Consumer Reports' tests identify the best models to ward off so-called porch pirates and ding-dong ditchers
It’s easy to see why you might be tempted to get a video doorbell, also known as a doorbell camera. These compact streaming cameras let you remotely chat with visitors and keep an eye on package deliveries from the screen of your smartphone. Porch pirates, beware.
These devices are proving to be quite popular, too. It’s estimated that the number of video doorbells sold in the U.S. in 2022 will top 5 million, according to the market research companies Parks Associates and Statista.
To help you find the right doorbell for your home, we’ve rounded up the best video doorbells from our tests and listed them below in alphabetical order. (CR members can access full ratings for each model.) You’ll find doorbells here from Logitech, Lorex, Netatmo, Ring, and SimpliSafe. They all feature night vision, high-definition video, and two-way audio.
As with any connected device, video doorbells can be hacked, which is why CR rates them for data privacy and security.
“Video doorbells provide users with access to video and audio footage over the internet, which presents the possibility for this data to be accessed, stored, shared, bought, sold, and/or stolen,” says Cody Feng, CR’s test engineer for privacy and security. “That’s why the security and privacy of these cameras is a primary concern for Consumer Reports.”
This product category has also led to concerns about how law enforcement could use doorbell footage and jeopardize consumer privacy and safety, prompting Ring to conduct an outside audit and make over 100 changes to its police partnerships and neighborhood watch social network, which privacy and civil rights advocates say still fall short. The market for video doorbells and doorbell cameras will only change further as the smart home industry works to solve its compatibility issues, a common complaint from consumers, through the forthcoming Matter smart home standard. It will likely incorporate cameras in the next few years.
For a deeper dive into our testing, check our home security camera buying guide. And to see more CR-tested doorbells from more than two dozen brands, go to our complete home security camera ratings.
Free video storage: None. Optional storage plans: Requires an Apple iCloud plan for 10 days of storage for one camera at $1 per month, for up to five cameras at $3 per month, or for unlimited cameras at $10 per month.
CR’s take: The Logitech Circle View Doorbell is unusual in that it works only with a special feature of Apple’s HomeKit smart home system called HomeKit Secure Video. Through this software, it uses end-to-end encryption to keep your video secure. As a result of this tight-knit integration, the Logitech doorbell works only with iPhones (sorry, Android users), stores your videos only in Apple iCloud (if you pay for a storage plan), and requires an Apple home hub (either an iPad, a HomePod smart speaker, or an Apple TV streaming box) to process motion alerts for people, animals, and vehicles. In fact, there’s no Logitech app for the doorbell; instead, it uses the Apple Home app.
But if you’re a big fan of Apple products, this doorbell will work quite well for you. In our tests, it receives a Very Good rating for video quality and offers great data security and speedy response time for alerts and loading live feeds. Its only flaws are that its data privacy isn’t very good and it doesn’t offer as many smart features as other top-rated options. Its other features include monitoring zones, facial recognition, a night light for color night vision, and high dynamic range (HDR) video for more vivid video.
For 10 days of cloud video storage for one camera, you’ll need to subscribe to a 50GB iCloud storage plan at $1 per month. For up to five cameras, you’ll need a 200GB iCloud plan at $3 per month. For an unlimited number of cameras, you’ll need a 2TB iCloud plan at $10 per month. The Logitech Circle View Doorbell requires low-voltage doorbell wiring for power and can ring your home’s existing doorbell chime.
Logitech Circle View Doorbell 961-000484
Free video storage: Yes, using the included 32GB microSD card. Optional subscription: Not available.
CR’s take: The Lorex 2K QHD B451AJD-E WiFi Video Doorbell claims to offer 2K resolution video, but our tests found its performance isn’t any better than its 1080p sibling below. In fact, it earns almost identical scores in our tests, including a Very Good rating for video quality, strong scores in our data security and response time tests, and middle-of-the-road scores for data privacy and smart features. So what sets this Lorex model apart? It offers more smart features, including person detection, color night vision, high-dynamic range video, recorded messages for when you can’t answer the doorbell, monitoring zones, geofencing (this feature uses your phone’s location to receive alerts when you’re home), and voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
This Lorex model stores footage locally on a 32GB microSD card that comes with the doorbell. If you want to store even more footage, the doorbell supports up to a 256GB microSD card. It also requires low-voltage doorbell wiring for power and can ring your home’s existing doorbell chime.
