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Best video doorbell: Nest vs. Ring vs. August and all the rest

Which video doorbell deserves to be mounted next to your front door? Our reviews lay it all out.

IDG

Your front door is the gateway to your home, so it needs to be well protected. Whether you’re watching for trouble-makers, monitoring for parcel deliveries, waiting for friends to visit, or hiding from that weird neighbor who keeps asking to borrow your lawn mower, these dual-purpose video surveillance systems will help you keep an eye out.

If your house has existing low-voltage doorbell wiring, take advantage of it for uninterrupted service. If it doesn’t, we can recommend a battery-powered solution that’s more flexible when it comes to location. And if you’re renting and can’t mount anything to the wall—or you'd just prefer not to—we can recommend a couple of alternatives.

Most video doorbells come with motion detection, night vision, and smartphone alert features, so be sure to read our full reviews for details on how they performed. Many also require a monthly subscription to store video in the cloud, so factor a few years of service into the price before you make a decision.

And if you're also thinking of adding outdoor security cameras to your arsenal, or integrating a video doorbell into a comprehensive smart home system, explore your compatibility options so you don't find yourself juggling two or three different apps. 

Updated August 22, 2018 to add our in-depth review of the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. For some homeowners, the higher motion detection performance of the Pro will completely justify its higher price tag ($249 vs. $199 for the Ring Video Doorbell 2), even if you have to drag low-voltage wiring to its location (there is no battery option with the Pro model). But we didn't like the Pro enough to knock the Nest Hello off its perch as our favorite wired doorbell.

Latest smart doorbell news 

Netgear

When a visitor rings the Arlo Doorbell, you'll receive an alert on your smartphone.

Netgear announced on July 23, 2018 that it will launch the Arlo Audio Doorbell and Arlo Chime sometime this fall. While the AA-battery-powered doorbell won't have an embedded video camera, it will connect to your home Wi-Fi network, enabling you to interact with visitors on your smartphone or tablet.

The Arlo Chime accessory plugs into any AC outlet and receives alerts from the doorbell. Chimes can be installed in multiple rooms. If you have an existing doorbell chime, the Arlo Audio Doorbell can connect to it. The Arlo Doorbell and Arlo Chime can also connect and interact with Arlo security cameras and Arlo security lights. Pricing has not yet been announced. In the meantime, you can find additional details in this news analysis

Best wired video doorbell

Nest Hello is the Apple of the video doorbell world. Great picture, good looking, and a slick app that rarely throws up any problems. It just works, but be prepared to pay for that. It’s also the most expensive, but if you can afford it, it’s worth the investment for the superior experience. Plus, it’s the only one that continuously records, so everything is captured even if it doesn’t trigger an alert.

Best battery-powered video doorbell

Ring pretty much created the video doorbell market, and its Video Doorbell 2 would be a good addition to any house. If your home doesn’t have doorbell wiring, this is the one to buy. A removable battery makes recharging easy, and the high-definition video picture beats many competitors.

Best video doorbell alternative

Here's a great alternative to the video doorbell. The Brinno SHC1000 sits behind your door and provides a peephole-level view of your porch and whatever lies beyond. It replaces your current peephole, so a bit of DIY is required, but it will record and log visitors to a microSD card. Video quality isn’t up to that of a doorbell cam, but if you can’t mount any of those, it's a solid alternative.

Another video doorbell alternative

Renters don’t always have the ability to change or install a doorbell. If that’s the case, consider the Remo+ Doorcam. Its nifty design sits over the top of your door, so you can keep watch without drilling holes or going inside a wall. It doesn’t have a doorbell function, but it will alert you to anyone on your porch. Two-way audio allows you to chat with people on the other side of the door without opening it.

Our video doorbell reviews

At a Glance

The Nest Hello has set the standard for other video doorbells to match.

Pros

  • Great video quality
  • Seamless integration with Google Home and Google Assistant
  • Video is always streaming, so you never miss a thing

Cons

  • Limited function without a subscription
  • Heavy data usage
  • Requires doorbell wiring for power

Despite a frustrating install, Ring Video Doorbell 2 is still a welcome, improved version of the original doorbell-slash-security camera.

