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Video and Image Quality

Let's look at some videos. Canary was very sensitive to motion most times. But I had a heck of a time getting Canary to pick up my motion when I wanted it to. So for the videos below, I actually turned manual recording on. The first video is NETGEAR's Arlo, which I reviewed a few weeks ago.

NETGEAR Arlo Motion Indoor Daylight

The second is Canary.

Canary Motion Indoor Daylight

One particular thing to take note of here is really just how wide Canary field of view is (147°). You really see quite a lot of real estate wherever you have Canary pointed.

I wanted to see how much uplink bandwidth Canary took, so I turned on Watch Live with Canary and checked. The upload bandwidth varied, but I saw around 1.5 Mbps max. That's about double what I saw with NETGEAR's Arlo. Arlo is a 720p camera, and Canary is a 1080p camera, so the extra bandwidth does make sense. But 1.5 Mbps could be a signifcant burden on or even exceed your total uplink bandwidth, depending on your internet connection. As with Arlo and Dropcam, there are no controls to limit bandwidth use.

For night vision, I took one static image with the Canary camera, with me standing 25 feet away. You are able to see me, but that's about it. No making out the face in that picture. That said, the picture is inline with what I see from about every camera I've looked at.

Canary Night Vision with me at 25 feet

Canary Night Vision with me at 25 feet

I've included the Arlo 25 foot picture for comparison.

Arlo Night Vision with me at 25 feet

Arlo Night Vision with me at 25 feet

You can see the Canary lens has a definite "fish eye" effect to it, just like Arlo. Because of its very wide field of view, I look farther away in the Canary image even though the cameras are in the same location. Overall, Canary's night vision looks pretty good. It really lights up the room and items closer than 25 feet would be more visible than with Arlo. Let's see how it looks with motion in the video below.

Canary Motion Indoor Night

Indoor night vision with Canary looks pretty good. Compare that to Arlo, which I reviewed a few weeks back.

Arlo (Netgear) Motion Indoor Night

You can see the night vision with motion is also fairly good with both cameras. The scene is lit up well and motion is not blurred on either one.

I did not take any videos outdoors with the Canary. While it would have been interesting to see how it did, Canary is not meant to be an outdoor camera.

Closing Thoughts

Canary is an interesting product, still in its early days, with many features on the "to-do" list. Given its crowd-funded startup status, my spider-sense starts tingling when I hear "coming in a future release", because we've all been down that road before.

That said, when I first started looking at Canary, support told me downloading videos would be coming in a future feature. So I was pleased when the option became available before I completed this review. So Canary is working on additional features. I also hope the activation cable goes away. Sure, use it for initial setup, but get rid of it if the Canary is already connected.

On a positive note, the user interface is one of the simplest ones I've seen and works well. But it suffers from the lack of motion detection features you see in most non cloud-based IP cameras. This isn't a UI problem, but a limitation of Canary's record-only-on-motion approach.

In the end, Canary falls far short of its promise of being a "complete home security system packed into a single device". The only feature providing security right now is the camera, whose motion detection is so inconsistent I had to resort to manually starting recording for my test clips. And the inability to tweak the trigger zone coupled with Canary's extra-wide field of view makes frequent false triggers unlikely to go away. With no ability to interact with any other smart home devices, Canary can't even do something as simple as turn on a light when it is triggered.

Bottom line: expensive cloud-based IP camera, yes. Something you should depend on to protect your home, no.

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