Skybell Review

Should You Invest In SkyBell's Doorbell Cameras?

SkyBell was one of the first video doorbell brands to emerge. However, after a few years, they've started to lag behind the competition. Take Ring, for example, one of SkyBell's fiercest competitors. Ring's current lineup includes four doorbell cameras, one outdoor camera, solar panels, and two smart light hybrids. And SkyBell? They're still making doorbells.

Still, SkyBell is an interesting solution. For one, they are the go-to video doorbell brand of several home security companies including top-rated alarm companies Frontpoint and LiveWatch. Plus, Skybell launched a couple of new doorbell cameras in the early months of 2017, one of which is available now. Does the launch signal a comeback for them? Is it the right time to consider investing in SkyBell's products? A review of their lineup might give us the answer.

 SkyBell TRIMSkyBell TRIM PLUSSkyBell MAXSkyBell HD
skybell trimSkybell Trim Plus(Pictured Below)video doorbell
Price$189.99
$249.99TBD$199.99
Resolution720p 10FPS720p/1080p 15FPS720p/1080p 15FPS720p/1080p 30FPS
Night VisionIR Black/WhiteFull-Color ImagingFull-Color ImagingFull-Color Imaging
Power2-wire2-wireBattery or 2-wire2-wire
Bluetooth Low-EnergyNO
YES
YES
YES
Dimensions4.38"x1.44"x1.12"4.38"x1.44"x1.12"5.30"x2.0"x1.0"2.8" Diameter
Two-Way AudioYES
YES
YES
YES
On-Demand MonitoringYES
YES
YES
YES
Multi-User SupportYES
YES
YES
YES
ColorsBronze or SilverBronze or SilverBronze or SilverBronze or Silver
Buy NowPurchase from a DealerPurchase from a DealerComing SoonBuy Now

SkyBell HD

Hardware

SkyBell HD was SkyBell's first ever video doorbell. It's round in shape and comes in either silver or bronze. It includes a camera lens, a PIR motion sensor, and a doorbell button. The device can operate in temperatures as low as -40℉. This is beyond impressive considering that not many cameras can survive the cold and that Ring's video doorbells can only operate in temperatures as low as -5℉. If you live in an area where it usually gets glacially cold in the winter, SkyBell HD is an option for you.

  • Dimensions: 2.8" (diameter) x 0.9" (depth)
  • Operating Temperature: -40℉ to 140℉
  • Color: Silver or Bronze

Installation

SkyBell HD only works hardwired with strict requirements when it comes to connecting to a power source and a doorbell chime. For power, it must be hardwired to a 10 to 36 VAC secondary power line. Also, you must hook it up to a mechanical or digital doorbell chime. Mechanical doorbell chimes work with SkyBell HD out-of-the-box, but if you have a digital chime, you'll need to purchase an adapter from SkyBell for $12.95. Take note that Skybell HD will not work with wireless chimes. If you don't have a doorbell chime and are not planning to get one, you'll need to connect a 10ohm/10watt resistor between SkyBell and your power source to prevent sending too much electricity to the device. A resistor can be purchased from your local hardware store.

In addition to power requirements, there are also Wi-Fi requirements. SkyBell works with 2.4GHz Wi-Fi with a unique SSID. This means if you have a dual-band router, you'll need to segregate your Wi-Fi channels and sync SkyBell to the 2.4GHz channel. The video doorbell also requires at least 1.5 MBPS upload speed to ensure continuous video streams.

  • Hardwired Only
  • 10 to 36 VAC Power Source
  • Requires Mechanical or Digital Doorbell Chime
  • Requires 10omh/10watt Resistor If Chime Is Not Available
  • 2.4GHz Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • At Least 1.5MBPS Upload Speed

Security Features

Although SkyBell HD came out more than two years ago, its features are still au courant.

The camera is HD with up to a 1080p resolution and 5x digital zoom. On top of that, it uses a unique colored night vision. Most cameras go black-and-white at night, but SkyBell HD captures colored videos.

In regards to security, SkyBell HD has two main features. First, it will let you know when your doorbell button is pressed via a notification. From your smartphone, you can view a live feed and even speak with and hear the person at your door. Second, it has motion detection. Even if the guest doesn't ring the doorbell, you'll still be notified of his presence. Like with the first feature, you will get a notification. Using the app, you can see, speak, and hear the person at your door.

