Best Video Doorbell: SkyBell HD vs. Ring 2 vs. Nest Hello vs. Ring Pro

Cam Secore
Updated 11/13/2018

After a month of testing, I determined Ring Pro is the best video doorbell for most people because it reliably records motion and delivers the best calling experience. However, if you’re not near a street and not concerned about accuracy, Ring 1 and Ring 2 are solid budget options with a decent calling experience.

I’ll explain how I reached my conclusion by comparing and contrasting four video doorbells (SkyBell HD vs. Ring 2 vs. Nest Hello vs. Ring Pro) while evaluating six categories: setup, reliability, app/smarts, hardware, video quality, and price.

skybell vs ring

Ring Pro

8
  • Setup: It can be tricky because you need to install the "Pro Power Kit," but the WiFi requirements aren’t bad.
  • Reliability: You won’t miss a person at your door or get false alerts.
  • App & Smarts: It's highly compatible with smart products and has desktop apps.
  • Hardware: The design is slim and sleek with four different faceplates. It looks better than the other Rings.
  • Video Quality: It looks better than the others at night and has an extra 10° of vertical footage compared to Ring 2.
  • Price: Ring Pro is $250 with occasional promotions. The cloud storage is $30/year.

Best for you if...

You want the best motion recording and video chatting AND you have doorbell wires. Ring Pro records any person who comes close to your door and doesn't give false alerts. Also, it has the most smart home integrations and great video calling.

nest hello vs ring pro

Nest Hello

6
  • Setup: The walkthrough video is thorough, but you’ll need to install a "Chime Connector" and your WiFi needs to be world-class.
  • Reliability: It’s the only doorbell with 24/7 recording; you won’t miss anything.
  • App & Smarts: The app works well with Google Home and other Nest products.
  • Hardware: It looks and feels excellent, with a contemporary design, but it won’t work in extreme cold (14°F and below).
  • Video Quality: It smartly records with a 4:3 ratio. The “best” quality looks great; “medium” is solid and probably the one you’ll use.
  • Price: Nest Hello is $230 and $50/year for 5-day cloud recording storage.

Best for you if...

You want 24/7 surveillance with a smart aspect ratio and are cool with paying $50/year for the service. The downsides are that notifications are delayed, scrubbing through the timeline is clunky, face detection is lame, and it has faster internet requirements.

ring vs ring pro

Ring 2

4
  • Setup: It’s the easiest video doorbell to set up because there are no wires and the app walks you through the process.
  • Reliability: Calling is dependable, but motion detection near streets is unacceptable. It misses clips too.
  • App & Smarts: It's highly compatible with other smart products and has mobile and desktop apps.
  • Hardware: It’s the least attractive. It's broad, thick, bulky, and cheesy.
  • Video Quality: Ring 2 provides 1080p and is a decent upgrade over Ring 1, but night recording is still awful.
  • Price: Ring 1 is $100, and Ring 2 is $200. You’ll need cloud storage for $30/year.

Best for you if...

You don’t have doorbell wires and don't care that the motion recordings miss the action.

Budget Option

Ring 1 has worse video quality and a harder to open battery than Ring 2, but it's only $100.

ring vs skybell

SkyBell HD

2
  • Setup: You need a wired connection and reliable, fast WiFi. The installation video is fairly easy to follow.
  • Reliability: Motion detection is solid but there are long stretches where nothing records and calls can’t be made.
  • App & Smarts: The app interface is great, and it’s compatible with Kevo, but sometimes the app can’t connect.
  • Hardware: It doesn’t look like a traditional doorbell, and it's poorly made.
  • Video Quality: It's consistently the sharpest at 30 FPS in 1080p with a 16:9 aspect ratio with a 180° FoV.
  • Price: SkyBell HD is $150, and you can store all your motion clips for FREE.

Best for you if...

