The 5 Best Video Doorbell Cameras For Better Home Security
Video doorbells protect the most accessible entryway into your home by sending detection alerts and clip recordings directly to your phone. And while intruders are a scary enough prospect to worry about alone, porch pirates are on the rise. More than 11 percent of Americans have had a package stolen, with the average parcel valued at $136. Video doorbells can deter would-be thieves and provide proof of a robbery. Outside of fending off criminals, these cameras show you who’s at your door and allow you to respond from your phone or smart display in real-time using your voice or preset messages. Whether you’re new to home security and want to start with monitoring your front doorstep or you’re looking to boost your existing system, these are the best smart doorbells to keep you up to date with the comings and goings of your property.
Check out quick info below of the top five doorbell cameras from our testing, then scroll deeper for helpful buying info and full reviews of these and other high-ranking options.
How to Pick the Right Doorbell Cam
The first thing you’ll want to consider when selecting a doorbell camera is the brand and its compatibility with other smart home or security systems. We recommend sticking with the same brand whenever possible for seamless integration between devices. Some of these doorbell cameras are still designed to work with other companies’ products, so you could mix and match, but it’s often simpler to control and set automations under one app. If you’re new to smart home security but already have smart home hubs from Google or Amazon, you may want to select either a Nest or Ring doorbell camera for easier control through your existing ecosystem. Most third-party models are compatible with Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa, but other products—like indoor/outdoor cameras and motion sensors—will likely only be compatible with doorbell cameras from the same company. If you’re planning on expanding your security suite in the future, you may also want to look into a system that offers all of the accessories you might add later, such as sprinklers, locks, and cameras.
All of these doorbell cameras are relatively easy to install, provided you have existing doorbell wiring to connect to. Otherwise, you may want to call a professional to install a line, unless you’re comfortable running your own wiring. If you’re connecting a new doorbell camera to an existing output, check your current AC voltage. Most of these cameras are compatible with voltages between 16 and 25, though some will work with as little as eight volts. Though wired doorbell cameras require electric connection, some have battery packs as backup in case of a power outage. And there are some fully battery-powered options, like the models from Google and Eufy below.
How We Tested
To create our pool of video doorbells for testing, I researched and cross-referenced best-selling models on retail sites with critic reviews. Ensuring we had a range and balance of compatibility, features, and performance, I then installed each doorbell and used it over the course of a week. This time allowed me to evaluate picture and response times in the dark, daylight, and overcast conditions. Below is the criteria I evaluated each doorbell camera on.
I set up each video doorbell on the same 5-GHz Wi-Fi band to make sure it had ample bandwidth. I then walked, crouched, and ran past each camera before comparing the captured clips and images. A higher megapixel count is better for making out details like identifying features—think a tattoo or a license plate—in the event of an emergency, but this isn’t the sole factor of a good image. Brightness, viewing angle, and night vision are all important, as they make up overall picture quality.
Notification Alert Time
Warning time is a huge consideration—in an emergency, seconds are crucial, and you want a system that gives you prompt peace of mind. I tested to see how long it took for motion activity to trigger an event and send a notification to my phone. For phone notification speed, zero to two seconds is fast, three to four is middling, and anything over five is painfully slow.
Load Time For Live View
The best cameras don’t need to spend seconds processing footage. I looked at the amount of time it takes to open up and process a live view from an event trigger, testing it over both Wi-Fi and 5G cellular data.
Person & Zone Detection Accuracy
For devices with configurable zones and detection, I considered for event accuracy. While I’d rather see every event than miss some, smart AI can cut down on accidental triggers and better inform you in real-time. For example, if you live in an area with heavy traffic or lots of wildlife, you don’t need to see every flick of a deer’s tail or flash of light from passing cars.
Features (With or Without a Subscription)
Pay close attention to the features and subscriptions offered by each of these brands. Because most video doorbells store footage via the cloud, you will likely need to pay for a monthly subscription to get access to your video history. Though these may cost as low as $3 a month, some can get pricier and provide access to premium features like advanced motion detecting and professional monitoring. And some of these doorbells require subscriptions just to function as they intend to, so you’ll want to tack that cost on to the base price.
Google Nest Doorbell
Camera: 1600p, 3MP | Video: 3:4 HD | Field of view: 160° | Installation: Battery or wired
Unlike its rivals, Google’s Nest Video Doorbell includes extensive features like package detection, cloud storage, and subject identification alerts without the need for a subscription. You control the doorbell entirely through the Google Home app, and it seamlessly integrates into this ecosystem. The narrow field of view can be off-putting to those who want the picture to extend to both sides of their door, however the wide vertical captures compensate for this. Both short and tall people, as well as any packages left by the door, quickly show on your phone or Nest Hub.
