Ring Video Smart Doorbell Pro
Honeywell SkyBell Slim 1080p Wi-Fi Video Smart Doorbell
Ring Wi-Fi Enabled Video Smart Doorbell
The humble doorbell has had a monster of a makeover of late thanks to the smart tech revolution that shows no sign of slowing down.
Like a mild-mannered Clark Kent suddenly discovering his superpowers, it has been transformed into something you will wonder how you ever lived without – and makes keeping tabs on your home a breeze.
Ok, the idea of video doorbells is nothing new but thanks to WIFI connectivity and smart technology, you now don’t even have to be at home to answer your own front door. In fact, you can be sunning yourself in the Caribbean and still have a meaningful chat about your safe place with the deliveryman standing on your porch.
Simply put, smart doorbells are essentially security cameras attached to your front door so you can see – and talk to – whoever is calling, via your smartphone or tablet, wherever you are. So, if you don’t want to pause that movie to open the door, would like to sneakily check who’s out there before deciding to answer or just want to check in with your casa when you’re not at home, then there’s a good chance there’s room for a smart doorbell in your life.
Still need to be convinced? Then let us help you. We’ve looked at the best smart doorbells on the market, so you can ring in the changes when it comes to answering your own front door.
The Best Smart Doorbell
So, with the first generation Ring Wi-Fi Enabled Video Doorbell still a smart bet, can the Ring Video Doorbell Pro up the ante? Simply put, yes. Ring’s newest baby, the Doorbell Pro is already proving to be a winner, taking all the best features of Ring’s Video Doorbell (mark 1 and 2) and batting them both out of the park. The HD video camera has been pimped up to 1080p and the bugs in the over keen motion sensor have been ironed out to create a top-notch product. But this does mean it is almost two and a half times the price of the original model.
So, are you getting more than twice the value? Perhaps not totally, but you are getting a superior piece of smart kit. The Pro’s design has been streamlined so that it’s not so square and conventionally ‘intercom’ looking. In fact, it looks how it should – a modern doorbell. The design revamp means its field of vision isn’t quite as wide as the first generation Ring but we can forgive it for that. And the main reason we can is for its customizable motion sensor which takes all the frustration out of receiving false alerts. Via the easy to use app, you can pre-set the areas in front of your house for the sensor to focus on, meaning you only get alerts from your chosen zones. The Ring Pro smart doorbell also automatically starts recording when it detects motion. Unlike the Ring, the Pro can only be hardwired – there’s no battery operated option so installing does take a bit longer. And like the other two Ring devices, you will need a monthly subscription to access your Cloud storage and 24/7 playback. But to finish on a high, the Pro works with both Alexa and Google Home so is the ideal home device best friend.
1080p HD video, infrared night vision and live view
Customizable motion sensor alerts
Compatible with iOS and Android devices
Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home
Lifetime theft protection: free replacement if your Ring Pro is stolen
- Weight9.6 ounces
You can set your motion sensor zones to stop false alerts
Easy of the eye, slimline design and quick to install
Improved image quality with 1080p HD video
Reduced field of vision compared to the Ring Wi-Fi Enabled Video Doorbell
You need a subscription for Cloud storage
We kick off our best smart doorbells review with one of the trailblazers of the video doorbell pack, Amazon-owned Ring. Ring was one of the first to launch a smart-tech doorbell and they have no plans to slow down, with their WIFI enabled video doorbell still one of the most popular out there. For just shy of $100, you get a shiny, two-tone unit that is more than happy to stand out. Yes, it is quite a dominant, chunky doorbell – similar to the size of a large smartphone – but if you’re worried about it attracting all the wrong attention then Ring has it totally covered and will replace it for free if it’s stolen.
For the price you also get some nice features as standard – on demand video with live view, two-way talk, night vision, motion sensors and an acceptable 720p HD video to capture your doorstep visitor in all their glory. The Ring is a wireless set up and installation is quick and easy – you can choose to run your unit on batteries or you can get it hardwired. If you wire it into where your existing doorbell is, you can continue with a traditional doorbell ring, otherwise without buying an additional wireless ring chime, you will only be alerted via your phone. But the Ring – as with all the Ring smart doorbells – is equipped to pair with Amazon Alexa so you can check in at any time.
