Brilliant wide angle lens, 1080p stream and super-simple setup, but the hamstrung functionality on the Canary will disappoint power users.
Ah, the Canary Home Security device. Even the name promises so much, as though you are inviting a panoptical sentinel to stand guard over your family and property.
But does the Canary sing the sweetest tune in the crowded home monitoring market?
Canary lightens your wallet
First up, the Canary aint cheap. The RRP is £150, it rarely gets discounted and on paper this wireless home security camera doesn’t sport exactly mind-blowing specs.
You do get 1080p, although plenty of Chinese knock-off IP cams are starting to feature HD recording, and some are going full 4K. The super-wide angle lens is fantastic. What you lose in image definition, you gain in field of view. For an indoor IP camera, the Canary is one of the few I’ve found that can fully cover a large room – top marks for the lens then.
The Canary has no onboard recording to a memory card, doesn’t do ONVIF, and you can’t even monitor the video stream via a desktop computer. Everything happens via the Canary smartphone app, and you’ll be tied into the subscription services from the manufacturer – more on this down below.
The Canary has fairly ordinary night-vision capabilities. It’ll monitor your home temperatures and air quality, although the market for this feature must be modest. Based on my experience with the thermometer, it seemed relatively accurate in my home – but why remote monitor temps?
To stand up to the ‘home security’ moniker, the Canary Home Security device is also loaded with a security alarm. It is loud, though not as loud my proper burglar alarm, and there is a problem with the alarm that I will explain in a moment.
There is no option to trigger sweet, relaxing canary bird cheeps. I was disappointed.
Canary camera is a slick package
The Canary certainly looks the schizzle. A sleek, unobtrusive beer can, the lights on it are subtle and soft, although you can see the IR LEDs glowing in the dark. There’s only one cable to feed power to the device and on optional ethernet input. Canary certainly puts the ‘smart’ into smart home monitoring.
The device is not very weighty though. I’m sure there’s lots of space inside that chic plastic housing. The design also means you can’t mount your Canary on a wall – it must have a flat surface to sit on.
The new Canary Flex solves this problem. It is a new camera from Canary, has lots more options for mounting, has battery backup aaaaaaaand is just as expensive as the original Canary. Oof.
Style-wise though, the Canary looks good. It definitely fits in with the whole Nest home monitoring look, although it is not quite iconic.
The Canary app is very nice looking too. Functionality is where the Canary is something of a letdown.
Canary tells you what to do
Setup for the Canary Home Security device is easy-peasy. Plug it in, turn it on, install the app, and follow the instructions. It really does take a few minutes to setup.
This would pass the Father-in-Law Test – even my father-in-law couldn’t muck it up.
You can view the stream live. You can set when the motion detection alerts happen. I really liked the ‘Sleep’ option, so the Canary starts monitoring at a time when you normally go to bed. Alerts work well, although the 10-second lag when viewing the livestream was a disappointment. I assume this is a product of the Canary streaming to a Cloud server and then back to the app.
Canary gives you 24-hours of recordings to review for free with the device. This is fine if you’re out of the house for the day. If I’m on holiday though, I don’t want to keep checking my phone for alerts. You can pay for a month of unlimited access and 30-days of recordings, and it only costs £7.99.
Still, the dependency on Canary’s servers, and the absence of any other way to record my video on my device is irksome.
And so it goes…
My other bug bear with the Canary Home Security device is the alarm. I have to manually trigger the alarm. There is no option to have the alarm automatically set off when motion is detected. For a home security device, this is bloody stupid and if the feature is buried in the app or added with a firmware update, I will happily amend this review.
But to have to check for an alert, wait to stream the video clip back, double-check the live stream, and then hit the alarm button is ridiculous. I can only assume false triggers were too annoying in user testing, so the functionality was pared back for the consumer release.
Canary is a great gift
Really, the Canary is fantastic gadget to give as a gift. If you’re serious about home security, the lack of flexibility creates too many compromises.
For siblings and parents though, the Canary looks great, the packaging is sweet-as, setup is so simple, and the apps makes viewing that 1080p stream a real pleasure.
It will sit quietly on a bookshelf and just do it’s thing, giving you peace of mind if you need to check on the house when you’re at work or away. You won’t be tweaking IP addresses, or drilling holes to thread in ethernet cables.
But for most mortals, this is a good thing, and the Canary Home Security device will be all the home monitoring they will ever want.