When it comes to Do it Yourself security, Nest makes one of the best and most user friendly system I have ever come across and that’s why I ended up buying their whole suite of security devices.
Normally when one considers home security, big names like ADT, Brinks and the like come to mind. They come to your house, offer packages and hardware to fit your budget, professionally install all your hardware, activate your service and finally your system would be up and running within a few hours. ADT still offers services like this today, but the times have changed and so has the technology. In today’s age, most people want, maybe even demand, convenience, transparency, efficiency and design, and any company that does not conform to these strict standards quickly dies away. Just think about it in terms of any service you use. You firstly want an app that makes things easy, you want it fast and as painless as possible and that demands efficiency, you want the price to be fair and upfront (A.K.A. it needs to be worth it) and you want it to look really nice while you do it. So why do I bring this up? Well, when it comes to the home security market, all of this was a bit lacking and frankly, there wasn’t any real innovation in the space. Someone had to do something and that’s when we started to see small startups launch to “disrupt” this market. Because…. well everything needs disruption. One company that really hits the nail on the head with all the above standards is Nest.
What Nest is all about
Nest never really started off as a DIY security system, they were simply a manufacturer of thermostats and smoke detectors. It wasn’t until much later (almost 5 years) that they started to make their first foray into security: The Nest Cam. This was revolutionary in that it didn’t require any professional installation; it literally could be put anywhere and all you needed to do was plug it in to the wall. It was a very easy way to check in on things in your home. All you needed was the app on your phone, and you could easily see if your dog was tearing into your new sofa or if your kids were safely home from school. From this point, the portfolio just kept on growing. The “nest” logical step (that was a pun, it's supposed to be “next”) was outdoor based cameras and now they have a whole host of security-based products.
Nest Security products were created to be the best DIY products you could buy, and they were to be easy to use and install, the days of having professionally installed systems had come to an end. Soon, Nest introduced the Nest Guard, a little puck like device that is the brain of the system and has an illuminated keypad on top. It is where you can arm and disarm your system, and it also houses an extremely loud alarm to scare off the baddies. Nest detects are also part of a starter kit that does all the heavy lifting. These Nest detect devices play a triple role. They can be set as a door contact, where it will relay a signal back to the Guard if contact was broken when a door swung open, it can be a motion detector where it would sense motion and relay back, or it can be set up as a window contact, where it would send a signal back if contact was broken on a window. The difference between setting it as a window contact versus a door contact is when it’s in window contact mode, the motion detector within the Nest detect isn’t active, but in door contact mode, it works as both a contact detector and a motion detector. So, if someone is in your house and didn’t make an entry through a door, it would still pick up motion. Pretty neat if you ask me. There is no need to have separate door contacts and motions sensors anymore. How they managed to cram that into a device that is a few inches tall is a feat of engineering.
Lastly, the starter kit also includes 2 key tags. They simply attach to your key chain and once you tap the tag against the keypad on the Nest Guard, it can disarm or arm your system. It makes it convenient if you happen to lose your phone or forget your password. There are other notable products that can be part of the whole security system and they include the Nest doorbell and Yale branded door locks. I won't get too much into how they work as that conversation slowly shifts us into the world of automation, but later I will come back to this and show how they interact with the Nest security system. Now, this is all well and good, but even though it was simply a great way for you to monitor your home in the beginning, if there was true break in, it was up to you to call the police and file a report. So to fix this, Nest paired up with Brinks to give you live home monitoring so if an alarm is tripped, central command is notified, and the police are dispatched to your location. It's not too expensive either. It’s priced right now at $25/ month and that’s a flat rate of active monitoring. If you ask me, it’s totally worth it.
