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In the list of annoyances, the courier ringing the doorbell just as you pop to the loo is up there. Goodbye eagerly awaited shopping purchase. Hello long wait at your local courier HQ. Banish these annoyances by investing in a smart doorbell. Acting like a digital bouncer (and a bit like a security camera), a video doorbell lets you know when someone arrives on your doorstep by sending an alert to your mobile. Unlike a regular doorbell, you can see, hear and talk to these visitors even when you’re not at home. Plus, by being able to talk to your visitors through it, you can tell the courier where to leave your parcel.
Here’s our guide to the best video doorbells in Australia, chosen from hours of research, including real Aussie opinions.
How we picked
We started with CHOICE, an Australian consumer advocacy group. They tested a few, which gave us some insights into how they performed in test environments.
We then turned to ProductReview.com.au, Australia’s first consumer opinion website, to see Aussies’ thoughts. For starters, there weren’t many smart doorbell reviews. Normally, we want to see a decent star rating (at least 3 stars) from a decent number of reviews (at least 50). We couldn’t find any. Currently, there are no well-rated video doorbells in Australia, according to real Aussies.
We threw our net a little wider, hunting out expert guides internationally. Although we found some recommendations, they were either discontinued or not available in Australia.
Normally, we’d narrow down our picks by key features. There was no need to this time. We had just a handful of contenders.
The best video doorbell for most
Choose this if
If you really want to part with your cash, consider the Ring Video Doorbell 3. Around $300, it has 1080HD video, 2-way audio, instant mobile notifications, adjustable motion detector sensitivity and a rechargeable battery pack. Be warned, it has poor Aussie reviews and you pay extra for video storage.
What we love
Good picture quality
Thanks to the wide-angle 1080HD video.
Live view video and audio
Which means you can see what’s happening on your doorstep, wherever you are, from whatever device you’re on.
Hear and speak
The in-built microphone and speakers ensure you can hear what’s going on. You can also talk.
Instant mobile notifications
If motion is detected, you’ll be notified instantly on your mobile.
Adjustable motion sensors
To avoid being alerted constantly when it’s just a cat enjoying a stroll, you can change the sensitivity of the motion sensors.
Infrared night vision means good visibility, even at night.
It comes with a rechargeable battery pack for quick and easy charging. It can also be wired into your home if you prefer.
Amazon Alexa compatible
So you can get security at the sound of your voice.
Lifetime theft protection
If it gets stolen, Ring will replace it for free.
The not so good bits
For around $300, you’re getting a video doorbell and that’s it. If you want video storage, you need to pay for a monthly or yearly subscription fee. If you want a loud chime, you need to pay extra for that too.
Poor customer reviews
It’s not well-rated on ProductReview.com.au with plenty of unhappy Aussies.
As we’ve explained, we’re not quite sure the Ring Video Doorbell 3 justifies the title of Australia’s best smart doorbell. But it’s the best of a bad lot.
This sleek modern video doorbell boasts wide-angle 1080HD video, giving you good picture quality. It has live view on-demand video and audio, thanks to the built-in microphone and speakers. This allows you to see, hear and talk to whoever’s outside your door from your devices, wherever you are. This includes your smartphone, tablet or computer; it’s iOS, Android, Mac and Windows 10 compatible. It’s also compatible with Amazon Alexa.
Instant mobile notifications when motion is detected means you’re alerted when anyone’s on your doorstep. With adjustable motion sensors, you might be able to screen out next door’s cat strolling past your front door. It has infrared night vision too for 24/7 viewing.
You can either hardwire it into your home or use the rechargeable battery – it comes with 1 rechargeable battery pack. It also comes with lifetime theft protection. If it gets stolen, report it within 15 days and Ring will replace it, free of charge.
Which all sounds pretty good. Now let’s look at the not-so-great bits.
It costs around $300 but this isn’t the complete price. Although the doorbell will make a noise when someone presses it, and ring on any connected phones you’ve set up, if you want a loud chime inside your home, you need to buy an additional chime. This is around $60.
Although you can get live streaming video and 2-way audio, you can’t record and store videos from the camera. If you ever need footage of a shady character, you need to pay for a subscription to the Ring Protect Plan. The Basic plan allows you to record, save and download video for 60 days. The Video Doorbell 3 comes with a free 30-day trial. After that, you need pay extra. It’s $4 a month or $40 a year for 1 doorbell. The Plus plan jumps to $15 a month or $150 a year. For the extra dollars, you’re getting extended warranties, coverage of unlimited doorbells and cameras and a 10% discount off some Ring products.
The Basic plan isn’t a deal breaker – it’s affordable.
