Tech Review: Smart Doorbells help keep your family safe

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Your doorbell is dumb.  It’s a button.  That’s it.  Someone pushes it and it rings.  Isn’t it about time that our doorbells do more?  Smart doorbells are making a big splash and for good reason.  They offer peace of mind and a new way to keep a close eye on the front of your home.

Skybell – $199

The Skybell is one of the few round smart doorbells.  I like the design.  It’s not huge and bulky, it’s round and sleek.  It looks good on your front porch.

Installation was simple.  It connects to the two wires already connected to your old doorbell.  It uses that low voltage power to keep the Skybell connected to your Wi-Fi network.

Once setup it connects to the Skybell app on your iPhone or Android.  The app is OK but not great.  When it detects motion or someone pushes the doorbell, it notifies you on your smartphone.  You have to tap the notification to load the app and load the video stream from the Skybell.  In my testing, this took WAY too long.  It was often 5 to 10 seconds before the video stream popped up.  I could have walked to the front door in that time.

Once connected, you can view the camera and talk to the person on your porch directly from your smartphone.  The first time you do it, it usually freaks out the person on your porch!  None the less, it’s an awesome feeling to know when someone is standing at your door even if you’re not home.

Skybell also records activity on your porch and doesn’t charge you for that feature.  Othe cameras pack in a monthly fee.

Skybell is $199.  I did not get a chance to test out the newer Skybell HD model but if you’re buying one, I’d shop for the HD model.  The company promises much better video with the newer HD model.

Ring – $199

The Ring doorbell cam is a bit bigger than the Skybell.  It’s also super easy to install and even includes all the tools you could need.  I was very impressed with the tools, instructions and stickers that made it a no-brainer to install.

Once you setup the wi-fi on the Ring, the Ring app feels polished.  It gives you a simple list of motion detection and recent doorbell rings.  Tap it to see the video.  It also notifies you when someone is on the porch or pushes the button.  Similar to Skybell, you can talk to the person who is standing on your porch.  You can ask the UPS guy to put that package on the side of your house or tell the neighbor that you’ll be home in 15 minutes.  It’s really cool!

Something to know is that Ring will only save video if you pay for their monthly cloud recording service.  It’s free for 30 days then you’ll have to fork over $3/month (or $30/year.)  This is a cost you should keep in mind when you buy a Ring.

The Ring camera and app are cool.  The camera is a tad bulky on your porch but the video quality is good and the app is clean and easy to understand.

The Ring is $199.  If you’re a Costco member you can get it for $20 less!

My frustrations with both of these doorbells

I’m not sure if this is a technology issue or just a software thing but WHY don’t I get to see a snapshot in my phone notification?  Both doorbells force you to tap the notification and load up the app to see who rang the doorbell.  It seems obvious to me that if someone rings my doorbell, it would be helpful if a simple picture was attached to the notification?!?

There, I’m done.




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