(Pocket-lint) - There are several options available if you're in the market for a video doorbell, with Nest, Arlo and Netatmo all offering their own take on the smart doorbell and Ring providing three models alone.
The various options can be confusing, with some offering video, others not, and some requiring hardwiring, while others can simply be stuck onto the front of your door.
This feature runs you through the differences between Ring's video doorbells, Nest Hello, Netgear Arlo's audio and video doorbell options and Netatmo's Smart Video Doorbell to help you figure out which video doorbell is the right one for you.
- Features: Person detection, motion detection, sound detection, two-way talk and listen with noise and echo cancellation, quiet time, scheduling, Quick Responses, Google Assistant compatible, facial recognition, activity zones
- Camera specs: 160-degree FOV, 4:3 aspect ratio, night vision, HDR imaging, 1600 x 1200 video, 60fps
- Requirements: Hardwired, requires professional installation
- Subscription: £4/month or £40/year for five days recorded video, facial recognition and activity zones
Nest Hello is a slim, sleek video doorbell. It's smaller than the Ring doorbells at 117 x 43 x 26mm and it's more premium looking too. Its small size is a result of it requiring hardwiring however, which is no problem if you already have a wired doorbell, but more of a process if you don't.
A camera lens is present at the top of the Nest Hello, a button with an LED ring is positioned at the bottom and there is a microphone and a speaker too, allowing you to have a conversation with the person at your door using the Nest app. There are also Quick Responses in the app, enabling you to play a pre-recorded message to visitors, while a Quiet Time feature offers the ability to turn off the indoor chime for a set period of time.
Hello's HD camera shows a head-to-toe image of the person at your door, as well as a group of around five people and it has the same night vision capabilities and HDR imaging as the Nest Cam IQ, offering a fantastic quality video. Hello also offers both person detection and facial recognition, as well as activity zones, though the latter two require a Nest Aware subscription.
Additionally, Nest Hello is compatible with Google Assistant speakers. You can therefore turn on visitor announcements in the Nest app and any Google Assistant-enabled speakers you have in your home will announce when someone is at the door and who it is if you have a Nest Aware subscription and you've saved their face. For example, "Grandma is at the door". For those with Nest Hub or the Nest Hub Max, both device will automatically stream the Nest Hello's view when the doorbell rings.
Ring Video Doorbell 2
- Features: Two-way talk and listen with noise cancellation, adjustable motion detection, Alexa compatible, interchangeable face plates, quick-release removable battery pack
- Camera specs: 160-degree FOV, night vision, 1080p
- Requirements: Battery powered
- Subscription: £2.50/month or £25/year for up to 30-days recorded video
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the successor to Ring's original Video Doorbell. Both offer a wider rectangular build than the Ring Video Doorbell Pro model and the Nest Hello, but the Video Doorbell 2 is more refined compared to its predecessor. It measures 128.3 x 63.5 x 27.4mm and like the original, a silver body makes up two-thirds of the device featuring the button and the Ring logo, while a black body makes up the top third with the camera lens.
Unlike the original though, the Doorbell 2's silver fascia is removable, made of plastic rather than metal and it is interchangeable so you can switch it to suit your outside decor. This also gives easy access to the removable battery, though both the Video Doorbell 2 and its predecessor are battery powered so they can both be placed easily on any door. It can be wired if your prefer.
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 has a HD camera with a 160-degree field of view with night vision and like the Nest Hello, it offers live view and two-way talk. There is noise cancellation on board too and the Video Doorbell 2 is Alexa compatible so you can view live video on an Echo Show if you have one, as well as set up visitor announcements through Alexa-Compatible speakers. There is no familiar face detection though.
The Video Doorbell 2, and the original, offer customisable motion detection where you can set the range and preset zones - something that requires a subscription for Nest Hello, but person detection is only available on the Ring Video Doorbell Pro and Ring Door View Cam.
Ring Video Doorbell Pro
- Features: Two-way talk and listen with noise cancellation, advanced adjustable motion detection, Alexa compatible, interchangeable face plates
- Camera specs: 160-degree FOV, infrared night vision, 1080p
- Requirements: Hardwired, professional installation
- Subscription: £2.50/month or £25/year for up to 30-days recorded video
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro is the closest in design to the Nest Hello out of the Ring devices, offering a slim build and a rectangular shape but with straighter edges than the Nest option. It has a silver framing with a Ring logo at the bottom and a black middle section that houses the camera lens and button surrounded by a light ring directly below.
It measures 114.3 x 46.7 x 20.3mm, so it's pretty close in size to the Hello and smaller than the Video Doorbell 2, though this is once again down to being hardwired. There is no battery option for this Ring model, meaning unless you have a wired doorbell already, the installation process is trickier than the other Ring models.
