If you’re thinking about investing in a video doorbell, you’re in luck today.
While these smart entry systems are simple in principle, there are a few things to keep your eye out for on the buying trail. We’ll clear that up first with a concise guide to finding a video doorbell that fits the easy way.
With that in place, we’ll highlight a cross-section of the leading video doorbells, so you have everything you need to smarten up your entry system.
Choosing a Smart Video Doorbell in 5 Easy Steps
The premise of a smart video doorbell is simple but effective. When someone rings the bell, you’ll be alerted on your cell phone. You can communicate with your visitor using video and two-way audio, even if you’re on the other side of the world.
So, if you want to keep your home protected and if you want to remain aware of all comings and goings remotely, what should you think about when you’re buying a video doorbell?
- Wired or Wireless
- Motion Detection
- Viewing Angle and Resolution
- Cost of Storage
- Interoperability and Smart Lock Integration
1) Wired or Wireless?
The first decision you have to make is whether or not you want a wired or wireless system.
Most video doorbells are designed to replace the existing doorbell you already have wired in. This makes perfect sense if you’re looking for quick and easy installation while kicking aside the need for batteries. All you’ll need is some simple connectors that come included.
What do you do if you don’t have a doorbell in place?
Unfortunately, you’ll be more restricted. One option is to wire in a doorbell but this is not the easiest route to take.
Instead, why not consider a wireless video doorbell?
Your main problem here will be finding a worthwhile model but you are in luck if you’re willing to invest in the Ring ecosystem. We’ll kick off our reviews below with some battery-powered beauties perfect for anyone without a doorbell already wired in.
With that decision made, you should now double down on the type of motion detection you want.
2) Motion Detection
While all video doorbells come equipped with motion detection, the degree of sensitivity and customization varies from brand to brand and model to model.
As with all purchases of smart devices, our advice is unwavering: make it personal.
Look for the bell offering you everything you need and nothing you don’t.
If you have a more complex layout to your property and you feel customizable motion detection zones would be beneficial, roll with a doorbell offering this. If, on the other hand, you wouldn’t make use of this feature, it’s senseless prioritizing it.
Another key area to laser in on concerns the viewing angle and resolution of the video.
3) Viewing Angle and Resolution
HD video is standard, so you need to think about how important resolution is to you. If detail counts, choose a doorbell with 1080p HD. If you’re not overly concerned about the quality of recorded footage, you can get away with 720p video.
Night vision for your video doorbell is a no-brainer. If you think about it, a doorbell that didn’t work at night would be fundamentally useless. So investing in a video doorbell with night vision should be high on your list.
Viewing angle varies, but is normally in the region of 150 to 160 degrees. If you’re looking to cover a broader area, Ring offers doorbells with a 180-degree field of view. You can check these out directly below.
You can enhance the angle by investing in a wedge or corner kit, so you can protect your home from the angles that suit.
Again, there’s no right or wrong answer here, it's simply what works best for you.
4) Cost of Storage
You should plan ahead so you’re not hit with any hidden surprises after you’ve purchased your video doorbell.
Check to see what features come free of charge and which you’ll need a paid plan for.
Most doorbells offer very limited free cloud storage – perhaps 24 hours – while for more storage, you’ll need to pay for a subscription.
Most of the paid plans give you the choice of paying a nominal monthly fee or getting a slight discount if you pay annually.
Look closely at the fine print and make sure you’re getting what you need at a price that fits.
5) Interoperability and Smart Lock Integration
As with all smart devices, the majesty of home automation is getting those devices to work together.
Think about what other technology you would like to hook up to your video doorbell.
Do you want it working with smart lighting or a smart door lock?
What about using your preferred digital assistant?
Check for compatibility before committing to purchase and you can get your smart home started the right way right from the point of entrance.
As you can see, getting the right video doorbell is pretty simple really. If you opt for one of our suggestions below, choosing the specific model will be just as easy.
