Video Doorbell Design and Features
Video doorbells come in all shapes and sizes. The least expensive models tend to be bulky devices with limited color choices, while many of the more expensive models are slim and inconspicuous and come in a variety of finishes to complement your home. Chances are, if the doorbell runs on batteries it is going to be bulkier and more obvious than a wired model.
Any smart doorbell worth its salt is equipped with a video camera that sends an alert to your phone along with a live video stream when the doorbell button is pressed. Video is accessed via a mobile app that is also used to install the device, configure wireless settings, and set up alerts. You'll pay more for doorbells that offer features like 1080p video, motion detection, two-way audio that lets you speak with whoever is out there, and on-demand video streaming. To avoid false alerts from passing cars, high winds, and any critters you may have roaming around your property, look for a doorbell cam that offers customizable motion zones.
Other features to look for include face recognition technology that identifies visitors by name, motion sensing technology that knows the difference between people, cars, and animals, color night vision video (most doorbell cameras use infrared LEDs to provide up to 30 feet of black-and-white video), and a choice of chimes that will help you differentiate between a doorbell press and a motion trigger. Some of latest doorbell cameras offer a pre-buffer feature that records several seconds of activity prior to when a motion sensor is triggered or the doorbell button has been pressed so you can see what happened just before an event.
Video doorbells don't offer local storage for recorded video, so you'll have to subscribe to a cloud service in order to view your motion- and doorbell-triggered video clips. Expect to pay anywhere from $3 per month and up for a plan that gives you access to 30 or more days of video that you can download and share. If you want to view older footage, make sure you save your clips as they will be deleted after the allotted time is up.