You won't be bothered when it stops working for full days. SkyBell should be a fantastic budget product because it’s the only company to offer free seven-day recordings and the video quality is fantastic, but there are too many bugs to overcome.

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    My Experience

    best smart doorbell

    I planned to keep the best video doorbell because I thought it could be helpful to see when packages arrive when I’m not home.

    Voice chatting via a doorbell seemed like a gimmick to me, but motion detection is great for alerting you when deliveries arrive or when someone’s at the door. It may also help to ward off intruders who could be deterred by the presence of a camera.

    I didn’t have a traditional doorbell before, so I bought an adapter from Amazon that allows you to plug your doorbell into a standard outlet. It’s not a bad option if you can feed the plug into your house or have an outside power outlet.

    After I picked my favorite, I planned to have an electrician install the doorbell wires with the chime.

    Going into this, I thought Nest Hello would win by a landslide, but it doesn’t live up to most of their marketing team’s promises. It’s not a fully baked product.

    I was disappointed by all of these products, in some respect. Video doorbells are a substantial upgrade over traditional counterparts, which is why they receive so many solid reviews. But they aren’t perfect pieces of technology. The recordings are choppy, inconsistent, and not always accurate. They missed events frequently or had laggy video.

    I’ll keep Ring Pro, but I’m not calling an electrician to make it permanent yet because I’m not entirely sold. I’ll be using my makeshift power adapter for further testing. Ring Pro was the best of the bunch, but I’m waiting for another company to sweep me off my feet. Or maybe a new version from Ring, Nest, or SkyBell could win me over.

    Things To Note

    • Consider why you want a video doorbell before you buy one because each one has its unique benefits. What’s important to you?
      • Confirm packages are delivered while you’re away.
      • Catch burglars in action.
      • See when your children arrive home from school.
      • Keep an eye out for sketchy activity.
    • These video doorbells have theft protection. The company will replace your doorbell for free if it’s stolen.
    • Strong WiFi upload speeds and range are essential for these to be a worthy investment. You’ll need at least 5 Mbps upload speeds. (Check out my post on mesh routers). I have great coverage with my mesh system and have 110 download and 12 upload speeds and still had issues sometimes.
    • Video doorbells are not worthwhile for people with outdoor security cameras. Chatting with people at your door via video is a gimmick. Why wouldn’t you just go to the door? And if you’re not home, some visitors aren’t going to know how to use it or what it is. They may be hesitant to use it.
    • The live video can be choppy.
    • None of these provide two-way video; only the person with the app gets the video.

    Ring Pro

    8

    Setup (B):

    • It’s similar to Nest’s setup because you need to install the “Pro Power Kit” on the transformer side. All instructions are shown in one walkthrough video inside the app, although I prefer Nest’s step-by-step interactive walkthrough which stops after each step.
    • It’s waterproof and works in extreme temperatures from –5°F to 120°F.
    • It works on the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz channels and has the best WiFi range based on my testing. It requires the same 2 Mbps upload speeds as Nest but outperforms it from the same locations.

    Reliability (A):

    • You can set up “zones” where you want to receive alerts and turn on person alerts with its “Human Detection.” Ring Pro was far and away the best with motion tracking. It caught everyone who arrived five seconds before they got to the door. You won’t miss anything.
    • While Ring Pro doesn’t offer face detection, like Nest, I found it easier to manage the clips and be more reliable than Nest because there’s no wasted footage. All of the clips were the perfect length.
    • There are no false alerts even if you’re in a high-traffic location.
    • Calls weren’t always perfect, but it consistently outperformed the other three doorbells in quality and reliability.