Best Video Doorbell Product Highlight
1) Ring Range
Amazon-owned security specialist Ring has a stranglehold on the smart video doorbell space. Their classic Video Doorbell stormed the smart home scene after debuting on Shark Tank back in 2013. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, you can still pick up the original WiFi Video Doorbell at a highly competitive price.
Is it still worth investing in the classic iteration, though?
That depends entirely on what you want from an entry system. If you’re content with respectable 720p HD video footage and robust two-way audio, video doorbells still make sense in 2019.
You’ll be limited to 2.4GHz WiFi, so make sure you have that network in place and you’ll dip out on the more advanced human detection present in later models. You won’t get any interchangeable faceplates thrown in, but you can choose from 3 finishes.
The Original Video Doorbell
The original Ring Doorbell comes either battery-powered or hardwired. Despite being superseded, if you’re looking for a cheap entry point to smart doorbells from an industry legend, we wouldn’t write off this model just yet.
Video Doorbell 2
Ring Doorbell 2 comes with a minor cosmetic upgrade and you’ll get a selection of faceplates bundled. With the second iteration, video quality is enhanced to 1080p, although the field of view actually drops from 180 degrees to 160 degrees.
Although this model is pricier than the older version, you’ll get an extra battery pack thrown in along with the other tweaks.
Interoperability is first-rate, and you can start building out that fabled Ring of Security by getting your entry system working in harmony with other products in the ecosystem.
Video Doorbell Pro
Stepping things up another gear, what does the hard-hitting Ring Doorbell Pro bring to the table? Video is again 1080p full HD and you’ll get all the alerts and smarts you’d expect from a Ring entry system.
This model only comes in a hardwired form, so it might not make the best fit for renters.
WiFi support extends to 5GHz alongside the regular 2.4GHz, so it widens your options. The Pro model also showcases human detection and highly customizable motion zones.
If you have deeper pockets and exacting standards, Video Doorbell Pro represents outstanding value. It’s our personal favorite of all smart video entry systems.
Video Doorbell Elite
What about the range-topping Ring Doorbell Elite?
Firstly, you will need to dig deep. This model attracts a significant price premium as you’d expect from any pro-grade solution.
Power over Ethernet gives you the ultimate stability, while the field of view extends to 160 degrees horizontally along with 90 degrees vertically. Doorbell Elite is tailor-made for monitoring and security for your commercial outlet or smart home.
Whichever Ring Video Doorbell sits best with your needs and budget, you’re spoiled for choice.
With the options from the industry leader laid bare, what about the other major players? We’ll explore some more choices for you right now kicking off with Nest.
2) Nest Hello
Despite the rebranding of Nest as Google Nest, the classic Nest Hello Video Doorbell retains its old name and it’s still flying off the shelves. What makes it so good, though?
A replacement for the wired doorbell you already have in place that allows you to stay fully aware of the comings and goings at home from a distance.
24/7 video streaming along with the continuous recording, ensures you’ll never miss a trick. You’ll need the Nest Aware subscription for this, though.
The vivid HD video combined with two-way audio lets you monitor visitors and deliveries with complete clarity. The 4:3 aspect is expressly designed so you can see people full-length. HDR footage is bright and clear, even in gloomy areas. Audio comes with noise cancellation, so you’ll be able to have a proper conversation and not one dominated by ambient noise. If you get an alert when you’re right in the middle of something, pre-recorded messages for visitors are a winning touch.
Recognition is first-class. You’ll get a special alert if it’s a friend or family member at the door, and Nest Hello can also understand when the visitor is a stranger so you’ll stay fully in the loop. This feature is also only unlocked with the Nest Aware subscription. Motion, person and sound sensors give you the total package.
If you’re concerned about data security, all your footage is securely encrypted to AES 128-bit standard.
Installation is straightforward but you’ll need a wired doorbell, a chime and the correct type of transformer. You can check the compatibility of your home right here. In the absence of a transformer, you can use an indoor power adapter instead.
