7 must-see smart video doorbells of 2015 / 2016

7 must-see smart video doorbells of 2015 / 2016
Smart video doorbells are becoming the next popular home security gadget to get for upgrading the entry area for homes. Not only do smart video doorbells bring connectivity to the door, they are also an attractive alternative to traditional intercom systems because they are easier to install and less costly in comparison. While smart video doorbells can operate as standalone devices, they can also integrate with other security devices for the entry area, such as smart door locks. But it doesn’t end there. New integrations with products, services or platforms beyond home security are also happening. Nest and IFTTT integrations are two examples.

In 2015, well-recognized smart home brands like Vivint and August released their own smart video doorbells. Meanwhile, existing brands like Ring and SkyBell continued to push for upgrades by improving performance, adding new features, and enabling integrations. SkyBell HD – the third generation of the SkyBell video doorbell – offers an upgrade in video quality with the new 1080p camera and has many innovative features that are worth mentioning. With full-color night vision and a temperature and humidity sensor, SkyBell HD is a rare breed in doorbells. While temperature and humidity sensors have been increasingly embedded in smart home cameras and hubs, they have not really made it to doorbells. This year, new smart video doorbells were unveiled at CES 2016 by companies like smanos and the French startup Fenotek, adding new members to the smart video doorbell landscape.

Although smart video doorbells share the common theme of supporting remote video monitoring, two-way talk, and possibly access control (when connected with a smart lock) from mobile devices, they can be highly versatile in design and color. Going wireless is trendy to make installation simpler, with Wi-Fi being one of the most adopted wireless standards. However, smart video doorbells like the August Doorbell Cam and SkyBell HD also support Bluetooth on top of Wi-Fi. Bluetooth can be used for communication between devices.

Similar to smart door locks, many doorbell cameras are integrating with Nest. Integrations with other connected devices at home such as smart door locks and lights are also popular, which allow companies to extend their services to encompass access control and home automation. Integration with smart door locks is an obvious choice as homeowners would naturally want the option to unlock the door after seeing / speaking with the visitor. ring has a program called “Ring Plus” that lets Ring Video Doorbell connect with partners like Wink, Kevo, LockState and Kisi.

One way for companies to implement integration is through IFTTT (If this then that). Products or services can join the IFTTT and become an IFTTT channel, and users can create “recipes” to connect two channels, so that when an event (“if”) occurs on one channel, an action (“that”) can be triggered on another channel. Ring announced IFTTT integration last month (December), adding a new member to its Ring Plus family. With IFTTT, users can for example have their Philips Hue turn on when the Ring Video Doorbell detects motion. 

7 Must-See Smart Video Doorbells of 2015 / 2016 
1. August Doorbell Cam
Wireless: BLE & Wi-Fi

August Doorbell Cam is equipped with an HD camera and requires Wi-Fi connection and a Bluetooth Smart Ready phone. Users can receive alerts when someone rings the bell or when motion is detected, and the audio and video of each visit is recorded. What is important to note is that if used in conjunction with the August Smart Lock, users can remotely control and monitor the status of the lock, so the doorbell cam also serves as the gateway for connecting the lock to the Internet. However, if the user just wants to connect their lock to the Internet, they can buy the August Connect, a dedicated gateway that costs much less ($79) than the doorbell cam ($199).
 
Photo courtesy of August

 2. SkyBell HD
Wireless: Wi-Fi

Released in October 2015, SkyBell HD has some unique features as mentioned previously. With Nest integration, user’s Nest Cam can be activated (or deactivated) from the SkyBell HD app while talking to the visitor. IFTTT is also supported – according to SkyBell, SkyBell HD now connects with Nest Protect, Amazon Echo, Philips Hue, SmartThings, Scout Alarm, Life360 and personal email via IFTTT.
 
Photo courtesy of SkyBell


3. Fenotek Hi)
Wireless: Wi-Fi

Hi) by Fenotek is a futuristic looking doorbell with unique features to match its look. Besides HD camera and motion sensor, it has an alarm that will sound when someone tries to steal it or when activated from user’s smartphone for emergencies. What sets it apart is that it uses i-Beacon identification for activating personalized scenarios, and users have the option to charge the device using solar power. Last but not the least, Hi) is designed, developed, and manufactured in France! The device made its debut at CES 2016.
 
Photo courtesy of Fenotek

4. Yale Real Living Look Door Viewer
Wireless: Wi-Fi / Wi-Fi + Z-Wave

Released during CEDIA 2015, the Look Door Viewer is a one-of-its-kind device that replaces traditional peepholes with two parts – a doorbell camera on the exterior side of the door, and a LCD monitor on the interior side. Homeowners can see the visitor either on the monitor or on a smartphone (with Wi-Fi connection). They can also see and speak with the visitor from the smartphone. Photos are automatically taken when someone pushes the doorbell or when motion is detected within 6.5 feet. Unlike many others, this device runs on four AA batteries. Z-Wave version is available.
 
Exterior part
Photo courtesy of Yale
Exterior part
Photo courtesy of Yale

5. Zmodo Greet
Wireless: Wi-Fi

Zmodo Greet is a 720p HD camera with 105 angle of view and 4x ditigal zoom. The biggest highlight of Greet is that it has 8GB of memory. According to the company, this translates to up to 6 months of clips from motion and missed calls. With built-in storage, customers just pay a one-time fee for the device with storage. 
A redesigned version of Greet – Greet 2.0 – was announced by Zmodo at CES 2016. Important new features include an improved camera with a wider-angle lens and simultaneous two-way talk. 
 
Photo courtesy of Zmodo

6. Vivint Doorbell Camera
Wireless: Wi-Fi

Featuring a 180-degree view and night vision, Vivint Doorbell Camera is the latest item to join Vivint’s smart home system, Vivint Sky. At the heart of Vivint Sky is Vivint SkyControl panel, which is placed inside the home, and the Vivint Doorbell Camera communicates with the panel using Wi-Fi. Through Vivint Sky's integration with third party products like door locks, garage door openers and more, users have the option to remotely unlock their door or open the garage door for example. “Our system works with other Z-Wave locks, such as those from Yale, and we optimize for all models of Kwikset locks,” says Vivint.
Vivint Doorbell Camera supports live video streaming to both the mobile device and the panel, auto audio video capture of every visit and video sharing. Vivint currently offers three packages, and Vivint Doorbell Camera is one of the options available for two of the packages. 
 
Photo courtesy of Vivint

7. smanos Smart Video Doorbell DB-20
Wireless: Wi-Fi

Introduced at CES 2016, the Smart Video Doorbell is a new member to smanos’ smart home ecosystem built around K1, a wireless Smart Hub developed by smanos. The doorbell features 1080p video quality, 180-degree view angle and free cloud video storage. 
Photo courtesy of Weili Lin
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