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A video doorbell used to be reserved for us tech nerds, but the convenience and added security they bring has seen a huge growth in the demand for them.
If you’re planning to add a video doorbell to your front porch, we’ve put together this guide with our top recommendations and some helpful buying advice.
What is a Video Doorbell?
It seems like every part of the house is getting an upgrade in the smart home revolution, and the doorbell is no exception.
A video doorbell works like an intercom system, allowing you to see who’s at your door and communicate with them
This biggest benefit is that you don’t even need to be home in order to do this.
You can speak with anyone at your doorstep no matter where you are in the world, provided you have WiFi and the required smartphone app, of course.
Video doorbells don’t just provide convenience, they are now an essential security device that helps protect your home by providing a deterrent to potential thieves, or video evidence if any crimes are committed.
What is the Best Video Doorbell in the UK?
Our top 3 video doorbells in the UK are:
1. Nest Hello: This is a great video doorbell with crisp and clear footage, facial recognition and fast alerts when someone rings the doorbell. It also works seamlessly with Google Home.
2. Ring Doorbell Plus: If Alexa is your voice assistant of choice, then we think you’d prefer the Ring Video Doorbell Plus which allows you to stream to an Echo Show or Fire TV, plus it has advanced motion detection capabilities and works extremely quick.
3. Eufy Video Doorbell: For great features without the burden of ongoing costs for cloud storage, then the Eufy video doorbell is just the ticket thanks to 2k resolution, local storage and both wired or battery powered options.
Full List of the Best Video Doorbells
Google’s Nest Hello video doorbell is out top pick as it’s packed full of features, has great video quality and the response time is great. Plus, it works seamlessly with Google Home.
The Nest Hello is our top pick video doorbell that’s currently available in the UK. It records with a resolution of 1600 x 2000 pixels which might seem like a strange aspect ratio but is designed to help you see everything on your doorstep, from your visitor’s head right down to the doorstep itself. The video records in HDR which gives good viewing quality in all lighting conditions.
Nest integrates with both Alexa and Google Home to announce visitors, but if you have a Nest Hub or a Chromecast you get the added benefit of streaming footage when activity is detected.
The Nest Hello is currently the only doorbell to offer facial recognition, allowing you to set up familiar faces. These are frequent guests that your doorbell will recognise and know by name, allowing it to make named visitor announcements on your smart speaker.
The Hello also features pre-recorded quick responses which you can choose to play if you’re unable to speak to the visitor.
Ring Doorbell Plus
The original video doorbell brand is still a great option, especially if you prefer to use Alexa over Google Home.
Ring were first to market with the video doorbell in 2013 and even now still have that edge.
Ring was acquired by Amazon in a well thought out move, and as such the integrations with Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa, are seamless. This allows you to use Echo devices as a chime or stream your doorbell to an Echo Show or Fire TV.
The motion sensor capabilities of Ring Plus are superb with their near motion zone detection which allows you to set a distance in front of your doorstep to monitor, great if you live near a busy street.
The reason why we recommend the Plus version of the Doorbell is for the pre-roll technology that it includes. The doorbell is on a low power rolling buffer which allows you to view 4 seconds before any motion is detected or your doorbell rings, this gives you a much fuller view of any doorstep activity.
It’s probably not worth buying a ring without the subscription commitment because the lack of local storage means you cannot review footage previously captured unless you have the cloud storage that forms part of the Ring Protect Plan.
Eufy 2k Video Doorbell
Eufy is a great pick if you’re looking for a video doorbell that doesn’t require a subscription but still has great features and smart home integrations.
Eufy isn’t yet a household name, but it’s heading that way and being a subdivision of Anker, you know you can trust them. Their video doorbell easily deserves a place in the top devices and provides some of the best footage thanks to it’s 2k resolution via a Sony sensor.
The biggest advantage of buying a Eufy over the Nest or Ring devices is that there is no ongoing commitment which many people like to avoid. You can access all of the doorbells features without a monthly fee, thanks to the inclusion of local storage.