The Pro offers many of the same features as the Ring Video Doorbell 2 but it improves on some of them, including motion detection. The Ring Video Doorbell Pro has advanced motion detection, offering customisable motion zones - that you can draw on screen in the app - as well as human detection. There is still no facial recognition on this model though - you'll need the Nest Hello doorbell for that.
Like the Video Doorbell 2, the Pro model has two-way talk with noise cancellation and it is also compatible with Alexa so you can ask the Echo Show to present your front door. It also has a 160-degree FOV and night vision so you'll get the same picture quality as the Video Doorbell 2.
Arlo Audio Doorbell
- Features: Mobile notifications, quick replies, remote communication, visitors can leave messages, works with Arlo wire-free cameras, silent mode
- Camera specs: N/A
- Requirements: Battery operated or hardwire options
- Subscription: Seven day cloud recording without subscription
The Arlo Audio Doorbell is a fairly compact device, thanks to not having camera features like the other doorbells on this list. This doorbell has a slim rectangular design with rounded edges at the top and bottom. A simple design includes the Arlo logo, the doorbell button, as well as the speakers and microphones.
The Arlo Audio Doorbell notifies your phone when someone is at the front door, after which you can talk to them directly or they'll be able to leave a message if you aren't available to answer. As we mentioned, the Arlo smart doorbell doesn't have its own camera but it is compatible with Arlo cameras so you can combine it with these to get a view of your entrance way. Those cameras can also be set to record even if the doorbell isn't pressed.
The Arlo system includes the ability to install multiple Arlo Chime add-on devices around your home by simply plugging them into spare power sockets, functioning like a traditional doorbell. It is available as both a wired option, like the Ring Video Doorbell Pro and Nest Hello, and a wire-free option with two AA batteries claimed to power it for up to a year.
Its feature set is certainly not as strong as the likes of Ring and Nest, but customisable audio alerts broadcasting when someone rings the bell make it smarter than a standard doorbell. It also offers customisable chimes, volume adjustment and it is weather resistance to snow, rain and heat.
Arlo Video Doorbell
Features: Motion detection, two-way talk and listen, Quick Responses, Siren, Direct-to-mobile video calling, 1:1 aspect ratio, Google Assistant, Alexa and Apple HomeKit compatible
Camera specs: 180-degree FOV diagonal, 1:1 aspect ratio, night vision, HDR, 1536 x 1536 video
Subscription: Three-months free, then seven day cloud recording without subscription
Alongside the Arlo Audio Doorbell, there is also a video doorbell - though it won't be available in Europe until 2020. In terms of design, the Arlo Video Doorbell is slim and sleek, like the Nest Hello and Ring Video Doorbell Pro, though this is a result of it being another hardwired option so fine for those with a wired doorbell, but a little more hassle for those without.
There is a camera at the top and a button at the bottom and the Arlo Video Doorbell features a siren, that can sound automatically during an event, or be triggered remotely to deter intruders. As with the Nest Hello, the Arlo Video Doorbell has a number or pre-written responses that can be sent from the app if you aren't home to answer the door, and there is two-way audio on board too.
Where the Arlo Video Doorbell differs from others on this list is it's viewing angle. Rather than a traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, the Arlo Video Doorbell has a 180-degree field of view with a square aspect ratio, designed to allow you to see a person from head to toe, as well as any packages on the doorstep, for example.
The Arlo Video Doorbell will also video call your phone when someone has pushed the button, reducing the response delay found with some video doorbells when the notification has to go through the app. There's no facial recognition like the Nest Hello, but the Arlo Video Doorbell has night vision, motion alerts and HDR video. It is also compatible with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell
- Features: Alerts for attempted theft of doorbell, weatherproof, Apple HomeKit compatible, person detection, video call on smartphone when doorbell rings
- Camera specs: HDR, infrared night vision, 1080p
- Requirements: Hardwired, requires existing chime
- Subscription: MicroSD storage, no subscription required
Netatmo revealed its Smart Video Doorbell at CES 2019 but it's not currently available to buy. It has a compact and elegant design - rectangular in shape and a little larger than the Nest Hello.
Made up of three sections, the top of Netatmo's Smart Video Doorbell is black with a camera lens, the middle is grey with the speaker holes and the bottom is silver with an alarm logo at the bottom, acting as the doorbell button.
The Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell is compatible with Apple's HomeKit so you can ask Siri to show you your front door on your iOS device and it offers person detection too. Despite Netatmo's Welcome camera offering facial recognition however, the Smart Video Doorbell doesn't have this on its list of features.
It will alert you if someone tries to tamper with it though and it will video call you on your smartphone when someone rings the doorbell, like the Arlo Video Doorbell. Like the Nest Hello, Arlo Video Doorbell and the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, the Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell is hardwired so it will need an existing wired doorbell or professional installation.
