Have you looked at the Nest Cam and wished there was a cheaper Nest Cam Alternative (or a Dropcam alternative)? I wanted to find the best Nest cam alternative without the monthly fee. I was looking for an indoor security camera that had similar features and quality, and I found the best alternative to the Nest Cam.
With a little guy roaming around the house and wanting some extra sense of mind, video security cameras was a big deal to me. Here’s what I’ve found as the best alternative to the Nest Cam (previously the Dropcam – here are some good Dropcam alternatives.) is the YI Wireless Home Camera.
Best Nest Cam Alternatives – Table of Contents
- How I tested Nest Cam Alternatives
- The Best Nest Cam Alternative for the price
- The Best Nest Cam Alternative (that’s a bit more expensive)
- Other options that are cheaper than the Nest Cam.
- What you’re missing out on with the Nest Cam Alternatives
Best Nest Cam Alternatives: How I tested
I’ve tested dozens of Cameras, ranging from the original Drop Cam to the new and improved Nest Cam. I’m looking for several key features when testing a Nest Cam Alternative.
Price. This is the biggest reason to even look for a Nest Cam Alternative. The monthly fees on a Nest Cam can amount to hundreds of dollars a year. I wanted something that could store a day or two of footage and didn’t have monthly fees.
Reliability. This is one area where the Nest Camera shines. It’s reliable (you’d hope something built by Google would be reliable!). The best Nest Cam Alternative needed to be extremely reliable.
Great Alerts. Any alternative you look at needs to be able to alert you when and how you want to be informed. I happen to have a neighbors cat that I’m trying to stop from using my backyard as a restroom. I want to turn on my Rachio when I see it in the yard. The alerts need to be quick.
The Best Nest Cam Alternative
Meet the YI Wireless Home Camera.
Look familiar? It should. It looks almost EXACTLY like the Nest Camera. It is available in Black, which looks even more like the Nest Camera. That makes this an INCREDIBLE alternative to the Nest Cam.
I wanted a simple WiFi camera for a couple of reasons: I have some contractors in the house, and I wanted to see what they were doing. Also, it’s silly, but to make sure there was no one in the house at night. This camera allows me to do all that.
Here’s where the YI Home Camera Wireless IP Security Surveillance System shines: the price. This Wireless Security Camera is only…wait for it…$35! Yes, $35. It even includes a 32 GB Micro SD Card to store videos. That means you no longer have to pay for Cloud Storage, a huge expense that can add up over time. When you review video clips of the camera, you are viewing them off of the memory card, which means you do not have to pay for cloud storage. YI Does offer a cloud storage option for your video security footage, with a small monthly fee.
So, you know that price-wise this is a good option, what about features?
First, there’s the video quality. The version I purchased was only 720p HD Version. They also make a 1080p HD version. I found the video quality of the 720p version to be just fine for my purposes. You can see my little dog walking through the frame in this short video sample:
The app is also very well-designed. You can see screenshots of the different cameras in your app when you first open the app.
You can also set alerts to record particular times if there is motion (when we’re asleep, for example). Here’s what that screen looks like:
You can see on my app above; it’s mostly the lights turning on and off when there is a sensor for motion upstairs. I only have alerts set for night time, since I work from home.
Nest Cam Alternative with No Monthly Fee
No monthly fee: the main reason I bought the YI Wi-Fi Camera. No monthly fees to access your videos. How does it do this, you might ask? How do you get stored videos WITHOUT a monthly fee? Simple: it uses a memory card. The version I purchased had a memory card, too (it’s amazing that you can get a 32 GIG card these days for about $10!). Whenever you use the app the see old footage, you are accessing the video stored on the card.
The 32 gig Micro SD card stores about a week-plus of footage – which is more than enough for most people’s needs.
The only downside to this is: if your WiFi goes down at home, you can’t access the video right then and there. The good news is: it is still stored. This can save you $100s of a year.
If that is a concern for you, YI does offer cloud storage for the low price of $3/month. Much more affordable!
What are the Pros of this Nest Cam Alternative?
- As I talked about already, the price and no need for cloud storage are the biggest sellers to me.
- It has a great app, as mentioned above.
- The viewing angle is incredible – 111 degrees to be exact. YI also uses a software algorithm to make the image appear flat, not “fish-eyed” like other cameras on the market.
- It has two-way talking feature – you can imitate a conversation on the app with someone at home. Very similar to the Nest Camera features.
- Tons of custom settings: defined activity regions, camera sharing, customize alert schedules, and lights alerting the camera is recording.
- It’s quick and easy to set up: it uses a QR code on the device and your iPhone/Android app. It took me about 5 minutes to set up.