    App & Smarts (B-):

    • All Ring cameras use the same app. It’s not bad, but there are no thumbnails for the clips, just listed plain text. This is a huge issue for Ring 2, but not so much with Ring Pro because there are no false alerts.
    • HomeKit compatibility is in the works for Ring Pro. It’s the only doorbell that has a shot at getting HomeKit support.
    • If your Ring loses power or connection, there’s no alert and the app doesn’t tell you when it happens.
    • Ring has a cool community with a “Neighbors Feed” that keeps you posted on noteworthy things that other Ring users have reported in your neighborhood. It’s a neat idea, but useless in a tiny town like mine where few people have video doorbells.
    • It has a web interface and desktop apps.
    • Ring works with Kevo Smart Lock, Lockitron, Kisi, ADT Pulse, LockState, Smartlink, WeMo smart switches, and Wink smart hubs. You can do cool integrations with IFTTT, too.

    Hardware (C):

    • Ring’s chime from the outside is obnoxious. It needs to be turned way down.
    • Ring Pro isn’t made of nice materials, and it’s not well-built, but it’s much slimmer (4.5″ x 1.85″ x 0.8″) than Ring 2 and looks decent hanging. Because of its slender frame, you’ll have no issue getting it to fit on a thin trim.
    • It comes with four different cheesy faceplates (silver, light gray, dark gray and white). Like the Ring 2, I’d prefer they make a permanent solution with better materials.
    • At night, there’s a subtle but noticeable light ring, so that you can see the button.

    Video Quality (B):

    • Ring Pro has a 160-degree horizontal and 100-degree vertical field of view. This is an extra 10 degrees vertically compared to Ring 2, which is more important than you may think.
    • It records in 1080p and looks clear during the day. You get a great bang for your buck based on the bandwidth used compared to video quality.
    • Its night vision is better than Ring 2 but not as good as SkyBell’s.

    Price (C):

    • Ring Pro is listed at $250, but it’s regularly on sale on Amazon for $200. I got mine on Prime Day for $150. Look for the same sweet deal this holiday season.
    • To save your recordings, you’ll need the Ring Protect plan for $3/month or $30/year. Without Ring Protect, Ring will only be good for live look-ins and calls because you’ll need to take immediate action on any call or event at your door.

    Nest Hello

    6

    Setup (C):

    • You’ll need a wired connection, and you’ll need to install the included “Chime Connector” accessory for better power management. This can be a hassle.
    • There’s a micro-USB port on the back that can power it. While it’s not supposed to be used this way, I tested it, and it worked perfectly.
    • It can work on either the 2.4GHz or the 5GHz band. Nest will automatically pick the best one, which helps things run smoothly.
    • The app has an interactive guide with a “next” button after you complete each step. It’s awesome!
    • Nest recommends that you have upload speeds of at least 2 Mbps, but in my experience, you’ll need more than that. I was consistently getting 8–11 Mbps upload speeds from the front and the backdoor locations with the “medium quality” recording setting, but I’d still get choppy live video when chatting and had difficulty scrubbing through the timeline. I can’t imagine what it’d look like with only 2 Mbps upload speeds.
    • There’s a major issue with recording 24/7. If you want the best video quality, you’ll need to use 300GB of bandwidth per month. You can go with the medium-quality (which seems good enough) for 120GB of data or low-quality for 30GB. For a bandwidth reference, I’m on the internet for 14 hours per day with lots of streaming and my household consumes around 500GB per month. Keep this in mind if you have spotty internet or data caps.
    • It only works between 14°F and 104°F temperatures. That should be fine for most climates, but it’s bad news if you’re living in the northern U.S. during a cold front.

    Reliability (C):

    • This is the only video doorbell with a 24/7 recording option. If security is a top priority, Nest is your best bet.
    • Unlike the others, Nest doesn’t alert you to an event until it’s over.
    • This is not the doorbell for you if you rely on it for calls with people via the app. Why? Once someone hits the button on the doorbell, it takes at least 10 seconds (in my experience) for the notification to appear, and sometimes closer to 20 seconds.
    • You won’t miss events. In that respect, Nest is reliable, but calls always went smoother on the Ring devices than Nest.

