Ding dong, the doorbell’s dead. Long live the video doorbell! Gone are the days of guessing who’s waiting at your front door as the video doorbell pairs a camera and audio with your smartphone. That means no matter where you are, at home or away, you can see who’s at your door thanks to Wi-Fi connected smart video doorbells.
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Want to tell a delivery person where to leave a package when you’re out? Most video doorbells offer two-way chat so you can do exactly that. Or perhaps you want to let a friend know that you’re just putting the kids down for a nap and will be there soon.
These new versions of the doorbell also work as a home security system, in some cases. Many can monitor your home’s front with alerts sent to your phone for motion in a selected area. Some even store recordings, allowing you to see faces – ideal in case of a break in.
Of course video doorbells cost a good chunk more than a classic doorbell chime. So is it worth making the jump and which is best for you? Read on to find out everything you need to know.
Why do I need a video doorbell?
If it isn’t clear already, there are two main reasons to go video with your doorbell. To see and interact with who’s at your front door, and to offer video surveillance of your home’s main point of entrance. It’s also great for rental owners, especially Airbnb operators, who aren’t always at the property.
Of course these two also break down into more details, like being able to see potential guests at your door even when you’re at the bottom of the garden, thanks to that Wi-Fi connection and phone app. Or the ability to use that camera as a deterrent to would be burglars that now recognise these doorbells as recording devices.
Some video doorbells even use facial recognition to intelligently alert you to a guest, when you need to know. This helps avoid too many notifications. On that same subject, you can more easily silence your doorbell making these ideal for those people with young children whose nap time almost inevitably coincides with the delivery man’s arrival.
Best video doorbells 2020
1. Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus – best video doorbell for pre-roll footage
The Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus is one of the best models out there from the company that started it all, several generations ago. As such it has managed to perfect the offering while driving down the price at the top-end. The result is a video doorbell that runs on battery, for super easy installation which took us under an hour, and lasts for half a year before you need to charge it – which is done easily via a phone charger.
This looks quite similar to previous models but that’s not a bad thing as these not only look decent but are also recognisable and work as a deterrent for burglars.
Video quality is high at Full HD 1080p while audio is clear in both directions. What’s improved in this model is dual band Wi-Fi connectivity which means you get features like Pre-roll. This, as the name suggests, gives you a few seconds of video to show the person approaching the doorbell before they press, allowing you to see who’s coming ahead of time.
Sounds pretty standard but the app works so well it’ll actually pop up in your phone’s notifications before you even enter the app itself.
Or just pair this with Alexa and you’ll be told through your speaker, for example, that someone’s at the door – a feature we found very useful in the kitchen away from the door chime. Go for the Chime Pro and it acts as a Wi-Fi booster too, although we had issues with this, which Ring says was our Wi-Fi.
Thanks to smart sensors and the ability to designate zones which the camera responds to, notifications aren’t too annoying even when you have a busy road in front of your home. The Ring Protect plan is affordable at £2.50 per month and gets you lots of smart features like longer term video recording, making this a fully fledged home security solution complete with night vision.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
2. Nest Hello – best video doorbell for facial recognition
Google bought Nest so it now features as part of the company’s line-up for smart home products. So if you own a Thermostat, Home or Nest Wifi then this is a great addition to that ecosystem which is all run through the one app. That means Google Assistant integration for door alerts on your Google Home speaker but it also means Google smarts.
As such this doorbell is clever enough to recognise faces. That means you can have it alert you only when you want to know for a certain person, say when your child gets home late. This is clear to see thanks to the HD video with HDR which we found meant you got a clear image even when sunlight was in the background or when in night vision mode.
The look is super minimal and the easy installation process goes along with that. But it’s backed by a robust 128-bit encryption so you don’t need to worry about security. You can also rest easy on recharging as this only comes in a hardwired version. That can make installation tough if you don’t already have a doorbell wired in. But it means you can get the video to record constantly for you to scroll back through, for up to three hours at a time, without worrying about battery life. But, of course, you’ll have to pay if you want to store video for the longer term.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
3. Ring Video Doorbell Pro – best video doorbell for personalisation
Yes it’s a Ring doorbell appearing again early on in this list. That’s because Ring specialises in what it does and it does it well. But there are different models to suit different needs and in this case it’s for those that don’t want to faff with a battery and would like a lot of options.
One thing we found in testing video doorbells is that they’re only as good as their notifications. Yes, you could use it at its most basic, only responding to the doorbell press, but if you want to be secure too then motion detection is important. That’s why this model excels as it uses smart sensors and an app that lets you set zones in order to only be alerted when you need to be.
The design is also of appeal here with a super slim finish and long single black glass central unit to give a more premium look to the front of the house. There are interchangeable plates too so you can pick the look that fits. Even wiring this in is easy with an adapter included and all the tools and instructions to get you up and running quickly.
The price is the only downside here, although we did find audio quality could vary with it less clear sometimes but that was likely our Wi-Fi in those cases.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Ring Video Doorbell Pro, £179, Argos
4. Byron Wi-Fi Rechargeable Video Doorbell – best video doorbell for free video storage
Byron is a long-time doorbell specialist that has made the jump to smart video doorbells and has landed on its feet. The result is a video doorbell that, unlike many brands, will give you free local video storage.
As you’d expect from the brand, there is motion detection which can input through to your phone using the app. While basic, similar to the design of this unit, the app works well and does what’s needed when it comes to the simpler functionality like two-way video talk.
The video quality is excellent at 1080p quality and the speed of the feed to your phone is only limited by your local Wi-Fi. Unlike the video storage, which is local, meaning you can store longer term without paying a subscription for cloud video.
