Somewhere between bona fide security cameras packed with bells and whistles and $20 smart cams, you’ll find midrange devices such as the Blink Indoor Security Camera and the Nest Cam Indoor. These moderately priced models might have a few tricks up their sleeves — stuff like motion and sound alerts, night vision or optional cloud storage — but they’re missing many of the functions you’d expect from higher-end devices, like custom alerts or 180-degree lenses.
When shopping in the sub-$200 price range where you find the Blink and the Nest Cam, it becomes especially important to pay attention both to the features you’re getting and the ones you’re not getting with the various models. In other words, comparing these two cameras is all about the tradeoffs. Looking head-to-head at these gadgets, however, can get a little tricky — it’s not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, even on price. Still, if you’re considering adding one or more cameras to your smart home array (and you want to spend around $100), there’s a good chance you’ve narrowed it down to either the Blink Cam or the Nest Cam, as they’re two of the most popular options.
To help you decide, we’ll take a look at the most comparable features: resolution, cost of any associated subscription plans and so on. Then we’ll point out the differences that set them apart and what tradeoffs you’ll have to make to get those features (the Blink, for example, runs on battery power, which slows down some of its functions).
Let’s jump right in.
Although Amazon’s Blink Cam has “Security Camera” in its name, with a retail price of $80 it’s more of a consumer-grade device than a professional piece of security equipment. In a world full of 4K TVs and super-HD phone screens, the camera’s 640×360-degree resolution seems almost prehistoric — especially as it captures motion at only 30 frames per second. That’s half the speed of even the most “budget” displays on the market.
The Blink’s lens, too, only records a 110-degree field of view — think, between the 10 and the 2 on an analogue clock. That’s enough to fit about two-thirds of a regular-sized room into the frame, which means you’ll need more than one camera per room if you want full coverage.
These and other tradeoffs, however, are almost certainly in service of the one standout feature of the Blink Indoor Security Camera — you can put it anywhere, because it’s powered by two AA lithium batteries. In other words, you’re not constrained by the location of the outlets in your house, nor by the length or appearance of any extension cords you might use to get the Blink camera where you want it to go.
If, on the other hand, you have plenty of outlets, including in all the places you might want to put a security camera, you may consider a wired option instead.
The other big drawback of the Blink camera is latency: There’s a delay of about 5 seconds between the moment in-frame motion triggers the camera to record and the moment it actually starts recording (you can also set the camera to send you an alert when this happens). This is the result of the camera having to wake from a low-power state before it can start saving frames. A lot can happen in 5 seconds, so depending on what sorts of events you want a camera to capture, this might be a deal-breaker.
You’d think battery life would be another issue, but that’s one area where the Blink unexpectedly shines. Apparently, all those tradeoffs aren’t for naught, because Blink claims you’ll get about two years’ worth of service from those two AA lithium batteries, which, so far, our testing suggests is well within reason.
Like many other Wi-Fi security cameras, the Blink requires a paid subscription if you want to record footage without connecting a USB drive to the device. Plans start out at $3 a month per camera, with a $10 unlimited package for customers with four or more. This is a particular sore spot, especially since it wasn’t that long ago that Blink offered a free tier of service, much like Wi-Fi camera maker Wyze (whose $20 Wyze Cam is also our overall favorite in the category).
Amazon’s Blink Indoor is a decent, battery-powered security camera for inside your house.
Clocking in at a little over one and a half times the price, the $130 Nest Cam Indoor offers specs that look a little more like they belong in 2021 than the low-resolution Blink Indoor Security Camera. The wall outlet-powered Nest Cam records at a full-HD 1,920×1,080 pixels, although still at a scant 30 fps. It has a wider 130-degree field of view (between 10 and about 2:30 on a wall clock).
In addition to capturing clearer video of slightly more of your room, the Nest Cam also offers a magnetic base for securing it to, say, a refrigerator or metal windowsill, and a stand that pivots, which helps make finding the perfect angle a little easier than with the Blink. Like the Blink Cam, the Nest also can alert you when it detects motion, plus it adds notifications for sound. It does have one particularly odd restriction, however, that, much like Blink’s 5-second delay, makes the Nest Cam far less useful as a security camera — it artificially limits motion and sound alerts, anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes (and possibly longer, depending on the trigger).
That means if two motion or sound events trigger the camera to record within 15 or 20 minutes of each other, depending on the trigger, you’ll only get a notification for the first one. That’s unfortunate if the second event happened to be an intruder or other such emergency. Google calls this a “cool down timer,” which is meant to avoid repetitive, intrusive notifications. According to Google, each type of trigger has its own set “cool down” period before Nest will send another notification.
Nest, of course, has its own cloud-storage subscription service for saving and retrieving videos recorded by the Nest Cam Indoors, however, just like the camera itself, Nest’s subscription options are more expensive overall. That said, if you have multiple cameras and don’t require long-term storage, you can get away with spending a little less.
Starting at $6, Nest Aware, as the service is known, lets you connect as many Nest cameras, speakers (like the Nest Audio or Nest Mini) and displays (like the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max) as you own. The only limitations are that recordings expire after 30 days and you don’t get any kind of 24/7 real-time recordings. For $12 you can extend your event video history to 60 days and Nest Aware will keep 10 days’ worth of 24/7 video history. That means if you wanted to scroll through every minute of any day within the last 10 days, you can do so — if you’re willing to spend double the cost of the basic subscription.
Nest Cam Indoor review.
Both the cameras sacrifice something
Both cameras offer comparable specs when it comes to the rest of their features: Both have decent night vision, for example, and two-way talk capabilities, thanks to similar small speakers and microphones. Both include a variety of cables and whatnot. (The Blink comes with a power cable if you’d prefer to plug it in, but you’ll still have to deal with the grainy resolution and 5-second delay between trigger and recording.)
All else being equal there’s one other factor that may influence which of these cameras will work best for you, and that’s whether yours is an Amazon Alexa or Google Home/Google Nest house. Although both cameras should work just fine from within either smart home ecosystem, Amazon products generally play better with other Amazon products and the same goes for Google.
In other words, the Blink Indoor Security Camera is probably going to fit in better if you already have a Ring Doorbell and a bunch of Amazon Echo speakers or displays. If you’ve already got a Nest Hello at your front door, a Nest Learning Thermostat running your heating and you shout “Hey, Google” to get your digital voice assistant’s attention, the Nest Cam Indoors might be the better one for you.
That said, if neither the $50 price difference nor wireless placement nor smart home ecosystem are factors in your decision, most people will probably be happier watching the clearer 1080p videos recorded with the Nest Cam Indoors.