The real deal breaker? How much Aussies dislike it. It gets just over 2 stars. These reviews have titles like ‘Not good’, ‘Buy something else without hidden costs’ and ‘Don't waste your money’. The biggest complaints seem to be poor customer support if something goes wrong, having to pay extra to access videos and a loud chime, bad audio and a lag in activity and notifications. But in between the bad, there are some happy customers.
Related: The Best Smart Lock
The eufyCam 2C comes with 2 1080p HD cameras, suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Wireless, it’s easy to set up your home security system. Priding itself on its battery life, Eufy reckons you can get a half-year of use from just 1 charge.
Thanks to an inbuilt spotlight, it’s got detailed night vision for 24/7 coverage. It features human detection technology to detect body shape and face pattern. This means you’ll get alerted when a person walks into view, not next door’s cat. You can set detection zones, so you’ll only get alerts for areas you really care about.
Up to 3 months of footage is recorded to secure local storage which means no ongoing monthly storage fees. Two-way audio allows you to communicate via the camera. It also integrates with Amazon Alexa, giving you increased control over your home security.
Around $400 for the 2-camera option (there are 3- and 4-camera options too), it hasn’t been reviewed by CHOICE. But it does get around 4 stars on ProductReview.com.au.
One of the most basic and affordable video doorbells we reviewed is the Ring Video Doorbell. It comes in at around $150. Like the Video Doorbell 3, it sends you instant alerts when people press the doorbell or trigger the motion sensors. You use the app to see, hear and talk to visitors via your devices, wherever you are. It too has customisable motion sensors and infrared night vision. It can also be wired in or you can use its built-in rechargeable battery. You pay for optional cloud storage too.
How’s it different from the Video Doorbell 3? For starters the image quality is lower, at 720HD. The built-in battery isn’t as easy to remove. The field of vision is 180° compared to the Video Doorbell 3’s 160° horizontal, 90° vertical. Finally, you’re not getting live view – you can only use the app to view who’s on your doorstep when you receive an alert.
The main reason we’re wary of the Ring Video Doorbell is that it gets around 2 stars from over 250 reviews on ProductReview.com.au. Ouch. Over 100 of these reviews are 1 star, with titles like ‘Avoid at all costs’, ‘Don’t do it’ and ‘Can’t give it a zero’.
Forget waiting for someone to ring your doorbell, the Arlo Video Doorbell instantly alerts you when motion is detected. You can then watch live-streaming video of what’s going on. To ensure you can fully see who’s on your doorstep, it’s got a 180° diagonal viewing angle and 1:1 ratio. This gives you a wider view of your doorstep than the narrow fishbowl view you might expect. It’s also got night vision so you can see clearly 24/7.
When someone rings your doorbell, it rings your phone so you’ll never miss a visitor. (Unless you’re in the loo, of course.) Two-way audio lets you talk to the person on your doorstep. You can even respond via pre-recorded messages. This is helpful if you receive a lot of couriers and need to repeat the same instructions. It’s got a built-in alarm which you can set to sound automatically if something happens. You can also trigger it remotely.
Wired, it connects to your existing doorbell wiring. Arlo recommends you hire an electrician to install the transformer correctly. It’s compatible with Apple HomeKit, Alexa, Ok Google and SmartThings to create a connected smart home security system.
A 3-month Arlo Smart subscription is included, which gives you extras. These include a 30-day recording history, advanced detections and activity zones, so you can set up monitoring of the areas that matter. Without Arlo Smart, there’s no storage of your recordings. A monthly plan starts at around $4.50 per month for 1 camera. At least you have a 3-month trial to see if Arlo Smart is worth the additional cost.
For true smart home connectivity, we rate the Orion Grid Connect Smart Wireless Video Doorbell. That’s because it’s compatible with Grid Connect - a secure, free app designed for Aussie and New Zealand homes. One app controls multiple, connected products that don’t have to be from the same manufacturer. You’ve then got full control of your smart home, from lighting and heating through to security. It can even be used remotely to monitor and operate your Grid-compatible products.
As well as its compatibility with other smart home products, we rate the price - it’s around $100. It has a lot of inclusions for the price. As it’s wireless, it comes with a rechargeable battery, USB cable and plug. It also comes with a 16GB SD card (so no ongoing cloud storage costs) and an indoor chime unit - which is impressive as you need to buy this separately with more expensive models.
If you’re not at home, it sends optional instant mobile alerts when your doorbell rings or when motion is detected. It’s got night vision, 1090p HD video and 2-way talk.
It even gets around 3 stars on ProductReview.com.au with some complaints around customer service and a short battery life.
The bottom line
If you’re wanting to create a fully connected smart home, a video doorbell makes sense. Adding an extra layer of security, there’s no more peeping through spy holes to see who’s at the front door. Instead wherever you are, you’ll be alerted when someone turns up on your doorstep. Then, from the comfort of your device, you can hear and talk to them. And most importantly, decide who gets to come in. We’re not convinced that a video doorbell is worth the investment, yet.
