If you want a video doorbell for your front door, but aren’t sure which one to get, we’ve tested out the top three models—the Ring Video Doorbell 2, Nest Hello, and SkyBell HD—to see which one might best fit your needs.
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While there are a handful of video doorbells available on the market, the Ring Video Doorbell 2, the Nest Hello, and the SkyBell HD are the three most popular options. But which one is the better buy? Here are some things to keep in mind about all three units so that you can make an informed decision when it comes time to purchase.
The Ring Can Run on Battery Power
One of the biggest benefits of the Ring Doorbell (and what separates it from the pack) is that it comes with an internal battery that can power the unit for months. This means you don’t need to wire it up to an existing doorbell system—simply mount it anywhere you want and off you go. This makes the Ring the easiest to install.
Both the Nest Hello and SkyBell HD, on the other hand, must be powered by your existing doorbell’s wiring, as they don’t come with an internal battery. If it’s easy enough to replace your current doorbell with a video doorbell in the same location, then this really isn’t a huge deal, but if you’re like me, a video doorbell unit wouldn’t fit where the existing doorbell is, so re-routing wires is required.
Take note, though, that the Ring Video Doorbell 2 can hook up to your existing system; it just doesn’t need to. However, the Ring Pro (which is smaller in size) and the Elite model must hook up with wires. If you do decide not to connect the Ring to your existing doorbell’s wiring, just know that it won’t be able to use your existing doorbell chime, so you’ll have to buy an electronic chime from Ring.
The Nest Hello Has a Bit More Smarts
While the Ring and SkyBell can sense motion, the Nest Hello takes things a step further by being able to detect whether or not that motion is an actual person.
Furthermore, the Hello can even recognize certain faces with a little help on your end. So not only can it detect people in general, but it can also tell you who exactly is at your door if it recognizes them.
However, this feature does require a Nest Aware subscription, which starts at $10 per month. So unless you’re paying for that, then the Nest Hello will only detect whether it’s a general person or not, which is still a bit better than the other two video doorbell options.
Ring Has Better Motion Sensitivity Controls
Motion sensitivity can be adjusted on the Ring and SkyBell HD, but the Ring is much more versatile in this area.
You can set the sensitivity for specific zones and make one side more sensitive than the other, which can come in handy if your driveway is off to the left and you don’t want to get an alert whenever you or someone else pulls into your driveway—just when they’re at your front door.
On the SkyBell, you only get Low, Medium, and High options, and there’s no customization when it comes to zones. And on the Nest Hello, you can’t customize motion sensitivity at all.
Regardless, all three doorbells are susceptible to false positives, depending on where your house is situated. For example, I live on a fairly busy street, so whenever larger vehicles pass by, it triggers my video doorbell and tells me there was motion at my front door. So keep that in mind.
The Nest Hello Has the Best Video Quality
Out of the three doorbells, the Nest Hello definitely has the best video quality out of the bunch. While it doesn’t quite get up to the 1080p resolution (instead, it’s 1600×1200), the colors look way better than the other two video doorbells, and the image looks a lot sharper.
You can customize the video quality of the Nest Hello and the SkyBell HD, while the Ring has no such customization and just sets itself to 1080p (or 720p on the first-gen Ring).
Of course, your Wi-Fi connection will have a lot of say in the video quality you actually use. 1080p would require a faster Wi-Fi connection, while 480p or even 720p would be ideal for slower connections.
And if night vision is on your want list, all three video doorbells come with that capability out of the box.
The Nest Hello Is the Perfect Size
Because of its internal battery, the Ring Doorbell is comically large compared to other video doorbells. This isn’t a huge deal, but if you want to install it on your door trim where the existing doorbell might be, have fun getting it to fit.
The SkyBell HD is sort of the same way—it’s much smaller, but its circular shape doesn’t fit well on door trim. However, SkyBell does make a skinnier version called the Trim Plus, which has most of the same features, but only does 15 frames per second rather than the SkyBell HD’s 30 frames.
The Nest Hello is naturally small and skinny enough that it can be installed on most door trims with ease, preventing you from having to install it somewhere else and possibly requiring a wire reroute if your existing doorbell is installed right on the door trim.
Smarthome Integration Varies
One thing that many smarthome enthusiasts will want to consider is interoperability with other third-party products and services with their video doorbells. In this case, both the Ring and SkyBell HD work with IFTTT and Alexa, but only the Nest Hello works with Google Assistant.
The Ring can also integrate with a few smart lock models (including Kwikset’s Kevo) so that you can unlock your door from the Ring app. The SkyBell HD only works with the Kevo, though, and the Nest Hello only works with Yale smart locks.
The Nest Hello and SkyBell Worked Best for Me, But Your Mileage Will Vary
All three video doorbells will be very dependent on the speed and strength of your Wi-Fi network. In my experience, though, the SkyBell HD and the Nest Hello were the most reliable.
When I installed the Ring, it often took 6-7 seconds before I’d get a notification on my phone—sometimes longer. Both the Nest Hello and the SkyBell HD only took a second or two on the same network, if that.
Again, this is very dependent on your house and your Wi-Fi. Our editor tried the Ring Doorbell at his house, and says the notifications are nearly instantaneous. The smaller your house (and thus the closer your doorbell is to the router), the fewer problems you’ll probably have. It could also have a lot to do with what your walls are made out of, how they’re arranged, and so on. In my case, the SkyBell worked better.
But no matter which you try, if one video doorbell isn’t working quite well for you, it might be a good idea to try the other and see if you get better results.
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