Works with Amazon Alexa
Compatible with iOS and Android devices
Live View enabled: check-in on your property at any time
Adjustable motion sensors and infrared night vision
HD video – with footage saved directly to the Cloud
- Weight1.45 pounds
Large field of vision for image capture
Quality on demand video with live view
Comes with Ring’s lifetime anti-theft guarantee
Strong WIFI needed to keep the service consistent
Lower HD video camera than most others
As well as being a simple, round design that fits well on most front doors, the other immediate selling point to the SkyBell is that it comes with no monthly fees. You pay your upfront purchase cost (at around $150, so it’s 50 bucks more than the Ring Video doorbell) but then all your Cloud storage and on demand viewing is free. OK, the recordings are deleted after seven days but using your smartphone you can download and save the videos you want. Another big plus to the SkyBell is that you can select the video quality – from 480p to 1080p – via the app so you can work with the WIFI signal strength you have.
The SkyBell also comes with full-color night vision for a sharper view, motion sensor with live alerts and works with both Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home so will quickly become part of what is surely by now your growing collection of home assist gadgets. This smart doorbell is also a tough outdoor dude, with SkyBell claiming it can withstand extreme temperatures ranging from -40 to 122 degrees. Lithium battery operated, the SkyBell HD is a wireless doorbell that the manufacturers assure is quick and easy to install. Just check what you have to hand before you start as you may need some installation extras such as a back wedge plate to adjust the doorbell’s angle that are not included in the basic fitting pack. To fulfill your smart home equipment, check out our list of cool robotic vacuum cleaners.
Compatible with iOS and Android devices
Adjustable 1080p HD video with 5x zoom
Full-color night vision
Works with both Alexa and Google Home
Live feed alerts
- Weight1.92 ounces
Value for money with no monthly subscription fee
Comes with anti-theft guarantee
Wireless – quick to set up and install
Speaker quality not the best out there
Motion sensor can be on the tad sensitive side
With super sharp HD video quality and the option to pair with the August Smart Lock so you can remotely let your guests in, the Doorbell Cam Pro makes sure you can keep tabs on your home, even when you are not there. This is a straightforward-looking smart doorbell which just about bridges the gap between a free and paid-for subscription service. With the August Doorbell Cam Pro, you can choose to stick with its free service that gives you access to video from the previous 24 hours or opt for the Premium service at $4.99 per month to get access to 30 days of stored video recordings.
Compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home, the August Doorbell Cam Pro versatile device which is a step up from its previous incarnation and has addressed some of its functionality issues such as lack of motion detection. The Pro now has Hindsight, a system which pre-empts activity by constantly monitoring and recording your doorway, to capture the moments before the motion sensor is triggered and an alert is sent to your device. Then there’s full-color HD video, including night vision and a built-in floodlight to capture the picture perfect, 24/7. The August Doorbell Cam Pro needs to be wired in but can easily use the connections of your old chime doorbell. For the bell to ring, you will however have to buy a separate internal chime. Be sure to also check out our list of the best smart speakers for more great items like this.
24 hour free video storage
Compatible with iOS and Android devices
Floodlight feature to light up the camera at night
Hindsight feature captures the moments before motion sensor triggers
Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home (new for 2018)
- Weight1.1 pounds
Improved night recording with full color video and added floodlight
Can be paired with the August Smart Lock for added control
Free access to the last 24 hours of recording
Some sound quality issues with the external speaker
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is your half-way house between Ring’s Video Doorbell and the Doorbell Pro and that includes in price, coming in at $199. Like the first generation model , the Ring 2 is a wireless smart doorbell that can also be hardwired so installation should be a relative doddle. But in case you struggle, Ring has an excellent ‘how to’ video online.
Since the launch of the original Ring, smart technology has developed a pace and the Ring Video Doorbell 2 is just that bit more specked up. While the second-generation Doorbell does up the game, visually the two models look largely the same although the mark 2 is slightly larger – it’s no shrinking violet, that’s for sure.
