Julie’s gadget diary – It’s time to find an alternative to Nest

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gadget diary

I’m in the process of a tech downsizing. I’ve already physically downsized my phone from a larger Nexus 6P to a smaller LG G6 which just arrived yesterday. And now I want to downsize the amount of data I upload to the cloud by finding an alternative to Nest cams.

Why do I care how much data I’m uploading to the Nest cloud? Because I’m also trying to find an alternative to my insanely expensive T1 line. If you don’t know what a T1 line is, it’s my broadband connection. Where I live, I don’t have the options for connecting to the internet as people who live in larger cities or even smaller cities. I live in a rural area where I don’t even have access to cable TV.

I had a Hughesnet satellite dish over a decade ago, but it wasn’t a good experience so I went with a T1 line.

The best things about a T1 line are that it’s unlimited and that the line is managed and has 24/7 support if it goes down… which it does at least a few times a year.

But the bad thing about the T1 line beside the monthly price is that the speed is only 1.5Mbps down and 1.5Mbps up. Stop laughing, I know that’s slow. But it’s stable and it’s been my only option for the past 10 years until now.

The speed really hasn’t been a big issue when it comes to day to day surfing and even Netflix streaming. But if Jeanne and I are both surfing and one of us tries to watch a Youtube video, the other one knows about it because surfing comes to a crawl.

Now I’m going to try a wireless solution for my internet which comes with its own set of pros and cons. The pros are lower cost and faster speed, but the con is that it’s not unlimited data. It’s only 32GB a month. That might sound like a lot, but it’s not if you have home security cameras like the Nest cam which can upload from 60GB – 160GB a month per camera if you subscribe to Nest Aware which saves your video on the Nest servers.

I have 2 Nest cams in my home which means I am currently uploading as much as 320GBs a month which is 10 times my monthly limit. Yikes, that madness has to stop.

So it’s time for me to find a good home security camera system that has these features:

  • Notifications sent to my phone when motion is detected
  • 24/7 video saved to a local drive
  • Easy access locally saved video even when I’m away from home
  • Software that works with a Mac (although I could build a cheap PC or use a Windows laptop if needed)

If you want to help me brainstorm possible solutions, leave a comment.

18 thoughts on “Julie’s gadget diary – It’s time to find an alternative to Nest”

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  2. You probably will be well served with a DVR solution. Mine can take 4 FullHD cameras via Power over Ethernet (PoE) and more if connected to a router. I have 2 of those cameras and a simple 2TB HDD can store about 10 days of 1080p video. I believe it has some of the smartphone functions you want, but the model I use its sold only here in Brazil, but there must be plenty of more sophisticated models available to you in the US.

    Also, as the cameras are PoE, and the DVR is behind a UPS, in case of power failure the thing will continue recording for a while after the power is lost.

      1. Is stand alone. You can plug it on a TV or access it on a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

        Search “dvr security system” on Amazon and you get a lot of options. I prefer systems with digital cameras, 1080p minimum for a good picture quality. You can check the manufacturer’s name in Google Play to check out their apps before buying a system.

        I also want to warn you that those systems are not all that user friendly. They are not over complicated either. Its just that you need some knowledge with networks to make things happen.

          1. There is a protocol called ONVIF that make connecting those things easy. Check if your Foscam cameras support this (I have one that don’t), so you only need to find a DVR that support it too.

  3. I feel your pain. I have been in the telecom industry for 30+ years. While working at AT&T Canada in the 90’s T-1’s cost $2200 per month and that was the best you could get! My clients, like Bank of America and Dow Jones, were ordering them up everywhere.

    I have Bell Canada cellular based internet service that provides me 50GB for $53.95 per month and flexes to $63.95 per month for 100GB. It’s rate shaped to 5Mbps downloads/1Mbps uploads but runs LTE so the latency/ping times are 50 ms – very fast compared to 3G HSPA+/CDMA services.

    Because of my internet I bought and installed a Netgear Arlo Pro security system with two wireless battery powered cameras. It’s fully featured including Geofencing and supports IFTTT. It sends motion activated clips to the cloud and also records onto a USB drive. Great control via an app, amazing technology, flexible and affordable – far better than old DVR based systems.

    I would think that Verizon (I believe that is your carrier) has cellular internet in your area utilizing a device like this – https://www.verizonwireless.com/home-office-solutions/verizon-smarthub/ . Hopefully it is affordable as well.

    1. The Netgear Arlo is a system I’ve not reviewed yet. I’ll have to take a look. Thanks for the pointer.

      Yes, the Verizon Smarthub is an option but it has a 10gb data cap which means it is not an option for me.

    2. @Marko
      I’ve been eyeing the Arlo Pro for awhile now. Can you give us some of your experience with the quality of the motion detection? I’ve seen reviewers say it can take several seconds for the detection to kick in, during which the camera may not be recording.

      Would also be interested in hearing about real world battery consumption.


      1. The problem with the Arlo Pro cameras is that they don’t record motion immediately when the object (a car or person) is coming directly towards or away from the cameras. I overcame this by raising the motion detection sensitivity and by placing the cameras along the side of my driveway on my pole-barn and the side of my house. Previously I had the cameras placed on the front of my house and garage facing down my long driveway.

        The battery life is excellent. I installed my system in February when it’s often -10 to -20 C here in Northern Ontario and I didn’t recharge the batteries until late May when they were still at 20%. It was comforting getting motion detection alerts and video snippets or using real-time monitoring on our Google Nexus phones while we were hiking in Zion National Park in March!

        Geofencing is a must-have feature that activates or deactivates the system automatically as my wife or I (actually our phones) leave or re-enter the set perimeter of our property. Combine that with https://ifttt.com/discover applets that turn the WiFi and Bluetooth on or off as we leave the property makes for ease of use and battery saving on our phones.

  4. We have the same problem in rural North Idaho. We pay $50 for up to 5MB DSL but it averages about 1MB download and .2 upload with frequent outages. We also have a Dropcam with cloud storage. I like the security of it instead of a camera/DVR system with the burglar spotting the camera, finding and destroying the DVR. Patiently waiting for you to find the perfect setup and sharing with us.

  5. I’ve been using Blink for a couple of years and have been very happy.
    No monthly fee.
    App alert to phone.
    Video loaded to cloud so burglar can’t steal recorder
    Cameras are powered by AA batteries and are wireless
    I don’t have a sense for data bandwidth but that depends how you use it. Mine never false indoors, even with sun/shadows.
    The cameras can false record outdoors if there are heat variations. But they have a new exterior camera that was just introduced which is supposed to prevent that.

    I use an IFTTT applet to automatically disarm it within a geofence of my choosing. Cameras can be scheduled to turn on/off in the oem app. I usually have the system come on during a set time of day, and off at a later time. I have the geofence for when I come home randomly during the day.

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