During these times of social distancing, lots of people are shopping for the best video doorbells, because these devices are a good way to know when a package has arrived at your doorstep. And, because video doorbells have microphones and speakers, you can talk with a person while keeping the door closed.
The best video doorbells take the humble push button found at every threshold and turns it into a powerful tool, letting you see not just who's knocking, but allowing you to talk to them too — no matter where you are. So, for example, if you're in the attic or the backyard and someone comes calling, you don't have to leave them hanging; you can use your smartphone to tell them to wait until you get to the front door. It's a handy feature for those who have difficulty moving, too.
Right now, two of the best video doorbells under $200 are the Arlo Video Doorbell ($129) and the Ring Video Doorbell ($99). We like the Arlo because of its high-quality video and package-detection feature, which lets you know when a delivery has been made. Aside from its price, the Ring Video Doorbell is a great model because it can be either hardwired or run off battery power, so it's much easier to install anywhere on your house.
Video doorbells offer a few safety features, too. For one, you can see if someone tries to steal a package from your front door, and via your smartphone, yell at them through the video doorbell's speaker, and save the video to send to authorities. You can also link video doorbells to other smart home devices; for example, if a video doorbell detects motion, it can automatically turn on your smart lights.
Some video doorbells can also be linked to smart locks, so if you see someone at your front door, but can't get there to let them in, you can use an app to unlock the door.
What are the best video doorbells?
After testing all of the top models, we think that the best video doorbell is the Nest Hello Smart Wi-Fi Video Doorbell. It has the highest video quality, can recognize individual faces and can even announce them, too. Because it's owned by Google, you can also view a live feed from the Nest Hello on Chromecast devices; it also works with Alexa, too. A couple of caveats, though: The Nest Hello has to be hardwired, so you'll have to install it where there's an existing doorbell, or install some new wires. And, to get most of the Nest Hello's great features, you'll need to subscribe to Nest Aware, which starts at $5 per month.
If you're looking for a wireless model, we recommend the Ring Video Doorbell 2, which can be hardwired, or run off its battery (which you'll need to recharge every few months). It also has a high-quality 1080p feed, a number of smart features and customizable motion zones.
The best video doorbell for those on a budget is the Ring Video Doorbell. Like the Ring Video Doorbell 2, this sub-$100 model also works either hardwired or on battery power; Although the resolution of its camera is just 720p, video was clear enough to see who was at the door, and it has all of the features of its pricier sibling.
The new Ring Video Doorbell 3 ($199) and Ring Video Doorbell Plus ($229) have been announced; the company's newest video doorbells include such features as better Wi-Fi and improved motion detection. The Ring Video Doorbell Plus also has a new "Pre-roll" feature that adds up to four seconds of video before a motion event occurs, so that you can better see people as they approach your door. Both video doorbells are available for pre-order, and will ship on April 8.
The best video doorbells you can buy today
1. Nest Hello
The best video doorbell overall
Video Resolution: 1600 x 1200 | Field of View: 160 degrees | Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant | Size: 4.6 x 1.7 x 1 inch | Wired/Battery: wired | Starting Storage Fee: $50/year for 5 days video
The Nest Hello takes the top honors as the best video doorbell overall, as it produced the best-looking video we've yet seen from one of these devices, and its microphone and speaker were excellent, too. The Nest Hello can also recognize people's faces, and announce them via a Google Assistant compatible device when they come to your door. (It also works with Alexa).
While the Hello needs a hardwired connection, it continuously records video, so you'll never miss an event. You can also set up specific zones, so you'll only be notified when a person or object appears in that area of the frame. To get most of these features, you'll need to subscribe to the Nest Aware service (starting at $5/month), but they're worth it.
Read our full Nest Hello review.
2. Ring Video Doorbell 2
The best video doorbell for wireless installation
Video Resolution: 1080p | Field of View: 160 degrees | Works with: Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT | Size: 5.05 x 2.50 x 1.08 inches | Wired/Battery: Optional/Yes | Starting Storage Fee: $30/year for 60 days video
Because it can run entirely on battery power, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the best video doorbell for homes or locations where there isn't already power. But the reason the Ring Video Doorbell 2 also ranks so high is that it can run using a hardwired connection, making it very versatile.
This 1080p doorbell camera offers good customization for motion alerts, although it's not as robust as the Ring Pro's. However, you still get the same ability to share videos with neighbors, as well as Ring's affordable video-storage fees. We also recommend picking up the optional Ring Chime device ($27), so you can hear the doorbell inside the house.