    App & Smarts (A):

    • The app is well-done with two ways to see your recordings. You can scrub through the timeline or see thumbnails of events. It’s the same app used for other Nest products and everything, including the Nest x Yale lock, is integrated well.
    • In the app, Nest gives you two viewing options (horizontal or vertical) when chatting. The vertical orientation makes sense because that’s how we hold our phones and a wide angle isn’t necessary to capture a person’s body, but Nest is the only to offer this.
    • In addition to the app, there’s a web interface.
    • Pre-recorded responses are a great idea, but it falls short because there are only three options. For example, when someone rings the doorbell, you can tap a button from the notification screen, and a robot voice tells the person “You can leave it,” “We’ll be right there,” or “No one can come to the door.” Ideally, you could create your own preset responses with your voice, but it’s a neat feature as it is.
    • It can detect people’s faces and it tries to learn familiar people, but it only works with a Nest Aware subscription and isn’t yet finely tuned.
    • Nest’s face recognition isn’t on the same level as Apple’s FaceID. Nest’s hardware and software combination isn’t great, but I’d be willing to pay more for something that was.
    • Nest’s face recognition has recognized my shoes, a leaf, and fingers as someone’s face. I repeatedly taught it my girlfriend’s face because it wasn’t smart enough to learn hairstyles or glasses on previously seen people. It was brilliant when it worked properly. But too often it would see a face for the 100th time and still say “Unfamiliar face at the door.” This is after adding 100 variations of the same person to the library.
    • You can choose to get notifications only when people arrive, rather than be notified of any motion. But you can’t turn off notifications for certain people; it’s all or nothing. For example, I don’t care when my roommate arrives; but I’d care to see when my kids got home.
    • You can set zones where you want the motion to be recorded or not recorded.
    • It works in the same app as the Nest x Yale lock. I could see potential integration like auto-unlock for certain people once they get the kinks figured out on their face detection.
    • It doesn’t work with IFTTT. That could be a significant improvement and will probably come in the future.
    • Four or five times there was a person in the event history, but I never got a notification. I missed some calls too.
    • With the familiar face alerts, you can have the announce the person’s name over any of your Google Home products, instead of using a traditional chime. This has significant potential if they can figure out who’s at the door correctly.
    • Event detection can be set off with sound or physical movement.

    Hardware (B):

    • Like most of Nest’s lineup, it’s extremely well-crafted. It’s not made of cheap materials like the others. It has a polycarbonate finish with a glass front. It’s sleek!
    • It’s thin and doesn’t stick out far (1.7 in x 4.6 in x 1.0 in).
    • This is the smart doorbell that resembles the look of a traditional doorbell the most. It has a light up ring and most non-tech people should be able to figure it out.
    • Nest has the best mic and the best speakers of all of the doorbells.

    Video Quality (A):

    • Unlike the others, it records with a 4:3 aspect ratio, instead of 16:9. This makes more sense because you can see a person from head to toe. You can see the face of your mailman and the package that he drops off.
    • The daytime picture quality could potentially be the best of all those tested, but due to bandwidth limitations, you’ll probably be on the medium quality setting. That’s good enough, but not as good as the others.
    • The night vision doesn’t offer color, but you can see what’s going on better than Ring 2.

    Price (C):

    • Nest Hello is listed at $230 with occasional promotions for $200.
    • If you want better surveillance than a single photo snapshot of motion in front of your door, you’ll need Nest Aware. These snapshots rarely capture the person’s face, aren’t enough to tell what’s going on, only available for viewing for three hours. Bottom line: Nest Hello is useless without a Nest Aware subscription.
    • Nest Aware is $5/month or $50/year for five days of cloud storage. It’s the most expensive cloud subscription. I wouldn’t mind the price if they provided flawless timeline scrubbing, but that’s never been the case for me.
    • You can get a Nest Aware subscription for $100/year if you want 10 days of storage, but you shouldn’t need that.

