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Hands-on Gear Review
Amazon Cloud Cam ReviewPrice: $120 List | $89.99 at Amazon
Pros: Great Video quality, good real time viewing, relatively inexpensive
Cons: No scheduling, poor non-subscription services
Bottom line: A good all-around camera whose real strong point is its integration with the Amazon Key
Unless you're looking for the advanced facial recognition of the Nest Cam IQ, the Amazon Cloud Cam is a worthy Nest alternative, especially for those that want to use the Amazon Key service (a service that uses a smart lock to let delivery people open your door, so packages get left inside the door instead of outside). The only minor downsides are that Amazon currently does not offer an outdoor camera, so you can't expand your camera system out onto the porch, and the Cloud Cam does not allow for on/off scheduling. This could be annoying for users who like to keep their phone's location service turned off, and thus would not use the Cloud Cam's geofencing feature. Otherwise, the Cloud Cam offers high quality video, great real time viewing performance, and a user friendly app. Plus, Amazon's subscription services are comparable to what Nest offers.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Amazon Cloud Cam offers high end performance for a reasonable price. It also offers more generous non-subscription services than Nest, making it a decent option for those that don't want o be tethered to a subscription.
The Amazon Cloud Cam was one of the best performing cameras we tested, as you can see in the table above. In the following sections we discuss the camera's performance in all of our individual tests.
The Amazon Cloud Cam earned a 7 out of 10 in our monitoring services metric, putting it just behind the top scorer.
Monitoring Services with/Without a Subscription
One of the Cloud Cam's big selling points is its non-subscription offerings. For free you get general activity alerts and a 24-hour history of motion activated clips stored on the cloud. This is much more generous than companies like Nest that only offer a 3-hour history without a subscription. Though it's not quite as generous as NETGEAR, which offers a 7-day history of motion activated clips for free, the Cloud Cam is generally a better camera than anything that NETGEAR makes.
If you opt for a subscription you get a bevy of services that are very similar to what Nest Offers. For $7/month or $70/year you get a 7-day history of motion activated clips, activity zones that allow you tell the camera where to ignore motion (like out the window), specific alerts for if the camera sees a person, and support for up to 3 cameras. We found these activity zones to be quite effective, but they can only be quadrilaterals, so they are not as customizable as Nest's iteration of the technology. For $10/month or $100/year that history increases to 14-days and support swells to up to 5 cameras. You can also go all out for $20/month or $200/year and get a 30-day history for up to 10 cameras.
All of this is quite comparable to Nest, which offers a 10-day history at the $10/month bracket, and a 30-day history at the $30/month level. The big difference is that Nest offers their subscribers a full 24/7 video history, whereas Amazon only offers a history of motion activated clips. Also, if you have an IQ model then Nest also provides advanced facial recognition technology.
We were impressed with the Cloud Cam's audio quality. We were able to understand most things that were said at a normal speaking volume within 15 feet of the camera. The Cloud Cam also provides 2-way audio, so you can use the app to speak to someone who is standing in front of the camera. The camera's speaker produced somewhat staticky audio in our testing, but the person on the other end was generally able to understand it.
The Cloud Cam's 1080p camera produced great video in our testing, earning it a high score of 8 out of 10 in our video quality metric.
The Cloud Cam's crisp, high definition video was just as good as the video produced by the Nest Cam. We awarded the Nest Cam IQ a slightly higher score simply due to its ability to zoom in on faces, but otherwise its quality was also very similar to that of the Cloud Cam. The Cloud Cam also produced very little distortion around the edges of the picture, but its field of view of 120˚ is slightly smaller than the 130˚ field of the Nest cameras. Its Infrared night vision is great, providing sharp, bright images that was able to capture some recognizable faces in our testing. In this capacity it was just a hair better than the Nest cameras.
App Ease of Use
We found the Cloud Cam app very easy to use, earning it a score of 8 out of 10 in this metric.
In general the app provides intuitive menus that make it easy to find the settings that you're looking to change. The only reason the app didn't receive a top score is the fact that it doesn't give you the option of setting schedules. Most cameras let you set a schedule, so that the camera will automatically turn off during the hours that you're likely to be home. The Cloud Cam, however, just assumes that all of its users will take advantage of the geofencing feature, which turns off the camera when you're phone reaches the address you have designated as home. This makes things more foolproof, but it can be a deterrent for those that prefer to keep location services turned off on their phones.
Real Time Viewing
The Cloud Cam is great for real time viewing. It shared the top score fo 8 out of 10 in this metric.
When using the Cloud Cam for real time viewing we measure a latency of just 2 seconds, making it about as close to true real time as you're going to get. The feed was always fairly clear and almost never jumped or froze. This makes the Cloud Cam great for keeping an eye on pets or children while you're out and about.
The Cloud Cam must be plugged into a normal outlet. It can stand on any flat surface. It also comes with a mounting plate, two normal screws, and two drywall screws for mounting it to a vertical surface.
Listing for $120 and offering similar subscription services as Nest, the Cloud Cam is a significantly cheaper option for those considering the Nest Cam Indoor. This makes it a great value overall, with it's vlaue only increasing if you want to use it in conjunction with an Amazon Key. However, Amazon currently does not make an outdoor camera, so if you'd like to expand your camera network outside the house you're better off with Nest.
The Amazon Cloud Cam is a great camera for anyone who wants an indoor security camera, and is especially great for those considering using the Amazon Key service.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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