Nest Cam IQ’s 4K eye means ‘zoom to enhance’ is now a reality


CSI’s “zoom to enhance” is now a real thing thanks to Nest’s new Cam IQ home security camera.

The $299 Cam IQ is the third member in the Google-owned smart home company’s hassle-free Nest Cam family. It’s not only more powerful than any previous Nest Cam, but also exceptionally attractive (as far as home security cameras go).

I called the Nest Cam Indoor the “iPhone of Wi-Fi-connected security cameras” back when I reviewed it in 2015. A year later Nest introduced the Nest Cam Outdoor for monitoring everything outside of the home.

Now, the Nest Cam IQ is here to blow both cameras out of the water and even its closest competition.

Most security cameras are ugly and most definitely not cute. The Nest Cam IQ looks like something Apple or Pixar designed. Squint and you might mistaken it for sibling to Wall-E’s adorable Eve robot (which, by the way, was partially designed by Apple’s Jonathan Ive.)

Looking all cute af.

Looking all cute af.

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Its white bulbous head is on the large side compared to the Nest Cam Indoor, but every little detail has been thoughtfully crafted. 

A special hinge was created that both houses wiring and lets the camera swivel up, down, left and right. Its USB-C cable is flush when connected to the base. 

And speaking of the base: it’s perfectly weighted so that the camera never topples over.

Just look at the sweet, sweet hinge and flush cable!

Just look at the sweet, sweet hinge and flush cable!

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

While I don’t take back what I said about the Nest Cam Indoor, the Nest Cam IQ is even more of an Apple-like product.

It’s packing some smarts

Home-friendly looks aside, the Nest Cam IQ is also mighty powerful. The features rolling out when the camera arrives by the end of June won’t even make full use of all the technology packed inside; Nest says there are tons of features it’ll announce later, so consider the Nest Cam IQ somewhat future-proofed. 

Its big head has a boatload of tech inside.

Its big head has a boatload of tech inside.

Naturally, the Nest Cam IQ’s huge head is stuffed full of high-tech smart surveillance tech. There’s a new 8-megapixel camera with a 130-degree field of view capable of capturing footage in 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and then downsampling that down to a crisp 1080p resolution live feed.

“Zoom to enhance”

Although the live feed is 1080p, that 4K sensor is what allows the camera to essentially make “zoom to enhance” a reality. With 4K, you can digitally zoom in and get a 1080p full HD crop — enough to clearly make out details you wouldn’t be able to if you digitally zoomed in on a 1080p resolution video. 

I saw a brief demo of this feature and — wow. Just to put that in perspective, I said the enhance feature on the Nest Cam Indoor “doesn’t really do anything.” Well, the Cam IQ definitely does.

Even it's "butt" is pretty.

Even it’s “butt” is pretty.

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Other nerdy specs include a 6-core processor, three microphones, two 940 nanometer infrared LEDs for improved Night Vision, a speaker that’s 7x more powerful than the Nest Cam Indoor/Outdoor, noise and echo suppression for even clearer sound, 2×2 MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth LE.

More important than a beautiful shell and powerful imaging tech is the Nest Cam IQ’s intelligence. Out of the box, owners get Nest’s new “Person alerts”, which detects when there’s a person in the camera’s field of view (and not a pet or a shadow) and then sends you a notification, and “Supersight”, which is a picture-in-picture view showing a tracking shot of a person in the field of view windowed inside of the larger 130-degree angle.

Nest Cam IQ uses a 4K sensor to give you 12x digital zoom.

Nest Cam IQ uses a 4K sensor to give you 12x digital zoom.

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Get yourself a Nest Aware subscription and you’ll get two additional smart features. “Familiar Face alerts” uses facial detection to identify faces you’ve selectively added to your Nest app so that you can know exactly which friends and family members are in a room; an unrecognized face could tell you there’s an intruder. “Intelligent audio alerts” sends you a notification for sounds the camera hears (think barking or people talking) that’s outside of the field of view.

With all of these intelligent features, you’re probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned anything about integration with the Google Assistant. You’d think as Google-owned company Nest would support the Assistant. As I said earlier, there are still features Nest hasn’t announced yet, and Assistant support is one of them. I’m told we’ll hear more about Assistant and Google Home integration later this year. But rest assured, it’s coming.

I’ll have to wait until I get my hands on the Nest Cam IQ to see if its “zoom to enhance” and handful of new intelligent features are worth the upgrade over the Nest Cam Indoor/Outdoor, but based on my brief playtime with it, I have a hunch it is. I’m not gonna lie, $299 is steep for a security camera, but there’s no price for peace of mind.

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