Smart Doorbells

Smart Doorbells

Whether you want to deter porch pirates or simply see who’s there before you open the door, smart video doorbells let you chat with visitors and keep tabs on package deliveries. Some offer night vision too.

Some require a subscription to access certain features, including activity zones and intelligent alerts for people, packages, possums, and vehicles. But we found affordable options, like the Eufy HomeBase and Ezivz, that don’t lock away useful functionality behind a paywall.

Motion Detection

A smart doorbell with motion detection can alert you to visitors — or potential porch pirates — no matter where you are. The device can send a notification to your smartphone so you can see who’s outside and speak with them through the intercom, deterring would-be intruders before they can even reach your front door. It can also remotely trigger your home security system to act as an additional deterrent, if desired.

Many of the best smart doorbells also smart doorbell feature night vision technology to allow you to see visitors clearly at any time of day or year, even in dark or cloudy conditions. Combined with motion sensing capabilities, this makes them a strong option for protecting your home against porch pirates, or just ensuring that you know when your package has arrived so you can go out and bring it inside.

Wired smart video doorbells that work with Apple HomeKit typically use a built-in accelerometer and microphone to detect when someone approaches your home. Wemo’s deep integration with iCloud is particularly impressive, as it can detect multiple different types of motion (people, packages, animals, and vehicles) and identify who is at your door using face recognition. However, you do need an Apple TV 4K or a HomePod Mini to use this doorbell, and it can be a bit more expensive than the other battery-powered options we tested.

Two-Way Audio

In addition to allowing you to see who’s at your door, most smart doorbell cameras offer two-way audio. This lets you speak to your visitors even when you’re not home, letting the delivery guy know where to leave the package or just asking how your kids are. This feature is available on all of the top-rated models, though some require a subscription to use.

CR’s favorite wired video doorbell is the Blink, which works as a normal buzzer when it’s not recording and is one of the most affordable options for a smart doorbell. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles (no quick replies or night vision, for example), but it does come with free video storage, alerts, monitoring zones, and voice control via Alexa or Google Assistant.

The Nest Hello is another popular option that has a great price/performance ratio. It has a clear, sharp HD display and features that include a smart doorbell wide viewing angle for a panoramic view of your front porch, a built-in microphone to let you hear your visitors even when they’re not answering the door, and an integrated speaker that delivers crisp, loud audio. It’s a wired doorbell, however, so it requires existing doorbell wiring and needs to be connected to a chime box and transformer. It also has a subscription fee for Nest Aware, which is used to detect and notify you when your packages are delivered.

Video Recording

In addition to the ability to communicate with visitors without opening your door, many smart video doorbells let you record and store footage. This may come in the form of local storage in a micro SD card built into the device or cloud storage via a paid subscription. This is a great feature to have as it provides the option of recording an incident or storing evidence that can be used in criminal investigations.

When choosing a smart doorbell with a camera, consider the field of view and whether it has infrared night vision capabilities. Ideally, the video will cover the entire area of your front doorstep and surrounding areas. This will ensure that all guests are visible, even at night. Some models offer a 270-degree angle of view and can zoom in on faces and other details to capture more detail.

Also look at the resolution and how long the model can record. Make sure the device will run on battery power, if needed, or is compatible with your home Wi-Fi. If you plan to use the device as part of a larger home security system, check to see if it can connect with a system hub and if it works with your existing door locks. Some models will alert you only when a human is detected, rather than every passing car or animal, to prevent continual, unnecessary alerts.

Intercom

Whether you’re curled up on the sofa or swaying in a hammock in the Bahamas, a smart doorbell gives you instant visual access to your home and business. Easily thank a delivery driver or greet guests from your smartphone, tablet or computer without having to unlock the door. You can also view recorded videos and check your camera’s live feed from anywhere in the world.

A smart doorbell intercom is an easy-to-install, affordable way to add video communication capabilities to any apartment or condo building. While many smart doorbells can provide security features to help prevent crime, video intercom systems take it a step further by offering two-way communication between residents and visitors. In addition, some wireless systems are compatible with popular voice assistants like Amazon Echo or Google Home, which offer a hands-free and convenient way to talk to your visitors.

Wired intercom systems are more reliable than wireless ones, but can be difficult and expensive to install due to complex wiring requirements. Wireless systems can be subject to interference and require battery maintenance, but are often the best option for multifamily units. Additionally, video intercom doorbells can be integrated with mobile apps or smart home systems for remote access, enabling residents to communicate and grant access from their smartphone. This is particularly useful for residents who work remotely or are traveling.