Best Video Doorbells
The idea of video doorbells being the first step in home security is one that has really caught on. But with so many to choose from (and a few being taken off sale because of issues) it can seem like a minefield trying to make the right choice.
Luckily for you, the Round Gadget team have scoured the best of the best and have brought you this in depth video doorbell buying guide.
Top 5 Video Doorbells
A video doorbell is the kind of purchase you want to make once. It is not the most exciting tech purchase you are ever going to make but at the same time, if you feel it will enhance your home security then it could be one of the most important purchases you need to consider.
You may hear the term smart doorbells or WiFi doorbells and connected doorbells banded around but essentially all these terms cover the video doorbell category – however, no matter what term is used to describe it they will all have different features and varying capabilities and limitations.
Before heading in to the abyss unarmed with zero knowledge of what to look for – we have not only compiled what we have found to be the best video doorbells of 2019, but we have also provided you with some handy hints and tips to help you find exactly what is right for you.
How To Choose A Video Doorbell & What To Look For
Even the most tech savvy of us in the Round Gadget offices didn’t have too much of an idea about video doorbells – that is those of us that didn’t have one – and even those of us that did, we are ashamed to say we didn’t know as much as we should. We have since remedied that by putting these doorbells to the test and sending our research team in to overdrive.
After spending in excess of 3 weeks testing these doorbells and chime units, we now have a pretty secure idea of what you should be looking for when buying a video doorbell. It’s not for us to say which is the out and out best (as everyone has different wants/needs) but we should be able to help you make the right choice for you.
Why Buy A Video Doorbell?
Perhaps the most pertinent question is why you should consider buying a smart doorbell in the first place. The number one reason most people buy smart doorbells is for peace of mind and home security. It adds an additional layer of security to your home and they can often integrate with existing smart home products depending on the brand you purchase.
For vulnerable people or for those who are away from home a lot, being able to see who is at your door offers real peace of mind and with many models having motion activated video recording you can often be notified of someone approaching your home before they have even pressed the bell – or even if they don’t.
Others will choose to buy this type of product as a style choice – as it fits in to the style of a modern home and helps with those who have a busy lifestyle. Anyone who lives in an area where there is a lot of canvassing can also benefit from a video doorbell as it allows them to choose whether or not to answer the door – it may seem lazy or anti-social to some – but then the constant harassment from canvassers can easily be avoided.
How Video Doorbells Work
The traditional bell is somewhat more basic than the modern day video type (as you might expect) but essentially the main purpose of it is the same – to alert you that someone is at your door. The added benefit of a video doorbell is that you can receive these alerts and actually see who is at your door whether you are at home or not.
A video doorbell works by establishing a data connection between the doorbell and a mobile device such as your smartphone. Using a dedicated app you can then see who is at the door and in some cases you can have two way conversations using the microphone and speaker on the doorbell and the same on your mobile device.
Most smart doorbells use Wi-Fi for the data connection but some use bluetooth connections which have a range of 10-100 metres. For the majority that use Wi-Fi, your mobile device will also need a data connection – whether that be Wi-Fi or mobile data to be able to receive and send video and audio signals.
You will need to decide on whether or not you want a battery powered or wired doorbell – with battery powered being the most popular choice and looking to be the way most manufacturers are heading these days. It tends to be the more expensive doorbells that are wired as these also tend to be very feature rich.
What To Look For When Buying
As with any kind of tech purchase there are a number of features to look for and be aware of when buying. The first point that many new to video doorbells don’t realise is that if you want the doorbell to work as a standalone doorbell as well as a smart version (in other words so you hear a chime when someone presses the button) then you will need to make sure your doorbell comes with a chime unit – or that you purchase one separately.
Chime units usually plug directly in the wall or can also be battery operated and these usually work via a radio signal and as such do not rely on your Wi-Fi connection.
Unlike most security camera systems, video doorbells do not have to be wired in – and those that do can usually run on low power wiring as opposed to camera systems that require larger power supplies. That being said, some video doorbells do require wiring so always check for that before installing. If you are away from your property for months at a time then a wired system is going to make much more sense, however if a two week holiday is the most you are likely to be away at any one time then a battery powered solution is going to suffice and make installation much more straightforward.
