The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of tech gear

Canary Flex Review

A convenient, wireless indoor/outdoor camera that offers useful non-subscription services
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Price:   $200 List | $129 at Amazon
Pros:  Good video quality, useful non-subscription services, weatherproof, wireless
Cons:  Real time viewing can be choppy, must be taken down and recharged periodically
Manufacturer:   Canary
By Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Feb 22, 2017
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 18
  • Monitoring Performance - 30% 8
  • Video Quality - 30% 7
  • App Ease of Use - 25% 8
  • Real Time Viewing - 15% 5

Our Verdict

The Canary Flex is a versatile camera that can be used indoors or out. As it runs off of batteries you don't have to worry about cables when mounting it outside. The battery life depends greatly on how much activity is detected, but ours lasted more than two weeks when mounted outside in the cold. Its video quality is great, but just slightly inferior to the best models we tested. Its only weak point is in real time viewing, where it was at the bottom of the field in our testing. It is a good choice for outdoor monitoring if you don't want to pay for a subscription and don't need much video history. However, if you don't mind paying a small monthly fee, the Nest Cam Outdoor is much better in that capacity.


Compare to Similar Products

 
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Canary Flex
Awards  Editors' Choice Award    
Price $200 List
$129.01 at Amazon
$300 List$180 List
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$120 List
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Star Rating
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Pros Good video quality, useful non-subscription services, weatherproof, wirelessGreat video quality, smooth real time viewing, field leading monitoring services available, great facial recognitionGreat video quality and real time viewing, user friendly app, inexpensive subscriptionGreat video quality, smooth real-time viewing, field leading monitoring services availableGreat Video quality, good real time viewing, relatively inexpensive
Cons Real time viewing can be choppy, must be taken down and recharged periodicallyVery limited without a subscriptionVery few services offered without a subscriptionVery limited without a subscriptionNo scheduling, poor non-subscription services
Bottom Line A convenient, wireless indoor/outdoor camera that offers useful non-subscription servicesTop notch video quality and facial recognition, but very little video history without a subscriptionA good choice if you're willing to pay for a subscription serviceGreat for live viewing and high quality video, but little video history available without a subscriptionA good all-around camera whose real strong point is its integration with the Amazon Key
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Rating Categories Canary Flex Nest Cam IQ Ring Stick Up Cam... Nest Cam Indoor Amazon Cloud Cam
Monitoring Performance (30%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
Video Quality (30%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
App Ease Of Use (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
Real Time Viewing (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Specs Canary Flex Nest Cam IQ Ring Stick Up Cam... Nest Cam Indoor Amazon Cloud Cam
Maximum Resolution 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p
Power Source Wall Outlet/Rechargable Battery Wall Outlet Wall Outlet Wall Outlet Wall Outlet
Mounting surface, walls surface, walls surface, walls surface, walls surface, walls
Static Field of View (degrees) 116 130 116 130 120
Free Features Activity alerts, 24-hour history of 10-second, motion activated clips, activity zones, 1 year warranty Activity alerts, 3 hour video history, two way audio Motion alerts, live viewing, two-way audio Activity alerts, 3 hour video history, two way audio Activity alerts, 24 hour history of activity clips
Paid Subscription Features Canary Membership- 30-day video history of up to 10-minute motion activated clips, activity alerts, activity zone masking, two-way talk, incident support, 2 year extended warranty 5-Day- 5-day video history, 24/7 continuous recording, intelligent alerts, clips and timelapses, activity zones

10-Day- 10 day video history, 24/7 continuous recording, intelligent alerts, clips and timelapses, activity zones

30-Day- 30 day video history, 24/7 continuous recording, intelligent alerts, clips and timelapses, activity zones
Basic- 60-day video event history, video sharing
Plus- Ring Alarm professional monitoring, 60-day video event history, video sharing
5-Day- 5-day video history, 24/7 continuous recording, intelligent alerts, clips and timelapses, activity zones

10-Day- 10 day video history, 24/7 continuous recording, intelligent alerts, clips and timelapses, activity zones

30-Day- 30 day video history, 24/7 continuous recording, intelligent alerts, clips and timelapses, activity zones
Basic- unlimited clip downloads, person alerts, motion zones, 7 day history, supports up to 3 cameras
Extended- basic plus 14 day history and supports up to 5 cameras
Pro- basic plus 30 days of history and supports up to 10 cameras
Monthly Cost (one camera) $10- Canary Membership $5- 5 Day

$10- 10 Day

$30- 30 day

$3- Basic
$10- Plus
$5- 5 Day

$10- 10 Day

$30- 30 day
$7- Basic

$10- Extended

$20- Pro

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Below we further expound upon how the Canary Flex performed in each of our testing metrics.