Lorex 2K QHD B451AJD-E
Free video storage: Yes, using the included 16GB microSD card. Optional subscription: Not available.
CR’s take: The Lorex LNWDB1 1080P WiFi Video Doorbell is one of the more affordable options on this list, and it offers performance on a par with some doorbells that cost significantly more. In our tests, this Lorex doorbell earns a Very Good rating for data security and a middle-of-the-road score for data privacy. It also offers superb video quality and response time, as well as a decent array of smart features, which include monitoring zones, geofencing (this feature uses your phone’s location to receive alerts only when you’re home), and voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
This Lorex model stores footage locally on a 16GB microSD card that comes with the doorbell. If you want to store even more footage, the doorbell supports up to a 64GB microSD card. It also requires low-voltage doorbell wiring for power and can ring your home’s existing doorbell chime.
Free video storage: Yes, using the 8GB microSD card (included). Optional subscription: Not available.
CR’s take: The Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell is one of the most expensive models in our ratings, but it’s worth considering if you want to keep your footage as secure as possible. All footage is stored locally on an 8GB microSD card that comes with the doorbell. Netatmo claims that only one screenshot per video—not the video itself—is uploaded to its servers, so some information is available to you in case the doorbell gets disconnected.
In our tests, the Netatmo doorbell rates Very Good for data security and receives a middle-of-the-road score for data privacy. It also offers great video quality and a decent array of smart features, but its response time is on the slow side compared with the competition. Features include person detection, high dynamic range (HDR) for more vivid videos, and voice control via Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit/Siri, and Google Assistant.
In addition to local storage, the Netatmo video doorbell can store videos on a Dropbox account or personal web server. It also requires doorbell wiring for power and can ring your home’s existing doorbell chime. It works with both low-voltage and high-voltage (230 volt) systems.
Free video storage: None. Optional subscription: $3 per month (or $30 per year) for one camera for 60 days, $10 per month (or $100 per year) for unlimited cameras for 60 days
CR’s take: For a battery-powered video doorbell with terrific video quality, consider the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus. It receives an Excellent rating for video quality and offers great data security. It also falls in the middle of the pack for data privacy, but it could offer more smart features and faster response times for alerts and loading live feeds.
Its feature set includes a removable rechargeable battery, voice control via Amazon Alexa, monitoring zones, alert schedules, privacy zones that let you black out areas you don’t want to film (such as a neighbor’s house), and preroll video that gives you a 4-second clip of what happened before the doorbell detected motion. With an optional subscription to a Ring Protect Plan, you’ll get a rolling 60 days of motion-triggered video clips and photo snapshots between recordings.
If you’d like to pay $30 less for a doorbell, consider the Ring Video Doorbell 3. It receives the same ratings in our tests and lacks only the 4-second preroll clips.
If you have concerns about Ring’s police partnerships, see our FAQ article on law enforcement footage requests.
Free video storage: None. Optional subscription: $5 per month for one camera for 30 days, $10 per month for unlimited cameras for 30 days
CR’s take: If you’re concerned about privacy, then the SimpliSafe Doorbell Pro SS3 is the doorbell to buy because it’s the only model in our ratings with a Very Good rating for data privacy (the highest of any doorbell in our tests). It also rates well for video quality and data security. The downsides? It lacks many smart features and is slow to send alerts and then load live video feeds. Its few features include monitoring zones, person detection, and HDR (high dynamic range) video, but there’s no support for voice control via digital assistants.
If you’d like cloud storage for video clips, you can get 30 days for $5 per month for one camera or $10 per month for unlimited cameras. The SimpliSafe video doorbell requires doorbell wiring for power and can ring your home’s existing doorbell chime.
Self-installed security systems are becoming more popular, but there are a few things to consider. On the “Consumer 101” TV show, Consumer Reports expert Dan Wroclawski explains to host Jack Rico what to look for when buying one.
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Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2022, Consumer Reports, Inc.
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