The $40 Million Funded Startup Canary Tested

By Ethan Ace, Published Jun 16, 2015, 08:00pm EDT

This startup, Canary, has raised $40 million total since 2014.

With Google buying Dropcam for $555 million, investors see big opportunity in security / video startups.

Canary now has a sizeable warchest for aggressive expansion.

But is Canary's product any good? We bought one to find out, testing it against Dropcam, as shown in the image below:

We tested:

  • How easy is it to set up?
  • Is the app simple to use?
  • How well does video search / playback work?
  • How well do Canary's extra features like environmental monitor and built-in sounder work?

Inside, we answer these questions and more.

Key ********

*******, ****** ** * mixed ***, **** **** interesting **********, ******* **** potentially ********* *************:

**********

****** ****** **** ***** features **** ** * built-in ***** *** ************* monitors ***** *** *** found ** **** *********** options. ************, *** *** performance *** *********, **** few ***** ** ****** activations, ********* ** ***** nuisance ****** ** ****** recordings.

*** ******* ** *** third ***** ********** ** also * ****, ***** in *** *********** (*** notably *** ** *******), and ******* * ****** objection ** **** ******** cameras: **** **** **** be ****-*********, ******* ***** tied ** ***** ****** or ********** ** *****-** or ***** ******.

***********

*******, ***** *** *** limitations ***** *** ** dealbreakers *** **** *****:

  • ** ******:*** **** ** *** sort ** ****** ***** users *********** **** ****** through ******** ****** ** their ******** ** ***** to ****** ***** ***** while **** **** **** from ***** ******. ****** third ***** ********** ** view ***** ****** ** possible, *** **** $** per ***** *** **** camera.
  • ** ****/******* *****:*** **** ** * wall ** ******* ***** limits ****** ** *********/******** use, ***** *** ** undesirable ************* *** ********** impact ***********, ** * wall/ceiling ** * ****** option ** ***** ******* areas.

***************

***** ******* ***** ***** only, *** **** ******** access ** ***** ****** device, **** **** ****** most ******. ***** ***** may ****** **** *** camera's *****-** *****, ** well, ** ** *** remotely ********* ** ***** off ********* ** **** of *****-**.

*******, *** **** ******** users, *** *** *** constantly **** ** ***** mobile ******, *** **** the **** ** *** advanced ****** ** ****** functions *********, *** ** better ****** **** ******* or ***** *******.

Camera *****

****** ***** *** $***, direct, ** *** ****** retailers. **** ** ~**%/$** more **** *** $********** ************ ********. *******, ***** ****** do *** ******* *** built ** ***** ** environmental ********** ******** ** Canary.

Recording ***** *** *******

****** ************* ********* *****, ******* **** **** to $**.** *** *** month:

*** ***** ******* ****** recording *** ******.

******** ** *******, *** "Never **** * ******" plan ** ****** ********* ($9.99 **. $*.**). *******, the ******** ** *** plan ** $** **** than *******'* ********** ************.

***** ***** **********

****** **** ***********, ***** are **** ********* ** the **** ****, ****** offers ******* ******* ********** of *** ****** (********* *****), ***** *** ** added ** *********** *** ** ********** $10 *** *****. **** Basic ***** *** *** use **** *******.

Physical ********

****** **** ***** ************ cameras, ****** ** ******** to *** ** * table ** *****. ** wall ** ******* ***** options *** ********. ***** this ** *** ******** means ** ********, ********* for *** ******** ******, it ****** ***** *** camera *** ** *********, potentially ********** ** **** obtaining ***** ***.

Setup *******

****** ***** ** ******, with *** ****** *** walking ***** ******* ******** an ******* *** ****** a ******. ****** ***** cameras, ***** ******* ******* setup *** *** ** wi-fi/Ethernet, ****** **** * stereo ***** ******* *** camera *** ****** ******, with **** *********** *********** as ****** ** ******** setup ***********.

*************, ***** ***** ** no *** ** ****** a ****** **** ** account **** *********, ******* waiting *** *******, ** cannot *********** *** **** setup *******. *** ******* from ******** *** ***, creating ** *******, *** starting ************ *** ****** cable, ** **** *****:

App ********

*** **** ****** ** the *** ******** ***** information ********* ****** ****** and ************* **********. ***** may *** "***** ****" to **** ******(*), ***** up ** **** *** timeline, *** **** ** open *******/****** ********.

**** ****

**** *** **** ******, users *** ***** ****** recording, ******* *** *****-** siren, ** **** ********* calls. **** **** ********* numbers ****** ** ****** checked ***** ***** ** they *** ** *********, which ** ****** ** configuration, *****.

******* ******* **** **** screen ** *** **** of ******** ********. ***** must *** ***** ****** device's *****-** ********** ****** (home + ***/**** ****** on ***, *** *******) to **** *********. ***** is **** ** *** to ****/****** *** ********** of *** ******, ** audio ** ****** **.