Most video doorbells will upload recordings to some form of cloud storage or direct to your device. If using a cloud system (which we tend to think is best and is certainly the most secure in case of home intrusion) then you should check if there are any ongoing costs of using this system. Typically, you can expect to find free trials or limited free storage of recordings on the cloud with upsells for unlimited 7 day or 31 day recording – this is perfect if you think you will want to browse through footage at a later date and works more like a CCTV system with all video being recorded. Motion sensing cameras will record automatically once the motion sensor has been triggered but this is sometimes a little hit or miss – you can also receive push notifications to your mobile device for motion triggers.
You should also consider the camera quality and field of view of the camera when choosing the best doorbell for you. Generally, people stand fairly close to the door after pressing a doorbell so the wider the field of the view the better – anything 160 degrees and greater should be fine. You should also look for cameras that are 1080p HD at least. 720p HD is just about acceptable but expect to pay a little less for this lower resolution.
The final feature you should check for before buying is how well the model you are looking at will integrate with any existing smart home hardware you might already have. Google Home and Amazon Alexa are the big two in smart home hardware and both have their own brand of video doorbells. Nest is owned by Google and Ring is owned by Amazon – both are pretty much the market leaders right now but your choice may be dictated by the smart hardware you already own. You can also use IFTTT to communicate between your doorbell and smart enabled devices.
Video Doorbell Vs. Security Cameras/Systems
A common question when looking to buy a video doorbell is whether or not a security camera and/or system is a better idea. Without going in to the pros and cons of security systems in too much detail it is a question that only you have the answer to. The cost of a cheap video doorbell is going to be much, much less than a security system, as is the installation cost. Even a more expensive video doorbell will be relatively cheap compared to a multi camera security system and of course the security system won’t give you all of the features that the smart doorbell gives you – such as two way communication.
From a security point of view, the security system probably does serve as more of a deterrent as it stands out more – however, from a usability point of view then the doorbell is probably much easier.
Ring Video Doorbell 2
9/10 – Most Accessible and Easy To Set Up
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is one of Amazon’s flagship video doorbells and is pretty much our favourite of all that we tested. It’s not the cheapest doorbell that we tested but if you can stomach a cost of around £180 (which is not wildly more or less than any other leading brand) and you are looking for something that is essentially plug and play then the Ring 2 is about as good as it gets.
As it is an Amazon device it works seamlessly with Alexa enabled devices including the FireStick. It can be used on iOS and Android devices as well as Windows and Mac computers. If inter-device talking is your thing then you will also be happy to know that the Ring 2 supports IFTTT (if this then that) so you can set up your applets to your hearts content.
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the mid range Amazon showing when it comes to smart doorbells with the original ‘Ring Video Doorbell’ being the now entry level model (and around half the price of this version) and the ‘Pro’ being the highest spec model. This second generation model is a vast improvement on the first in many areas although it is actually a little bigger than its predecessor at 12.83cm x 6.35cm x 2.74cm. It has a 160 degree field of view (horizontal) which is ample and a 1080p HD camera that we found provided very clear and crisp images. It also comes equipped with infrared night vision and has a motion sensor that can be tweaked.
The Ring VD 2 can be mains or battery operated with the latter our preference (unless you have existing wiring in place from an old doorbell). If you do wire in then you will need to use 16-24v power source which is typical for wired doorbells. The battery on this model is easy to charge and requires a charge every 3-6 months (depending on usage). It is charged using a USB charging port and the battery pack clips out of the main unit – an improvement on the previous model that required the entire doorbell to be removed.
When it comes to two-way communication the Ring VD 2 performs admirably. Two speakers on the main unit provide clear and audible sound and the microphone is good enough to provide clear sound to you when using your device – even near to busy roads the background noise is cancelled out well enough to have a clear conversation.
Unlike the Pro, this model does not come with a chime unit, although you can purchase one as an add on if you like. However, if you have an Alexa enabled device or your mobile device near you then you will get a notification when someone rings the doorbell. You can also use IFTTT to set up a series of events upon someone pressing the bell or motion being sensed. For example, having a smart plug switch a lamp on when the bell is pressed is a good deterrent to potential burglars if the light comes on when you are out – it may however be confusing for your neighbours or friends who might think you are ignoring them if you are not able to speak to them via the app.
