This is the one feature you need if you're buying a video doorbell

Buying a video doorbell? This is the one feature you really need
(Image credit: Ring)

I hate to say it, but video doorbell makers have to start thinking like the Kardashians. No, they don’t need their own reality TV show, but they do need to start shooting more vertical video.

Ever since the first Ring appeared on Shark Tank, video doorbells have become progressively better. They now capture video at higher resolutions, can identify people, vehicles, animals, and packages, and can see in the dark.

But there’s one thing that most of the best video doorbells can’t do: see what’s at the foot of your door. You know, the place where someone is most likely to drop off a package. Thankfully, it looks like the major video doorbell companies are finally addressing this issue.

Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve been receiving a lot more packages, and not just because of my job. Because of my job, I also test a lot of video doorbells. With few exceptions, most have cameras that take horizontal video. While this orientation is great for watching movies and TV — even security cameras — it’s not ideal for video doorbells.

That’s because the bottom of the frame ends several feet from the front of your door, so there’s a few feet of dead space. And, if your delivery drivers are anything like mine, that’s the space where they’ll drop off packages.

Buying a video doorbell? This is the one feature you really need

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Unless you have the Nest Hello or Arlo Essential video doorbells, which can actually tell you if it sees a package, there’s little way of knowing if something got dropped off or picked up.

For its other faults, this was one thing the now-discontinued August Doorbell Cam got right. Its vertically-oriented camera could reveal more of what was closer to your door than others.

The Arlo Video Doorbell is slightly better, with a squarish view, and the Logitech Circle View Doorbell has a 3:4 aspect ratio. The upcoming Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 has a square 1536 x 1536 camera — incidentally, the same ratio and resolution as the August Doorbell Cam.

That’s good, but nowhere near as comprehensive as the Maximus Dual View video doorbell, which has a second camera that points downwards, towards the actual foot of your door.

Buying a video doorbell? This is the one feature you really need

Nest Hello Doorbell (Image credit: Nest Hello Doorbell)

What these companies need to do is take their video doorbell cameras and turn them 90 degrees. While I don’t want my visitors making TikToks at my front door, thinking of a video doorbell as a stationary selfie cam would make them a lot more useful. You get more of a view of the person (and more importantly, the front of your door), and less of stuff around them.

The wide-angle view of most video doorbells is great if you have a wide porch, but most of that is extraneous to what you really want to see. I just want to see a head-to-foot view of everything that’s right in front of my door, packages and all.

Mike Prospero
U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Tom's Guide

Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.