The Nest Doorbell is also very easy to set up. To get started, I connected it to a USB-C wire, scanned the QR code from the Google Home app, then plugged in my Wi-Fi password. The doorbell instructed me to install the mounting plate with the two included screws and slide it downward to lock it in. From the Google home app, you can click for a live view, watch recorded events, and adjust settings such as video quality and wake-up sensitivity.
Within 2.3 seconds of the doorbell detecting me, my phone pinged with an alert. There’s no attached screenshot like with other options, which could help identify if the notification is worth checking out. Throwing a ball across the device’s field of view didn’t trigger an event, as I’d hoped it wouldn’t. This accuracy saves energy, helping the battery to last longer. Unfortunately, the Nest Doorbell might have too much discretion, waiting to register until someone is basically at the door. You can view a preview of each event as well as jump into the feed within four seconds, but the Ring Pro 2 below trumps this, loading into footage nearly instantaneously.
The picture remains clear after dark with night vision infrared lighting. The camera is clear enough to make out details like text on a shirt, the tattoo on my forearm, and the words on packaging day or night as seen by the nighttime shot above. It’s also clear enough to identify faces, with the advanced facial detection using photos to identify and announce visitors on devices like a second-generation Nest Hub. Another benefit to owning a Nest hub is that the doorbell feed shows up directly to the smart display, from which you can then respond with your voice or preset messages. The wireless installation, fast notification times, and clear picture day or night make the Nest hard to beat, especially for the price.
Ring Pro 2
Video: 1536p, 16:9 | Field of view: 150° | Power: 8- to 24-volt AC | Installation: Wired
The Ring Pro 2 lives in the extremes. It’s a beastly video doorbell with a sharp 1536p resolution, vivid HDR colors, and advanced features like plotting a subject’s movement path over a bird’s eye view of your property. On the other hand, it’s almost excessively expensive, locked to an Alexa ecosystem, and only comes in a wired installation option. Still, it’s one of the best video doorbells we’ve tested, with the option to expand the system from a basic base station to indoor/outdoor security cameras, smart lighting, and a variety of other sensors.
Right off the bat, the image is a bit wider and clearer than the Google Nest above. While Amazon touts its 3D motion detection feature, which indeed cuts down on false alerts from moving branches and light changes, it still failed to stop alerts from deer or possums in the early morning. As for human detection, the camera responsively triggered notifications within three seconds of my arm entering its wide field of view. And it caught my arm even if I withdrew it quickly, as I could see in the screenshots accompanying the alerts. Other than wanting to see who’s at the door, many people buy a doorbell camera to protect their packages. Whether I stole a plastic envelope or a large box, the Ring caught everything without a cool-down period.
The Video Doorbell Pro 2 also shines for its bright HDR colors. This is helpful for identifying the correct shade of an article of clothing on a potential intruder and just looks livelier. I could even make out the seasonal change in the shades of grass. You can load captures virtually instantaneously (compared to the brief processing time of competitors), despite the higher resolution and better color. Perhaps the best feature of the Ring Pro 2 is the automatic time-lapse that captures periods of inactivity so that you can see what occurred overnight or in a certain period. If you have an Echo Show device, you can get a feed of your doorbell sent straight to the smart display as well as respond to visitors with a tap. The Pro 2 is the most expensive option here and requires a wire. But if you want the latest features, best colors, and minimal clip processing, it’s worth the splurge.
Eufy Video Doorbell
Video: 2560 x 1920 (2K), 4:3 | Field of view: 160° | Power: 16- to 24-volt AC | Installation: Battery or wired
Like our other video doorbell picks, this Eufy 2K has two-way audio so you can communicate with guests, an easy-to-press button, and solid night vision. But unlike most of the other options, it offers exceptionally good resolution, works wired or with a battery, and integrates into either an Alexa or Google smart home. Your clips are saved both locally and to the cloud without a subscription.
Opting for the battery setup, I screwed in the mounting the plate and slid the Eufy doorbell on in less than a minute. Next, I opened the Eufy app and brought the camera online. I immediately noticed a stark contrast of the wider color range and higher resolution. Details like the “Welcome” on my neighbors doormat and the flower edges in a wreath were easier to pick out. Zooming in on footage retained more detail without a drastic drop in quality. As for on people, the doorbell captured details such as the words on a hat, the part in my hair, and even the small polo rider logo on my shirt. While lighting could bloom a bit with bursts of sun, it never disrupted the image, with that stair railing on the left in the photo below always visible. At night, the camera kept its sharp definition but sticks to the black-and-white lack of color that plagues infrared cameras.
Despite a wide fisheye lens, which provided the best view of the sides, the vertical field of view is weirdly stunted. From two feet away, I could see my head, but packages and feet get cut off. If you often like to see your deliveries, this camera isn’t for you. Outside of this complaint, the Eufy caught me running, crouching, and walking past it without any gaps in coverage. Even while I was in motion, the camera captured the little details. All of this detail comes with a drawback, though; notifications took, on average, 7.4 seconds to reach my phone, which is painfully slow.