All videos that are triggered by the doorbell are recorded but you should be aware that after the initial free 30 trial of what Amazon call the ‘Ring Protect Plan’ you will have to pay a nominal monthly fee to be able to access the plan and your recordings. One real advantage of buying the Ring Video Doorbell 2 is that it comes with a free theft insurance – if your doorbell is stolen then Amazon will replace it for free.
The app is intuitive and easy to use and the motion sensor adjustor means you shouldn’t receive motion updates from passing traffic or people. We found that set up was easy over Wi-Fi (this model runs on 2.4GHz) and the app made things a doddle to get started.
Overall, this is our favourite out of the box – plug and play doorbell and at this point in 2019 you will be hard pushed to find better or more suitable – unless you have Google Home devices.
Ring Video Doorbell Pro
9/10 – Best Wired Video Doorbell
At first glance the Ring Video Doorbell Pro may look very similar to the Ring 2 but it is in fact the looks that are one of the biggest differences – or more the dimensions than the looks. The other single biggest difference with the Pro version is that it has to be hard wired in to a power supply – that means there is no battery operated option for this device.
If you already have low voltage wiring in place for an existing doorbell then installation is relatively easy – for anyone who does not have this or wants to hire someone to install the doorbell for them there is an installation option from Amazon (currently £120 in the UK – we couldn’t obtain a cost for the US).
The design of the Pro is much more slimline and although still a little bulky for our tastes it does look much neater than the Ring 2. Measuring up at 11.43 x 4.67 x 2.03cm there is a significant difference in size to the Ring 2.
You can style the Ring Pro to your liking as it ships with three additional faceplates – colours include black, dark brown and cream. It is easy enough to change these but we don’t recommend using them as an interchangeable feature – choose one and stick to it as you won’t need to be removing any part of the doorbell once it is in situ.
Another key difference with this model is that it operates over 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi frequencies – for those with routers that operate on only 5GHz frequencies (and believe us, there are some that are configured in this way) this makes connection to your Wi-Fi so much easier as you won’t need to mess around with router configuration settings.
Finally, the Pro version comes with a chime unit so there is no need to make any extra purchases to have it function as a standard doorbell.
The app and all other features are pretty much identical to the Ring 2, although we did find that the speaker on the Pro version was louder and clearer and it also benefits from pre-buffering which means your motion activate videos will also include video from before the motion activated the recording – this is handy if you do have a concern about an unwanted visitor.
As with the Ring 2, the Pro version works seamlessly with your other Amazon devices and IFTTT. It is very easy to use and is a class leader. If you have the slightly higher budget and want the hassle free nature of a video doorbell that doesn’t need charging then the Ring Pro could well be for you. It gets a big thumbs up from us!
Nest Hello Video Doorbell
8.5/10 – Best for use with Google Home Devices
The Nest Hello Video Doorbell is perhaps one of the most advanced and feature rich smart doorbells that are available right now. Compatibility with Amazon and Google Home devices mean that it has wide appeal and this model is a worthy competitor of the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. Like the aforementioned competition, the Nest Hello requires a wired power connection and will work with existing low voltage power supplies – if you are unsure how to connect or have doubts about working with electricity it is always best to contact an expert for installation – although this is not necessary for a competent DIY-er.
Although the Nest Hello is not technically smaller than the Ring Pro, it does have a much more slimline appeal as it is only 2.6cm wide. The full dimensions are as follows: 11.7cm x 2.6cm x 4.3cm. Unlike the Ring 2 or Ring Pro, the Nest Hello does not come with changeable faceplates so you are stuck with the black design – however, we think the design of the Nest Hello is pretty sleek and is designed to stand out just enough (but not look out of place).
Like most doorbells in this category you will enjoy motion activated notifications direct to your smart phone (works with iOS and Android) and the Nest app offers some excellent features that you don’t get with the Ring models – such as facial recognition for familiar faces that will announce on your smart home devices when someone familiar approaches the doorbell.
The 1080p HDR enabled camera is super sharp and also works perfectly at night thanks to tiny infrared LEDs. A 160 degree field of view matches the Ring models and there is also two way communication that performed flawlessly for us. Imagery was sharp and vibrant whilst sound was loud and clear on both ends. You can even send the video to displays such as the Amazon Echo Show.
