Whether you use a wheelchair or not, there are times you simply can’t get to the door quickly enough when a visitor arrives. If you do use a wheelchair, or have a disability, there are a number of added reasons why promptly answering may not be possible. Say you’re waiting for your morning caregiver in bed, stuck in the bathroom, or simply out of your chair and too tired to transfer and push to the door — previously you were out of luck. Now, thanks to smart video doorbells, you can see and talk with whomever is at your door using an array of smart devices and then decide whether to let them in or not.
I’ve tested Amazon’s Ring Video Doorbell Pro ($249) and Google’s Nest Hello ($229), two of the most popular video doorbells, and both products have been great. They have similar interfaces and options, but they use different voice commands. For example, if you have Amazon Fire TV, Ring will display your front door if you say, “Alexa, show me the front door.” With Nest Hello, you can do the same by connecting a Google Chromecast to your TV. Nest’s voice command is, “Hey Google, show me the front door.”
In terms of video, both offer high definition feeds, but Ring’s resolution is slightly higher: 1,920 by 1,080 versus 1,600 by 1,200 for Nest, and Ring’s view is wider thanks to its 16:9 ratio (Nest has a 4:3 display). Both offer cloud recording, allowing you to see who comes to your door after the fact, but each takes a slightly different approach. Nest records 24/7, whereas Ring only records when motion is sensed or if the doorbell button is pushed. Nest comes with one year of cloud recording, then charges $150 per year for a comparable cloud recording plan, with each additional Nest camera adding $15 per year. Ring comes with a 30-day free trial and then costs $99/year for unlimited devices at one address.
Once set up, you will receive notifications on your device of choice whenever anyone triggers the motion sensor. Then you can see a live video stream of who’s there and talk with them. If you miss a visitor, the devices will record and time stamp their arrival so you can see who it was at your convenience.
If you’re not near your TV, you can get the same notifications on your smartphone, tablet or video-enabled smart home assistant. The apps that support them are available on the Apple App Store as well as Google Play.
Both Ring and Nest have many add-ons beyond just video doorbells. Both have indoor and outdoor video cameras that integrate with your doorbell and app. Ring also provides Smart Lighting, a security lighting solution triggered by motion or sound. In addition to your video doorbell, you can install floodlights, spotlights, pathlights and motion sensors.
In addition to my Doorbell Pro, I have one Ring Spotlight Camera above my garage and one in the backyard. This allows me to keep an eye on my kids playing ball in the court or kayaking on the lake. All of the cameras are HD and include two-way audio, which allows me to communicate with my kids from the comfort of my living room. Nest Hello has similar options.
Purchase and Installation
Before buying a video doorbell, make sure your Wi-Fi signal is strong where you want to install it. The stronger your Wi-Fi signal is at the doorbell, the better your overall experience will be in viewing the video feed of who’s at your door, and the crisper the audio feed will be between you and your visitor. Don’t be afraid to move your wireless router around to achieve the best Wi-Fi signal for your video doorbell.
For either product, the installation is simple and straightforward. I highly recommend a professional installation if you can’t reach your doorbell’s chime box (often mounted 8 or 9 feet high on an internal wall). Ring’s professional installation was $59, and Nest’s was $75.
After the physical installation was completed, I downloaded the app to my phone and tablet. The app will walk you through the initial configuration, including how to add it to your home’s Wi-Fi, set up motion activated zones, have notifications sent to your phone, as well as recording and archiving options. Ring and Nest offer paid annual subscriptions to allow unlimited cloud recording.
Which is right for you?
Which will work best for you will likely depend on what products are currently in your home. If you already have Amazon Echo and Fire TV, then the Ring Video Doorbell Pro will work best for you. However, if you have Google Home and Chromecast, then the Nest Hello will work best for you. If you’re somewhere in the middle, have an iPhone, Fire TV, Chromecast, and a Google Home, then you’re already in a hybrid ecosystem. You can choose either video doorbell based on specs and annual subscription plans.