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.
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