Super clear 1080p HD video camera
Pre-set motion sensor zones and alert timeframes
Built-in night vision
Compatible for Amazon Alexa
Compatible with iOS and Android devices
- Weight9.6 ounces
Set the areas for motion sensor to reduce false alerts
Improved video image quality
Comes with a lifetime anti-theft guarantee
A bit on the large side compare to other smart doorbells
Is this just the slimline version of the SkyBell HD or does it have its own take on the smart doorbell genre? Err, yes…and yes. There’s a lot of the same functionality in both SkyBell models that you would expect from this video doorbell stalwart and the no subscription approach remains firmly in place. But in its design, the SkyBell Slim is a much more conventional looking doorbell device that packs in a lot of tech spec, making it great for small outdoor spaces or tight doorways.
Despite its slight proportions, the SkyBell Slim is actually a Bear Grylls survivalist of a doorbell, designed to take extreme weather conditions all in its stride and making it one of the most durable on the market. It also offers an impressive 1080p HD camera, full color night vision, motion sensor and on-demand, live video monitoring. There’s also a silent mode so you can turn off your indoor chime but still receive notifications, great for night time callers when the rest of the house is asleep.
Slimline design that’s great for tight door spaces
Super weather-proof to temperatures from -40 to 122F
1080p HD camera and full color night vision
Silent chime mode when you don’t want to wake the house
Comes with an anti-theft guarantee
- Weight7.2 ounces
Slimline design and easy to install
No subscription needed to access your footage
On demand monitoring
A good wi-fi signal is a must for the app to work in real time
Motion sensor can be over-sensitive
The simply stylish Nest Hello is certainly not the afterthought in this review of smart doorbells, but rather at first glance, a summary of all the best bits we’ve seen so far all in one neat package.
In the same league and rough price range as the Ring Pro, the Hello is in no way fazed by its competition and solidly believes in its own brilliance. With its surveillance technology and super quality camera, the Nest seems to be more of a discreet and super-effective security camera, passing itself off as a really smart, smart doorbell.
24/7 streaming and continuous 30 day recording
Create activity zones for the motion and sound sensors
Facial recognition for family and friends
Full color HD camera with infrared night vision
Weathers temperatures from -10 to 40 degrees
- Weight4.5 ounces
Low key design packed with hi-spec features
Works with all other Nest home products
Facial recognition and intelligent motion sensors
Needs some serious hardwiring to get it set up
Only works with Google Home
Smart Doorbell Buying Guide and FAQs
With the whole world getting smart, it’s now the turn of the humble doorbell to get the full-on tech treatment. And, while it’s still a relatively new concept, smart doorbells are fast becoming a damn smart addition to any connected home. So, whether it’s security or convenience (or a bit of both) you’re after, we give the lowdown on what you should be looking for.
How We Chose Our Selection of Smart Doorbells
Quality – your new smart doorbell will need to be one tough customer and totally on its game all year-round, whatever the weather and temperature changes can throw at it. As well as a durable exterior build, we looked at overall design, individual components and the top spec functionality you need to ring in the changes with an electric doorbell upgrade.
Performance - ease of installation and set-up, connectivity, image and video quality, smart phone compatibility and user experience, we let nothing slip in our checklist of what you should expect in a high-performing smart doorbell.
Brand – it’s a tough market out there, with some big-name brands vying for the smart doorbell top spot. We’ve listed the players who we feel are leading the way and who offer some top-quality tech that will tick all your boxes.
Price – when it comes to the price, you want value for money. We’ve not just looked at the initial cost of buying your new smart doorbell but any additional costs to install and the subscriptions you’ll need to bring all the product’s functions to the table.
Features To Look For In Smart Doorbells
- Video Quality
You don’t want to be squinting at grainy footage on your smartphone, unsure whether it’s the UPS man or your mother calling by so check out the video quality when looking for a smart doorbell. All offer HD and most at 1080p, which is more than enough to capture good quality images (and means you won’t offend your mom). Some models enable you to adjust the HD quality to match your WIFI signal strength if connectivity becomes a bit of a problem and several also offer zoom.
You will also need to think about how well your smart doorbell will work after dark, so that lack of light doesn’t mean you all you are staring at is a black screen. All the smart doorbell models reviewed here include the essential infrared LEDs night vision function that can provide up to 30 feet of black and white video, while some models even offer it in full color. There are also options of floodlighting to truly capture the best in your visitors, whatever time of day or night they call by.