But if you’re sold on them, we think the Ring Video Doorbell 3 is your best bet. For around $300, you get wide-angle 1080HD video, 2-way audio, good software compatibility, adjustable motion detector sensitivity and a rechargeable battery pack. You don’t get video storage or a loud chime. Although the marketing blurb sounds great, the opinions of real Aussies don’t back up these claims. It has poor consumer ratings currently on ProductReview.com.au.
Is a video doorbell worth it?
We believe in buying better. Which to us means buying something once, that’ll last. Saving you the time of trawling the shops and saving the planet from 1 more item in landfill. When it comes to video doorbells, we’re not convinced that you can buy better – yet.
Through our hours of research, we couldn’t find video doorbells that were both loved by Aussies and available in Australia.
Some of this can be put down to people’s outrage at paying extra for cloud storage. Even a low amount proved too much for some people. It can also be put down to sketchy internet coverage, poor customer service and a lack of clear set-up instructions.
But it was obvious that even those niggles aside, video doorbell cameras aren’t great currently. Missed notifications, the inability to access footage, a lag between someone appearing on the screen, being alerted to it and the time taken to log onto the app to respond... In short, all the basics you’d expect a smart doorbell to do, they seem to struggle with.
We’re sure the technology will catch up to the intended purpose soon. But we don’t think it’s there yet.
Features to consider
If you decide you need a smart doorbell in your life, here’s what to look for.
The higher the resolution, the clearer the picture. Because it’s a video doorbell and the idea is to see who’s on your doorstep, pay attention to the resolution. High resolution video will capture people’s faces and other details better. Like the crowbar they might be holding.
Wide angle lens
Look for a camera that has a wide field of vision. A large field of vision ensures your doorbell camera can see a wider area of your home and all visitors’ faces – the tall and short ones.
To help you feel safe at night, a video doorbell with night vision will help ensure a good quality image even after the sun’s gone down. This is especially useful if you’re ever visited by late night lurkers. You’ll be able to identify suspicious people or activity.
Wired or wireless
Smart doorbells can either be wired into your home or be wireless. If you go for a wired option, you’ll probably need a certified electrician to install it. Wired video doorbells never run out of charge but won’t work if there’s a power cut.
Wireless video doorbells run off batteries, which might be rechargeable. If you opt for wireless, check how the battery pack is removed and replaced. With some of them, you need to remove the doorbell to get to the battery. Read reviews to learn how good the battery life is.
The smart thing about a smart doorbell is how you can answer your door and talk to visitors from wherever you are. That’s because they all have (usually free) apps. Make sure the app is compatible with all your devices, including your smartphone, tablet and computer. Check to see if the app runs on Android, iOS, Mac or Windows devices.
A video doorbell camera with a built-in microphone and speakers allows you to hear and talk to visitors through it. You can tell the courier where to drop your parcel or let your mum know you’ve gone to the loo.
This is basic functionality, because without it, what’s the point of a video doorbell? You might as well get a regular one.
A video doorbell is a bit like a home security camera, in that it alerts you when it senses movement near your door. You receive an instant notification on your device when the sensors are triggered. Ensure that you can adjust the sensitivity of the motion sensors. Otherwise you’ll get notified every time a cat strolls across your front lawn.
Living outside, your video doorbell is going to be exposed to a lot weather-wise. Check that your camera can withstand heavy rain, humidity and extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.
What you get if you spend more
The video doorbells we reviewed mostly fall into the affordable category, around $300. Some can go up to almost $700. So, what do you get if you spend more?
All the smart doorbells we reviewed send you instant notifications when someone rings it, or motion is detected. They also allow you to hear and talk to visitors, among other basic features. But more expensive models go further with their tech. More expensive features include opening your door from your smartphone and geofencing. This means your door automatically opens when you get home.
Included cloud storage
One of Aussies’ biggest grumbles about smart doorbells is that usually you need to pay extra for cloud storage of your videos. Although you can view a live stream, get instant alerts and speak to your visitors without a subscription, you need storage to host your video footage. If you choose a more expensive model, it’s likely to include a cloud storage subscription plan.
You could also choose a model that has in-built storage, like a memory card. Although if your doorbell gets stolen, so does your footage.
Storage might not be a deal-breaker for you if you only want to check who’s at the door before you open it.
Live video streaming
One of the most affordable video doorbells we reviewed, the Ring Video Doorbell, doesn’t let you see what’s happening on your doorstep in real time. Instead, you can only see what’s happening when it senses movement and alerts you.
Honestly, we think this is fine. It’s a video doorbell not a security camera. But if you want 24/7 live viewing of your doorstep, upgrade to a more expensive option.
- 'The Best Smart Doorbell Camera', The Wirecutter