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.

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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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