Frontpoint Video Doorbell

The Best Video Doorbell Cameras 2017

There are only a few doorbell cameras on the market today, but that doesn't make choosing one easy. After researching options and testing, we've narrowed down the list to the Ring Video Doorbell 2, Ring Pro, Ring Elite, August Doorbell Cam, SkyBell Trim Plus, SkyBell Max, and the Nortek GoControl as well as smart doorbell services offered by Frontpoint and Vivint.

Installation Must-Knows

Ring Video Doorbell Pro

Ring Doorbell Pro

Everything you need to install Ring is included in the package: screwdriver, drill bits, screws, anchors, etc. Four interchangeable faceplates are also included: satin black, satin nickel, satin white, and dark bronze.

When it comes to installing Ring, you need to consider several factors. One is its size: 4.5" x 1.85" x .80". Will it fit your doorframe? You should also note that it lacks a battery and must be hardwired using wires from your existing doorbell. (It works with AC transformers that are between 16 to 24VAC.) If you don’t have an existing doorbell, you can always opt for the original Ring or Ring 2, which can be powered using a battery. Finally, Ring Pro can function in temperatures between -5° to 120°F.

  • Dimensions: 4.5" x 1.85" x .80"
  • Operating Temperature: -5° to 120°F
  • Hardwire Installation
  • Works with 2.4GHz or 5GHz Wi-Fi

Ring Video Doorbell 2

Ring Video Doorbell 2 is a newer version of Ring's original doorbell camera. It can be hardwired but it also comes equipped with a rechargeable battery pack. The beauty of it is that you don't have to take down the entire camera to recharge. Simply remove the battery, recharge it, and then put it back. You can even buy a second battery pack to keep on hand for quick swaps.

Ring 2 ships with all the tools and screws needed for installation, including adapter plates, wedges, and corner install kits. It also ships with two interchangeable faceplates: satin nickel and venetian. Before purchasing Ring 2, however, there are a couple of things you should know. First, its dimensions are 5.05" (height) x 2.50" (width) x 1.08" (depth). Given its size, it won't fit narrow door frames. Second, it can only operate in temperatures between -5℉ and 120℉. Low temperatures might also affect its battery life.

  • Dimensions: 5.05" x 2.50" x 1.08"
  • Operating Temperature: -5° to 120°F
  • Hardwire or Battery Power
  • Works with 2.4GHz Wi-Fi only

Ring Video Doorbell Elite

Unlike the other doorbells in this article, Ring Elite is designed for professional installation. It's also designed to mount flush to your wall and can use PoE (Power over Ethernet).

Of course, if you're a handyman at heart, you can install Ring Elite yourself by following this guide. That said, Ring Elite comes with some of the things you'll need to install it including a 50-foot Ethernet cable, mounting hardware, screwdrivers, and low-voltage brackets. It also ships with four interchangeable faceplates: satin nickel, pearl white, venetian, and satin black.

  • Dimensions: 4.80" x 2.75" x 2.17"
  • Operating Temperature: -5° to 120°F
  • Hardwire Installation (PoE)
  • Flush-mount
  • Works with 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi

Frontpoint & SkyBell Trim

Skybell Max

Frontpoint has selected the Skybell Trim as their go-to camera. If you are subscribed to their Ultimate Plan for $49.99, you will have access to video surveillance, smart home services, and professional monitoring.

The SkyBell Trim includes a wall-mount, screwdriver, drill bit, screws, anchors, and a manual. Like Ring, it must be hardwired to your existing doorbell wires. (You can connect it to a low-voltage transformer 10-36VAC or a 12VDC power supply.)

There are a few more requirements before installing SkyBell Trim. First, if you plan to mount it to your door frame, the frame must be at least 1.44 inches wide to accommodate the device. Second, your wireless router must be 2.4GHz set to b/g or b/g/n. Third, your router and internet should be capable of 2MBPS upload speeds at all times. Finally, SkyBell Trim can withstand harsh weather conditions. It has an operating temperature of -40° to 140° F. It also has a special coating to keep it safe from the elements including water, dust, heat, humidity, and snow.

