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Looking back, it’s hard to believe there was once a time when a doorbell was literally just a bell for your door. The best new doorbells these days go far beyond the simple chime, making old-school doorbells look almost primitive. A smart doorbell lets you safely monitor what’s happening outside, protects your packages from “porch pirates,” and sends you instant alerts to see who’s ringing – all monitored from your device in real-time.
Though any smart doorbell is a step up from a traditional one, there’s still a lot to sift through in order to decide which bell is best for you and your home. Here’s the breakdown of what to look for before you buy.
How Do Smart Doorbells Work?
Field of View: Most bells offer a wide field of view, letting you see the whole scene of what’s happening outside – even at night, and often with a decent zoom lens too. You also have the option to set designated and customized “Activity Zones,” letting you pinpoint the exact area to be alerted about whenever there’s motion detected. This is a huge help, not just for security and safety, but to cut down on notifications from a super-sensitive camera that’s sending you constant alerts whenever the wind blows or a cat walks by.
Storage: All those videos and photos of visitors and outside activity need to be stored somewhere, and can add up fast, especially with continuous monitoring. While some units include an SD card or store a finite amount of files locally, space is limited. That’s where the cloud comes in. For a few extra bucks per month, cloud storage provides a big boost in the amount of files you can keep around. It’s an option that’s available on most models, and is great for heavy usage. But for moderate to quiet activity (and frequently deleting big files you no longer need), local storage usually does the trick.
Weather: Even the best bells with the most “bells and whistles” can’t compete if it’s not weatherproof for where you live. If you’re in a climate with extreme high or low temps, be sure your bell can handle the heat and resist heavy rain, snow, and cold. Generally, most units have a pretty wide range, up to the triple digits in Fahrenheit and down into the negatives.
Video Quality: A blurry bell-cam isn’t much good when you can’t see who’s on your porch. While cameras are getting better with each new generation, 1080p is common across the board nowadays and recommended for a clear and detailed image feed. WDR, or Wide Dynamic Range, helps bring faces into focus in the shadows, HDR corrects for any distortion during daylight, and infrared LEDs light up the night, letting you look out and see the whole picture of what’s going on out there. Some of the more modern models are taking it a step further, offering package detection and face recognition, so you’ll know who it is before they even ring.
Installation: Most smart doorbells are going to require wires, but not everyone has the proper home wiring; not to mention the know-how, the permission, or the desire to start messing with them. That’s where you’d need a bell with the option to connect purely wirelessly over WiFi. While one of the big advantages of wiring it up is never having to worry about low batteries and charging ever again, wireless bells will most likely run on rechargeable battery packs, and can last a decently long time on a single charge – usually between 4-6 months. A wired doorbell can also send notifications faster, and integrate with the already existing chimer in your house if it’s electric or mechanical, or connect all your Amazon Echos to ring simultaneously too. However, if hooking up an entire smart-home is your goal here, it’s best to be certain the bell can link with your smart-devices of choice before buying. These bells may be modern, but not all are pair-able with everything, and vary pretty widely in terms of which ones they work with. Amazon Echo and Nest are the most common, so double-check before you go all-in.
Security: Having a visible, lit up unit can itself often be a deterrent to package thieves who know they’re being watched, and 24-hour, round-the-clock recording is an option that’s available. However, it’ll eat up storage fast, and will usually require a cloud subscription. As far as hackability, the best defense is a strong WiFi network, and a username/password that’s lengthy, character diverse, and not frequently used across platforms.
What Are the Best Smart Doorbells?
We’ve selected some of the best smart video doorbells – both wired and wireless – to help you secure your doorstep.
1. Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2
If you’ve got existing doorbell wiring, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 is the best video doorbell money can buy.
This video doorbell has a wide 150-degree horizontal field of view as well as a 90-degree vertical field of view for head-to-toe video monitoring. The video resolution is also HD+ (1600 x 900) which means you’ll see a clear picture at all times of the day, whether you’ve got a package incoming or a guest.
It’s also got advanced motion detection from up to 30 feet so you can tell if there’s someone hanging out around your yard or if your neighbor’s dog decided to take a little stroll through your property.
You’ll also be able to use your video doorbell with Alexa including having your doorbell automatically greet your guests with the Ring Protect Plan. With the plan, you’ll even be able to access saved live recordings for up to 60 days.
Plus, the easy DIY installation and clear audio via two-way talk, make this an excellent video doorbell to add to your smart home.
