As a true blue Aussie, I am very proud to be doing something today that our cricketers have struggled to do recently. Chalk up a century. Today marks a century of columns in my current series for Fairfax.

For my one hundredth column, I thought of looking back at the changes we have seen over the last 99 columns. My first five columns discussed radiation from mobiles; international roaming; the changing face of TV; autonomous cars and Wi-Fi on planes. All items that are still relevant today but it seemed like a ‘best of’ might be a lazy option.

Instead I am going to do a product review. Many years ago I used to write product reviews for an IT magazine and the joy for me is in delving into the depths of a product and testing it under a variety of circumstances. Basically I get to play with tech stuff!

Earlier this year I wrote a column that discussed security cameras and the idea that many cameras now store directly to the cloud which actually offers interesting solutions for portable security solutions. From that column I was contacted by representatives from two security camera firms asking me to review their offerings. Today seemed like as good a day as any to write that review.

The two offerings I am reviewing are the Nest Cam IQ Indoor and Nest Cam Outdoor from Nest and the Arlo Go by Netgear. Similar in functionality but they attack the portability issue from two different angles.

I started with the Nest cameras and found the setup, as hoped, was very easy. Download an app to your smartphone. Create a free Nest account and scan the QR code on the base of the Nest camera. Enter your Wi-Fi password and you are connected. I tried with different Wi-Fi devices at different locations and every time I found it simple and easy and reliable. I took them on holidays with me and set them up to guard our holiday unit and changing locations was quite simple.

Within minutes of opening the box I could view my cameras on my smartphone – but that is only the beginning. There are options available to suit a huge variety of circumstances. Viewing live footage is one thing but looking back at recorded footage is the main reason you want a security camera. With the Nest, no local storage device is required. The Nest streams the footage to the Cloud so the data is safely stored off-site. This can be continuous or it can be triggered by motion detection or time of day or even when your phone leaves the area. The quality is exceptional at 1080p but if you wish to stream continuous video at the highest quality, be prepared to chew up several hundred gigabytes (GB) per month. You can share footage with other people – both live and recorded. The Nest cameras use mains power, look well manufactured and are obvious without being an eyesore.

To view recorded footage, you need a Nest Subscription for each camera. A subscription starts from $5.83 per month to save the last 5 days of footage and goes as high as $30 per month to save the last 30 days of footage. The units vary with the model but expect to pay in the vicinity of $400. Nest offer a range of products including a Nest Smoke Alarm that will communicate with your smartphone.

The Nest works particularly well when you need a small number of cameras in a home or work environment that has good Wi-Fi signal with a good data package. It would be nice if Nest offered a free subscription service with a small amount of recorded footage (one day for example) but, apart from that, it is hard to fault the offering.

The Arlo Go takes a slightly different approach to the Nest. The functionality and setup with a QR code and various options are all remarkably similar but the Arlo focuses on portability. It doesn’t work with Wi-Fi but instead uses a SIM card and the mobile network. Instead of requiring mains power it comes with a rechargeable battery – good for a month or two between charges. It even comes with a solar panel option so you can literally set the unit up anywhere with mobile signal. In a shed. In the backyard. On a gatepost. Turn it on, make sure there is a mobile signal and point it in the right direction! The Arlo wins the portability argument but that has to come with a sacrifice. In the case of the Arlo, the 720p (Standard HD) video quality is slightly below the Nest 1080p (Full HD) but it is still quite acceptable. The Arlo is designed to store footage in the cloud but it is not designed to stream constant footage. Motion sensors trigger recording to the cloud and, if required, push notifications to your phone. As you are using mobile data, it is important to limit the recording. If you averaged thirty minutes of motion triggered recording in a month, approximately 6GB would be consumed. That is quite reasonable. If the Arlo streamed constantly, expect close to three hundred gigabytes of data to be consumed in a month and, at current mobile data pricing, that would be unviable. Unlike the Nest, Arlo provide a free subscription with up to seven days of history with a maximum of five cameras. For the basic paid subscription, $10.75 will buy thirty days of recordings and ten cameras with other options above this. The best part is that the Arlo is available on a $30 per month plan including 6GB of data when adding to your existing bill and that data is shared across your normal mobile plan.

These are just two of many options in the cloud storage camera market. The Nest suits a home or work environment where quality and constant recording is important. The Arlo wins the game when portability and flexibility are the main criteria.

Mathew Dickerson

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