But here's where SkyBell falls a bit short. With the camera facing the street, it might detect irrelevant movement, such as people or pets walking by. The best solution to prevent false alarms is a detection zone feature where you can set which areas of the frame are important and which ones are not. Unfortunately, SkyBell HD doesn't offer this feature. You can adjust the motion sensor's sensitivity to high, medium, or low, but that's it.

Finally, each SkyBell HD supports multiple user accounts. You and your spouse can each have a SkyBell account and each receive a notification whenever your doorbell is pressed.

  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Up To 5x Digital Zoom
  • Colored Night Vision
  • Doorbell Notification
  • Motion Detection W/ Adjustable Sensitivity
  • Live Video with Two-Way Talk

SkyBell Trim

Hardware

SkyBell's second doorbell model in existence is SkyBell Trim. Unlike HD, SkyBell Trim is rectangular and slim. Trim's width is 1.44", so it fits most, if not all door frames. It does have a longer 4.38" body, however. Like SkyBell HD, Trim comes in silver and bronze and has the same operating temperature range.

  • Dimensions: 4.38" (height) x 1.44" (width) x 1.12" (depth)
  • Operating Temperature: -40℉ to 140℉
  • Color: Silver or Bronze

Installation

SkyBell Trim's installation requirements are just as stringent as SkyBell HD. It is also hardwired only. For power, you must connect it to an 8 to 30VAC secondary power line or a 12 VDC Limited Power Source with 0.5A output. It still requires a doorbell chime, and like HD, it needs an adapter to connect with a digital chime. A resistor is also required if you're going to use it without a chime.

As for its Wi-Fi requirements, you must use 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. It also requires at least 2 MBPS upload speed.

  • Hardwired Only
  • 8 to 30 VAC Power Source
  • Requires Mechanical or Digital Doorbell Chime
  • Requires 10omh/10watt Resistor If Chime Is Not Available
  • 2.4GHz Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • At Least 2MBPS Upload Speed

Security Features

Feature-wise, Trim is superior to SkyBell HD in some aspects but falls short in others.

Trim uses an HD lens with up to a 1080p resolution and 5x digital zoom. Is it identical to the one SkyBell HD uses? No. Trim's camera can only capture at a frame rate of 10fps, which is subpar compared to SkyBell HD's 30fps. With Trim, there's no way to lower the resolution and increase the frame rate. You simply have to deal with it. It also lacks colored night vision, which SkyBell HD has.

When it comes to protecting your home, Trim works similarly to SkyBell HD. If the doorbell button is pressed, it will notify you. If it detects motion, it will notify you. Notifications will be sent to your smartphone where you can check out a live feed and speak to whoever's at your door.

  • Resolution: 1080p at 10fps
  • Up To 5x Digital Zoom
  • Black-And-White Night Vision
  • Doorbell Notification
  • Motion Detection with Adjustable Sensitivity
  • Live Video with Two-Way Talk
  • Available From Alarm.com and Alarm.com Powered Security Companies

SkyBell Trim Plus

Hardware

SkyBell Trim Plus is inspired by Trim. Most of its features are similar to Trim such as its dimensions, operating temperature, available colors, and shape. However, it has a different appearance. It doesn't have the large black plastic area on its face that SkyBell Trim has. Instead, it has a small white plastic segment on its face that lights up when you push the doorbell button.

  • Dimensions: 4.38" (height) x 1.44" (width) x 1.12" (depth_
  • Operating Temperature: -40℉ to 140℉
  • Color: Silver or Bronze

Installation

SkyBell Trim Plus is another wired doorbell. It has the same power requirements as SkyBell Trim. It must be connected to an 8 to 30VAC power supply with 10VA output or 12VDC power supply with 0.5A output.

The same also goes for Wi-Fi. It must connect to a 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n router. Your internet connection must also have at least 2 MBPS upload speed.

  • Hardwired Only
  • 8 to 30 VAC Power Source
  • Requires Mechanical or Digital Doorbell Chime
  • Requires 10omh/10watt Resistor If Chime Is Not Available
  • 2.4GHz Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • At Least 2MBPS Upload Speed

Security Features

SkyBell Trim Plus' security features are nearly identical to SkyBell Trim, except for one aspect: video quality. Where Trim captures 1080p videos at a lower frame rate, Trim Plus has a variable resolution. It can swap between 720p and 1080p with a slightly higher frame rate of 15fps. In addition, SkyBell Trim Plus has brought back SkyBell HD's colored night vision.