- The app shows all of your security cameras in one spot – nice and convenient.
- It has an excellent quality infrared camera to show you what is happening at night. It’s helpful with low light levels.
- YI is always updating the app. I’ve only had this security camera for a couple of weeks, and I’ve received several updates with new features.
- If you do want Cloud recording – if you’ve ever wondered “What happens if someone steals the camera?” This can give you peice of mind that it if it IS stolen, you’ll be able to at least see the footage.
Are there any cons to this Nest Cam Alternative?
Nothing’s perfect, right? There are a couple of shortcomings of this camera.
- The app had, in one version, an ad for their new Cloud Storage. Not that big of a deal, but a bit annoying.
- The App sometimes takes a second to connect to the camera. Since you’re connecting to the camera, that can be a little slower than some of the other apps.
- If you don’t purchase the cloud storage, someone could only steal the camera, and you could not know who did it. But if that’s a concern, you can buy the $3/month storage option.
- It’s not 1080p, but there is a more-expensive option if that is a concern of yours.
- The YI Home Security Camera does not integrate into other smartphone products (like Wink or SmartThings) right now. YI is always updating their software, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they update it soon. I didn’t need this.
- The app isn’t as slick as the Nest Cam. But the price more than made up for it.
- The cord is a little short to plugin. I was able to buy this 20 Foot Cord to help extend the range.
Overall, I think the YI Home Security Camera is an incredible competitor to the Nest Cam. The price – only $35 is a fantastic deal. The video quality is great, the app is more than enough, and the fact that you don’t need to purchase monthly cloud storage makes the YI Home WiFi Security Camera a great deal for me. Here’s what I’ve found the best deal on this WiFi Nest Cam Competitor.
The Best Nest Cam Alternative (that’s a bit more expensive)
Yi also makes a more expensive version of the same camera – The Yi Home Camera 2. If you’re looking for 1080P resolution and more features, this makes a great alternative to the Nest Camera.
The Yi Home Camera 2 has all of the great features of the original Yi Home Camera but adds a couple of key features:
- Like I said, 1080P resolution.
- A much higher viewing angle. The first Yi Home Camera has an 111 Degree Viewing Angle (360 Degrees would be viewing in a complete circle). The Yi Home Camera 2 has a 130-degree viewing angle
- The Original operates at 20 Frames Per Second; the Yi Home Camera 2 runs at 25 Frames Per Second. In other words, the movement will be less choppy on the Yi Home Camera 2.
- The Yi Camera 2 adds some cloud recognition of what’s happening – for example, it can decipher a baby crying and only alert you if it hears a baby crying.
- It also has much better night vision capabilities.
The only downside of this camera is that it’s slightly more expensive. The original can be found for about $20; this camera is about $90. Still cheaper than a Nest Cam and it doesn’t have the extra cloud charges, so you’re still ahead of the game regarding price.
Other options that are (still) cheaper than the Nest Cam
I, personally, really like the Ring Cameras. Ring has incredible customer service (read more about the Ring Doorbell) and a great quality product. Ring does charge for cloud service – but it’s much more reasonable – about $3/month. That’s much cheaper than the Nest Cloud service.
Overall the Ring Camera is more expensive (about $129), but the Ring Stick-Up Camera is a pretty mature product. Even though it’s not much cheaper than the Nest Cam, the monthly fee will save you some money.
Nest Cam Alternatives that work with Wink and SmartThings
Wink has announced several new cameras that work with their system. As I mentioned in my Wink Review, I think the Wink is the Best Smart Home system on the market right now. The Ring Camera works with Wink and SmartThings. Arlo cameras also work with Wink and SmartThings.
The best part about using the Ring Camera or the Arlo Cameras is that you can use them to trigger Robots on Motion from the camera. I have my Ring Doorbell set up to turn on the lights around the front door when there is motion in the middle of the night.
What you’re missing out on with the Nest Cam Alternatives
The Nest Cam is still a great product. Don’t get me wrong; I like it. Some people, like me, just hate paying for something monthly. I’d rather pay more upfront and nothing monthly. The Nest is the worst of both worlds – it’s more expensive, and they charge you monthly.
The one feature that Nest has that the Yi Home Cameras don’t is a great Apple TV app. I’d love to be able to put the Yi Home Cameras on the Apple TV, especially when our kid is in the playroom. Nest is also very widely accepted through their “Works with Nest” program.
If you want a camera that, for sure, is going to be around in a couple of years, check out the Nest Indoor Camera.
What do you think? What alternatives are you using for a Nest Cam?