Some big innovations in home security tech appear to be just around the corner… but would you invest in a ‘smart doorbell’?
This year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show) saw a range of smart, internet-enabled gadgets battling for the spotlight.
Among the smart home products on the show floor were a bunch of smart doorbells from brands including Maximus, Netatmo and Ring, but should you buy one?
Every year in Las Vegas, CES turns heads as regular products get the often-unnecessary ‘smart’ treatment. So far in 2019 I’ve spotted the Alexa-compatible smart toilet, musical smart rings, smart bras and more.
While smart doorbells aren’t exactly new (the first one went on sale in 2013), I’ve noticed that the product area is getting far more attention post-CES. From a security perspective they do look genuinely useful – I’m tempted to get one myself, in fact.
A smart doorbell attaches to the outside of your house like a normal doorbell, but it comes with a built-in camera and movement-tracking sensors.
When a person comes to the door, you’ll be alerted via a loud ring (no surprises there) and a message on your smartphone.
Lots of smart doorbells have two-way communication, which means you can talk through the doorbell’s speaker – no need to get off the sofa in some cases.
The most well-known smart doorbell brands are Google’s Nest and Amazon’s Ring. The cheapest Ring will set you back by £89, and you can fit it yourself by screwing the device onto a wall bracket.
The priciest member of the family is an eyebrow-raising £450, however, and requires professional installation.
On top of that upfront cost, you also need to pick a Ring Protect Plan. There’s a free option up for grabs, but if you want to store and download video captured by the Ring (surely a must if you’re buying one of these devices?), you need to pay an extra £2.50 a month.
There are some security benefits to owning a smart doorbell, of course. A record function means you can save footage of suspicious goings-on, and camera-equipped doorbells with IR LEDs can see in the dark.
If you’re looking for home security gizmos, you may want to see our full range of wireless security camera reviews.
But remember, a smart doorbell needs to be sat near your home router to work at its best, as a dodgy wi-fi connection will just punish you with irritating, choppy footage.
I’ve also heard stories of thieves stealing smart doorbells by prising them from the wall – Ring says it will send a free replacement if this happens.
Are they safe?
With any internet-connected product, there are potential security concerns. Last year, as part of our investigation into smart home surveillance, we uncovered a number of devices tracking and transmitting data on how you live your life.
Technically, if somebody gained access to your login details for your smart doorbell smartphone app, they’d be able to see all of your saved recordings.
If you’re using the smart doorbell alongside other cameras that sit inside your house, they could potentially peer through those too.
You can keep your smart tech secure by setting a strong password, exploring the security controls available to you and keeping software up to date.
For more details on tech safety, see our advice guide on how to protect your smart home data.
Are you tempted by a tech-tastic smart doorbell? Or are you perfectly happy with a normal doorbell? Are there any other ‘smart’ products you’ve found have improved your day to day life?