SkyBell Trim Plus is not listed on SkyBell's website, but it is available from Honeywell. Trim Plus is compatible with all Honeywell Total Connect products and apps, even those that come from security companies that offer Honeywell products. If you're a Honeywell Total Connect user, you can easily integrate SkyBell Trim Plus with your security system.

  • Resolution: Variable 720p/1080p
  • Up To 5x Digital Zoom
  • Colored Night Vision
  • Doorbell Notification
  • Motion Detection with Adjustable Sensitivity
  • Live Video with Two-Way Talk
  • Available From Honeywell and Honeywell Powered Security Companies

SkyBell Max

Skybell Max

Finally, SkyBell Max is coming soon. It will be slightly larger than Trim and Trim Plus at 5.30" x 2" x 1".

Its greatest feature is the addition of a battery. Unlike previous SkyBell doorbells, Max can work with or without existing doorbell wires. At CES 2017, it was announced that Max would offer a battery life of around 6 months.

  • Dimensions: 5.30" x 2" x 1"
  • Resolution: Variable 720p/1080p
  • Hardwire or Battery-Powered
  • 6-Month Battery Life
  • Other Features: TBD

Video Storage

If you miss a ring or motion event, all SkyBell doorbell cameras can record a short clip to the cloud. The good news here is that cloud storage is free. SkyBell offers 7 days of cloud storage for all their devices. This means your videos can stay in the cloud for 7 days, and then they will expire.

What if you want more cloud storage space? Unfortunately, SkyBell doesn't offer a paid subscription. However, if you connect SkyBell to a compatible third-party security system, you may be able to get more cloud storage space from your security company. For example, Frontpoint is compatible with SkyBell Slimline. Through their Ultimate Plan, they offer cloud storage space for 1,000 video clips per month. If you connect SkyBell to your Frontpoint system and if you have the right plan, you'll be able to enjoy more cloud storage space.

Third-Party Compatibility

Finally, SkyBell doorbells work with a number of smart home products thanks to SkyBell Connect.

Alexa

Using the Alexa integration, SkyBell users can control their doorbells with their voice. Specifically, you can ask Alexa to mute or unmute your indoor chime, record a live video, or capture an image.

Nest

SkyBell works with Nest Cam and Nest Protect. If you own a Nest Protect, you can program SkyBell to change its LED light if Nest Protect detects smoke or carbon monoxide. If you own a Nest Cam, you can tell SkyBell to record a video if Nest Cam detects motion or tell Nest Cam to record a video if SkyBell detects motion.

Alarm.com

The Alarm.com integration lets you connect SkyBell Slimline (similar to Trim) with Alarm.com systems from third-party dealers such as Frontpoint. Doing so enables you to configure your doorbell to record videos when an intrusion is detected by your sensors. It also lets you integrate SkyBell with your smart lights, locks, or cameras that are also connected to your security system.

Honeywell

Similar to the Alarm.com integration, the Honeywell integration lets you connect SkyBell Trim Plus to your Honeywell-powered security system.

IFTTT

Using the IFTTT integration, you can connect SkyBell to hundreds of smart home products. IFTTT creates rule-based automation tasks that are triggered by certain actions. For example, you can set your Philips Hue lights to turn on or change color if SkyBell detects motion.

Kwikset

With the SkyBell + Kwikset partnership, you'll be able to control your door locks right from the SkyBell app. For example, you can set your Kwikset smart lock to automatically lock when SkyBell detects motion at your door.

Final Verdict

SkyBell has the right hardware, and it works with a wide range of security and home automation products. However, is it sufficient for home security? The answer depends on your unique security needs and situation.

If your home doesn't have existing doorbell wires, I suggest that you look for other options as SkyBell Max, the only battery-powered option from SkyBell, is not yet available.

If you currently have a security system powered by Alarm.com or Honeywell, then investing in SkyBell is probably a good move. Alarm.com and Honeywell are leading experts in home security. Adding SkyBell to your system will only make it better at securing your home.

If you're neither an Alarm.com nor a Honeywell system user, SkyBell probably isn't the best option for you. Over the past year, their customer support has been slow and almost non-existent. In this category, we're calling Ring the winner.