The Canary All-In-One Home Security Device ($199) is more than just a surveillance camera. Armed with multiple sensors and a 1080p camera, it records events when motion is detected, delivers crisp live streaming video to your smartphone, and monitors air quality, humidity levels, and temperature in your home. It also uses geofencing to arm and disarm itself so you don’t have to. You can access the last 12 hours of recorded video for free, but beyond that you’ll have to subscribe to a premium cloud storage plan. The Canary may not let you control other home automation devices like our Editors Choice, the Icontrol Networks Piper nv$247.99 at Amazon, does but it does offer a bit more control over your recorded videos.
Design and Features
The front of the canister has a glossy black panel that holds a 1080p camera with a 147-degree viewing angle, a 3X zoom, and 12 Infrared LEDs that provide night vision with a range of up to 25 feet.Available in white, black, or silver, the Canary$174.90 at Amazon is a sleek-looking 0.87-pound cylinder that measures 6 inches high and 3 inches in diameter. By way of comparison, the Piper nv also has a 1080p camera, but it offers a wider viewing angle (180 degrees), a 10X zoom, and pan and tilt capabilities.
At the rear of the device you’ll find an Ethernet port, a micro USB power port, and a port used for creating a secure connection between the camera and a smartphone. The underside of the camera sports an LED ring that blinks red when it is searching for a network connection, and glows solid red when the camera is offline. A solid green light indicates that the Canary is armed, and a yellow light means it is disarmed. Under the hood are temperature, humidity, and air quality sensors, an ambient light sensor, a motion sensor, and an 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi adapter for connecting to a wireless network. There’s also a 90 dB siren for scaring off would-be burglars, and a microphone so you can hear what’s going on. Despite the microphone, the Canary does not support two-way audio communications.
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The Canary can be accessed and managed from anywhere using a free iOS or Android app. The app opens to a Home screen that shows the name of each camera (you can add up to four), with a Watch Live button in the middle of the screen that opens a live stream. The video takes up half the screen in portrait mode and goes full-screen in landscape mode. At the bottom of the screen are buttons to sound the siren and place an emergency call (you enter your emergency number in the Settings menu).
Below the Watch Live button are current temperature, humidity, and air quality readings. Tapping any reading launches a chart which displays levels throughout the day. The air quality chart gauges the air as Normal, Abnormal, and Very Abnormal, based the amount of contaminants present, including Hydrogen, Carbon Monoxide, Ethanol, cigarette smoke, and cooking odors. Whereas the Piper nv has alerts for humidity, temperature, and air quality levels, the Canary does not, at least not yet (these features will be added in a future software update).
Near the bottom of the Home screen is a button for arming or disarming motion-based push notifications. There’s also a Privacy mode that turns the camera and microphone off. Here you can also enable Auto-mode Switching, which uses geofencing to arm the Canary when you leave the perimeter of your home (around 500 feet) and disarms it when you return.
The Profile button brings you to a screen where you can edit your personal information (name, phone number, email address, password), and the + button lets you add users so they can view live and recorded video.
Motion-triggered recorded video is stored in the cloud, as there is no local storage option. To view a recorded video, tap the View Timeline tab at the very bottom of the home screen. A thumbnail of each clip is accompanied by a timestamp, a description of the event, and a bookmark icon that adds the clip to your bookmark library. Here you can view all events, armed events, or just bookmarked events, and you can request a video download or delete the video. The Settings screen displays your plan information, address and geofencing location, emergency numbers, members (users), and installed devices. There’s no way to adjust motion sensitivity as of this writing, but that too will be available in a future software update.
The Canary comes with a trial period that gives you seven days of timeline history, 100 video bookmarks, and unlimited downloads. After the trial period ends, you are automatically enrolled in the free starter plan which gives you 12 hours of timeline history, five bookmarks, and only three downloads. With the $4.99 monthly/$49 annual plan you get a two-day timeline, 25 bookmarks, and unlimited downloads. For $9.99 monthly/$99 annually you get a seven-day timeline, 100 bookmarks, and unlimited downloads. And for $29.99 monthly/$299 annually you get a 30-day timeline, unlimited bookmarks, and unlimited downloads.
Setup and Performance
Installing the Canary was a snap. I downloaded the app and created an account using my email address and smartphone number, and tapped Setup Canary Now. I was asked to allow the app to access location services and to enter my home address. Next, I plugged in the Canary and told the app where it was located (front door, back door, hallway, kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom, office, custom) and how it will connect to the internet (Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable). It immediately found my Wi-Fi SSID and asked for its password. Next, I connected the yellow security cable to the Canary and the audio port on my smartphone and hit Next to establish a secure connection between the two devices, which took around one minute. To complete the installation, the Canary went through an update and a verification process, which took around 3 minutes.
In my tests the Canary delivered sharp 1080p streaming video, recorded daylight video with bold colors and good contrast, and delivered well-lit black-and-white night vision video with excellent image detail. The motion sensor worked well but was a bit sensitive, resulting in the occasional false trigger. The forthcoming addition of a sensitivity slider should take care of this minor issue. Push notifications arrived instantly, but I’d like to see email and/or text message support added at some point.
The Auto-mode Switching (geofencing) worked flawlessly, arming the Canary when I traveled a few blocks away from home in either direction, and disarming it when I returned. The siren isn’t quite as loud as the Piper’s 105dB siren, but it is quite effective nonetheless and could be heard from two doors down.
Live on-demand video, sharp 1080p imagery, and instantaneous mobile alerts are all good reasons to consider the Canary for your smart home security needs. It installs in minutes and keeps tabs on humidity levels, room temperature, and air quality in your home, and it lets you download and delete recorded video. It has a reasonably loud siren and a motion sensor, and it will automatically arm itself when you leave the house. That said, the Piper nv remains our Editors’ Choice. It offers many of the same features and functionality as the Canary, and it can control other home automation devices as well. It also offers a wider field of view with pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities, and it supports email, text, and phone call alerts. The Canary is a bit less expensive, but the Piper nv gives you more bang for your buck.