8 best video doorbells to add smart security to your home
Never miss a delivery again with one of these nifty gadgets, designed to give you peace of mind with video surveillance, phone notifications and recordings you can access on cloud storage
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Video or smart doorbells use inbuilt cameras and other smart technology to provide the extra security of CCTV but in a compact and convenient package. Installed in place of an existing doorbell, they not only provide a ring for you to hear but will alert you on your phone and provide video surveillance and recording.
Generally powered either by batteries or the standard 12V power cables used to power conventional doorbells, they’re easier to instal than most other forms of security camera and, thanks to the inclusion of microphones and speakers, they allow you to pass on instructions to delivery drivers or other visitors too.
By and large, most video doorbells offer the same core set of features. They’ll record video and audio when triggered either by a button push or when motion or audio is detected. They’ll also pass on alerts to your phone and let you see a video feed and talk back to anyone at your door.
However, there are a few key differences to look out for. The first is that some can be battery powered, removing the need to wire them in to a mains supply. Others may also offer continuous recording, giving you the peace of mind that you’ll never miss any goings-on in front of your door.
Then there’s the video quality of the devices. Most record in either 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) or higher fidelity 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels) with frame rates of up to 30 frames per second.
Some bells also only offer local video recording, much like a conventional IP camera, while others offer cloud-based video storage that you can easily access remotely. The latter generally require you to pay a small monthly fee to access your recordings.
We tested each of these doorbells over the course of a few weeks, checking for image quality in both daylight and at night (they use infrared LEDs to provide night vision), ease of setup and use, build quality and value.
Ring video doorbell: £89, Amazon
One of the original smart doorbells, the Ring video doorbell has been superseded by the Ring video doorbell 2, but that’s why it’s now available for a bargain price of just £89. It offers a slightly lower 720p resolution than the more premium options the company offers, but it still provides very good image quality in both daylight and at night, and offers all the other features you’d expect.
The attractively built unit can also be installed without an existing doorbell and mains power thanks to its included battery. Ring claims this lasts between six and 12 months between charges, but it’s more like a month or two if triggered regularly. If you go the battery route you’ll probably also want to install one of the wireless Ring Chimes (£24.99), so that you can hear the bell inside even when you’re away from your phone. Ring’s app is arguably the slickest on the market, so we’ve no complaints there either.
A sticking point is that you’ll need to pay for cloud storage to access recorded videos, but at just £2.50 a month, it’s not a particularly tough pill to swallow. Combined with its now bargain-basement price, this makes the original Ring the clear top choice of video doorbells, while it’s still available.
August Cam Pro doorbell: £281, Amazon
The August Cam Pro has a couple of features that make it stand out from the crowd. It incorporates a light that will shine when motion is detected, both acting as a security feature and allowing the camera to record colour video at night. It also buffers its recordings so that you can get a few seconds of video from before motion or a button press is detected.
Motion detection is also done via infrared, making it far less prone to false readings from passing traffic or trees swaying in the wind. Crucially, August also offers free cloud recording for 24 hours – something we feel should be a default for all these devices.
The downsides are that the unit itself is rather boxy looking and you don’t get either an internal battery or included power supply – you’ll need an existing fully wired-up bell. Its portrait (1280 x 960) video view is also decidedly narrow so isn’t so good for use as a general security camera. Still, video quality is good and overall there’s a lot to like here.
Byron wifi wired video doorbell: £162, Argos
Byron has produced traditional doorbells and other entry systems for more than 100 years and a video doorbell is the latest addition to its lineup. The appropriately impenetrably named DIC-23112UK offers 1080p video recording and full talkback functionality from its impressively compact and aluminium-framed bell. It requires mains installation but comes with a plug-in power supply and all the cabling you’ll need, so you shouldn’t need to run any extra cabling.
It also works well and offers decent video quality in both daylight and night modes. Crucially, it’s one of the few devices to offer cloud video storage – to Google Drive or Dropbox – without a subscription. However, there’s no getting round just how clunky the mobile app is. Setup is long-winded and it really lacks the finesse of bigger-name brands. Still, for its price, it does more than most.
Ezviz DP1 wireless door viewer: £146.17, B&H Photo Video
The Ezviz DP1 isn’t just a video doorbell but a video door viewer that’s meant to replace a conventional optical peephole. A camera section fits to the front of the door and feeds the signal to a screen on the back of the door. From there it can send the signal onto your phone and record any activity locally. It works well, providing the features of a smart doorbell with the added convenience of an immediate view on the back of door.