The Eufy has both a wireless battery powered version and a wired one that can be fitted to existing doorbell wires. There are a few key differences as outlined here:
- Battery: The battery powered device has a base that sits inside the house to store the footage, meaning that thieves can’t steal the doorbell and your footage. The battery doorbell uses a low power wireless technology to communicate with the base, this allow an excellent battery life which Eufy claims to be six months, although real world testing shows us that it’s more like 4 months, still an impressive feat.
- Wired: If you opt for the wired version, you’ll have the added feature of pre-roll recording which has a constant buffer of 3 seconds, this means you’ll see what happens in the run up to any recording. It is also much slimmer than the battery version so does look a lot better.
Overall, if you’re able to hard wire your doorbell, the wired one is a better option.
August View Doorbell
The August View Doorbell makes a great companion to August smart locks for an integrated front door experience that works seamlessly.
If you have some of August’s market leading smart door locks, then adding their video doorbell to your line up will give you ultimate security and convenience at your front door. The August View is a new generation of video doorbell and builds on the success of their previous Doorbell cam, but with a major facelift and some smart new tech.
It is another device that manages to one-up Ring with a 1440p resolution, and its infrared vision gives the option to see who’s around at night.
With both the door locks and the doorbell, you can view your front door and unlock it all from one screen on your phone. If you have an Echo show, the process is even more streamlined, allowing you to view and unlock with just your voice. If you have a standard Echo or Google Home without a screen, you can still get visitor announcements but there is no voice unlock for safety reasons.
The August View is customisable too, you can easily switch out the faceplates for a different colour to match your house, options include black, white, bronze, blue and grey.
The Doorview camera replaces your peephole, it comes with knock detection along with the usual features you’d expect from Ring.
Ring has the broadest range of video doorbells so it’s no surprise that we’re including another one. The Ring Doorview Camera is a slightly different affair to their other devices, rather than replacing a doorbell, it is more like a replacement for a peep hole camera.
The device is perfect installing a doorbell in a rented apartment as it can be fitted and removed without leaving trace, there is no need for drilling or screwing the device as it simply replaces the peep hole.
As the device is installed into the door, rather than the door frame, it also has the nice addition of knock detection in addition to being activated by motion detection or when someone presses the doorbell.
As with other Ring doorbells, it doesn’t have any local storage so you need the Ring Protect Plan in order to make best use of it. It’s also worth noting that this device has the narrowest field of vision out of all the video doorbells due to it replacing the peep hole.
Arlo Video Doorbell
Not only does the Arlo have a wide angle lens, it makes video calls to the owner when rung which is much quicker than many app based solutions.
Arlo operates in a slightly different way to the other video doorbells because if someone rings the doorbell, it actually sends you a video call rather than an app notification.
For motion detection alerts, it still sends a notification like the other doorbells. It includes a nice screenshot within the notification so you can see who’s on your porch before calling in.
The Arlo has a 180-degree viewing angle and a 1:1 aspect ratio which gives you a full view of the door step from head to toe, however it is very distorted at the edges like a fish bowl effect.
In a new update, you can now connect an Arlo video doorbell to Arlo smart hubs for subscription-free local recording.
If you have a subscription to Arlo Smart, you’ll get advanced features such as AI to differentiate between people, cars, animals, activity zone detection and cloud storage.
Arlo’s video doorbell is also available as a wired or battery powered version.
If you’re looking for something with a price tag that’s a little easier on your wallet, the 360 D819 is a popular choice with 48 hours of free cloud storage.
The 360 D819 is our budget pick as it has an affordable price and there is no need for any ongoing payments. It does all of the basics that you’d expect from a video doorbell, including two-way audio, motion detection and notifications wherever you are.
There is an SD card slot on the device for local storage, but they also provide 48 hours of cloud storage for free which is a nice addition and allows you to review videos whilst on the move.
The doorbell does have some facial recognition technology which is something you might not expect at this price range. However, this isn’t as advanced as the Nest Hello and only provides the contacts name in the activity feed, not when the doorbell rings.
One of the glaring features that’s missing is any integration with Alexa or Google Home, so you’ll have to rely on the included chime or smart phone app for alerts. We should point out that there is a delay between the activity detection and the app notification of 5-10 seconds which can seem like a long time to someone at the door and they could leave.