Top tip - for tight porch spaces or to ensure you can capture a good view of your visitor, check the wide-angle spec of the video to make sure it is enough.
- Audio Quality
For the intercom support on your smart doorbell, you will need to ensure it has a good microphone and speaker that works well with your smart phone or tablet, so you can have a two-way conversation with your visitor and be clearly heard. To support the two-way audio quality, look out for additional noise cancellation features that fade out ambient noise such as traffic sounds and can reduce echo.
- Motion Detection
Not everyone at your door will necessarily be welcome and the beauty of smart doorbells is that they can work as a mini surveillance unit to capture suspicious behavior or loitering strangers.
Motion sensor technology means that your ordinary looking video doorbell transforms into a security ninja, alerting you to any unwanted attention happening out on your doorstep
This is a great feature, particularly if you are home alone, or not even home at all, and it can be partnered with on-demand live streaming, so you can check out the action.
With some models you can also set the areas for the motion sensors to reduce the likelihood of a tree branch in the wind or a passing car becoming a red, but ultimately false, alert.
- Face Recognition
Not all models currently offer face recognition as this is a growing area for smart doorbells, but it can be a nifty function to look out for, although you should expect to pay a monthly subscription fee to add it to your service. With face recognition, the smart doorbell can learn to recognize the faces of friends or family and let you know they have called round.
Earlier this year, Google’s Nest introduced the function to its Hello model, using Cloud video and face recognition technology to enable users to name visitors and have them automatically identified. It also has machine-learning technology to analyze video to recognize behaviors and differentiate between visitors, the delivery man and a dodgy loiterer. Its motion sensors can also distinguish between humans and ‘things’, e.g. a dog or a blowing branch to help reduce false alerts. Impressive stuff, and surely it will only be a matter of time before the other big brands follow suit.
Depending on the space you have on your porch or doorway, you have quite a choice of smart doorbells. The chunkier models are reminiscent of intercoms and work well in a larger space while the smaller slimline models are ideal for small doorways. Most are the size of a largish smartphone or smaller so won’t look clunky in your porch.
Just because you’re not looking at it daily, doesn’t mean that your new WIFI doorbell can’t look smart. Like all other smart devices, there’s something futuristic about the look of the smart doorbell with clean lines and a tease of the tech that’s underneath its hood. Most have minimal features on the exterior, but all need to be robust enough to take a both regular push button pounding and an all-year round weather beating.
All the features on your new smart doorbell are accessed via a mobile app, that you also used to set up the device, configure the wireless settings and set up alerts. As well as the essential functions you would expect your new smart doorbell to deliver such as two-way audio, video, night vision, motion/sound sensors, recording and playback, there are other add ons that could sway your final decision.
Depending on the model you choose, you can get extra features such as full color night vision, floodlights, facial recognition, live streaming, pre-recorded messages, adjustable motion zones. But before you get out smarted by your potential new tech toy, check out the subscription packages as the more pimped up your new smart doorbell, the more you will most likely have to pay each month.
Types of Smart Doorbells
There are two main ways to power up your WIFI doorbell. When selecting your new device, you will need to decide if you want a wireless that runs on batteries or one that is wired in.
A wireless smart doorbell is the easiest to install as it runs off batteries (usually rechargeable) and so doesn’t require any electrical know-how, with the exception of the Ring Video Doorbell which conveniently gives you a choice of both. As long as you do regular power checks and have a spare in supply, running the battery-powered smart doorbell should be a doddle. However, they are a little more susceptible to falling foul of a light-fingered visitor and if used in areas which have exceptionally cold winters, could power down when you least expect.
The majority of smart doorbells currently require wiring in, which can be more of a hassle. If you already have an electric doorbell, then most smart doorbells are designed to support this system, and you can wire them in using the existing connectors. Otherwise, work through the product’s installation guide or call in your local friendly electrician.
Smart Doorbell FAQs
Q: What Is A Smart Doorbell And How Does It Work?
