Power and Style All-In-One: We Test Out the Canary Home Security Device
The Canary All-In-One Home Security Device is a sleek and powerful addition to the home surveillance market. It’s packed with multiple sensors, a HD 1080p camera with night vision, and easily pairs with its companion app. We tested one out in a home and were impressed by its performance and look forward to future updates that may push it further.
The first thing that jumps out about the Canary is its design. The device comes in three colors: white, silver, and grey, so you can match it with your décor. The tall cylinder doesn’t resemble other cameras and that’s on purpose. This is a piece you can display openly in your home without taking away from the atmosphere of a room. It’s about 6” high and 3” in diameter, with your chosen color enveloping everything but a black strip down the center with the camera’s lens.
The Canary was made with small homes or apartments in mind. This isn’t something you’re expected to buy for every room, but the app is compatible with more than one device if you choose to. To that end, the camera’s fish eye lens shows a 147 degree angle of view. When placed in a corner, we had a very good view of the room and could see anyone (or thing!) moving about. We could also use the app to utilize the 3x zoom if we needed a closer look at something. However, the Canary won’t pan or tilt, and while this isn’t a standard feature on most security cameras, it would have opened up more placement options for the device, especially if something was happening low to the ground near the camera.
The camera’s night vision mode was stunning. I don’t think we’ve ever seen night vision so crisp before in a security camera. The Canary utilizes 12 infrared LEDs for this mode, with an impressive 25 foot range. Everything was extremely clear and no details were missed between the two modes. This is easily the most important feature in a security camera when you’re worried about intruders while away or monitoring your pets at night.
The device will record audio as well, but only one-way, so you can’t talk to anyone on the other end. The audio range is great, we were able to pick up sounds from two rooms away at times. The clarity is good too, similar to a phone call’s quality.
The Canary has three modes: armed, disarmed, and privacy. Both armed and disarmed will have motion-activated recording, but only armed will send your phone (or other app-enabled device) alerts. Privacy mode will turn the camera and microphone completely off. The app has a geo-fencing feature with a 150 meter diameter to log if you’re home or not. You can tell the Canary to either disarm or switch to privacy mode when you come home so you won’t get notifications. The device has a circle of light at the bottom that changes colors with each mode, such as green for armed, so you can quickly check.
You can add multiple members to the app so everyone can view and use the Canary. It’s a good idea to add any family members or roommates so the device can include them when geo-fencing and only arm itself when everyone has left the property.
As expected, the Canary will notify you if any activity is detected. This is purely motion based, if there is a loud noise nearby with no motion, it won’t record. Alerts are a little trigger happy at first, but we were able to “teach” it to recognize what’s happening to lessen false alarms. When motion is detected, the camera will record for the duration of it and store it for you to access via the app. You can then go in and tag videos, using a dropdown menu to tell the app what caused it if it was benign. This will take some time, this is a computer and not a person after all, so make sure you keep at it while it slowly learns the ins and outs of your home.
If you do get an alert, the Canary will ask you if you’d like to sound the alarm. There is a 90db siren built into the device and can be turned on and off quickly with the app. You don’t have to wait for a notification either, there is an alarm option right on the home menu. We tested it out, and trust us, it will definitely get the attention of anyone sneaking into your home, and maybe alert the neighbors as well. We loved that a siren was included, it helped us take action immediately instead of helplessly watching or waiting for the police to arrive after calling. There is also an option in the app to call an emergency number (as chosen in your settings) so you can dial someone quickly.
Overall the app gave us a lot of information on our home and our videos. Beyond motion, there are sensors for temperature, humidity, and air quality. The timeline section gives a clear overview of everything detected, telling us when we left our home, if the device auto-armed, and every video recorded when activity was detected. Beyond the tagging feature, when clicking on a video we could choose to bookmark videos for the app to save, see if a notification was triggered, or add in our own personal notes about the recording. Each video’s timeline will be peppered with yellow lines to show you quickly when movement was happening. We absolutely loved that small addition, as it helped us fast forward to see the action, instead of seeing someone walk out of the room and wait for them to reappear. Events occurring while the Canary is armed will also be included in a separate list so you can quickly find them.
Unfortunately, at this time the app will not alert you if it loses connection to the device, either because of internet or power loss. This can be frustrating as there could be an intruder while the device is offline, and you’d never suspect there was a problem. A simple notification whenever the app lost connection to the Canary would have a least kept us from accidentally thinking everything was fine in the meantime, and let us know to check on the device when we were home.
Below the Watch Live option on the app’s homepage is a quick look at the current temperature, humidity, and air quality. Selecting it will bring you to the “Homehealth” section, with a chart covering any changes for each category. This is a nice feature if you need to keep track of any energy spikes with your air conditioning, or if it might be getting too hot for your pets. The charts will also change colors if a bad spike it detected to make the data clear at first glance. When checked with other devices, the reported temperature and humidity levels were spot on.
However, we did hope for a more extensive air quality report. The sensor will detect levels and changes relating to isobutene, hydrogen, methane, ethanol, carbon monoxide, cigarette smoke, and cooking odors, which is a wide range of contaminants, but some are obviously more important than others. For example, if my home’s air quality was determined to be “very abnormal”, it would be important to know if it was detecting a shift in carbon monoxide levels or simple cooking odors. We haven’t seen this feature in other home security devices, so it’s hard to know what’s possible, but we’d like to see an update that would make this particular sensor more useful in the future.
The Canary has free and premium plans to choose from. The free option will store videos for 12 hours (enough time for you to monitor while away at work), allow up to 5 video bookmarks, and 3 video downloads. Paid plans can extend all these options, with the most powerful plan upgrading cloud storage to 30 days with unlimited video bookmarks and downloads. The plans range from roughly $5 a month/$50 a year to $30 a month/$300 a year. While the free plan will cover most of your needs, the premium plans are, at the time of this review, the lowest on the market for home security devices.
You can purchase a Canary All-In-One Home Security Device online or in stores for about $200. A two-pack will cut the cost to $380. We found this to be comparable to similar devices currently on the market.