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

The Nest Cam with Floodlight works well and is easy to use, but the price is just too high

Good image and audio quality
Bright floodlight
AI object detection works well
Lacks a siren
No local storage

The Nest Cam with Floodlight is the most expensive of Google’s newly launched security cameras, combining the talents of the Nest Cam (battery) with a pair of bright LED lights for the ultimate burglar deterrent.

Unlike the Nest Cam (battery), though, the floodlight model is a mains-only product and, as such, more difficult to install. If you pay for professional installation, it's likely to push the price up beyond the simple £270 asking price to well above £300, which is something to bear in mind before taking the plunge.

Buy now from John Lewis

Nest Cam with Floodlight review: What do you get for the money?

Despite the high price, there's no denying that the Nest Cam with floodlight is well designed. Instead of an all-in-one unit, it consists of two parts. The first is the floodlight unit, which you screw to the wall and wire up to mains power. A pair of easily positionable white LED floodlights protrude like antennae from the left and right of the unit’s central column, and an infrared motion sensor resides on its belly, pointing down towards the ground.

The second part of the package is the camera itself. This is the very same Nest Cam (battery) we reviewed a couple of months back. The camera attaches to the floodlight unit magnetically and is also tethered to it via its charging cable. The cable, in turn, is screwed securely into the body of the camera to prevent it from being stolen.

The Nest Cam captures video footage at 1080p and 30fps in HDR with a 130-degree field of view, which is fine, but I’d expect better resolution given the high price. You also get night vision, although that’s not strictly needed here, since the camera’s twin-beam floodlights provide ample illumination.

As with all of Google’s recent Nest Cam products, you can use the camera free of subscription. However, bear in mind that the clips expire after three hours, so it isn’t all that useful from a security standpoint. If you want to keep them for longer, you’ll have to pay the £5 per month, which gets you 30 days of video-clip storage.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the best home security cameras to buy

Nest Cam with Floodlight review: How easy is it to install?

If you don’t already have external wiring, you’ll have to get a professional to install the Nest Cam with Floodlight for you. But, if you’re lucky enough to already have an external light in a suitable position – and you’re handy with a drill – it is possible to do it yourself.

In that case, all you have to do is remove your old light, and screw the supplied circular bracket to the wall, then wire up the floodlight and mount it to the bracket. The screws, wall plugs and terminal clips you need to do this are included in the box, and it’s all good-quality hardware, too.

Once you’ve attached the camera to the floodlight bracket and connected the charging cable, you’re ready to set up the camera in the Google Home app, which again is fairly straightforward to do.

After you’ve done that, two icons appear in your Google Home app. The one for the floodlight lets you turn the lights on and off, adjust the brightness level and change settings related to the floodlight. These include the sensitivity of the infrared motion sensor, the type of event that turns the lights on and the daylight threshold sensitivity level, which prevents the lights coming on during the day.

The second icon is for the Nest Cam and it gives you quick access to the camera’s live feed, video history and settings specific to the camera itself. It’s here that you can find video and audio quality settings, set up motion zones, and object/facial recognition settings. It’s all reasonably straightforward and easy to get to grips with.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the best smart thermostats to buy

Nest Cam with Floodlight review: What does it do well?

Once installed, there’s not an awful lot about the Nest Cam with Floodlight that I can find serious fault with. At 2,400 lumens (around the brightness of a 200W incandescent bulb) the LED lights are bright enough to fully illuminate a small garden or front drive, and it beats the Ring Floodlight Cam and Floodlight Cam Pro for brightness, which are both rated at 2,000 lumens.

As with the regular Nest Cam, I found person and animal detection to work well, and facial recognition to be reliable. Package detection wasn’t quite as good, but that’s less critical for this type of product than it is for a doorbell.

And it’s also great that you can choose between general motion and specific events to trigger the floodlight. This comes in handy if you have wildlife traipsing in and out of the camera’s field of view at night and you don’t want the floodlight activating constantly.

Buy now from John Lewis

Nest Cam with Floodlight review: What could be improved?

For the money, the resolution of the camera isn’t high enough for me. Security camera manufacturers have been producing 2K and 4K cameras for some time now, so a camera that costs nearly £300 and only captures basic 1080p footage is disappointing to say the least.

There are also a couple of hardware features I would like to have seen Google include. The first is a siren. The Ring Floodlight Cam Pro has this and it can be bought for £90 less than the Nest Cam. The second is the ability to record video clips locally, which again is a feature you can get elsewhere. The Eufy Floodlight Cam, for instance, has both local video storage and a siren-based alarm and costs a mere £159.

All of which leads me to my final grumble, which is that the “free” cloud storage option only stores video clips for three hours into the past. That’s not very useful; if something happens in the middle of the night, you’re likely to miss it.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the best home security cameras to buy

Nest Cam with Floodlight review: Should you buy one?

All of this makes the Nest Cam with Floodlight tough to recommend. It’s expensive, and I’d expect better video quality at the price. The “free” storage isn’t particularly generous, and there’s no option to store video locally.

If you already own a Nest Doorbell or one of the other Nest cameras, the floodlight model does make some sense as the £5 per month subscription fee is pretty reasonable for multiple cameras. If, however, you’re still making your mind up as to which system to opt for, do yourself a favour and go for one of the cheaper options from Ring or Eufy.

Read more