Benefits of Video Doorbells
The video doorbell seems like a no brainer now that we have seen all the of the benefits they bring, here is a summary of the key reasons to buy one:
- Added security – The video doorbell adds multiple security benefits, it can act to deter anyone thinking of causing trouble, in much the same way that security cameras can, but can also be used to identify any suspects or provide evidence in case something does happen.
- Know who’s knocking – You can interact with visitors before you answer the door and get a good look at them via the built-in camera. If you don’t want to answer, you can always tell them you’re not home.
- Save time – You no longer need to drop everything to answer your door, it’s as easy as answering a phone call. This is helpful if you’re out in the back garden with the kids or even if you’re away from home and don’t want to rush back to collect a parcel. The time saving element is even great when you have voice assistants working in tandem with your doorbell, depending upon which doorbell you get, it could also stream to a smart hub or TV screen so you can speak to guests whilst cooking or without leaving your couch.
- Piece of mind whilst away – You can check in with your front door from wherever you are in the world and whenever you like with an always on live feed so you no longer need the neighbours to check up on things whilst you’re away.
- Keep track of visitors – Most video doorbells have some sort of activity feed that you can look back through to see comings and goings. A couple of the products in this guide have facial recognition, giving the names of visitors in the activity feed.
Video Doorbell Buyers Guide
If you’re not sure what to look for in a video doorbell, we’ve put together this buyers guide with all of the key features and considerations to keep in mind:
Are there ongoing costs?
When purchasing a new video doorbell, one of the key things you’ll need to understand is whether there are ongoing monthly costs to access all of the features. Many of the devices mentioned here do not have local storage and therefore require you to sign up and pay a monthly fee to use their cloud storage. The fee is usually quite low, but nonetheless, it’s something you need to be aware of before buying.
Battery powered vs wired
Whether you’re happy with a battery powered device, or whether you want to hard wire it in to your existing doorbell wires will be down to personal preference.
Voice assistant integration
If your voice assistant is like another member of your family, you’ll want to make sure your video doorbell plays nicely with your set up. Unfortunately, Amazon and Google are the key players in video doorbells and both have their own voice assistant, so you won’t be surprised to hear that Ring works best with Alexa and Nest Hello works best with Google Home. As far as the other devices go, you’ll have to check they work with your preferred assistant.
Motion detection and AI recognition
All of the doorbells in this guide have motion detection capability which has become a default standard. However, you can look out for some differences in the implementation. The more advanced doorbells, such as Ring and Nest, have really advanced capabilities for setting motion detection zones which can prevent false alerts.
AI is also starting to play a part, with some devices such as Arlo being able to distinguish between an animal and a human. Nest Hello and the 360 D819 both have facial recognition, although the Nest Hello makes much better use of it to provide visitor announcements by name of your frequent guests.
After Ring’s lead, several manufacturers have now adopted pre-roll technology in their devices. This involves a rolling buffer of video that is kept temporarily in the memory until motion is detected or the doorbell is rung. It allows you to get a fuller video including what happens in the lead up to any activity. Devices without pre-roll can take a second or two to begin recording and you could miss key activity.
Which is better, Ring or Nest?
It’s a very close tie between Ring and Nest, both do the basics very well, so you’ll likely be happy with either option. However, we think that the Nest Hello just has the edge over Ring thanks to a few advanced features including facial recognition and integration with Google Home. Both devices are priced very similarly, however the monthly cost of cloud storage is slightly higher for the Nest Hello.
How much does a video doorbell cost?
The video doorbells shared in this guide will typically cost between £180-220, these are mid-range and top tier devices. On top of this, you’ll need to keep in mind any ongoing monthly fees to access cloud storage, these are usually between £3-5 per month, although not all doorbells require this.
If you’re looking for a cheaper device, we put together a guide to budget video doorbells, these devices tend to cost under £100 and have a more limited range of benefits. They are great if you need a doorbell for security but won’t make use of advanced features.
Which video doorbell has the best video quality?
It’s up for debate which doorbell has the overall best video quality as there are a ton of factors to consider, including resolution, frame rate, sensors, quality at night, etc. In our view, the top three devices we have shared, Nest Hello, Ring Doorbell Plus and the Eufy Doorbell, are all key contenders for best video quality.
Featured image credit: Google.com