Ding dong! Who’s there? Now you can find out without even getting up. David Crookes explains the benefits of a smart doorbell
When your doorbell rings, usually the only way to find out who’s there is to peer out of the window or open the door – neither of which is ideal if you’re hoping to avoid someone. Nest Hello ( bit.ly/ hello453) is a new Wi-fi-connected smart doorbell that alerts you to visitors and lets you see who’s there via a wideangle camera. Since it works over the internet, the device is particularly useful if you’re away, adding an extra layer of security and letting you better monitor any comings and goings at your home.
How does it work?
Nest Hello is designed to replace your existing doorbell and can stream video footage 24-hours a day over your Wi-fi network. You can use the Nest mobile app to check what’s happening outside your door, but the magic happens when someone walks close by or presses the bell. At that point, you’ll receive an alert on your phone and can view a live stream to decide whether or not to answer – either in person if you’you’re in or remotely if you’re out. This can be done from anywhe anywhere you have an intinternet connection.
How can I respond when I’m away?
The apapp has an option called Talk which, when press pressed, allows you toto use Nest Hello’s builtbuilt-in speaker and micromicrophone. You can havehave a two-way chat withwith wwhoever is outside your hhome, which means you can talk to delivery people from the comfort of your workplace, for example, or fool potential burglars that you’ve just stepped out of the shower, which is why you can’t get to the door.
So it’s like the Ring doorbell then?
Yes, to a degree. Ring (formerly Doorbot, see box on opposite page) released its first video doorbell in 2013 and, like Nest Hello, it also lets you conduct two-way video calls with visitors. What Ring doesn’t possess, however, is machine learning – a very useful function that’s integral to Hello. Rather than rely on motion and sound when issuing an alert, Nest Hello analyses the video footage to discern if a person is approaching the door, walking by or hanging around. It can also tell the difference between humans, birds, cats and dogs, so it doesn’t waste your time with non-events.
Can it recognise individual people?
Yes, but only if you pay for a Nest Aware subscription, which costs from £4 a month. This allows Nest Hello to recognise your family and friends, and send you personalised alerts when they call round. Consequently, you’ll also know if the person at your door is someone you aren’t familiar with.
A Nest Aware subscription also gives you a continuous video history of between five and 30 days, rather than the standard three-hour snapshot history you get with the free version.
How good is the camera?
The 3-megapixel camera has an 8x digital zoom and can capture 1080p highdefinition video at up to 30fps (frames per second). It also features night vision so you don’t need to worry about capturing video footage after dusk. Nest Hello has a 160-degree field of view, with a 4x3 aspect ratio as opposed to the 16x9 of rival products. This lets you see a full image of your visitors and ensures you can see parcels that have been left on the ground.
Is the audio quality good, too?
Nest Hello has a high-quality speaker and microphone, and its HD Talk and Listen feature offers noise-and-echo cancellation for clearer sound, ensuring you’ll be able to hear visitors even on a noisy street.
What if I can’t talk when someone calls?
There are three built-in phrases including “we’ll be right there”, which you can activate by tapping Responses. These allow you to communicate with the person at the door during inconvenient moments such as when you’re in a meeting and can’t speak. Although you can’t set up your own messages at the moment, you can activate Quiet Mode, which silences Nest Hello when you’re asleep or away.
Won’t people think they’re being spied on?
Possibly, but that depends on where you live. If your home is secluded, then you’re unlikely to have a problem. However, most of us have a front door facing the street, which means you’ll undoubedly end up with footage of passers-by. There are also privacy concerns surrounding facial recognition. The Information Commissioner’s Office is currently reviewing its guidance following the new Data Protection Act 2018 and introduction of GDPR – you can view the latest info at bit.ly/consumer453.
Nest stores a database of people you identify, but promises that all the video footage it captures is secured by 128-bit encryption and two-step verification.
Does Nest Hello fit into the Nest ecosystem?
Yes, it does. You can connect Nest Hello to your Google Home speaker to have it announce who’s at the door if it recognises the person, and hook up the doorbell to other smart devices, perhaps triggering a security light when a stranger comes to the door or, if you’re planning to buy a Nest X Yale device, unlock the door to let someone you know into your home. Indeed, Google is also looking to launch more home-security products in the UK, among them the Nest Secure alarm system ( bit.ly/secure453), and Nest Hello will work with them all.
How much does it cost?
Nest Hello costs £229, and you’ll also need to factor in the cost of installing it if you’re not confident you’ll be able to fit it yourself. The doorbell is not battery operated but draws its power from your electricity supply. A sizeable chime unit also needs to be installed and plugged in, and there’s a bit of drilling involved, so you’ll probably need an electrician – or, for an extra £100, one of Nest’s own engineers – to set everything up.
You can check if Nest Hello is compatible in your home at bit.ly/ doorbell453.
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Nest Hello lets you view and talk to delivery men without opening your door
Check whether you’ll need a professional to install Nest Hello in your home
You’ll soon be able to use the Nest Hello with the Nest Secure alarm system
The camera’s wide field of view shows you the full horror of unwelcome guests