    Setup (A+):

    • Ring and Ring 2 are your only two options if you don’t have an existing doorbell setup and don’t want to hook up wires.
    • Setup couldn’t be easier. You charge the battery, then watch the walkthrough video to sync it to your WiFi and the app. Everything can be done while sitting on the couch.
    • Once it’s synced, you can install it outside, which can be done in a few minutes.
    • It’s waterproof and works from –5°F to 120°F temperatures.
    • If you already have the proper wire voltage from an existing doorbell, you can wire it, rather than have it run off of the battery. But if you have the wire setup, don’t buy Ring 2 because it does strange things while wired. For instance, it can only record events once every five minutes, so you could potentially miss a lot of action. This has to be a bug, but I couldn’t figure out a workaround. Ring Pro is a much better product. Find a way to get wires to your door or buy an adapter like I did.
    • After two weeks, my Ring 2 battery was at 75%. This means you’ll get a couple of months of battery life. Ring claims at least six months or 1,000 notifications. But even with the shorter lifespan, you can buy an extra battery for $20 and have no downtime.
    • Both Ring products seem to have better range than Nest and SkyBell because they stay connected to WiFi.

    Reliability (D):

    • It missed a couple of package deliveries, which should’ve been easy to pick up. Most people buy video doorbells specifically to monitor deliveries.
    • The detection is almost useless if you live near a street. I had the sensitivity set to five feet, and the road is 40 feet away from my house, but I’d get 40 false alerts per day.
    • When it does record, it’s always late. Usually, you’ll see the last few seconds of the action. If recording movement and people at your door is important, you want Ring Pro.
    • For the most part, calls went well with a few glitches here and there.

    App & Smarts (C+):

    • For the motion events, it doesn’t show you a thumbnail of what happened. You have to tap the video, let it load, then watch it. This is the most annoying part of the Ring App because you’ll have to let each video load to see if you’re missing something.
    • Ring has a cool community with a “Neighbors Feed” that keeps you posted on noteworthy things that other Ring users have reported in your neighborhood. It’s a cool idea, but useless in a tiny town like mine.
    • You can’t set schedules or block out times to skip recording, which would help reduce the number of false alerts.
    • If your Ring loses power or connection, there’s no alert and the app doesn’t tell you when it happens.
    • There’s a web interface and desktop apps.
    • Ring works with Kevo Smart Lock, Lockitron, Kisi, ADT Pulse, LockState, Smartlink, WeMo smart switches. and Wink smart hubs. You can do cool integrations with IFTTT, too.

    Hardware (D):

    • Ring 2 is bulky (5.05″ x 2.5″ x 1.08″), ugly and feels like a toy from the dollar store.
    • Ring 2 comes with two different faceplates (black and silver). These are made out cheesy, thin plastic. I’d rather a have the faceplate built on and made with nice materials.
    • You can buy Ring Chime to take place of a traditional chime for $30. This is an awesome idea for people without a doorbell setup already. There’s a $50 version that works as a WiFi range extender too.
    • The default ring noise from the outside is obnoxious, loud, and doesn’t sound good due to the speaker’s limitations. Luckily, you can and should turn this down.

    Video Quality (D):

    • It has a field of view of 160 degrees horizontally and 90 degrees vertically.
    • It looks terrible at night. You can barely see anything. It’s way too quick to switch to the infrared lights. It regularly switches to the hard-to-see black and white while the sun is still up, while the others are still shooting in color.
    • Motion detection doesn’t work at night.
    • To make things worse, at night, you can’t see the button because it’s not lit up.
    • The motion detection works during the day, but it still misses events or records too late.

    Price (B):

    • The entry-level Ring is $100 and Ring 2 is $200. Both are similar, but Ring 2 has better video quality and easily-accessible batteries.
    • To save your recordings, you’ll need the Ring Protect plan for $3/month or $30/year. This will let you store your calls, live views and events for 60 days. Because Ring 1 and Ring 2’s detection is poor, I don’t recommend paying for the cloud plan.