A: A smart doorbell is basically an electric doorbell that’s connected to the internet and notifies the smart phone of the home owner when someone at the door presses the button. Some smart doorbells can also notify the homeowner of movement by the door, using built-in motion sensors. They are in effect, a security system attached to your front porch, so you can see and talk to whoever it is at the door via your smartphone or tablet, even when you are not at home.
Smart doorbells work via an app you download to your smart device and send you an alert when the bell is pressed. You can then see who is at your door via your phone’s camera and talk to your visitor, using the speakers and microphone. Some smart doorbells also enable you to open the door remotely if synched with a smart lock and can also be paired with home assistant devices.
Smart doorbells come with a basic package but for more functions such as Cloud storage, 24/7 recording and video playback, then you are into monthly subscription territory.
Q: What Are The Advantages Of Smart Doorbells?
A: Apart from being a cool bit of smart technology that will impress your (wanted) visitors, the advantages of a smart doorbell are, for most people, a combination of security and convenience. If you’re busy, away from home, security-conscious or perhaps just a bit lazy (ok, the sofa is far too comfy), you can see who is at your door by a quick look through the door camera via your smartphone.
But it is more than that, there’s the peace of mind of being able to check who it is out there and even talk to them first before deciding (or not) to open the door. For extra security, smart doorbell models can also double-up as a security camera, recording your callers and monitor any unusual movement outside your house.
They are also a great tool if you are at work or away. Waiting for a delivery of some top products you’ve seen on Gear Hungry, but you’re stuck at work? Using your smart doorbell, you can see the deliveryman and give him instructions on where to leave your parcel in a safe place. You can even keep tabs on house callers when you’re on holiday – they’ll be none the wiser to you sitting in Cabo with a mojito in hand when you ‘answer’ the door.
Q: How Do I Install A Smart Doorbell?
A: Installing your new WIFI doorbell should be relatively easy but it does depend on the model and type of smart doorbell you have chosen and how they are powered. The quickest and easiest to set up are ones that are battery operated or those which can be either battery or wireless. Depending on where your electricity source is in relation to your front door, this could be a good option. Others may need to be hardwired, so if you are unsure, call in your favorite tradesman to do the job for you. If you already have an electric doorbell, most smart doorbells will have the same electrical supply, so you can use your existing cable and power supply.
You will also need to check the strength of the WIFI signal in the location you plan to install the doorbell to make sure you have enough 4G juice for it to work. Also, before you install your new smart doorbell, a good idea is to test connect it with your router first to check its functionality before you start drilling, fixing and wiring.
To ensure optimum performance from your new doorbell, you will need to work out the right position of the unit and if there are any objects such as tree branches near to the location that could keep tripping its motion sensor. Once you are happy that the WIFI connection works and its final location is decided, choose the right height position for the doorbell, so it can be reached by adults and kids and that you get the best outdoor view. A good tip is to check that it is not directly facing strong sunlight otherwise you’ll end up with blown out images.
Make sure you follow the specific installation guide for your particular smart doorbell model to ensure its installed correctly. Then follow the instructions in your product’s app to set up and off you go.
Q: Are Smart Doorbells Weatherproof?
A: As a gadget intended to be outside, your new smart doorbell is a tough little cookie. They should be built to deal with whatever the weather can throw at it, even the more extreme - some models can deal with temperature variants from -40 to 122 degrees. But do check the details of your chosen WIFI doorbell to see just how weather resistant it is, as well as the warranty small print, before you buy.
Q: Do Smart Doorbells Have Night Vision?
A: Pretty much all of current camera doorbells on the market have night vision as a standard function but check the product details of the smart doorbell you are thinking of buying to make sure. If the planned external location of your doorbell is inside or strongly lit, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem but for most domestic set ups, we say a night vision option is the way to go. Night vision in your smart doorbell is provided via infrared LEDs which are picked up by the doorbell’s camera. Some models also offer full-colour HD.
Q: How Do Notifications From Smart Doorbell Work?
A: Smart Doorbells can send real time notifications to your smart phone or tablet when someone is at the door or something has triggered the motion sensor. To enable this to happen, when first setting up your new WIFI doorbell you will need to synch your new smart doorbell to your WIFI network using its app. Then working through the settings on your iPhone/Android phone or device give your smart doorbell app permission to use notifications. You can then tailor the settings as to how you want to receive the alerts and any alert sounds on your smart phone. Some smart doorbells also have quiet time options you can pre-set if you don’t want to be alerted 24/7.