Pros

  • Improved motion sensors
  • 1080p video
  • Easier WiFi setup—once you have Chime Pro connected

Cons

  • New removable battery is inscrutable and difficult to remove
  • Entire product experience is poorly documented

The Ring Video Doorbell Pro brings more advanced motion detection and comes in a smaller package, but you'll need doorbell wiring for it to work. If you live on a busy street, the extra smarts could make you a much happier homeowner thanks to fewer false alerts.

Pros

  • Fully customizable detection zones to help cut down on false alarms
  • Support for both 2.4- and 5GHz Wi-Fi networks
  • Smaller and smarter than other Ring video doorbells

Cons

  • Requires doorbell wiring; won't work on battery power
  • More expensive than other Ring Video Doorbells
  • Requires a subscription to use some features

The Brinno SHC100 Peephole Camera is an easy—but expensive—way to detect and capture evidence of package theft and knock-knock burglaries.

Pros

  • Detects motion and knocks on your door
  • Logs video of all your visitors
  • Concealed from anyone coming to your door

Cons

  • Costs as much or more than some full-featured security cameras

The Brinno SHC500 Peephole Camera is a simple, effective way to safely monitor for unwanted visitors.

Pros

  • 2.7-inch display
  • Keeps a video log of all your visitors
  • Ease-of-use makes it a great option for home-alone kids

Cons

  • Can't view video remotely, as you can with a Wi-Fi security camera

This video doorbell produces excellent video, but no one should buy it for its promised ability to recognize faces.

Pros

  • One of the best quality video images available
  • Motion alerts by text and email
  • Relatively few false alerts

Cons

  • Facial recognition had problems recognizing faces
  • Some problems with Wi-Fi Direct on initial setup
  • Requires doorbell wiring and cannot run on batteries

Ring provides home security through a video peephole, letting you see who's at the door whether you're inside the house or 100 miles away.

Pros

  • Let's you view, and speak with, anyone who presses your doorbell.
  • Wide-angle video with night vision.
  • Motion-detection feature sends video alerts when anyone steps to your door.

Cons

  • Bad lag times between doorbell presses and smartphone alerts.
  • Slow app performance.
  • No video-on-demand (yet).

The August Doorbell Cam Pro 2 provides a sharp, clear picture of what's happening on your doorstep, with two-way audio via your smartphone. Subscription fees, on the other hand, are high side compared to the competitors such as Ring (and Skybell has no subscription fees at all).

Pros

  • Sharp, clear picture and color images at nighttime
  • Installation is easy with clear instructions, as long as you have an existing wired doorbell
  • Portrait-mode video means it fills up your smartphone screen without having to rotate it

Cons

  • Cloud storage costs are comparatively high versus competing products
  • Built-in light doesn't do a great job of nighttime illumination
  • Limited compatibility with other smart home devices

The Remo+ Doorcam is an easy-to-use camera for monitoring your home's entrance. It's great for communicating with couriers and other visitors, but its tendency to obscure faces makes it a less than stellar security solution.

Pros

  • Easily installs over any residential door
  • Lets you communicate with visitors even when you're not at home
  • Completely wireless

Cons

  • The camera's downward angle obscures faces of people standing under it
  • Not the most attractive thing to hang on your front door

The Arbor Instant Video Doorbell is a welcome addition to the battery-powered video doorbell market. The included chime and lack of monthly running costs is great, but focus on its performance and not the inflated claims of the company.

Pros

  • No monthly running cost for up to two days of storage
  • Battery powered, so it will work on homes without doorbell wiring
  • Wi-Fi range extender includes a chime

Cons

  • You can't download video clips
  • Can sometimes be sluggish waking up and responding

The Knock does its job, but its motion sensor produced too many spurious alerts and there's also no way to download captured footage.

Pros

  • It's powered by existing wiring, so you don't have to bother with batteries
  • It has an IP65 rating, so it should survive the harshest weather
  • The smart black case will look good on most homes

Cons

  • There's no way to download video captured by the camera
  • The video motion detector registered too many false alerts
  • NuTone doesn't have a website for viewing or controlling the camera