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Canary Pro review: the security camera that monitors your home's air quality

Is adding air quality monitoring to a smart camera a great USP for the Canary Pro, or just a bit weird?

Canary Pro review
(Image: © Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)

Our Verdict

Up against the growing niche that is smart indoor cameras, the Canary Pro manages to stand out by looking sharp and offering an interesting extra feature set. Hardware and app are great but the purchase price and especially cloud service are at the high end so unless you want to monitor the air it may be wise to look elsewhere.

For

  • Sensors to monitor air quality and humidity
  • Choice of Ethernet or wi-fi connectivity
  • Sleek design
  • Up to a day’s storage of clips without subscription
  • Quick to identify motion and activate camera
  • Geofencing & multiple trusted user option in the app

Against

  • Can’t be easily re-positioned vertically
  • Expensive compared to other indoor cameras
  • Overall cost of ownership very high for cloud users
  • No two-way chat without cloud subscription
  • Glossy top can attract dust

The Canary Pro takes a somewhat more holistic approach to home security than alternatives emerging from other brands like Nest, so it needs to be seen slightly differently. Atop the camera, the Pro is also designed to track air quality and the company’s software emphasizes personal security too.

New York-based Canary was originally funded by a very successful Kickstarter in 2013 and currently offer three cameras – the Canary Pro, the Canary View (which looks identical but lacks some of the features), and the Canary Flex which can be used outdoors. The Pro has also been called the ‘All-In-One’ as opposed to the cheaper View. 

Canary Pro: specifications

The Canary Pro, left, is bigger than the Canary Flex despite the fact that the Flex houses a battery for wireless use.  (Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)

Resolution: 1080P 

Field of View: 147˚ (diagonal)

Night Vision: Yes (Black & White) 

Frame Rate: up to 30fps 

Subscription Storage: Yes 

Battery:  None

Ingress Protection: None

Operating Temperature: 0˚C – 40˚ C (32˚ to 104˚F) 

Dimensions: 152 x 76 x 76 mm 

Weight: 396g

Key features

(Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)

Built to live indoors, the Canary Pro is a 1080p which not only looks out for motion through a wide-angle camera, but monitors particulate, humidity and temperature in the location you position, letting you know how healthy your home is (and potentially alerting you to a gas leak).

The app alerts you to motion, and allows you to tag your clips (e.g. Pet) to help the AI and to share them from a distinctly social-media like feed. 

Built into the cylinder is a 90dB siren which can be remotely activated to ward off unwelcome guests (or the neighbor’s cat).

Unlike most smart cameras, an Ethernet socket provides an alternative to wi-fi which is rarely seen in the smart home security camera space. Beneath this is a MicroUSB socket for power via the included USB cable (an elegant flat one) and power adapter next to an auxiliary socket for old-school wired pairing (you’re unlikely to need this).

Build & handling

The rear of the Canary Pro is where you’ll find the Micro USB connector (power), Ethernet socket and aux. (Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)

The Canary prose sumptuous packaging inspires confidence, which is not reduced when you lift the unit out, though given the size it feels surprisingly light. The camera’s cylindrical construction is sliced by a sleek gloss front for the lens, motion sensor and microphone, while nearly seamless elements curve this over the top and bottom to conceal vents, the speaker, and, underneath, a bright color-changing LED.

The design is simple to position, resting like a cup, and the reflected glow bounced beneath it is a much more stylish than a front-mounted light. On the flip side you can only re-position by physically moving the tube; there is no base or fulcrum for angling the lens making it distinctive but potentially impractical.

The setup process is beyond straightforward thanks to hand-holding through the app, though it is necessary to create an account even to use the Basic service because one day’s cloud-based clip storage is included through this means. 

Performance

Every step of the app is painless to use, from the setup (left), through the event timeline (middle), to unusual features like the graphs indicating air quality – note the spike at cooking time. (Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)

The Canary Pro camera sits in the middle of camera quality, producing video which gets the white balance right whether you’ve got the lights on or not, but doesn’t quite have the dynamic range we’d like.

Video sample from Canary Pro

In terms of activations, even positioned on the kitchen counter the sensor was quick to activate the camera and record a clip (though it must be said if you can a slightly higher spot might offer a more flattering view).

Our unit was placed, as instructed, in ‘a high traffic area’ (next to the coffee machine), and the air quality monitoring appeared to spike during kitchen activity, suggesting the sensor is quick to identifying changes in dust. 

The software invites training of the AI, so if you’re getting alerts you don’t need you can tag clips as being ‘pet’ for example. This can also help find clips you want to share, of course. The only slight disappointment was the number of times the Canary app crashed during our testing (but, when pushed, it’s hardly the only security camera app to have issues). 

Canary Pro: Verdict

(Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)

The Canary Pro hits you in three waves. The first is lust for such a graceful and flowing design, containing a camera which is more than good enough too. Next you start to find problems: “Why can’t I re-position it?” “It is a bit pricey.” Then, finally, your perception of the unique features become the turning point. If, for example, you have a use for Ethernet but you still like a stylish and usable app, then the Canary is pretty much your only choice. Similarly if you’re interested in air quality (or paranoid about leaving the oven on) clearly this is the cam for you.

The purchase price isn’t low, but the real concern with Canary is the lifetime cost of ownership; Canary’s Premium plan simply isn’t competitive when compared with similar products from Nest, Arlo or others.

For some, that won’t be a problem. Nor is It an issue if you’re opting for “Free Access,” which by offering a day of clips is more generous than most. Ultimately this should guide your decision.

Other useful buying guides: 

Best outdoor security cameras in 2021

Best indoor security cameras

Best PTZ camera

Best PoE cameras

Best pet cameras

The best doorbell cameras

The best body cameras for personal security

Adam Juniper

With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 


Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 


He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video and The Drone Pilot's Handbook