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The best thing about Nest’s new video doorbell — it’s not the camera

Nest Doorbell
(Image credit: Google)

Later this month, Nest will start selling three new home security cameras and one new video doorbell in a complete revamp of its entire lineup. But while the devices themselves look great — the designs are cleaner and they have more features than before, including battery backup and local storage — what excited me most about Nest’s announcement was the change to the company’s video-storage and subscription plans.

Anyone who buys  the new cameras or doorbell will now get three free hours of event recording, people, animal, vehicle and package detection, and custom activity zones. 

Previously, if you wanted to save any video from your Nest doorbell or security camera, you’d have to subscribe to a Nest Aware plan, which starts at $6/month. Likewise, if you wanted extra features such as person or package detection, that would also cost you extra. 

This kind of arrangement is  not unheard of; Arlo, Blink, and Ring, some of the other industry leaders, also require you to subscribe to a monthly plan if you want to save video. Exceptions include Canary and Wyze, which offer limited cloud storage for free. Some of Eufy’s cameras and video doorbells have local storage, but to save anything to the cloud, you’ll need to spend at least $2.99/month for a subscription.

Granted, three hours of cloud storage ain’t much, but it’s better than what came before. And with person and package detection also being offered for free, this makes the new Nest doorbell an even more compelling purchase.

I get it: Subscription services let companies make money beyond the point of purchase and serve as a recurring revenue stream. But between the best streaming services and cloud storage for your photos, we’re being subscribed to death. So while it’s not a lot, it is nice to get something back. 

Nest says that one of the reasons it was able to expand free features  is because there’s now local storage built into its cameras — enough for three hours, anyway — and the chips in the cameras now handle the processing for identifying people, vehicles, and packages. If you don’t have to spend your own cloud resources, then you’re not really losing any money. 

Now that Nest is making these features free for its users — and shaking up the best cloud storage plans for security cameras — I’m curious to see if Arlo and Ring will follow suit. Once upon a time, Arlo offered free 7-day video storage, but that ended with the Arlo Pro 2 camera. You can still find it on the Arlo Baby monitor, though. 

I don’t expect companies to suddenly make everything free, but it is nice to see that consumers are getting at least something back.

Mike Prospero

Michael A. Prospero is the deputy editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing the home, smart home, drones, and fitness/wearables categories, as well as all buying guides and other evergreen content. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine or some other cooking gadget.