Nest Hello works with Google Assistant and you can also pair this smart video doorbell neatly with Google Nest Home Hub.
Check out Nest Hello if you want to upgrade your entry system and stay hooked into your smart home around the clock from a distance.
3) August Doorbell Cam Pro
The August Doorbell Cam Pro offers the HD video and two-way audio you’d expect from any self-respecting video doorbell, but what makes it stand out in a glutted market?
The motion-activated HindSight is one of the key differentiating features of Cam Pro. Rather than video kicking in only when someone is at the entrance, you’ll get footage that captures their approach to your property. This comes into its own to alert you to any suspicious activity. If you can see someone loitering with intent or attempting to gain entry when you’re not at home, this will be caught on camera.
The intuitive August app is your command center and you’ll be able to check in any time to monitor a live video feed. Reply on demand allows you to check up on visitors retrospectively.
What about that video, then? You’ll get high-definition visuals in full color with a floodlight onboard so you can see anyone approaching your property clearing day and night.
Audio is equally robust so you’ll get static-free comms with minimal background noise.
Real-time alerts winged over to your smartphone ensure you’ll never miss what’s going on at your entrance, even if you’re on the other side of the world.
Installation is a snap. Cam Pro slots neatly alongside any single-cylinder deadbolt you have in place. Pop it on the inside of your door and you’ll be ready to roll in minutes flat.
For user-friendliness, affordability and all-round functionality, August Doorbell Cam Pro is available in dark gray or silver and well worth popping on your shortlist.
4) Heath Zenith Notifi Elite
Lean, mean and coming in at a bargain-basement price, the Heath Zenith Notifi Elite is a stealth video doorbell well worth your investigation.
As you’d expect from a pocket-friendly smart doorbell, you’ll get no frills here but all main bases are covered and functionality is solid.
Compatible with any wired chime, you take charge using the nimble Notifi app.
The 160-degree wide-angle lens gives you a sweeping field of view and the 720p HD video comes complete with night vision. The lighted, oversized button makes things easier for visitors at night, too. They won’t be fumbling around in the dark.
With 24/7 on-demand viewing and footage stored in the cloud, functionality varies between the free package in-app and the Premium subscription paid monthly ($5) or annually ($50).
As well as video, you can get photos of visitors sent to your smartphone and stored for 24 hours rounding out a highly capable all-round entry system.
RemoBell Wireless Video Doorbell is another highly affordable alternative to the usual suspects in the video doorbell space that delivers fully. Not only is it cheap, but it’s also currently available at a steep discount, so move quickly.
Whenever someone rings your doorbell or triggers the passive infrared motion sensor, you’ll be alerted in-app on your cell phone. A neat touch with RemoBell is the ability to share access with up to 5 users, which is ideal for larger families where you all want to stay connected.
Duplex audio allows you to speak clearly with anyone at your door, while a high-def video can be streamed or viewed from the cloud. As with all decent video doorbells, piercing night vision keeps you aware of all action whatever the brightness level is outside.
RemoBell works wonderfully with Alexa and allows you to unlock even smarter features using your virtual butler hands-free.
Battery-powered, RemoBell makes perfect sense for renters unable to start rewiring. It also works well for anyone looking for a seamless wire-free set-up.
A paid plan is available for a modest $3 monthly or $30 if you pay in advance for a year’s access. This entitled you to archived footage of all missed activity over the preceding month.
For an eye-catching but understated video doorbell at a price you’ll love, road test the RemoBell today.
We trust you’re now an authority on smart video doorbells. These simple but wildly effective devices streamline access to your connected home while keeping you aware of activity at your door 24/7.
If your favorite doorbell didn’t make it onto our curated list, drop us a line and let us know which doorbell you have and how it performs. If you’re tempted to invest in a new doorbell, why not sign up for our email newsletter first? Not only will you stay up to date with the latest smart home news, but you’ll also get a full 20% off your first order. Put that to use and upgrade your entry system the Smart Home way.