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A video doorbell can tell you who's at the door at any time of the day or night, whether you're home or not. It can alert you when someone rings the bell or simply when a person approaches. It can even let you talk with the person, the better to suggest you're home even when you're away. All this happens via your phone, tablet or even a smart screen or TV.
These handy smart-home devices range in price from surprisingly inexpensive to a few hundred dollars. Below I've rounded up what I consider to be the top picks for homeowners, apartment renters, Airbnb managers, bargain shoppers and so on. These picks are based on a variety of criteria, including price, personal experience, product reputation and user ratings. Before we dive in, let's talk about a few features you'll want to consider before making a doorbell decision.
Video doorbell power: Wired or battery?
Video doorbells can't just plug into an electrical outlet. For one thing, that would look terrible. For another, what are the chances there's an outlet anywhere near your front door? But power has to come from somewhere, which means you have two choices: battery or wiring.
If you're upgrading an existing wired doorbell, this is a pretty easy decision: Go with a wired video doorbell. It may not be able to work with your existing indoor chime, but at least you won't have to worry about recharging the doorbell every few months or a dead battery potentially fouling up your pirate-capture.
That said, the advantage of a battery-powered doorbell is that it can mount just about anywhere: either side of the door frame; a few inches away from the door if that's better for some reason; even smack in the middle of the door if you want. Some doorbells can run as long as six months on a charge, and the app will notify you when the battery is getting low so you'll have ample time to recharge it (which usually requires only a few hours).
Video doorbell video storage: Cloud or local?
When a doorbell captures a video clip, that video has to get stored somewhere. It could be a microSD memory card inside the doorbell itself, or it could be a cloud service. The former tends to be the cheaper option, but it does limit you to the storage capacity of that card. What's more, if a thief were to actually steal your doorbell (it happens), there go your video files.
Cloud storage, meanwhile, often requires a monthly fee, though that may include extra features or services as well. I like it when it's your choice, meaning you can opt for local or cloud storage; you're not limited by the former or roped into the latter.
Video doorbell bell: Chime or no chime?
A doorbell is supposed to say ding-dong, right? Right, but not every video doorbell offers that feature — not right out of the box, anyway. If you buy a Ring, for example, and someone presses the button, you'll get an alert on your phone, but no audible ding-dong in your home. You can add the latter by installing an optional wireless chime, which you can plug into any AC outlet, or by linking any Amazon Echo speakers you might have.
Everyone has different needs and preferences when it comes to this, so when choosing your doorbell, just be aware of the chime options that are included or available.
Best budget video doorbell
This is the doorbell that's been on my house for well over a year, and for the most part, I've found it a solid addition. A hardwired option, it replaced my existing bell and came with a plug-in chime — surprising given the amazingly modest $60 price tag.
Although there's no microSD slot for local video storage (an option available on nearly all other Wyze cameras), you do get 14 days' worth of free cloud storage in the form of 12-second motion recordings. Meanwhile, the camera captures crisp 1080p video at a 3:4 aspect ratio and offers all the usual, er, bells and whistles (including motion- and even sound-triggered alerts).
It gets better, though, with the addition of Wyze Cam Plus, one of the most affordable subscription services at just $1.25 per month. That unlocks unlimited-length video recording, person/package/pet/vehicle detection and more. I will say the Wyze software can be a little flaky at times, but on the whole, this is a great option for those who want porch protection at an affordable price.
Best dual-camera video doorbell
All video doorbells face the same challenge: How best to capture the "doormat area" (where packages typically land) while still showing you a wider view of the porch, sidewalk and so on? Some employ a fish-eye lens, which I find unpleasant. Others focus on the doorstep at the expense of everything else.
Eufy's slick solution is to incorporate two cameras, one pointed down, one pointed out. This doorbell is also notable for its no-fee operation (all video is stored locally) and package- and person-detection features.
The Dual allows for either wired or battery-powered installation; a chime is provided by the included HomeBase 2 hub, which also stores up to 16GB of video. That hub must be plugged into your router, and you should note that the Eufy hardware works only on 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. Make sure your home network supports both options.
Although it's one of the more expensive video doorbells at $260, the Eufy Video Doorbell Dual doesn't hit you up with fees or subscriptions. If you want maximum video coverage of your porch area, this is the one to get.
Best video doorbell for apartments
Apartments can be tricky. Even if there's a doorbell already in place, your lease might prohibit you from replacing it. That means you'll need a battery-powered option, and so I'm going to recommend the wildly popular Ring Video Doorbell. Reasonably priced at $100, it's available in two colors and supports both wired and wire-free installations.
The RVD pairs well with Amazon Echo devices: Something like an Echo Dot can double as the doorbell chime, while an Echo Show can provide a live video feed. ("Alexa, show me the front door.") Take note, however, that it requires a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network; if yours does only 5GHz, you'd need to step up to the Ring Video Doorbell 3 ($200), which adds 5GHz connectivity as well as a removable battery pack (for easier recharging).
The catch with all Ring doorbells is that they're virtually useless without the Ring Protect Plan, which is what allows for video saving and sharing; there's no local-storage option. Fortunately, it's reasonably priced at $3 per month or $30 annually.
Best video doorbell overall
If you happen to do a web search for "best video doorbell," chances are good you're going to find the Arlo Essential at the top of most lists. Reviewers and users alike seem to agree that it offers a nearly unrivaled mix of usability and features — including things like prerecorded audio messages, a built-in siren and a 180-degree field of view.
This model works with (and requires) existing doorbell wiring, though there's also a battery-powered version ($198) if you don't have that. Once in place, it can integrate with not only Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but also Apple HomeKit and even the SmartThings ecosystem.
Although it offers live video streaming and motion alerts out of the box, you'll almost certainly want to subscribe to Arlo Secure ($3/month), which adds a host of features including cloud storage, activity zones, package detection and emergency response.
OK, those are my picks. Have you found a video doorbell you like better? Tell me about it in the comments section below!
And if you have Amazon Prime, you’ll get free shipping, of course. Not yet a member? No problem. You can sign up for your free 30-day trial here. (And by the way, those without Prime will still get free shipping on all of these doorbells and any other order of $25 or more.)
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