Simplisafe may best be known for its excellent home-security system, but the company also makes a video doorbell that can be used as a stand-alone device. But while its security system is top-notch, the Simplisafe Video Doorbell Pro ($169) is missing a number of features found in the best video doorbells.
Design and installation
I like the slim profile of Simplisafe's video doorbell. At 1.5 inches wide by 4.3 inches tall, it's about half the width of Ring's video doorbell, so it's more likely to fit nicely on your doorframe. Its design — rectangular with rounded corners — is very similar to our favorite video doorbell, the Nest Hello.
At the top of the Video doorbell pro is its camera, while the bottom has a big circular silver button that's ringed with light.
Installation is similar to other hard-wired video doorbells: Screw a base plate to your door jamb, attach the wires to the base plate, slide the video doorbell onto the base plate, and then screw in the security screw. After that, you then connect the video doorbell to your Wi-Fi network via the Simplisafe app (Android and iOS). In all, it took me no more than 15 minutes. The Simplisafe camera also comes with a small wedge so you can angle the camera up or down, to get a better view of someone coming to your door.
If you want to hear a "ding-dong" when someone presses the button on the Simplisafe doorbell, you must already have one installed in your house. For most people upgrading their existing wired doorbells, this shouldn't be an issue, but I wish Simplisafe offered a connected chime, similar to Ring's Chime, which also doubles as a Wi-Fi extender, for those whose front door is far from their router.
Video from the 1080p camera was crisp. I could easily make out details in the bushes near the front door, and the camera did a fair job with the colors on the house across the street. The Video Doorbell Pro has an agreeably wide 162-degree field of view that supports HDR. That's helpful for when the doorbell is mounted in a shaded porch, but there's a lot of sunlight in the background.
While on a par with the Ring Video Doorbell 2, the quality of video from Simplisafe's doorbell wasn't up to the Nest Hello's higher-resolution 1600 x 1200-pixel feed.
Motion detection was good, too. With the sensitivity set to medium, I didn't get nearly as many false alerts when a truck rumbled by, as happened more often with the Ring Doorbell.
Features: Where are they?
Compared with other video doorbells, Simplisafe' is very light on features. From the app, you can change the motion sensitivity (off, low, medium and high), motion detection, doorbell ring notifications and when night vision comes on. But that's about it.
Ring (and other doorbells) has sound detection and will let you set up zones specifying where the camera should alert you if it detects motion. The Nest Hello has facial recognition, prerecorded responses, and scheduling for when you should receive notifications.
Smart-home connectivity lacking
Not surprisingly, you can connect the Simplisafe Video Doorbell Pro to its home-security system, so that if a motion detector senses something, the video doorbell will automatically start recording.
Aside from that, the Video Doorbell Pro's smart-home functionality is nonexistent. For example, with other doorbells, you can ask Alexa to show you a feed on a Fire TV device, or have Google Home announce when someone's at the door. You can't do any of this with the Simplisafe Video Doorbell Pro. Nor does it work with SmartThings or IFTTT.
Similar to Ring, you can't save, view or record videos from the Simplisafe Video Doorbell Pro unless you purchase a subscription plan, which costs $4.99 per month if you want to save 30 days of footage for one camera, or $9.99 per month for 30 days of footage for up to 10 cameras.
Whereas most other video doorbells will at least let you see a thumbnail image if you don't sign up for a plan, you don't get anything of the sort with Simplisafe. I found it extremely frustrating to get a motion alert, and by the time I opened the app on my phone, the person had moved on, so there was nothing to see.
If you have a subscription, a separate screen lists all of the motion events recorded by the camera. If you select one of the events, a small thumbnail video appears, which you can click on to view full-screen.
The Simplisafe Video Doorbell Pro is easy to install and delivers crisp 1080p video. However, when compared with other video doorbells, it’s lacking in a number of areas. For starters, its feature set is far less than what you get with other cameras; you need a subscription to save videos; and it lacks any sort of smart-home integration. If you have a Simplisafe security system, its Video Doorbell Pro could be a good addition. If you don't, then check out our best video doorbells page for our top picks, such as the Nest Hello and the Ring Video Doorbell 2.
Credit: Tom's Guide