  • Dimensions: 4.38" x 1.44" x 1.12"
  • Hardwire Installation
  • 2.4GHz Wi-Fi Router
  • 2MBPS Upload Speed
  • Frontpoint Ultimate Plan

August Doorbell Cam

August Doorbell Cam ships with a mounting plate, a mounting wedge, screws, anchors, a hex wrench, a foam pad, and black goop. The foam and goop are for waterproofing the sides of August after installation. You’ll also need a drill, hammer, screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and a smartphone with the August Home app installed.

August Doorbell Cam is hardwired to your existing doorbell. If you have an analog chime and your existing doorbell is connected to a transformer with 16 to 24 volts output, August will work for you. However, it is 2.9 inches wide, so measure your door frame first. You can also setup August with a wired analog (mechanical) doorbell chime.

  • Dimensions: 2.9" x 2.9" x 0.9"
  • Hardwire Installation
  • Works with 2.4GHz or 5GHz 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Operating Temperature: 1° to 113° F

SkyBell Trim Plus

SkyBell Trim Plus is yet another doorbell by SkyBell. It's a new release and is only available from Honeywell and Honeywell-powered security companies. It is very much similar to SkyBell Trim in that its dimensions and operating temperature are identical but it has a higher frame rate (up to 15fps at 1080p) and a variable resolution (it can switch between 1080p and 720p). Trim Plus also features colored night vision, something that Trim doesn't.

  • Dimensions: 4.5" x 1.85" x .80"
  • Hardwire Installation
  • Operating Temperature: -40° to 140°

SkyBell Max

Yet another doorbell from SkyBell, SkyBell Max is coming soon. Its shape is similar to Trim Plus but it has batteries as well as wires for hardwire installation. It has a promised battery life of up to 6 months.

Feature-wise, it's similar to Trim Plus. Size-wise, it's a little bit larger.

  • Dimensions: 5.30" x 2" x 1"
  • Hardwire or Battery-Powered
  • 6-month Battery Life

Nortek GoControl Doorbell Camera

Nortek GoControl is exclusively available to security dealers and professional home automation installers. The doorbell camera must be professionally installed and hardwired to your existing wiring. It is weatherproof (IP65), air-tight (sealed to keep water out), and claims a long Wi-Fi range.

  • Dimensions: 5.5" x 2.5" x 1.4"
  • Operating Temperature: -22° to 122°F
  • Professional Installation Required
  • Works with 802.11n Wifi

Vivint's Doorbell Camera

Vivint Home Security Camera

Vivint offers their doorbell camera as part of their Smart Control package ($60.99/month). Their doorbell is a slim doorbell, measuring only 1.5" wide. It needs to be wired to a power supply, either a DC power supply or low-voltage transformer. But you needn't worry about the details as Vivint requires professional installation. According to Vivint, the device is waterproof. It has an operating temperature of 14° to 104°F.

  • Dimensions: 4.45" (height) x 1.5" (width)
  • Operating Temperature: 14° to 104°
  • Professional Installation

Image & Video Quality

 ring proskybell trimSlimline Doorbell Cameraaugust doorbellGoControlvivint doorbell
ModelRing Video Doorbell Pro
Frontpoint
SkyBell Trim Plus
August Doorbell Cam
GoControlVivint
Price$224.25$189.99$249.99$169.00TBD$199
Resolution
1080p
720p1080p
960p
720pUnknown
Night Vision
Yes, IR LEDs
IR black/white imagingYes, Multi-Color LEDs for Full-Color Night Vision, Up to 15 ft.
No, Low-Light Camera
Yes, 4 IR LEDs, Up to 15 feet
Yes
Field of View
160 degrees (horizontal)
100 degrees (vertical)
180 degrees
180 degrees
120 degrees
180 degrees, Fisheye Lens
180 degrees
ringfrontpointskybell logoaugustgocontrolvivint
WDR