The ecosystem and versatility
So how does this whole system come together? So far, I mentioned a Guard, tags, detects, cameras, smoke detectors, etc., but what I didn’t mention is the way everything just integrates with each other. Nest, as you may or may not know, was created by 2 ex-Google employees and the whole idea was…. simplicity. They wanted every step from install to daily use to be just plain simple. The Nest app was the best way to tie this all in. You could view your entire system in one app and change pretty much anything to suit your requirements. You can easily tell which devices are located in which part of your home, how each device should react, (i.e. if your Nest detects are only motion detectors, or both motion and door contact detectors) and it was easy to add new devices as you kept building up your system. The app would then take all this input and simply tie everything together to make a flawless experience. For example, if you have the Nest Guard set to “Away Mode” as you are leaving the house, the Nest thermostats can set themselves in Eco Mode to save energy; it knows what is optimal, but you can also schedule it to do anything you want really.
There’s also the convenience with the app on your phone. As with most people, their phones are password or biometrically protected, so if that’s the case, you can arm and disarm within the Nest app. Being able to see recorded and live video feed of all your cameras is another convenient feature. It's so easy as the app tracks notable events within a timeline and this can be anything you set it to, such as loud noises, people, pets, any motion of any kind, etc. If you feel like the notifications are too much, you can customize further with activity zones where you only get notifications for instances that happen within that designated zone. Not to mention, if there was a break in to happen, your Nest cams are always live and recording. Side note, however, you do need to sign up for these cloud-based recording plans separately. Right now, they are kind of pricey, but I hear new prices are on the way and they are much easier to swallow. These are among the few things that can be set and just happen in the background once you get a Nest security system going in your home.
The merge with Google
If you can't tell by the title, it's important to mention that Nest has merged with Google and went through some tiny rebranding to now be known as Google Nest Products. The search giant has taken over control and will now will shift all products to the google store. Its not exclusive to Google Store, but it's now an offical Google product; Nest will also be shifting all subscription packages you may have with your cameras to the Google store and will eventually shut down the Nest website entirely. You may have heard some unsettling news about the Nest products and their merger, such as the Nest Guard having a microphone that the user never knew about, but Google wanted it to double as a pseudo Nest Mini to receive voice commands. There was that one bit of freaky news that some hackers got into a user's Nest Camera, that they used as a baby monitor, and started making crude comments through the camera’s 2-way talk system. Yikes. Like I said this is unsettling news, but Google has apologized for these issues and not only has beefed up security all around, but said under their leadership they will minimize all the security vulnerabilities and be as transparent as possible going forward.
I have to say I do believe them. When they made such promises in the past, they do have a track record of keeping them. The good news, there are way more upsides now that Google has taken over Nest. The products are now going to integrate better than ever, such as being able to use the Google Mini to send commands to your security system (i.e. telling it to lock all the doors of the house) and pricing on the camera subscriptions will be way cheaper too. As of this writing, Google says they will launch their new plans in the beginning of this year and that the top tier camera recording plan will be $12/month for 10 days of continuous recording and up to 60 days of event based recoding stored in the cloud for all the cameras in your home. This is amazing news as the current pricing for their plans is $30/month for 30 days of continuous recording for a single camera and if you have another, it’s 50% off. That’s $45/month for 2 cameras for continuous recording. Yeah, it’s steep, so it is a good thing it’s going away soon. I'd rather have the new $12/month plan, even though its only 10 days of continuous recording.
In the end, the ecosystem, the design of the product, the ease of install, the use and upfront pricing. and transparency won me over. It was truly the whole package when it comes to security, there were no more “professional install” sketchy pricing schemes or wire runs everywhere for security devices that looked super clunky and unintuitive. Those days of calling ADT are officially gone for me. One last reason Nest won me over was the way it will interact with my future home automation set up. Eventually, I will get power shades installed by Lutron, and there are schemes to set up where you can close the shades when it's too hot outside so that the Nest thermostat can work optimally. With other items, like the Nest x Yale door locks, I can simply command them to lock with a simple voice command like “goodnight” and not only do those door locks lock up, but the TVs will shut off, the shades will drop, the Nest thermostats will adjust to my required temperature and all the lights in my house that need to get shut off, will. Again, I know this is getting in the realm of home automation, but that's part of the appeal of the Nest system. It can be integrated into a bigger system and still flawlessly communicate with other devices in my home and create this one seamless home automation unit. That to me is incredible and, hands down, worth every penny they are asking.