Ring Door View Cam
- Features: Two-way talk and listen with noise cancellation, impact sensor, glass viewer, privacy zones, smart alerts, Alexa compatibility
- Camera specs: Infrared night vision, 1080p
- Requirements: Battery-powered
- Subscription: £2.50/month or £25/year for up to 30-days recorded video
The Ring Door View Cam follows the same design as other Ring video doorbells with a rectangular shape, silver body and a black strip housing the button and the camera lens. It adds a view finder too though, with the idea being that you replace your existing door viewer with the Door View Cam turning it into a security device.
The Door View Cam comes with many of the same features as other Ring video doorbells, including two-way talk and listen with noise cancellation, HD video and motion detection, but it adds a few extras too. An Impact Sensor will alert you if someone knocks on your door rather than pushes the doorbell for example, and Privacy Zones allow you to turn off audio recording, as well as block out certain zones in front of your doorbell.
As with the Video Doorbell 2 and Doorbell Pro, the Door View Cam is compatible with Alexa so you can speak to your visitors with an Alexa-enabled tablet, like the Echo Spot or Echo Show, as well as ask Alexa to show you your front door. Being battery powered means the Door View Cam is easy to install and Ring also has Smart Alerts.
Smart Alerts allow you to adjust motion detection and fine-tune motion alerts to conserve battery life. The View Door Cam also has person detection, and a feature called Motion Stop on board though, whereby the doorbell will stop recording if motion is deemed unimportant, saving battery.
A note about price, availability and subscriptions...
The Nest Hello retails at $229/£229. It costs $329/£329 if you include professional installation, which we would recommend.
Ring Video Doorbells cost between £89/$99 and £229/$245, depending on the model you buy but opt for the Pro model and you'll need to consider professional installation again.
The Arlo Audio Doorbell costs $79.99 /£79.99 and if you opt for the battery-powered model, then you don't need to consider installation costs. It is worth considering investing in the Arlo cameras to offer a visual of your front door though - any buying into that system will cost quite a bit more.
The Arlo Video Doorbell will cost $150. UK pricing has not been revealed yet, but it won't come to Europe until 2020.
The Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell pricing hasn't been released as yet, nor has an official release date. It was expected before the end of 2019 however.
That's not quite the end of the story however. Ring and Nest both offer subscription packages that you'll want to consider too, while Arlo offers seven-days cloud storage without a subscription and Netatmo stores video locally meaning there are no extra charges with those two devices.
Ring offers video functions for the retail price, but you'll need the Ring Protect subscription if you want to see recorded video or download video. At a basic level (£25/$30 a year or £2.50/$3 a month) it will save video from one camera for 30 days so you can review it after the fact (otherwise, if you don't answer, you don't see the video). The Protect Plus option covers you for unlimited cameras, but costs £80/$100 a year (£8/$10 monthly).
Nest offers video functions for its retail price too, but as with Ring, you'll need a Nest Aware subscription to download videos, as well as access features like familiar face detection and activity zones.
Nest Aware starts at £4/month or £40/year for storing 5 days of video. For £8/month or £80/year, you'll get 10 days of video history and £24/month or £240/year will give you 30 days. The cost will add up if you have more Nest cameras too so be mindful of that.
The Nest Hello has the strongest feature set of the smart doorbells being compared here, with facial recognition and visitor announcements both excellent elements. It also has a good aspect ratio for a wider shot, great video quality, HDR, and it offers extra features too, like quiet mode and scheduling.
Hello also has the most expensive subscription package though and it requires hardwiring, which makes it an expensive option, especially with professional installation. Still, for those with Google Home devices, it's the option we'd recommend.
Ring's Video Doorbell 2 is a cheaper alternative to Hello and though it lacks some of Nest's features, it has the benefit of interchangeable plates, as well as running on batteries so installation is significantly easier. The Ring subscription options are also cheaper and it is Alexa compatible so for those with an Amazon Echo Show, it's certainly the obvious choice.
The Arlo Video Doorbell is currently only available in the US, but it offers some great features including compatibility with Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomeKit. It also has a 1:1 aspect ratio field of view, direct to mobile video calls and a nice design. It is hardwired again though, so professional installation is recommended.
The Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell also goes back to hardwiring, meaning installation may not be that simple but if you're an Apple HomeKit fan, it's one of the only video doorbells compatible. It has some good features like person detection, a simple design and it stores videos locally so no need for any subscriptions. Only downside, you have to wait for it to be available.
If you're not interested in video capabilities, then the Arlo Audio Doorbell is an alternative to consider. This doorbell is also the perfect addition if you already own Arlo products and the fact you can combine it with the cameras and Arlo Smart Chime speakers makes the system fully expandable. Cloud storage is clearly a bonus too as there are no monthly costs to consider.