NO
NO
NO
NO
No. Uses technology to achieve WDR-effectUnknown
iOS App
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
Android App
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
Windows App
YES
YES
NO
NO
Unknown YES
Web App
NO
YES
NO
NO
UnknownYES
Live Streaming
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
Storage Cost
Starts at $3/month/camera or $10/month for unlimited cameras$49.99/month (includes security system monitoring)
Free$4.99/month or $49.99/year for 30 days of recording
Depends on Provider/Dealer
$60.99/month (includes security system monitoring)
ringfrontpointskybell logoaugustgocontrolvivint
Buy Now
Buy NowPurchase from DealerBuy Now
Coming Soon
Buy Now

Features That Enhance Home Security

Ring Video Doorbell Pro

Ring is a front door security guard. It notifies you through your smartphone when someone rings your doorbell or if motion is detected. If you open the notification, it will lead you to a live stream where you have the option to use two-way talk, kind of like an intercom. If you have it connected to a smart door lock (Kevo, LockState, or Kisi), you can also let your guest in with a push of a button.

Ring's advanced motion detector allows you to create custom detection zones, so you're only notified of motion coming from the areas you select. For example, you can draw a zone around the pathway leading to your house. If anyone (or anything) moves within that area, Ring will send you a notification. Ring doesn't offer a feature that automates the arming and disarming of its motion sensor, but if you want, you can schedule when to turn the motion sensor on or off.

Of course, you can check on your house anytime, anywhere by accessing the live feed on-demand. Live View can be accessed using Ring's iOS or Android app.

All the features above are included for free, but you can subscribe to their cloud service to gain access to recorded event clips. You can use the service to view past events or check missed alerts. You will find more details about Ring's cloud service plan below.

Ring Video Doorbell Pro can help you further enhance your home’s security if you use it with compatible home security and automation products. For starters, they have a family of cameras and accessories. One is the original Ring doorbell camera. They also have a weather-resistant outdoor camera called the Stick Up Cam. It uses a rechargeable battery, but you can buy a solar panel to keep it charged. Next, Chime is a doorbell chime that plugs into any standard power outlet. Finally, Chime Pro is a wireless doorbell chime that also boosts Ring's network signal.

Aside from Ring products, Video Doorbell Pro works with third-party devices and services. You can control and connect with compatible devices including smart locks and hubs. If you own a Wink Hub, you can create Robots to automate tasks such as turning Wink-controlled lights on when Ring is pressed. If you have WeMo devices, you can conveniently launch the WeMo app while watching a live feed. If you're an ADT Pulse user, you can control Pulse devices (lights, locks, security system, etc.) through the Ring app.

Ring also works with hundreds of other smart home brands through IFTTT and Stringify.

Finally, Ring Video Doorbell Pro is promised to work with HomeKit. All existing Video Doorbell Pros will be compatible.

Pros:

  • Advanced Motion Detection With Zones
  • Live View
  • Two-way Talk
  • Works with Ring Products
  • Ring Plus

Cons:

  • Size May Be An Issue

Ring Video Doorbell 2

In many aspects, Ring 2 protects your home the same way Ring Pro does. It notifies you if someone rings your doorbell or if there's a person at your door. It lets you speak to them using your phone, see them, and even open the door for them if you have a compatible smart lock. The third-party services that work with Ring Pro also work with Ring 2.

There are a few minor improvements, however. First, Ring 2 uses RGBIR LEDs for night vision instead of standard IR LEDs allowing Ring 2 to capture clearer night-time videos than Ring Pro. Second, it can run on battery power.

On the other hand, there's also a setback to using Ring 2 vs. Ring Pro. Ring Pro's motion sensor has advanced detection and motion zones with customizable shape. Ring 2 uses basic motion detection and motion zone shapes are not customizable.

