Smart Doorbells and Video Doorbell Cameras

Smart Doorbells and Video Doorbell Cameras

A smart doorbell – also known as a connected or video doorbell – notifies you over Wi-Fi of someone at the door. Some even have two-way audio for communicating with visitors or deterring porch pirates.

This Eufy model has plenty of features to help you keep track of who is coming and going, including free activity zones to reduce unnecessary notifications; face detection; parcel recognition; and three hours of event-based recordings (local storage). It’s a bit pricey, but you avoid monthly subscription fees like Ring, Google and Nest’s models.

Security

As a part of a wider home security system, smart doorbell cameras can provide added protection against porch pirates and other unauthorized entry. The camera chimes when someone presses the doorbell and then sends you a live video on your phone, so you can see who’s there before answering the door. Some models also offer two-way talk so you can communicate with visitors, which could be helpful if you’re dealing with a door-to-door salesperson or political activist. If you want to know who’s around even when you’re not at home, look for models that have motion detection and night vision capabilities.

Smart doorbells also help you keep tabs on deliveries, which can be a headache if your delivery person puts packages in the wrong spot or disappears entirely. With a smart doorbell camera, you can check in on the progress of your deliveries and tell them to leave the package somewhere more secure or to come back later.

The main purpose of any smart device is to make your life easier, and smart doorbells are no exception. By integrating with voice assistants, they can take away the guesswork of who’s at the door and allow you to answer remotely. And with features like face recognition and two-way communication, they can be a valuable home security tool for busy families.

Notifications

If you’re away from home, a smart doorbell can let you know who is at the door. Some include face, car and package detection so you can tailor alerts based on what you want to be notified about. Some are compatible with HomeKit, so you can use your Apple TV and other smart devices as chime alerts or cameras to see who is at the door.

If a visitor presses your doorbell button or motion sensors detect motion, your smart doorbell will smart doorbell send you an instant notification to your smartphone. If your smart doorbell has a video camera, you’ll get a live view of who is at the door, too.

Depending on the model, you can also record a short clip of who is at the door and share it with family members or friends. Some models have a timer that can set a recording when you’re not at home, so you don’t need to keep an eye on it all the time.

Most smart doorbells come with tutorial booklets in the box that walk you through how to install and connect them to your Wi-Fi network. Look for smart doorbell an easy-to-use app that lets you customize your settings based on your preferences. If you don’t want to be notified about goofy neighborhood dogs trotting around, for example, turn the first toggle by each option to blue and leave other options grey.

Live View

A video doorbell camera lets you see who is at your front door in real-time, and some offer additional security features such as two-way talk or package detection. Look for models with a wide landscape view and a high resolution to ensure you can identify visitors easily.

You’ll also want to consider how a doorbell camera will work with your existing home automation systems, such as smart speakers and smart assistants. Depending on the model, you can either link it to those devices or have the doorbell connect directly to your Wi-Fi and display notifications on your phone.

The best doorbell camera we’ve tested so far is Logitech’s Circle View Doorbell, which offers tight integration with Apple’s HomeKit platform. This means that all interactions—from setup to livestreaming and recording—are handled through the Apple Home app, with a picture-in-picture live view for your iPhone (but not Android devices). You can pay extra for iCloud storage to keep videos accessible without counting against your monthly iCloud plan.

CR’s take: This is one of the most versatile doorbell cameras on the market and has excellent app support with fast alert and loading times. It also has an impressive feature set, including night vision, a 180-degree field of view and motion detection with a siren. It’s available in wired and wireless versions, so you can install it wherever you have a power outlet.

Recordings

Depending on the model you choose, your smart doorbell may be capable of recording video automatically when someone is at your door. Some have a built-in microSD card for storage, while others upload recordings to a cloud service via Wi-Fi or cellular data connection.

The recordings stored in your smart doorbell can provide valuable information if you’re suspicious of an unwanted visitor. Often, they’re used to assist police in crime-solving efforts. The best models, such as the SkyBell pictured above, include two-way audio that allows you to interact with your visitors and let them know you’re at home. Some feature a 180-degree field of vision for wide landscape views, and some have infrared night vision technology for enhanced visibility.

Some smart doorbells operate as stand-alone devices without integrating with larger, whole-home security systems. But you can also find models that are part of a collection of interconnected devices such as connected door locks, smoke detectors and indoor cameras designed to work together. These broader home-security products sometimes offer the ability to let in people who have been given your phone number, as well as integration with other auxiliary devices like smart garage doors and pet monitors. Some smart doorbells can even communicate with a cellular or landline backup system to stay active during power outages. That’s particularly important if you live in an area prone to frequent power disruptions.