What to Look for in a Video Doorbell

What to Look for in a Video Doorbell

Family outside their home kept safe with the Nest Doorbell from Google
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Did you know that the first video doorbell was developed by Jamie Siminoff, who appeared on Shark Tank in 2013? The techpreneur and the founder of Ring Inc., branded the product ‘Doorbot”.

Since then, numerous companies have adapted his idea and developed their own offerings, and the video doorbell has become the centrepiece of the connected home. Today, the number of options in the market is overwhelming—and it feels like you might have to enlist the help of a security expert to help you consider all the available options.

With so many products in the marketplace, it’s best to understand all of your options before purchasing a smart video doorbell.

What Is a Video Doorbell?

A video doorbell is an outdoor camera mounted on or near your front door. It can be powered by a battery or hardwired into an already existing doorbell and chime. What makes video doorbells so valuable are their capabilities—and how they work. First, they generally feature a high-definition 1080p camera, a buzzer, and two-way audio. All of these features connect to your smartphone or another smart device via a smart app. That means you’ll get a notice on your mobile app when someone pushes the doorbell. A notice will also reach you as soon as the camera detects movement or a person. This depends on if (and how) an AI has been implemented.

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You can opt to stream the footage live on your app in order to see and talk to the individual in front of the camera, or communicate with them via a smart display device. Basically, video doorbells are electronic devices that make it possible for you to greet your visitors from anywhere in the world using the device’s respective app.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Video Doorbells

A video doorbell has many benefits, many of them small improvements. That said, small things can make a big difference. These smart devices add significant value to a smart home. Here are just a few of their benefits:

  • You do not have to be near your door to answer it. Most units permit you to see who is at the door via live video and answer using two-way audio. This allows you to maintain a safe distance—improving your safety.
  • HD cameras provide crisp, clear images—and infrared even allows you to see who is there day or night.
  • You can even answer the door remotely using two-way audio, so you don’t have to reveal that the home is unoccupied
  • You can record and download suspicious activity.

Because they’re like a doorman, smart video doorbells have become an indispensable tool. They are the eyes and ears of your smart home, whether you are home or away.

Considering this, a video doorbell is a good thing because it gives you peace of mind when you are away that your house is safe. What’s more? Video doorbells help to prevent the theft of packages. When your packages are delivered and you are not at home, they can easily be stolen. But with a video doorbell, you are notified as soon as your package is delivered. This makes it possible for you to advise your delivery man on the safest place to deliver the package.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to video doorbells. Some video doorbells with motion detectors are exceptionally sensitive. And so you might get a lot of false alarms until you are able to set the unit to work within the area you want it to work. Some units are affected by the cold and may have slower performance in colder temperatures.

Wireless vs Hardwired Doorbell Cameras

Requirements for video doorbells vary depending on their features. Wireless video doorbells generally have few requirements; however, with hardwired doorbells, you’ll likely require an existing doorbell or chime setup. Of course, each of these video doorbell options has its own advantages and disadvantages as discussed below.

Wireless Doorbell Cameras

  • They are easy to install as they do not need ethernet (Cat5) run to the door. This reduces the overall cost of installation.
  • Some units have the advantage that should power go out, the doorbell camera keeps working.
  • They can move freely around the home and are easy to operate.
  • They are limited to 2.4G transmission distance which can only be most effective in buildings with up to three floors.
  • The 2.4 GHz band provides coverage at a longer range but transmits data at slower speeds. it’s also more prone to interference.
  • There might be a challenge with battery life; hence, the need to change batteries frequently if the doorbell camera is not rechargeable.

Hardwired Doorbell Cameras

  • They are more expensive and difficult to install, as they require ethernet (Cat5) run to the door.
  • Its video decoding is more stable and it has a smooth video effect.
  • It cannot be interfered with making the quality of the call relatively high.
  • During installation, they might require that you remove your existing doorbell as they have to be connected to the home’s doorbell and chime setup.

The hardwired device works only when there is power. Should there be a power outage, then the doorbell camera will go off. Bearing this in mind, it is recommended that go for a hardwired doorbell camera with a cellular backup. This will help make it possible for the camera to use data from cellular towers which is not the case with Wi-Fi. However, this particular option is generally available only for larger security systems.

Features

The features of video doorbells include:

1. Motion Detection

One of the most important sensors is the passive infrared sensor that detects motion for people or objects within view. Video doorbells often pair with mobile devices and the manufacturer’s app to provide notifications; hence, once motion has been detected using the video doorbell’s sensor, you’ll receive a mobile notification. Some doorbells allow you to control how sensitive the PIR sensor is to objects at your door to determine whether or not you receive a notification.

2. Resolution and Viewing angle

The standard video for doorbell cameras is High Definition (HD). The recommended HD is 1080p, but you can purchase a 720p video whose quality will likely be more than sufficient. Ensure that your doorbell has infrared so that it can work during the day and night. Viewing angles are varied, but they range between 150–160 degrees. Even so, you can opt for a doorbell camera with a 180 degrees field of view. Besides, you may enhance the angle using a wedge or corner kit in order to protect your doorway from suitable angles.

3. Two-way communication

Doorbell cameras have in-built microphones and speakers. These features enable you to undertake a two-way conversation, whether inside or away from your house. Two-way communication means that you can speak to your guest using your iPhone or Android smartphone. In a very strict sense, two-way communication will allow you and your visitor to talk simultaneously so that one end does not have to listen as another speaks.

4. Cloud storage

Cloud storage allows you to store files from your video doorbell to a remote server. The video can then be accessed from your mobile app or other web-based applications.

High-quality video doorbells enable video clips to be instantly uploaded to the cloud server as soon as the motion detector is triggered. Uploaded videos can be stored for a week or a month before being deleted depending on the cloud server. This allows you to review movements around your home even when you weren’t available when the movements were detected by the doorbell camera.

Smart Home Compatibility, Integration and Voice Control

A voice assistant uses voice recognition, natural language processing and speech synthesis to provide a service through a particular application. Assistants can be found in smart phones as well as in a multitude of products, the most popular currently being smart speakers such as Google Home, Google Home Mini, Amazon Echo, Amazon Dot and Apple Homepod, to name a few.

Of course, the beauty of home automation lies in having all your smart devices synchronized, including the video doorbell. There are many other technologies in the smart home that you can hook up to your video doorbell. For instance, the video doorbell can work with. With this in mind, it is advisable to check for compatibility so that you can buy a doorbell camera that will work seamlessly with all your smart home gadgets.

Conclusion

Video doorbells are simple but highly effective. They grant accessibility to your home while providing 24/7 coverage of activity at your door. That said, The market for smart doorbells is still relatively young. In other words, while you can expect these products to work well enough, you should be aware that manufacturers are still working out some issues and improving the features they offer. That said, their convenience outweighs any of the issues you may experience. After all, once you can answer your door from halfway across the world, you’ll never want to return to a dumb bell! It’s one of several smart home features worth the cost. It will help guarantee your peace of mind in terms of your home security.

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