Pros:

  • RGBIR LEDs
  • Motion Detection Zones
  • Live View w/ Two-Way Talk
  • Works with Other Ring Products
  • Ring Plus

Cons:

  • Size May Be An Issue

Ring Video Doorbell Elite

Although Ring Elite doesn't look anything like Ring Pro, the two have identical security features. The only difference is the fashion they are installed. As Ring Elite is mounted flush to your wall, it's harder to steal or tamper with.

Pros:

  • Advanced Motion Detection
  • Motion Detection Zones
  • Live View w/ Two-Way Talk
  • Works with Other Ring Products
  • Ring Plus

Cons:

  • Requires Professional Installation

Frontpoint & SkyBell Trim

Using Frontpoint and the SkyBell Trim is similar to Ring. When a visitor rings the doorbell, you will be notified via Frontpoint's app (iOS, Android, Apple Watch, Kindle Fire, Apple TV). The app will lead you to a live feed where you can see and speak with your visitor (You can also access a live stream on-demand). While streaming, you can zoom in or out 5x. You can also take a snapshot of the frame as Frontpoint includes cloud storage in the monthly monitoring fee. From the cloud, you can review event history and watch missed events. SkyBell Trim detects motion as well. However, it doesn't allow you to create detection zones. Instead, you can set its sensor's sensitivity to low, medium, or high.

Using the SkyBell Trim with your Frontpoint security system unlocks several features. One is that you can monitor the doorbell along with other security devices. For instance, if SkyBell detects motion at your door, you can check your live feed or recorded footage from other Frontpoint cameras to gain a better insight. Second, you can control all of your connected devices from one app.

Pros:

  • Motion Detection With Adjustable Sensitivity
  • Live Video On-Demand
  • Two-Way Talk
  • Integrates With Home Security

Cons:

  • Lacks Motion Zones

August Doorbell Cam

August Doorbell Cam has the same basic security features as the other doorbells. It notifies you when pressed, and it detects motion. The notification leads you to a live video where you can activate two-way talk.

What sets August apart is its compatibility with smart locks. Other doorbells (Ring Pro and SkyBell HD) work with third-party smart locks, but August directly integrates with its own brand of smart locks. In the home automation industry, direct integrations are almost always preferred.

August also works with Nest Cam and IFTTT. Through a partnership with Nest, it can provide full insight into what happens before and after someone rings your doorbell.

August is also developing a second-generation doorbell cam that will work with Apple's HomeKit ecosystem.

Pros:

  • Works With August Lock
  • Motion Detection
  • Works With Nest Cam
  • IFTTT

Cons

  • No Motion Detection Zones

SkyBell Trim Plus

SkyBell Trim Plus enhances security by notifying of motion and rings. Like SkyBell Trim, it will work with security systems. Unlike Trim, however, it is exclusively compatible with security systems built around the Honeywell Total Connect platform.

Pros:

  • Motion Detection

Cons:

  • Only Connects with Honeywell Total Connect Security Systems

SkyBell Max

Like Trim Plus, very little is known about SkyBell Max. It will have motion detection and ring notifications for sure. It will also most likely work with the same third-party products that work with SkyBell HD. It's most prominent feature, however, is the presence of a battery.

Pros:

  • Motion Detection
  • SkyBell Connect
  • Battery-Power Option

Cons:

  • Some Features TBD
  • Not Released On Promised Release Date (Q2 of 2017)

Nortek GoControl

GoControl doesn't offer anything we haven't seen yet, but it includes a technology called SIP. In theory, SIP technology provides for near-real time audio performance, so there’s next to no lag time between what the user sees through the camera and hears.

GoControl also notifies you when someone rings the door through the My Doorbell app, which can support up to 2 doorbells and up to 4 users. It will also notify you when it detects motion. GoControl doesn’t have its own cloud, so by default, it doesn’t record events automatically. However, security companies who adopt this doorbell cam will most likely offer cloud recording.

GoControl works alone, but when connected to a monitoring plan through a home security company, it will be able to work alongside other connected devices.