Read our full Ring Video Doorbell 2 review.
3. Ring Video Doorbell
The best video doorbell value
Video Resolution: 720p | Field of View: 160 degrees | Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant, Nest, IFTTT | Size: 5.05 x 2.50 x 1.08 inches | Wired/Battery: Yes/Yes | Starting Storage Fee: $30/year for 60 days video
Ring's original Video Doorbell has a max resolution of 720p, but otherwise, it's just as capable as Ring's more-expensive models. And, at less than $100, it's the best video doorbell for those on a budget.
Like the Ring Video Doorbell 2, we like that you can use this model either wired or on battery power alone, and you can create custom motion zones, and also see what's going on in your neighborhood. Plus, Ring offers very affordable video storage plans.
Read our full Ring Video Doorbell review.
Arlo Video Doorbell
A video doorbell with great cloud storage
Video Resolution: 1536 x 1536 | Field of View: 180 degrees (diagonal) | Works with: Amazon Alexa | Size: 5.1 x 1.8 x 1 inches | Wired/Battery: Yes/No | Starting Storage Fee: $3/month (single camera)
Arlo makes some of the best home security cameras, so it should be no surprise that the Arlo Video doorbell is one of the best video doorbells, too. It delivered high-quality video and audio both day and night, and features both person and package detection.
Arlo's app has a ton of features, but some of them, such as motion sensitivity, are difficult to find. Also, the video doorbell has to be hard-wired, and only works with Alexa at the moment. And, for most of the smarter features, including video storage, you need to sign up for a subscription. But, if you have Arlo's security cameras, its video doorbell will make an excellent addition, as you can add up to five cameras for $10 a month.
Read our full Arlo Video Doorbell review.
4. August Doorbell Cam
This video doorbell works with a ton of smart home devices
Video Resolution: 1280 x 960 | Field of View: 120 degrees | Works with: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home/Assistant, Honeywell, Nest, IFTTT, Xfinity, Wink | Size: 2.9 x 2.9 x 0.9 inches | Wired/Battery: Yes | Starting Storage Fee: $49.99/year for 30 days of video
August's Doorbell Cam is one of the best video doorbells because it has a clever feature: HindSense includes a couple of seconds of video before the motion is detected, which means the device is more likely to capture someone as they approach your door. While August's doorbell doesn't have the highest resolution among the cameras we tested, the footage was clear enough that we could see people's faces, and we liked that its spotlight helped illuminate whoever was coming to the door at night.
Because August's product looks the least like a traditional doorbell, visitors sometimes didn't know to press the device; they just knocked on our door instead. Still, it integrates tightly with August's excellent Smart Locks, which itself is compatible with Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant, among other smart home systems — the most of any of the doorbells we tested.
Read our full August Doorbell Cam Pro review.
5. Ring Peephole Cam
Best video doorbell for apartments
Video Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Field of View: 155 degrees horizontal, 90 degrees vertical | Works with: Amazon Alexa | Size: 4.4 x 2.3 x 1.2 inches | Wired/Battery: No/Yes | Starting Storage Fee: $30/year for 30 days of video
Can't install a traditional video doorbell, or live in an apartment? The Ring Peephole Cam is the best video doorbell for you. It replaces a traditional peephole, giving you an electronic means of seeing who's at the door. (Don't worry; it has a peephole built in). Because it screws into place, you don't have to drill any new holes into a door, so your landlord won't get annoyed.
Because the Peephole Cam is battery-operated, you'll have to recharge it once every month or so, depending on how often you use it. And while it works with Alexa—you can view a feed from the camera on an Echo Show, for example—it doesn't work with Google Assistant.
Read our full Ring Peephole Cam review.
6. Ring Video Doorbell Pro
Ring's higher-priced video doorbell has customized motion alerts
Video Resolution: 1080p | Field of View: 160 degrees | Works with: Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT | Size: 4.5 x 2 x 1 inches | Wired/Battery: Yes/battery backup | Starting Storage Fee: $30/year for 60 days video
Ring's smallest and best-looking doorbell has the most customizable motion zones of any doorbell we tested, letting you specify exactly which areas in the camera's field of vision should trigger an alert. It also has crisp, 1080p resolution and a wide, 160-degree field of view.