    SkyBell HD

    2

    Setup (C):

    • You’ll need wired power from your previous doorbell.
    • It only runs on the 2.4GHz WiFi band, which means it can run from long distances, but has a slower connection than the 5GHz band. In most cases, this shouldn’t be an issue, but it provides less flexibility.
    • A strong WiFi connection is more important with SkyBell than any of the Ring products.

    Reliability (F):

    • Unreliability is SkyBell’s largest flaw because it’s not consistent. There are days where all calls go smoothly, and events are detected and recorded, then there are days where none of that works. If SkyBell were consistent, it’d be an amazing budget option. The instability could be due to SkyBell’s cloud servers because my struggles are not an exception based on other people’s experiences.
    • I encountered countless errors. For example, I’d get notifications on my phone instantly, but when I tapped them, I’d often get a message saying “SkyBell cannot establish a connection.”
    • I would also get an error message saying “You have the maximum callers for this call, please try again later.” I have no idea what that means.
    • At one point, Skybell appeared to be working fine with a green status light and was notifying me of motion, but not actually recording the footage in the activity history. This appears to be a common issue because there’s a page on the company site to help fix it. I had to do a do a system reset.
    • Overall, during the day, the motion detection is solid if you have a short range set. It may miss a clip here and here if the motion isn’t obvious  and it’ll only have few false alerts per day even if you’re near traffic. The biggest problem is that that action might not get recorded every time due to software bugs.
    • Once the call ends or the motion is finished, SkyBell needs at least 30 seconds to reset.
    • While the night time recording looks good, it doesn’t detect motion well. There were times at night, where I’d be a couple of feet in front of it, and it didn’t detect me. Ideally, you could change the sensitivity levels for day and night, but you can’t.

    App & Smarts (C):

    • SkyBell’s app “Activity” interface is amazing and the best of all. You get huge thumbnails which allow you to see what’s happening. All you have to do is tap to play the video.
    • You have to hold down the talk button to communicate with the person on the other end and while you do it the other person can’t talk. It makes real-time communication almost impossible.
    • SkyBell can be configured with other smart home devices through configurations with Nest, IFTTT and Kevo Smart Lock.
    • It’s easy to snap a screenshot of live footage.
    • There’s no web-based or desktop app. Your only access is through iOS or Android.
    • While the app interface is great, it doesn’t work well and is hardly ever updated. This is typically a sign that a company is on the verge of extinction or they just don’t care. There are several bugs.
    • The videos from the recent activity are regularly deleted and go missing on the day of the recording for no reason.

    Hardware (F):

    • It’s 2.8″ x 2.8″ x 0.9″, making it the widest of the video doorbells.
    • It looks poorly-constructed and is made of cheap plastic.
    • It doesn’t look anything like a traditional doorbell. Will non-techies will know what to do with it? Not in my experience.
    • While SkyBell HD doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing, but it can handle temperatures between -40°F and 150°F and it’s waterproof with an IPX4 rating.
    • There’s a green status light and white LED light on top. I’m indifferent on it, but it acts as a nightlight when it’s dark.

    Video Quality (A+):

    • SkyBell has the best video quality of all of the video doorbells I tested. The video is consistently the sharpest at 30 FPS in 1080p with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
    • It has a 180-degree horizontal field of view. The vertical field of view isn’t listed, but it’s shorter than most, which means you might not be able to see where your package was dropped.
    • It’s the only video doorbell that has full color during night recordings. Instead of relying on infrared light, SkyBell shines white LED lights.

    Price (A+):

    • The list price is $200, but you’ll find it on Amazon for $150.
    • SkyBell’s cloud storage is free with no subscriptions. SkyBell will record all events and calls and store them for seven days. Once the seven days are up, they’ll be automatically deleted, but you have the option of saving them to your phone. This is SkyBell’s biggest advantage!
     

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