One really useful feature is the ability to have the Nest Hello speak out pre-recorded messages that you program in. For example, if you are in a place where you can’t really converse clearly but you can see someone is trying to deliver a parcel you could have a recorded message that tells them where to leave the parcel – you simply select your instruction on the app and the doorbell will say it.
We also tested the doorbell with an IFTTT applet using a smart light bulb and this worked every time without fail.
The Nest Hello records video continuously for up to 10 days. There are three subscription levels available; 5 day storage, 10 day storage or 30 day storage – all over the cloud. These are priced at £4, £8 and £24 per month respectively in the UK and $5, $10 and $30 per month in the US. There are savings of around 10-20% for anyone who pays up front for the year.
The Nest Hello comes with an indoor chime (like the Ring Pro) as well as all the parts you need for installation and mounting. All in all, the Nest Hello is one of our favourite devices in this category and mainly thanks to the software that it includes – and for Google Home users this is the best in class.
8/10 – Best Value
The RemoBell S is one of the best value wireless doorbells on the market – however it is not widely available outside of the US. Retailing at under $100 (and available with a free chime for a limited time) the RemoBell S is a wired video doorbell that has features that match its good looks.
Compatible with iOS and Android devices, the RemoBell S has one of the largest fields of view with a 180 degree FOV and also boasts one of the fastest response times to motion activation.
Like the other models on this page it also features changeable motion zones so you can set it up to work perfectly for your surroundings and the 1080p HD video is crystal clear. The infrared system works admirably given the price point of this doorbell and it even works with Amazon Echo and Google Home devices as well as IFTTT.
Two way audio conversations work well and there was no lag for us when using a solid Wi-Fi connection. The video displayed on your mobile device is excellent with minimal distortion – even when the visitor was standing right in front of the camera.
One thing that sets this device apart from the rest (and that keeps it in line with being best value) is that you can have three days of cloud storage for free. If you require more then there are paid plans you can use, but for most people, three days of storage is ample – even if you are away from home for a period of time.
As with other wired video doorbells, the installation of the RemoBell S is pretty straight forward and their website even provides some excellent video tutorials on how to install the device. As always, if you are unsure then consult an expert.
For us, we found the RemoBell S to be a competent video doorbell that competes well against the likes of the Ring 2 and in terms of vlaue for money is hard to beat.
Pawaca Video Doorbell
7/10 – Good Cheap Video Doorbell
When it comes to technology (and for most things in life) you generally get what you pay for. For those on a budget you might be forgiven for thinking that a really cheap video doorbell is going to be much more limited in terms of quality and features. That may be the case for many doorbells, but the Pawaca Video Doorbell manages to balance budget and quality/features pretty well indeed. In fact, the Pawaca might lack in some areas but it seems they have focused on the things that should matter and left out the fluff.
The Pawaca doorbell features a 168 degree field of view HD camera that is perfectly adequate and also includes a microphone so you can enjoy two way conversations via the doorbell and the app (iOS and Android available). There is a memory card that comes with the doorbell and videos are stored locally which is not ideal but is still a handy feature.
You receive push notifications that are triggered by the motion sensor as well as doorbell button presses and so for this purpose it is pretty good. There is a lack of cloud storage available with this doorbell so if that is important to you then this may not be the option for you. However, if you want a doorbell that works well when you are in the house (rather than as a security aid for when you are way from home) then the Pawaca is excellent as it also comes with a chime included.
The infrared on the camera worked very well – certainly better than we expected. There is no compatibility with smart home devices or IFTTT and the doorbell itself is quite large at 14.4cm in height.
Overall, for the price this is a good buy and it works well – but for those who travel a lot or are away from home a lot then this may not be the best purchase for you.
Video Doorbells are one of those pieces of technology that actually do make your day to day life easier. Our favourite of all being the Ring Video Doorbell Pro thanks to its ‘always on’ hardware and feature rich software coupled with a sleek design and interchangeable faceplates to blend with the style of your home.
Always on as hard wired
Interchangeable faceplates to suit your home style
Works seamlessly with Alexa and IFTTT
No support for Google Home