Overall, the Eufy is a great higher-end option that plays nice with Alexa and Google ecosystems and shows on your smart hub of choice. By being a jack of all trades, it doesn’t pack all the cool features of a first-party device, like facial recognition. And the notifications are slow. But for those looking for the highest clarity doorbell camera, this is your best bet.
—BEST BUDGET OPTION—
Wyze Security Video Doorbell
Video: 1080, 3:4 | Field of view: 120° | Power: 16- to 24-volt AC | Installation: Wired
This Wyze is surprisingly crisp for a sub-$60 doorbell, packing a wide 3:4 aspect ratio, fast notification speeds, and a 1080p resolution in the most compact design I’ve tested. And outside of performance, the Wyze software is easy to use, automate, and integrate into your entire home setup. I could see cameras and lock statuses from my bedroom Nest Hub or in my kitchen using an Echo Show. Unlike with a battery-powered doorbell, I didn’t have to worry about recharging it.
Like the Ring Pro 2 and Logitech doorbells from our pool, the Wyze requires a wired installation with new or existing cabling. All that took was screwing in the base, wrapping the doorbell wires around the back screws, and clipping in the doorbell. The bright LED lighting helps illuminate the area when the doorbell detects motion and is a great warning for anyone approaching your door. Despite the middling 1080p resolution, I noticed fine details like swirls in concrete, but color reproduction was definitely the dullest of the bunch.
Unfortunately, the picture quality takes a dive when a subject is in motion. Even as I slowly walked past the Wyze, my face was distorted and I couldn’t identify the logo on my shirt. While anything or person standing still is rendered in high definition, most people who rang or walked past my doorbell were effectively unidentifiable. While I have to commend the wide and responsive motion detection range, it’s not all that helpful if you can’t pick out who it is running past your door with packages in hand. Notifications rolled in at just under four secondsm which is fast, especially for a budget device.
My apartment experiences frequent power outages, so each doorbell had to reconnect to my Wi-Fi at least once during testing. The Wyze model was the only one unable to do this on its own. While this isn’t a major deal if you’re home and able to lift the doorbell from the mounting plate to hit the reset button in the back, you won’t be able to see doorway activity if you travel often or are on vacation.
—BEST FOR APPLE USERS—
Logitech Circle View
Video: 1200 x 1600, 3:4 HD | Field of view: 160° | Power: 8- to 24-volt AC | Installation: Wired
If you’re an Apple loyalist, you know that the HomeKit doesn’t have as many compatible smart home devices as some of the other ecosystems out there. Accessories that do work with it, however, often perform well because of lighting-fast response times and Siri assistant integration. Logitech’s Circle View is one of these supporting devices and offers the fastest installation setup, cleanest UI, and quickest response times out of the pool. Unfortunately, it’s locked to Apple’s walled garden and requires not only an iPhone but also a HomePod or an Apple TV to act as hub, which makes it hard to recommend for most people.
Unlike with other wired systems that require you to wrap the wiring below screws to transfer power, you simply feed the mounting plate holes the two low-voltage wires— securely locking them into place with contact plates. The camera snaps into the mount and receives power instantly. Similar to connecting other Apple accessories like Airpods or a HomePod, the pairing process is streamlined so you simply tap the Circle View camera with your phone or scan a QR code to kick off pairing. Your doorbell connects to Wi-Fi automatically and immediately integrates into your HomeKit app within seconds. The others here each take a few minutes to integrate.
Once the device detects motion, it sends a notification and a screenshot to your phone in an average of 1.21 seconds. It’s the fastest of our entire pool and can mean the difference between being able to catch an event taking place and being too late. Clicking the notification brings you directly into the feed with no loading, so you can respond immediately. From here you can talk, pressing the button once, and the sound is clear on both ends. The user interface is smooth, working like you’d expect an Apple-compatible camera to. From your view, you can see a scrollable history, interact with the camera, and adjust settings from a tap without needing to dive into submenus.
The 3:4 vertical and 1200 x 1600 picture looks decently sharp but doesn’t really impress, especially in the dark, as you can see in the image above. The motion detection is super sensitive—great for peace of mind, but bugs and light changes often set off the camera. There’s no way to adjust this, so you either have to be okay with a mountain of notifications or turn them off entirely. While my apartment complex is covered in light, I hooked up the Circle View to some wiring in my garage to test out the color night vision. With the lights off, the camera showed a dull rendition of my Jeep’s bright red body and watered down pink overhead storage totes to a beige color. Overall, the effect is more pleasant to look at than a colorless infrared image, but the Circle View can’t reliably recreate lifelike hues. Though, like Google- and Alexa-compatible doorbells, this one can integrate directly into your photos to announce the names of visitors on your HomePod or AppleTV hub.
Published at Fri, 29 Oct 2021 22:57:00 +0000