Ring's Neighbors app also lets you share videos with people in your area, so you can keep everyone informed if there's someone trying to break into multiple houses or steal packages. Installation is a little tricky, however; we had to install not just the doorbell, but also a separate device inside our existing doorbell's chime box.
Read our full Ring Video Doorbell Pro review.
7. Eufy 2K Video Doorbell
An inexpensive video doorbell that delivers on the basics
Video Resolution: 2560 x 1920 | Field of View: 150 degrees | Works with: Alexa, Google Home | Size: 4.8 x 1.7 x 0.9 inches | Wired/Battery: Yes/no | Starting Storage Fee: $3.99 a month or $29.99 a year for 30 days of video
The Eufy 2K Video Doorbell records good-quality video over a 150-degree field of view. While you can sign up for cloud storage (which starts at $30/year for 30 days of storage), the Eufy 2K also has a microSD card slot, so you can save footage locally, too.
However, the Eufy 2K Video Doorbell has a few drawbacks: It's a wired-only device, only supports one user (so you can't share it with family members), and has limited smart-home interoperability. But for around $150, it's not a bad deal.
Read our full Eufy 2K Video Doorbell review.
How video doorbells work
When you push the button on a traditional doorbell, the action closes a circuit to ring a chime inside your home. Video doorbells are a bit more complex. When you push the button on one of these devices, the doorbell's camera sends a video feed to your smartphone over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and you can press a button in the app to talk to the person at the door over a two-way speaker. Each doorbell supports ring alerts, which notify your phone when a person rings the bell, as well as motion alerts, which can be a little more hit or miss.
How to choose the best video doorbell
Wired vs. wireless
Video doorbells typically require 16 volts or more to work. If you have a newer house, this may not be an issue. But as we found out, older homes with more-antiquated systems may not deliver enough juice. One of our test houses, which was built in 1946, was sending only about 10 volts of electricity to the existing doorbell, which wasn't enough to power the two doorbells in the roundup that lack built-in batteries.
After we upgraded the doorbell's circuit to a 20-volt transformer, everything worked as advertised. Most people shouldn't have to upgrade their transformers, especially with newer houses, and the two doorbells that have built-in batteries don't require power from the doorbell at all.
Some doorbells, like the Ring Video Doorbell 2, can run on battery power. This is incredibly helpful if your existing wiring isn't getting the job done and you don't want to upgrade the transformer. Just remember that you'll have to recharge these units regularly.
Your choice of doorbells will also depend on whether you're replacing an existing doorbell or installing a doorbell where there isn't one already. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the most flexible. While it can replace a hardwired doorbell supplying 8-24 volts of electricity, its rechargeable battery means you could put this doorbell anywhere. And the optional Ring Chime add-on can even sound an audible chime inside the house, just like a traditional doorbell would.
The August Doorbell Cam requires 16-24 volts of electricity and can replace only a wired mechanical doorbell.
Field of View
Do you want a narrow view of just the person at the door, or do you want to see everything around your entryway? The Ring Video Doorbell 2 and Ring Pro boast 160-degree viewing angles, which let me see my whole porch and driveway.
The higher the resolution, the sharper the image, which will make it easier to identify people at your door. Ring's higher-end doorbells record video in 1080p, while the August Doorbell Cam's resolution is actually 1280 x 960, not quite "full" 1080p resolution.
The video doorbells we tested take different approaches to capturing video at night. The August Doorbell cam uses motion-activated LEDs to light the area in front of the camera, so it can capture colors a little better. Ring's doorbells use infrared night vision to see in the dark, but the result is monochrome video.
Aesthetics may be a concern. After all, you're bolting this thing to the front of your house! The Ring Pro looks the most like a traditional doorbell, and Ring even includes four faceplates, so you can choose which matches your house's trim or paint one exactly the shade you like.
Video doorbells vs. security cameras
Video doorbells don't necessarily make the best home security cameras. While the apps let you choose to receive motion alerts as well as doorbell alerts, motion-triggered events often resulted in video of a person or car just exiting the frame.
A dedicated home security camera may be a better choice if you're looking for actual security, because you can position such a camera in more places. And when you get a motion alert, you can back up the video and see what happened before the alert came in.
How we test video doorbells
We self-installed the video doorbells on houses and tested in real-world conditions with friends and family ringing the bells day and night. We evaluated ease of setup, the design and features of the app, how well the app and doorbell kept us notified, and video and audio quality. We also factored in how much you'll pay for cloud storage to save the video.