The humble thermostat was first to receive the smart treatment and slowly but surely everything from smoke alarms to door locks are being connected to the internet.
One of the most useful gadgets is a smart doorbell. Not only will they notify you when someone presses the button, but they’ll show you a live video feed and – in most cases – let you talk to the person.
It’s much like a video intercom, then, but available on your phone wherever you have an internet connection.
Smart doorbells really come into their own for deliveries: you can ask a courier to wait a couple of minutes if you’re nearby or to leave a parcel in your back garden or with a friendly neighbour.
Plus, a conversation is better (and more secure) than a note left on the front door saying you’re out.
Smart doorbell buyer’s guide
Naturally, prices and features vary. In general you should expect two-way talk along with the video feed, night vision and motion detection.
However, anything more than the basics tend to require you to pay a monthly fee. Both Nest and Ring won’t store any video clips unless you pay, so if you miss a notification that someone has pressed the button, you can’t later on see who it was.
Nest offers person and facial recognition which means you can choose to only get alerts if an unfamiliar face is spotted. This is preferable to the annoying generic ‘there’s motion!’ alerts which many security cameras bombard you with. And, neatly, a Google Home can announce the name of the person who is at the door for familiar faces.
The main decision, though, is whether to opt for a battery-powered model or a hard-wired bell.
Battery bells can be installed relatively easily with basic tools, but don’t connect to your existing internal chime so even if you’re home you’ll only get a notification on your phone. However, Ring does offer a plug-in chime which you can buy for £27 from Wickes. or $29.99 from Amazon US.
A hard-wired doorbell can be connected to a chime, but will typically need an electrician to visit and install a special power supply. This adds to the cost, but also means there are no worries about batteries running out at a critical moment.
Don't overlook your broadband speed. The video feed requires a minimum of around 1Mb/s upload speed. Upload speeds are usually slower than download speeds, so check yours with an online speed tester before you buy.
- Reviewed on: 12 June 2019
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is a great smart home accessory, both to alert you that somebody is at the door when at home and away, and to provide extra security for your home. The ability to communicate with somebody at your door via your phone, tablet or computer is an exciting (and not to mention handy) experience, and the improved charging system makes the Ring 2 almost perfect.
1080p streaming is a welcome addition, providing clearer images than the first-gen Ring. If you haven’t already got a video doorbell, it's easy to recommend the Ring Video Doorbell 2.
Read our Ring Video Doorbell 2 review.
- Reviewed on: 28 June 2019
Being able to answer the front door when you're not home is a neat trick, but maintaining video surveillance on motion outside your home is also useful for security purposes. The Ring Pro makes this easier than ever with crystal clear 1080p video recordings and hardly any false-positives.
For its custom motion zones and longer video recordings we'd happily pay the extra money for the Ring Pro over the standard model, but you will likely need to factor in the additional cost of a professional installation because it isn't battery powered.
Read our Ring Video Doorbell Pro review.
3. Nest Hello
- Reviewed on: 17 August 2018
Not for everyone, Nest's Hello is tricky to install and one of the most expensive choices. But if neither of those factors is a barrier for you, it's a great device which captures excellent quality video, offers a lot of features via Nest Aware and has a great companion app.
Read our Nest Hello review.
- Reviewed on: 23 November 2017
Despite a couple of flaws here and there, Ring is a favourite of ours. The ability to be notified on multiple devices whenever somebody is at the front door is very handy, and the fact that you can view a live video stream and even interact with the visitor via your smartphone, tablet or computer provides extra security for those that may need it. The 720p HD camera isn’t the greatest quality in the world, but is more than enough to identify who is at your door and thanks to the two-way communication system, you can even talk to the visitor without opening the door. It’s easy to set up, the app is easy to use and the lifetime replacement offer is too tempting to say no to.
Read our Ring smart doorbell review.
- Reviewed on: 13 August 2019
A cheap video doorbell with subscription-free storage and some great features, including the ability to mask your voice, night vision and face recognition. Installation is a breeze, but the 360 D819 is massively let down by the app, and we fear battery life may not be as good as is claimed.
Read our 360 D819 Smart Video Doorbell review.