Monitoring Performance


The Canary Flex shared the score of 7 out of 10 in this metric with a number of models, putting it just behind the top score of 8.

Monitoring Services With/Without a Subscription


Without a subscription, Canary provides a 24-hour history of 10-second long clips that are triggered when the camera detects motion. This means you could miss something if there is motion for more than 10-seconds, but you'll at least get an idea of what is happening. You also get activity zone masking, so you can tell the camera to ignore motion in certain places (like out the window).

With a $10/month subscription, Canary extends that video history to 30 days of motion activated clips, and extends the maximum length of those clips to 10-minutes. Canary will also reimburse subscribers up to $1000 of insurance deductible for theft-related incidents that the camera failed to prevent. This is the only such offer we've come across. However, if you're going to pay for a subscription we feel the Nest Cam Outdoor is a better monitoring option.

The Flex's magnetic charging cable makes charging easy  but the camera can't be used while it is charging.
The Flex's magnetic charging cable makes charging easy, but the camera can't be used while it is charging.

Don't Forget About Recharging


The Flex runs off of a rechargeable battery, but cannot be plugged in while in use. This means that periodically you'll have to take the Flex down to recharge it (battery life varies greatly depending on use conditions, but ours easily lasted two weeks when outside in the winter cold). We felt this was a small sacrifice considering the flexibility (hey, that's where the name came from) allows, but it does mean you'll be without a camera every once in a while.

Audio Quality


Footage captured on the Canary Flex has excellent audio. Even in echoey rooms or outside with ambient noise conversations were clear and easy to understand. The Flex does not have 2-way audio, but you can remotely sound an alarm. That alarm may make someone think the police are being contacted, but it is not particularly loud. It can barely be heard through a door, and probably wouldn't attract much attention unless people happened to be quite close by.

The Flex has all the hardware needed for 2-way audio, but does not yet have software support for this feature. Canary claims it should be available soon.

Video Quality


The Canary Flex was one of the few 1080p models we tested that did not earn a top score in our video quality testing. To be fair, its score of 7 out of 10 was just below the top score of 8 and still significantly better than the low score of 3. Both daytime and nighttime videos from this device looks clear in our testing. Where it lost points was in its field of view. The lens provides only a 116˚ field of view, which is 14˚ smaller than most of the other 1080p models. This may not seem like much, but the image covers noticeably less area when used inside, and that discrepancy only gets worse when it moves outside to broader views.



App Ease of Use


The Flex scored an 8 out of 10 in our app ease of use testing. This was just below the top score of 9, and well better than the low score of 5. The app was very easy to navigate, and things like scheduling and activity alerts were easy to adjust. It missed out on the top score because it didn't feel quite as streamlined as the Nest app, and swiping to switch between menus and camera didn't feel super intuitive.

The Canary app is fairly easy to use but was not our favorite.
The Canary app is fairly easy to use but was not our favorite.

Real Time Viewing


This is where the Flex falls off the leaderboard. It shared the worst score of 5 in this metric, well off the top score of 8. This was largely due to the 30 seconds of latency it produced in our testing. While we didn't expect any camera to be truly real time, a 30-second lag felt quite significant. In fact, only one model was worse. The video produced during real-time viewing was often choppy, with the video often freezing for a second or two before starting up again.

Installation Notes


The Canary Flex has a rechargeable battery and can thus be placed anywhere. It sends an alert to your phone when the battery must be charged. It can be placed on any horizontal surface and has a magnetic base that will adhere to any magnetic surface. You can also install a mounting plate to mount it onto non-magnetic surfaces. The mounting plate requires two screws to install. The camera itself mounts onto the base via a magnet, and is thus quite easy to swivel in any direction.

The Flex is simple  just camera  mounting base  and charging cable.
The Flex is simple, just camera, mounting base, and charging cable.

Value


At $200 the Flex's list price is comparable to that of other 1080p models. Due to its versatility and decent non-subscription features, this is a good value for those that want to be able to move the camera around and not pay for a subscription.

Conclusion


The Canary Flex is a great alternative to the Nest Cam Outdoor if you don't want to pay for a subscription, but it is slightly hampered by its poor real-time viewing performance.


Max Mutter and Steven Tata