********

******* ** ** *** live ****** ***** ** the ********, *********** ****** a **** ** ****** and ********** *****. ***** the ******** ** ****** to ***, **** *** controls, ***** *** *** key ***********:

  • ** ******:***** ** ** *** to ****** *** ******** days ** ***** ** timeline, ******* ***** ** scroll ******* **** ********. Users *** **** ****** from *** ******** *** easier ********* *****, **** each ******** ******* ***** saved ***** *****.
  • ** ******:***** ** ** *** to ****** * ***** clip **** *** ****** app. ***** ******* ** turn **** ***** ** law ***********, *** *******, are ******* ** *********** only (**** *******, *** above).

*************

******* ****, ***** *** access *************. **** ******* here:

  • **** **** *********:***** *** ********* ******* Canary ************* ******** **** to ******** ** ******* when ***** *** ******* (in *** ******** ****** configured ** *****). ******** mode ********* *********, *** does *** *****, ***** Privacy ******** *** ****** altogether, **** **** ***** and ***** ***********.
  • ********* ********* *******:****** ************* ********* ***** numbers *** ******, ********* medical ********, *** **** based ** *** ******** given ****** *****. *******, in *** ********, *** out ** ***** (****** and ***) **** *****. Users ****** ** ******* to ***** ******* *******, or ****** *** ***, to ****** **** *** contact *** ****** ********** in ** *********.

VMD ***********

**** *** *********** ** especially ********* *** ******, as **** ***** ***** party ********** ** ***** alerts, *** ** ***** it ** ** ********, with **** *** ***** positives ** ****** ***********.

**** ********* ** ** open ****** ****, ****** did *** ***** ** all ***** ***** ****** lights ** *** **** morning, **** ** ******** caused ** ******* *****, floating *********, ** ***** changes. ************, ******'* **** missed *********** **** ** low ***** **** *** subject *** ****** *** IR *****. ** *** conference **** **** ***** (20'x30', ****** **** * typical *********** ****), ****** did *** **** *** valid ***********.

Image ******* **. *******

******'* ****** ** *****, higher ********** **** **** competitors, **** ** *** Dropcam *** (****). *******, video ** ****** **********, with ******* ***** ********* and ************, ********* ** only ******** **** ****** than **** ******.

************, *** ***** ***** of **** (***° **. 130° ** ******* ***, seen *****) ******* ******* PPF.

** **** **** ***** comparison, ***, ** ***, more ****** ******* *** delivered ** ****** ******** to *** ******* ***, with *** *******'* ******** slightly **** **********, *** lines */* ** *** test ***** ******** **** legible (*****/*****).

** *** ****, **** IR **, *** ********** is **********, **** ******* camera ********* ****** ****** of *** *******, *** only **** ******* ******* on *** ***** **** of *** *****.

Comments (10)

I've got an idea! And yes I work for Mobotix. 12x40= $480 recurring yearly plus $250 for camera. Buy any other real security camera with SD card recording , event search, analytics, two way audio, and list goes on and on- for under $550 and you will be 10 times better off and save 2 to 3 times the cost of this solution!

Hunter, how happy are you Mobotix guys now that you have a camera under $1000? :)

A few things:

  • The $40 per month cost estimate is misleading. That's for their longest storage duration plan (60 days) that very few take. As a point of reference, a while back Dropcam's CEO disclosed the percentage paying monthly and it was ~40%, meaning 60% pay nothing ongoing. Literally, for most of these people, the only cost is for the camera.
  • Both Dropcam and Canary have made set up and ongoing access far simpler than what any 'real security camera' does. For professionals, this is not a big deal, but for consumers, easy set up and access is a critical differentiator.

I'm disappointed that the Canary doesn't have built-in PIR for detection. I read the Amazon reviews where people reported falses with the VMD.

Hey Brandon, it does seem a bit of a strange omission, especially when a number of others have started to include them.

In our tests, we had few false positives. A few Amazon reviewers mentioned events every time the camera switched from night to day, and we didn't experience that. It happened once or twice, but not consistently enough to call it a major issue.

This will sell, as it's all about ease of use. The typical consumer doesn't really know the difference between low light lux ratings, IR, or any other "professional industry" terms. They only care about 3 things, 1. Price, 2. ease of use, and 3. can I see video.

Andre, though on price, this is not exactly low cost at $250. I do wonder how much of a market they can capture at this price point.

I believe they will not have any issue selling at the $250 price, dropcam is at $199 and you have a handful of additional features for only $50 more.....

A lower cost model would not hurt though.

It's not a direct answer to how much of a market they can capture, but they are ranked fairly high in some Amazon categories:

Of course, Dropcam has been #1 in at least one category or more for years, and the Nest Cam took that over in the only a couple of days:

Being #22nd in surveillance cameras is not impressive given how new they are. However, given how much marketing budget they have, maybe it's not.

The list of products ahead of them are not that impressive but most are half the Canary's price.

The Canary iOS app updated today with the ability to download videos, which was one of their key limitations. Users queue downloads for processing, and the app alerts them when the clip is ready, which is then downloaded to the device's camera roll.

Note that the video looks a little square when I start playing back. That's due to the way the iPad screenrecorder I'm using works, not the app. It plays back just fine in the proper aspect ratio in the app.

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