Ring Video

PC & Tech Authority - - REVIEWS INTRO - JONATHAN BRAY

Ring’s subscriptions, con­versely, are far more rea­son­able. You don’t get con­tin­u­ous video record­ing, but at $30 per year for 60 days of ac­cess to your recorded clips, it’s more ex­i­ble.

HELLO’S CLEVER FEA­TURES

It is pos­si­ble to run a Nest Hello with­out one of these subscriptions. You’ll still get alerts on your phone when some­one rings the doorbell and will still be able to carry out a con­ver­sa­tion re­motely via the doorbell’s speaker and mi­cro­phone when you’re not in.

But if you do, you’ll miss out on many of the sys­tem’s clever­est fea­tures. The best of these is the Hello’s “fa­mil­iar face alerts” fea­ture, which works in a sim­i­lar fash­ion to Nest’s Cam IQ se­cu­rity cam­eras. When­ever some­one new comes to the door, the app asks you if you want to ig­nore or add that per­son to your list of fa­mil­iar faces. Frus­trat­ingly, this doesn’t work nearly so well on the app. Some­times a face is la­belled when some­one you know ar­rives at the door, but mostly all you get is a noti cation that “some­one” has rung the bell or that a “fa­mil­iar face” has been spot­ted. You can lter by “fa­mil­iar faces” to make it eas­ier to track down when peo­ple are com­ing and go­ing, but it would be nice to have the faces fea­ture ac­tu­ally work prop­erly via the app.

The abil­ity to cre­ate time­lapse movies of sec­tions of saved video is an­other neat op­tion, as is the close­ups fea­ture, which au­to­mat­i­cally zooms in on ar­eas of ac­tion when some­thing hap­pens within the frame. These are still con­sid­er­ably less use­ful than know­ing when your kids get home from school, how­ever.

The Nest Hello doesn’t ne­glect the ba­sics. Video qual­ity is crisp and clear, as is the speaker and au­dio qual­ity; HDR en­sures the cam­era copes with tricky light­ing con­di­tions well; and in­frared LEDs mean it can see in the dark.

It’s won­der­ful be­ing able to con­verse with couri­ers and let them know where to leave a par­cel but, if you don’t want to talk your­self, the Nest Hello also of­fers a list of canned re­sponses you can use.

The one big caveat is that with con­tin­u­ous video record­ing, you’ll be us­ing an aw­ful lot of data on a day-to-day ba­sis. In Low qual­ity mode, this equates to 30GB per month; in Medium qual­ity it’s 120GB per month; and in High qual­ity it’s a 300GB per month.

You can record to a sched­ule or dis­able it au­to­mat­i­cally while you’re home, but that does some­what negate its use­ful­ness as a se­cu­rity de­vice. Es­sen­tially, you need an un­capped data plan to make the most of the Nest Hello. If you don’t have one, this isn’t the prod­uct for you.

RING FIGHTS BACK

How do the Ring Video Doorbell 2’s fea­tures com­pare? Rather poorly. In par­tic­u­lar, it doesn’t have the face recog­ni­tion or con­tin­u­ous video record­ing of the Nest Hello – it re­lies on a doorbell press or mo­tion de­tec­tion to trig­ger the noti cations and video clip record­ing.

You can set it up so that it gives a pre-chime as a visi­tor ap­proaches the door, giv­ing you ad­vance warn­ing that some­one is about to ring the bell. And it also works with Echo de­vices, mean­ing you can hear that some­one is at the door wher­ever your Echo hap­pens to be. Plus, if you own an Echo Show or Spot, you can see the view from the cam­era.

Frus­trat­ingly, though, you can’t talk through the Echo to your doorbell: you still need to use the app.

Nor is the mo­tion de­tec­tion per­fect. In the­ory, you can set up mo­tion “zones” so noti cations don’t go off when you don’t want them to, but they’re im­pre­cise. I would pre­fer to be able to draw a box on the screen to limit what trig­gers the prechime. In­stead, Ring only al­lows you to re­duce or in­crease the sen­si­tiv­ity and change the di­rec­tion.

But, just like the Nest Hello, Ring gets all the ba­sics right with the Video Doorbell 2. Video qual­ity is ex­cel­lent: it records at 1080p so you’ll be able to clearly make out faces, it has in­frared LEDs so it can see in the dark, and its sh­eye lens gives you a 160-de­gree, wide-an­gle view so you’ll be able to cap­ture video to the sides of the cam­era as well as di­rectly in front. Au­dio comes through loud and clear.

If all you’re look­ing for are the key fea­tures of a video doorbell – be­ing able to speak to couri­ers when you’re out, check­ing who’s ring­ing the bell – then it does the job per­fectly.

WHICH TO BUY?

The Nest Hello is clearly a fan­tas­tic prod­uct. It works beau­ti­fully, and it’s more el­e­gant and far clev­erer than its main ri­val, the Ring 2 video doorbell. How­ever, it still suf­fers from the same is­sues as the rest of the Nest cam­eras.

The rst is that it’s ex­pen­sive to buy and in­stall – con­sid­er­ably more so than the Ring 2. The sec­ond is that the subscription is more ex­pen­sive, at $70 per year for the cheap­est plan. It’s also data-hun­gry.

All these fac­tors mean that, while bril­liant, the Nest Hello isn’t for ev­ery­one. It’s re­plete with clever and con­ve­nient fea­tures, and a step ahead of the Ring Video Doorbell 2 from that view­point. But fea­tures aren’t ev­ery­thing. De­spite its foibles, the Ring’s ease of use and more rea­son­able price mean it’s the best video doorbell to buy right now.

KEY SPECS

NEST:1,600 x 1,200 video • 160° field of view • in­frared • 802.11n wire­less • Blue­tooth • 43 x 26 x 117mm (WDH) • Lim­ited war­ranty

$299 • www.nest.com RING: 1,920 x 1,080 video • 160° field of view • in­frared • 802.11n wire­less • Blue­tooth • 64 x 27 x 128mm (WDH) • 2yr war­ranty

$322 • www.ring.com

LEFT: You will get a no­ti­fi­ca­tion when the Ring de­tects mo­tion, but you can set zones to avoid con­stant smart­phone pingsRIGHT The Ring’s fish­eye lens gives you a 160-de­gree, wide-an­gle view of out­side

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