Q: Are These Doorbells Compatible With Google Home, Amazon Alexa And Apple Home?
A: If they all were, now that would be a perfect pairing! Smart doorbells are still quite new but as we start to embrace the smart around our home, it is only matter of time before all the big-name home assist devices hook up with smart doorbell tech. In the meantime, Google Home (works with August, Ring and SkyBell) and Alexa (works with Ring, Nest and SkyBell) are leading the way, giving you the chance to ask your home device who is at the door.
Apple HomeKit is not yet compatible to smart doorbells but who knows what the future holds…
Q: What Happens If My Wi-Fi Or Electricity Is Off?
A: If this happens, then your smart doorbell will lose its WIFI connection and become, well, a doorbell! The bell should still ring but you will temporarily lose the internet connection so no more peeping who’s at the door from your phone until you get smart again.
There are several reasons why you could lose WIFI connection with your smart doorbell device so if it happens, run through the list to see how you can troubleshoot. Reasons could include a power surge to your router or a loose wire, temporary power loss, you’ve changed your WIFI network password or your smart doorbell is low on power. Check your device’s app on your phone and work through the troubleshooting settings to find the solution. As soon as you have resolved the lost connection, your WIFI doorbell should automatically reconnect.
Q: Do Smart Doorbells Make Videos Or Take Pictures?
A: While some wireless doorbells also include a screen on the inside of the door so you can physically see who is calling, all can capture images and video as soon as the doorbell is rung or a motion sensor is triggered. You then set alerts, so the image or video can be sent straight to your smartphone as soon as the doorbell rings or the sensors are triggered.
Some models also offer 24/7 live streaming so check your subscription package to see exactly what is on offer. Images and video are typically stored in the Cloud ready to be retrieved but make sure you check with your product as there is most likely to be an additional monthly fee for images or footage stored for longer periods of time. Then there are intelligent alerts, which are offered by Nest, where face recognition software means you can be alerted to family or friends calling, although again, this does attract a subscription fee. Pretty smart though.
Q: Can You Pair A Smart Doorbell With A Smart Lock?
A: Most full-spec smart doorbell should be easily paired with a smart lock to give you maximum security and remote accessibility. Check when buying your new smart doorbell what smart lock products it is compatible with. When combined with a smart lock, you can use your smart doorbell app to open your door remotely to let a wanted guest or visitor into your home. Just speak remotely to your visitor to confirm who they are, check their live video or photo then buzz them in. Perfect for people travelling with work or on the go and need the cat or the yucca plant to be fed.
Q: Can The Doorbell Send An Alert If Someone Is Just Loitering Nearby?
A: Smart doorbell models that include a motion detector will send an alert to your smartphone if there is someone unwanted loitering near your property and they come close enough to the door to trigger the sensor. With most models you should also be able to adjust the sensitivity or range of the sensor so you are not bombarded with false alerts when it’s just the neighbor’s cat hanging out with its mates in your porch. There’s also some neat machine-learning technology just filtering through, which allows a smart doorbell to recognize behaviors and distinguish between a friendly, wanted visitor and someone acting really suspect.
Q: How Do I Maintain A Smart Doorbell?
A: With any outdoor kit, prevention is the way to go. Make sure your new smart doorbell device is securely – and correctly – fitted to deter any would-be thieves. As a smart doorbell is an investment item, the manufacturers go the extra mile to make sure the fittings are secure and as tamper proof as possible, to deter envious light-fingers. But it is outside and smart doorbell technology does attract attention so read the warranty when it comes to theft. Several of the main brands offer a free unit if yours is stolen (Ring has an impressive lifetime anti-theft guarantee), but as always, check the small print.
Simple regular maintenance check-ups will help to keep your new doorbell always smart ring-ready. If your unit is battery operated, test them periodically and make sure you always have spares in supply. Your electrician or fitter may also offer maintenance checks so that may also be worth considering. Finally, if your smart doorbell has a video screen or camera, wipe it every now and again to make sure it is clear and free of grime, so you can see your visitors in all their smart doorbell glory!