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Things to Consider When Buying a Smart Doorbell System

There are many so-called smart doorbell systems on the market. Many are just an improved peephole, maybe with a video recording feature. If you want a truly smart system, here are a few features that we think are essential.

Networked Systems

Firstly, the smart doorbell system must be able to link to a network. At the very least, you must be able to see the video on your smartphone. It is ridiculous to install a smart doorbell but then you have to walk all the way to the door to see who is outside. You might as well open the door for the clearest view. Do check that the App is compatible with your smartphone before buying.

Viewing Angle

Choose a smart doorbell system with a wide viewing angle. Many systems are designed to be installed over the existing peephole. So the camera must be able to capture a wide viewing angle. It must be able to view anybody standing two feet away from the door and anywhere on your doorstep. You may be able adjust this by proper positioning of the camera during installation. Do ensure that the viewing angle of the camera is at least 150 degree.

Clear Low Light Image

You can basically ignore the older generation of devices. Many such systems do provide a clear night time picture. Having a crisp low light recording is important. Otherwise, your smart doorbell is almost useless at night or even the evening.

Intercom Function

Another important feature is a remote intercom capability. You will find it very useful to be able to query a visitor from the comfort of your bed or halfway around the world while on vacation. You may be able to deter a potential burglar who is casing your house for an opportunistic break-in.

Other Considerations

Other features to consider include the power source, ease of installation and image capturing options.

If you do not have a AC power socket near your door, you should ensure that your smart doorbell come with a good battery pack. There are two types of battery commonly used for smart doorbell devices. One is the widely available AAA battery. The other is the cellphone type lithium battery. The AAA batteries are cheap and easily replaced. The disadvantages of the AAA batteries are short usage life and possibility of battery leakage (and damaging the internal parts of your smart device). We would recommended the lithium battery pack although you may need to recharge the battery a few times a year. Some smart doorbells come with both household power cable and a battery pack.

The ease of installation is not prime consideration if you are handy with powered tool or do not mind holes all over your front door. Some people prefer to complement their existing peephole with the smart doorbell. Meaning that they retain the existing peephole. We say you will not use the peephole at all once you installed a smart doorbell. So why not choose a device that can replace the existing peephole without the need to drill more holes.

Last but not least, check carefully the image capturing options available. Depending on your needs, you may want a device that can automatically take a photograph or video when motion is detected. Or the system can be recording 24/7. It is also useful to be able take a picture on demand from your smartphone.

There are also other important things to look at for. It is illustrative to look at one great idea that did not turn out well. A few years ago, Doorbot was one of the best selling smart doorbell system. Unfortunately, production was discontinued after two years. You can still find some sellers trying to clear their stock on Amazon, ebay and other shopping websites. They may offer a good deal and package it with free gifts (gifts are supposed to be free, aren’t they? Why call it free?). But buyer beware. Here is a feedback from an unhappy buyer.

The original DoorBot is a complete and utter fail!....DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY!..... your bell rings on its own. APP stinks...WiFi Signal is very weak….Calls to your cell do not pop-up on the cell routinely. Mounting kit stinks ... nearly perfectly flat surface required.”

Doorbot has be reborned as Ring. It now has additional features such as infrared sensor for night vision and motion detection function. We will be reviewing the re-designed Ring in future edition. Watch this space.

Remember, do your research properly before buying a smart doorbell system. Do check the date of articles to ensure that you are not reading about the outdated hypes which were subsequently debunked.

Posted: 1 Jan 2016