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We regularly kvetch about the not-really-optional subscriptions attached to too many smart home devices. And then there’s the issue of privacy: When a security camera vendor stores video that’s been recorded at your home, are they following best practices to keep that information private and secure? Anker’s Eufy division takes a different approach with its model T8200 Video Doorbell: There is no subscription fee, and video is encrypted and stored using 4GB of storage on the device itself.
And where most video doorbells capture video in 1080p resolution, the camera in Eufy’s device records 2560 x 1920 pixels with high dynamic range and distortion correction. But this won’t be the right choice for your home if you don’t already have doorbell wiring in place. And if you enjoy the sound of your existing doorbell’s chime, this one will bypass it in favor of its own, which must be plugged into an outlet.
Installing the Eufy T8200 Video Doorbell
On the bright side, Eufy’s Video Doorbell is a cinch to install—this was the easiest doorbell installation I’ve ever performed. Once you’ve shut off the power at your breaker box and located the chime for your existing doorbell, you’ll install a jumper on the chime’s FRONT and TRANS terminals to bypass the chime. The next step is to install the new doorbell itself.
The doorbell comes with a metal mounting bracket and an optional mounting wedge that shifts the camera’s view 15 degrees to the left or right (depending on how it’s oriented) so you can see farther in that direction. Eufy provides extension wires and wire nuts in the box if the existing wires coming out of your wall prove to be too short. Unlike the Ring Video Doorbell 2 and some other competitors, however, there is no alternative to the T8200’s black enclosure.
The doorbell snaps onto the bracket, which has two conductive pads to transfer heat from the doorbell to the bracket. Eufy provides a simple pin-like tool in case you ever need to dismount the doorbell from the bracket, but a paperclip would likely serve equally as well (since you’re bound to lose the tool in a drawer somewhere—unless you take advantage of the magnet pad and stick it to the side of your refrigerator).
The next step is to restore power, install the EufySecurity app on your smartphone, and connect the doorbell to your home’s Wi-Fi network. In the final installation step, you’ll install Eufy’s chime by plugging into an AC outlet. You will be able to deploy up to four of these chimes when Eufy starts selling them individually later this year, so that you can spread them around the house where you’ll always be in earshot of one of them.
Using the Eufy T8200 Video Doorbell
With its very high resolution and HDR to sharpen video in low light situations or when the person is brightly lit from behind, the T8200 produces an excellent live feed and recorded video, too. The doorbell’s default option is to record at a lower resolution to preserve storage, but I found that the memory card was sufficiently large to store around 30 days worth of notifications. Your mileage will vary depending on how many visitors you get.
The T8200 sends an alert to your smartphone whenever it detects motion, but recording starts three seconds prior to that, which is an excellent feature. When you view the recording on your phone, you’ll get a complete picture of what triggered the alert.
Much like the Scout Video Doorbell, Eufy uses artificial intelligence software that focuses on face-shaped objects. To be clear, however, this is not facial recognition—it can’t identify who the person is, only that it thinks what it sees is a face. When the camera alerts you to the presence of a person on your porch, it will also send you a thumbnail closeup of that person’s face. It’s a great feature, even if it occasionally mistakes a cat’s face for a human.
This camera has the best motion-detection zones I’ve seen. The app shows you the camera’s view, with its motion-sensing zone overlaid as a transparent blue polygon. You can adjust the points of the polygon however you like to cover exactly the area desired. Combined with the five-point sensitivity scale that ranges from alerting you to all motion to humans only, false and extraneous notifications plummeted after I fine-tuned it.
The T8200 supports two-way audio, of course, and it cribs a feature from the Maximus Camera Floodlight: You can play back up to three pre-recorded messages when you don’t want to engage with a visitor. This is doubly useful when you’re not home, but you don’t want the person on your porch to know that.
On the downside
Eufy boasts Alexa and Google Assistant support, but this feature isn’t all that it could be. You can stream live video to a compatible smart display, but you can’t interact with visitors in real time and you can’t view recorded video. There’s also no support for IFTTT or Apple’s HomeKit technology, and you can’t expand the available storage by tapping Eufy’s own HomeBase hub that’s used for its Arlo-like home security cameras. If someone manages to steal this video doorbell, you’ll have no video evidence of the crime.
Most shoppers will compare the Eufy Video Doorbell T8200 with something in the Ring lineup, but Eufy can’t compete with Ring’s expansive ecosystem of smart home products (ranging from its complete Ring Alarm home security system to handy doodads like the Ring Steplight). Meanwhile, you’ll need to wait until 2020 for Eufy to have a battery-powered video doorbell.
That said, Eufy’s doorbell delivers high-quality video, great motion detection with the ability to distinguish between faces and other things in front of its camera, and its low cost is rendered even more attractive by the absence of a subscription service. Back on the other side of the ledger, this doorbell won’t work with your existing doorbell’s chime, and its integration with smart displays is a weak spot.
Best Prices Today: Eufy Security Video Doorbell (model T8200)