Pros:

  • Motion Detection
  • Live Streaming

Cons:

  • Plan Info TBD

Vivint Doorbell Camera

Vivint Doorbell Camera offers motion and face detection. It knows if a visitor walks up to your door, even if they don't ring the doorbell. If motion is detected, the doorbell will send you a notification so you can watch a live feed.

It also works with your Vivint security system. You can setup rules triggered by motion events or people pressing the doorbell. If you have a Vivint-compatible smart lock, you can setup a rule that locks the door if your doorbell is pressed. Rules can be created through the Vivint app.

Pros:

  • Motion Detection
  • Rule-Based Automation

Cons:

  • Requires Long Contract

Cloud Recording

Ring Doorbell Cameras

All Ring cameras, including Ring Video Doorbell Pro, Ring 2, and Ring Elite, come with a free 30-day trial of Ring's cloud service. After the trial period ends, you can continue the subscription for $3 per month per camera. The service allows you to view and download up to 6 months of saved event clips. If you have multiple Ring cameras at home, you can also opt into the $10/month or $100 per year subscription. This option will give you the same amount of cloud storage as the $3 subscription but supports an unlimited number of cameras.

Frontpoint & SkyBell Trim

With Frontpoint's Ultimate plan, SkyBell Trim receives cloud storage of up to 1,000 clips per month regardless of the clip length. Also, only clips recorded on-demand are counted. If your doorbell camera records a motion clip, it won't count against your clip limit. The clip limit resets every month, but should you go over 1,000 clips within one month; the oldest clips will be automatically deleted to make room for new ones. Clips you want to keep can be downloaded to your computer. You can also mark important clips to prevent the cloud from deleting.

August Doorbell Cam

All August Doorbell Cameras ship with a 30-day free trial of their Video Recording Subscription. After that, you can use the device without a subscription or add one. Their monthly plan sells for $4.99/month, or you can pay yearly at a rate of $49.99. With a subscription, you can access 30 days of saved events. The clips include both sound and video.

SkyBell Trim Plus

SkyBell Trim Plus' cloud storage depends on the security system you choose. For example, according to this article, Honeywell Total Connect offers up to 500MB of cloud storage for SkyBell Trim Plus. Depending on your home security provider, you may be able to get more or less storage depending on their offer.

Of course, because SkyBell Trim works with the SkyBell app, you can take advantage of SkyBell's free cloud storage, mentioned under SkyBell Max.

SkyBell Max

SkyBell doesn't offer a paid subscription plan because it's free! You read that right, FREE. You can save seven days of recorded videos and snapshots to the cloud. Once storage is full, you will not be able to save footage until you delete older recordings.

Nortek GoControl

By default, GoControl saves recorded videos and snapshots to your smartphone. But if you buy it from a dealer or security company, they will probably offer cloud storage.

Vivint Doorbell Camera

Vivint offers a unique cloud storage solution using Vivint Playback if you subscribe to their Smart Complete package. Vivint Playback is a local cloud storage device. Clips and pictures are stored on an internet-connected drive inside your home. The device can store up to 1TB of data. Unlike other local storage devices, you can access and manage stored files anywhere using a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

A Quick Summary

Even with the details above, it's hard to choose the right doorbell camera. So let's sum it up. All the doorbells we compared can be hardwired. But if you don't have a wired doorbell setup, your best option available right now is the Ring Video Doorbell 2.

When it comes to video quality, Ring Video Doorbell Pro, Ring Video Doorbell 2, Ring Video Doorbell Elite, SkyBell Trim Plus, and SkyBell Max all offer the highest resolution (1080p).

For security, each camera is unique. The best picks are Ring, Frontpoint, and August. Ring's lineup of devices further improve your front door's security. Frontpoint's SkyBell is backed by an entire home security system. And August integrates directly with the August Smart Lock. Nortek's GoControl also deserves an honorable mention, but its success will depend on the company installing and servicing the equipment.

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