2. Blink Video Doorbell
For a starter video doorbell, you can’t go wrong with the Blink Video Doorbell. It’s easy to install, has a 1080p (HD) view, night vision and two-way talk so you never miss a guest — or a delivery. Do note though, you will need to purchase the Blink Sync Module 2 separately to access features like live view and two-way audio
We tested out this smart video doorbell and were impressed by its quick motion detection, which immediately let us know when someone walked past the apartment door (as long as your video doorbell is ‘armed’ on the app). It was also relatively easy to install with the Blink app offering step-by-step instructions on how to connect to and mount this doorbell — although snapping this video doorbell onto the mount took us a few tries.
Though the doorbell comes with two AA batteries included for an easy wireless setup, you do have the option to connect it to existing wiring too. We went with the wireless setup and had no issues with the battery, motion detection or live view in the week that we tested this video doorbell out. Plus, this video doorbell could be used hands-free with Alexa to see who’s at the door at all times (it’s not compatible with Google or Siri, unfortunately).
The Blink Video doorbell also comes with 30 days free of cloud storage which will store up to 15-second video clips from the time motion was detected. And, you won’t need an additional costly subscription to access this video doorbell’s best features. With the Blink Sync Module and a USB drive, you can store your motion recordings locally.
3. Eufy WiFi Video Doorbell
Eufy is the security division of Anker, a well-known, trusted player in the tech world. Their doorbell’s 2K video quality provides clean and detailed resolution over a wide 160° field of view, as well as a 4:3 aspect ratio. Customized Motion Zones let you create and pinpoint the exact areas you want to monitor for motion outside, and Person Detection Alerts automatically kick a notification to your device whenever it identifies someone (you also get motion detection to be alerted of any other activity), complete with a photo of the person’s face.
Free and secure local storage holds a significant amount of photos and videos (4GB), while 256-bit data encryption keeps your footage secure and private. It’s linkable with Google Voice Assistant and Amazon Echo, and voice-activated commands can show the live feed on Echo Show or Nest Hub. Latency and lag-time are low when on WiFi (this is also adjustable in the settings), and the audio out of the bell’s speaker is clearly audible. You can also temporarily disable the chime and motion notifications, in case you don’t want to be disturbed.
4. Google Nest Doorbell Wired
Google Home users can’t go wrong with the Nest Hello (now Google Nest Doorbell Wired).
It’s got a wide 160-degree field of view, HD video enhanced with HDR for clear visuals and contrast as well as night vision.
Similar to the Ring Doorbell Pro 2, your Nest doorbell also offers pre-recorded messages when you can’t come to the door as well as two-way audio for easy communication. You can even get a Nest Aware subscription to fully take advantage of your new video doorbell.
With Nest Aware your doorbell can alert you to whether there’s a package at the door and even recognize if your friend comes to visit. You’ll also get event-based history up to 60 days in case you missed a motion event and wants to check in on what was going on around your home.
The only thing you need to keep in mind is whether your home is compatible with this wired video doorbell. Google makes it easy to find out whether you’re all set for your new video doorbell, just check here.
5. EZVIZ 2K Video Doorbell
EZVIZ has been rolling out quality gear these past few years, with everything from security cameras to floodlights. This doorbell joins their collection, and holds up to the same high standards. The Smart AI Human Shape Detection proved to work well identifying people that approach and not sending notifications for every sensitive movement it sees, even at night with the Night Vision feature, in full 1080p HD.
Cloud storage is available, but optional, as you can store photos and videos on a 256GB SD card in a side slot instead. The bell itself is sleek and minimal in its design, and works with home assistants like Alexa and Google AI. It’s also IP65 weatherproof, so you can safely install it onto any outdoor-facing doorframe.
6. Toucan Wireless Video Doorbell
Right from the get-go, Toucan’s branding is friendly, un-intimidating, and designed to be simple to set up. No hard-wiring is required here, just stick it to your door, fire it up with the app, and you’re all set. The doorbell picks up a 180-degree FOV, and multiple different chime sound that get loud to be sure you’ll hear it in the back of the house. There’s also motion detection, night vision, two-way audio, and no subscription is required to take a look back at the past 24 hours of footage.
7. Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell
This bell is easy to hook up wirelessly in just a few minutes, and comes with all the tools you’ll need, with the option of hardwiring it too. After that, the HD video quality is noticeably rich and smooth, .
The cam gives a full view of your visitors and their surroundings, with an impressively wide field at 180°, and a powerful digital zoom for picking out precise features on a person or a package – even in the dark thanks to its night vision. When someone rings your bell, the Arlo automatically makes a video call to your device, giving you the option to quickly respond with a pre-made message, or answer it and talk to them in real-time.
Arlo also offers more features through their Smart Subscription plan, letting you adjust things like Activity Zone, minimizing the monitored area for any motion and letting you decide the specific area to get alerted about. You can also receive different alerts for different detections, divided up into categories like people, animals, and vehicles.