However, picture quality from the 720p camera leaves something to be desired, with it being a bit noisy and not coping well with high-contrast lighting conditions. The use of a microUSB charging port and lack of support for a standard 12V doorbell power input also means you either have to charge it regularly or deal with a slightly clunky cabling solution.
Ring video doorbell pro: £229, Amazon
Ring’s top-of-the-line model includes 1080p video recording, up from the 720p of the original Ring, and, crucially, comes with all the hardware you’ll need to instal it. This includes a screwdriver, rawlplugs, screws and, most importantly, a mains transformer for powering the bell. This is why Ring recommends getting the video doorbell professionally installed, but if you’re confident enough with electrics, it’s easy enough to do yourself. Also included is a choice of four different colours for the faceplate and one of Ring’s wireless chime units that you can instal elsewhere in the house to alert you there’s someone at the door.
All this and the Ring pro provides excellent image quality and has a slick, easy-to-use app that makes everything from initial setup to alerts and viewing your recorded clips a doddle. Like the other Ring models, the camera also has a particularly wide field of view, so you can really get a sense of everything that’s happening in front of it. If you already have an existing mains doorbell, the Ring pro is probably unnecessary, but if you’re starting from scratch it’s a great option.
Iseebell video doorbell: £70, Amazon
The big appeal of the Iseebell is its astonishingly low price. Currently available for £70 on Amazon, this is by far the cheapest readily available video doorbell. What’s more, it’s no less capable than other options. You get a 720p HD camera, phone alerts, two-way audio, motion detection, infrared night mode and even cloud recording. Like most other systems that offer cloud recording, you have to pay for the privilege but at $1.99 (£1.53) a month, its offering is the cheapest we’re aware of.
Inevitably the low cost of this doorbell does show, though. It’s not particularly stylish and you don’t get an included power adapter or battery – you’ll have to use an existing doorbell transformer. The app, while certainly better than some, isn’t the slickest either. Video quality also trails competitors, with a particularly distorted fish-eye view and grainy image, particularly at night. Still, it gets the job done and, for the price, it's impressive.
Nest Hello video doorbell: £229, Currys
The impressively compact and stylish Nest Hello has a couple of unique features that stand out. The first is that it records its excellent quality HD video in a taller 1600 x 1200 pixel format than most, giving you a head-to-toe view of who’s at the door. This means you don’t get quite as wide a view as the Ring cameras, so it will depend on the view you want your camera to cover to determine which is best for your needs.
The other key feature is that with a Nest Aware subscription the Hello can provide continuous recording. Instead of relying on motion detection like most alternatives, it simply records everything that’s going on all the time for 5-30 days. You can also specify activity zones for where the camera should pay particular attention and it can recognise friends or strangers and alert you accordingly.
The downside is that continuous recording eats up your broadband data and without a Nest Aware subscription the Hello only offers still-frame snapshot recording based on motion detection and doorbell presses. You also don’t get a battery or included power supply, which is a shame considering the high initial cost. Overall, though, if you can stomach the price, this is the smartest video doorbell out there and its continuous recording offers the greatest peace of mind.
Ring video doorbell 2: £179, John Lewis & Partners
The updated Ring video doorbell brings with it a higher resolution 1080p camera, interchangeable faceplates, various installation brackets and a conversion plate for fitting the Ring 2 to an original ring video doorbell mounting plate. The battery is also now removable so you could in theory swap in a charged unit for a depleted one, so you’re never without coverage. Ring also sells battery packs separately for this model.
Otherwise it offers the same features as the original, and it impresses just as much. That all-important higher resolution video does make a difference too, as there is clearly more detail on show. Indeed, generally image quality is excellent, though intriguingly it has a slightly narrow 160-degree field of view. You don’t get quite so many smart features as the Nest Hello, but a basic cloud video subscription is cheaper, as is the unit itself and you get the main features that matter, making it our second favourite of the bells we’ve tested.
The verdict: Video doorbells
The impressively low cost but excellent Ring video doorbell makes it the clear choice of smart doorbells right now. It’s versatile, easy to setup and use and works a like a charm. Otherwise, for greater video clarity, its newer sibling the Ring video doorbell 2 is also a top choice. Meanwhile, if you want the reassurance of continuous video recording, the excellent Nest Hello is your best bet.
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