Canary Pro review: Decent performance, high cost

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Canary Pro review: Decent performance, high cost

MSRP $169.00

“The Canary Pro offers clear video and audio recording as well as air quality sensors, but its premium service is needed to make it even halfway functional.”

Advantages

  • Integrated air quality sensors

  • Solid performance

  • Proposes a pseudo-financing plan

  • Optional Ethernet port

The inconvenients

  • Best Features Locked Behind Premium Membership

  • Too expensive for what it offers

  • Slow to start live stream

When smart home security technology became popular, Canary was one of the first companies to provide a reliable option with the original Canary. Technology has come a long way since then. The most recent iteration is the Canary Pro, an all-in-one solution that combines a security camera, siren, and motion detection capabilities in one.

Does it compare well with other options? In some ways, yes – but not all. Although Canary is marketed as self-monitoring security, it does not offer the same level of protection as a professionally monitored system.

Clarity and specifications

Right off the bat, the Canary Pro offers impressive tech specs, especially for a $169 security system. It comprises:

  • 1080p HD camera with motion detector
  • 147 degree wide angle lens
  • Automatic night vision
  • Two-way talk
  • Siren 90+ decibels
  • 2.4 GHz, Ethernet and Bluetooth compatibility
  • Temperature, humidity and air quality sensors

The camera is quite clear, especially when used in smaller spaces. The microphone picks up sound clearly (and the speakers are clear when talking through the app.) The main downside I’ve found is that there’s about a half-second to a second lag between what happens on camera and when you see it in the app.

The camera is quite clear, especially when used in smaller spaces.

The app itself is also a bit slow to load. Several times I waited five to 10 seconds for the image to appear. It’s not ideal for real-time monitoring, especially if you get a motion alert when you’re away from home.

Actual performance

I configured the Canary Pro to act as a cat camera. Since I never leave the house, this was the best way to test the camera’s motion detection. With this application in mind, it worked very well. This is a screenshot of it in action, but with a moving target.

A screenshot of the Canary Pro app.

I tested the Canary Pro without its premium subscription, but even though it lacked many features, it still performed well. The basic feature set is what matters: reliable motion detection, two-way audio, and a siren (although I’ve never used it except for testing.) That said, I wouldn’t rely on it as my main security device without its premium subscription.

One of the most outstanding features of the Canary Pro is its air quality detection. While that’s not so unusual anymore – companies like Blink have also started offering it to some extent – ​​the Canary Pro does more than just give you the temperature. It also measures humidity and looks for pollutants in the air.

The sensor is not as powerful as you might find in a high quality air purifier, but it can detect pollutants such as isobutane, hydrogen, methane, ethanol, carbon monoxide carbon, cigarette smoke and cooking odours. It then displays a graph of air quality changes over time, along with a real-time reading of the current air quality, temperature and humidity. For example, by burning a candle nearby, air quality remained relatively stable, but pollutants temporarily increased after the candle was extinguished.

One of the most outstanding features of the Canary Pro is its air quality detection.

I found differences in readings between the Canary Pro and my dedicated air quality sensor, but as an added feature in a security camera it’s accurate enough.

Like most surveillance systems, there are three modes to choose from: Away, Home, and Night. By default, Away mode turns on recording and lets you watch live, while Home mode turns off recordings but still keeps live viewing. Night mode is configured to alert you only when the system detects a person.

You can change what each mode does, as well as set times for a mode to activate. The Canary Pro also uses a form of geofencing to automatically turn Home Mode on or off when your mobile device (or a registered family member’s) connects to Wi-Fi.

Is Canary Premium worth it?

Canary Premium costs $10 per month or $99 per year for your first device. Each additional device after that costs an additional $3 per month or $29 per year.

The Canary Pro on a table.

Many of Canary’s best features are locked behind this subscription. Without the service, any Canary device is severely limited in what it can do. The basic service includes 24/7 live view, motion notification, two-way audio and… well, that’s it.

If you want to receive motion notifications with preview image or video clip, you need Canary Premium. You also need Canary Premium for people detection.

It also includes many other features:

  • Full video clips
  • 30 days of video history
  • Area masking
  • One tap to call first responders
  • Unlimited video downloads
  • Safety button
  • Incident handling
  • desktop broadcast
  • Custom home and away modes
  • Apple TV support
  • Apple Watch app
  • Geofencing
  • Google Assistant and Alexa integration
  • Two-year warranty on the device

Is Canary Premium worth it? If you have a Canary device, yes it is. Otherwise, the device just isn’t worth much – you’re paying for features you won’t have access to.

If you don’t have a Canary device, the Canary Premium service is a great mark against buying one. Restricting features behind an annual subscription is an archaic practice and one that needs to go away ASAP.

Otherwise, the device just isn’t worth much – you’re paying for features you won’t have access to.

It has one advantage: many Canary products, including the Canary Pro, are free with a two-year subscription to the Premium service. At $13 per month for the device plus the Premium service, it somewhat offsets the cost.

Our point of view

The Canary Pro is a solid all-in-one security system ruined by an overzealous subscription service. Although the security system works well, the restrictions make us doubt its use in our own homes when there are better and more affordable options.

Is there a better alternative?

The Canary Pro has a lot of features, but it’s expensive to access them. If you are willing to trade some features for an affordable price, you may consider the Arlo Essential indoor camera. At $100, it costs less than the Canary – and although it also has a subscription plan, it only costs $3 per month. Another even more affordable option is the Ring Indoor Camera at just $60.

How long will it last?

The Canary Pro is solidly built. Barring serious drops, I expect to see several years of use out of it. If anything goes wrong, Canary offers a one-year warranty (or two if you have Premium service.)

Should I buy it?

No. The self-monitoring security system is too limited for anything larger than a studio and too expensive to expand for larger homes, especially when there are more affordable alternatives that come so close to matching it.

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