While this model is battery powered, with a six-month life, you can also get a wired version for those that already have a doorbell wired in and want to make a relatively easy swap.
Byron also sells electric door openers, meaning you could theoretically see who’s at the door and open it for them without moving from where you are in the back garden. Perhaps more realistically, this works with a gate opener making it perfect for deliveries where you want them dropped off in your locked back garden.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars
5. Eufy Video Doorbell – best video doorbell for 2K video quality
Eufy is growing fast in the digital smart home world with robot vacuums and security cameras leading the way. Its doorbell is a standout model as it, unlike most of the competition, offers an eye-melting 2K video quality on its feed thanks to a Sony sensor.
This is a pro grade lens, which goes some way to explaining the price of this video doorbell. The quality is great but, to be honest, isn’t that noticeable on a small smartphone screen when compared to a 1080p video.
What is a really appealing feature here is the inclusion of free cloud storage. This means you keep access to all your video, but without having to store it locally. Another pro feature is the customisation for motion sensitivity with a selection of activity zones, motion sensing and human detection.
All that amounts to notifications only when relevant – something our smartphone battery certainly benefited from. This also makes no compromises with power, allowing you to wire it in or go for battery. Using it on battery should last for half a year which seemed accurate in testing but of course it depends on how active your notification settings are.
The use of an included base station helps to keep battery use low and WI-Fi worries less of an issue, which we struggled with on other models.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Eufy video doorbell, £199.99, Amazon
6. Swann Smart Video Doorbell – best budget video doorbell
You don’t have to spend a lot to upgrade your doorbell to a video model. Just be prepared to lose some of the high-end features at the lower end price point. In this case you will be limited to 720p video quality, akin to that of the Ring Video Doorbell. While that’s not high on a TV, on your phone it’s plenty clear enough.
Audio quality could be better, but for the price it does the job. The whole installation process is similarly simplistic with an easy install of this battery powered doorbell and a minimal app that shows video footage if the bell rings, we noted a few second delay, or if there is movement detected.
While that’s nice, it can mean a lot of annoying notifications if you live on a busy street. That said, we simply adjusted the heat sensor in the app and this helped.
One stand out feature is that this allows you to record all the footage to an SD card. That means no need to shell out for a cloud based storage subscription as the big name brands demand.
Battery life isn’t great with a claim of two months, that’s actually closer to one, although charging is quick and easy via USB cable. That said, we used it a lot in testing so it probably is better with settled use. You can also vary the clip length between 15 and 60 seconds with the shorter end saving on battery.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars
7. Ezviz DB1 Video Doorbell – best high-res affordable video doorbell
Ezviz might not be a big brand name but it’s quietly been working away at home security for years, offering decent specs for a low price. This wired model fits that description perfectly, undercutting the competition while still offering high-resolution video and a minimal design.
All the usual features are here with night vision, two-way chat, dual band Wi-Fi, IP65 weather proofing and app support. What it also offers, that’s better than some of the competition, is a full 180-degree field of view, ideal for smaller spaces, heat based motion detection, and local storage on MicroSD cards.
The heat detection was a little overly sensitive at first but this can be easily adjusted to avoid too many notifications. Settings range from 5 to 3 to 1.5 metres allowing you to perfect this so you only get notified when someone is actually near your door. Or, as we did, just turn it off and let them press the bell.
Since this records everything, you can always check back should there be an incident worth your attention. Despite the price, this even works with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant for smart alerts on your home devices.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
How to buy the best video doorbell for you
Video doorbells come in plenty of different shapes and sizes. But what’s important is that they also come with a wide variety of features. There are a few stand out specs you’ll want to make sure you take into consideration before you buy.
Wired or wireless: some are wired into power, like a classic doorbell, while others can use battery allowing them to attach easily, anywhere
Ecosystem: some brands work with a wider ecosystem of gadgets, via one app, making your life simpler if you’ve already got some of this kit
Home security: some are built for this, with motion alerts, while others simply respond to the button press
Ongoing costs: some charge for storage of video in the cloud, while others allow you cheap or free local storage options
Quality: the better the quality the more you can see, which is important if you want this for home security too
Audio quality: can vary so if you plan to do a lot of two-way chat this is a feature to look closer at
How much should I spend on a video doorbell?
Video doorbell prices are pretty varied, with older models for under £100 and newer, more feature packed units coming in at over £400. Usually you can quite easily decide which works for you based on what you need. The problems arise when you need a particular feature that’s reserved only for the higher end models.
Thankfully these have been around long enough now that competition is growing. As such everyone is trying to cram in the best features at a lower price. That means you should now be able to get what you want without paying for the top end.
Of course, as is often the case, if you do want the best working video doorbell you’ll need to pay more for it. Another advantage to paying more is that often these higher ends models look better too, enhancing your front door’s finish.
What other key questions do I need to ask?
Power can be an issue. If you’re going for a battery unit, make sure it’s made to last at least six months or you’ll be annoyed at having to remember to charge the battery. Ease of battery access in these models can also be important to help make life simpler. In the case of mains power units, be sure they work with your current doorbell wiring or at least come with the adapter to work using that setup.
How you want to view your callers is another factor. Some devices work with third-party video units, like Ring working with Amazon Echo Show, so you can see who’s at your door without even taking your phone out.
Other units also work with electronic door locks, although this is still in its infancy with mainly US based products. But it’s something worth keeping in mind for the long term.
For many of the best features, like voice controls, or stored video, you’ll likely have to pay for a cloud subscription to the service provider. So taking that cost into consideration for the longer term is also worth keeping in mind.
Field of view could be a factor if the doorbell is going in a tight space. Essentially, the wider the field of view, the more you will see.
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