Best Video Doorbell Cameras of 2024 - CNET

From our tests and reviews, we've chosen the best video doorbells for your home's entrance, from Nest to Arlo and more. We also cover what you should know about choosing a smart doorbell for alerts, safety and your privacy.

Updated Jan. 29, 2024 12:00 p.m. PT Water Intrusion Detector

Best Video Doorbell Cameras of 2024 - CNET

CNET’s expert staff reviews and rates dozens of new products and services each month, building on more than a quarter century of expertise. Read how we test products and services.

The Arlo Video Doorbell comes with added features you won't get with other devices, such as night vision and a wide, 180-degree field of view.

After more than 50 hours of testing all types of video doorbells, the Arlo Video Doorbell 2K (2nd gen) is our pick for the overall best video doorbell camera. While we found plenty to like in competitors like Nest and Bink (which we'll cover below), Arlo's doorbell camera was the complete package with a healthy 2K resolution, a broad field of view to capture your entire porch and a full set of smart features that we love to see in a doorbell. While a smart doorbell is a great fit for almost any home, some can be very expensive. But Arlo's model is available online at an appealingly low cost.

As shown by Arlo's model, not all video doorbell cameras are created equal; design, installation cost, video quality and video storage subscriptions for each doorbell cam can vary immensely. Some also have features that may give you pause on ethical grounds . We're covering the ins and outs of video doorbells in a one-stop guide that will go over our recommendations, tips on choosing a doorbell and answers to common questions about this popular home security solution.

As mentioned above, we like the Arlo Video Doorbell for several reasons, including the wide view, night vision and built-in siren. It's also easy to install, performs well and has reasonable cloud storage fees starting at just $3 a month. With a cloud storage subscription, this wired doorbell gives you access to advanced functionality like custom person, animal, vehicle and package alerts.

The Arlo Video Doorbell, our pick for best video doorbell overall and recipient of an 8.5/10 score in our review, also features HD video, a built-in siren, two-way audio, motion detection zones and arm/disarm modes.

The second-gen Google Nest Doorbell (battery) and its wired counterpart typically cost $180 (though sometimes they're discounted), and they're a breeze to set up, whether you've got doorbell wiring or not. Along with live video feeds, two-way audio and alert notifications, the Nest Doorbell 2nd gen includes event recording for up to three hours without a subscription. These features won't match the ones you get with a subscription -- with Nest Aware or another service, like Ring's or Arlo's -- but they're a solid place to start and completely free, a rarity in the video doorbell sector. We also appreciate how easy the battery model is to install, including a wedge so you can position the model correctly on tight porches.

The Nest Doorbell naturally works well with Google Assistant and is compatible with Alexa as well. Google also includes a lot of its AI tech: For free, you get package, person and vehicle (the latter is ignored) notifications, while a Nest Aware subscription allows for face identification. In our tests, we did notice that the doorbell gives frequent warnings when temperatures drop below zero, which can affect battery life, but this is a relatively minor quibble compared to Google's overall pleasant UI.

Privacy-minded consumers will want to take note that Google complies with warrantless requests for footage during rare emergency situations, which you can read more about here. Some companies, including Arlo and Wyze, refuse to share footage without a warrant or subpoena compelling them to do so, while video processed via Apple's HomeKit Secure Video uses end-to-end encryption, which blocks Apple or any third party from accessing it at all. If you're concerned about privacy, we've also picked some excellent local-storage doorbells that we'll talk about more below.

A note about Matter: Since Google is one of the foremost proponents of the smart home Matter protocol, you may be wondering if their video doorbell has this all-purpose standard. The answer’s complicated. Matter is available for many Nest products, but its current state -- version 1.2 -- doesn’t support video transfers yet. That means there’s not a lot for Matter to do on video doorbells. More devices are being added to Matter with each update and when video devices are included, we’ll keep an eye on what Google and other brands do with it.

A view through Nest Doorbell via the Google Home app (blurred for privacy).

The Ring Pro 2 (with its $250 price tag) isn't the best value on the market, but if you're more concerned with features than a cost-benefit analysis, this device won't steer you wrong. The Pro 2 has a super wide field of view, a 1:1 aspect ratio, 1536p resolution and all the basics you'd want your smart buzzer to have. What makes the Pro 2 stand out is its radar sensing and bird's-eye-view mode, which lets you track the movement of an interloper around your yard, to give a clear sense of their route and general activity. The doorbell also includes Alexa Greetings and prerecorded messages you can use to answer people via the voice assistant.

Ring Pro 2 offers end-to-end video encryption, but to use the video recording feature in the cloud, you'll need a Ring Protect plan, which starts at $4 a month and lets you keep video for up to 180 days, plus enabling personal alerts, alarm notifications, away modes and other features. With no easy local storage options, we consider a Protect plan more or less necessary to get full use of this doorbell. While the subscription isn't exactly Netflix-level expensive, you may want to add it to the overall cost of a Ring purchase like this.

If you're looking for solid performance and top-of-the-line features, the Ring Pro 2 is a solid bet, but you'll want to familiarize yourself with Ring's policies regarding law enforcement before buying in. After drawing criticism for allowing police to require video footage from Ring without user consent, the company has removed that option from its app. Now police can only request user footage via a special emergency option (used for life-or-death situations) or a warrant, similar to the policy Google uses.

Currently available for under $40, few video doorbells can match Amazon’s Blink brand when it comes to pricing. Buyers aren’t giving up much in return, either. The resolution is only 1080p, but it’s not the highest priority when doorbell footage is typically close up. The doorbell does have infrared night vision, a 135-degree field of view and the useful custom alerts we’ve come to expect from video doorbells. Amazon has included full Alexa compatibility too, including the ability to answer through Alexa speakers via two-way audio.

Battery management is a little awkward with 2AA rechargeable batteries, but we don’t mind the extra step when everything functions smoothly. A more serious caveat is the video storage: You’ll have to pay $3 per month for a Blink subscription to save video in the cloud under Amazon’s care, or you’ll need to purchase a $35 Sync Module 2 for location storage. We like the options, but it does complicate your setup decisions.

Lorex does all-in on the local storage aspect of video doorbells. Without cloud storage, there’s less need to worry about downloading footage, no subscriptions, and almost no fears of compromised privacy. Local storage -- which typically uses an SD card or hub to store on a hard drive -- can often be clunky. Lorex’s solution is to include a 32GB microSD card with your purchase, plus the ability to upgrade it to a 256GB card if you prefer. When the card starts getting full or captures something important, you can remove it and connect it to a computer for video file management.

Otherwise, the Lorex wired video doorbell has a solid set of features at home on our list. In addition to the 4K video quality, the doorbell provides two-way audio, a nightlight and quick reply messages. AI detection for objects like vehicles, packages, and animals is native to the doorbell without extra fees. It’s wired-only, so be prepared to connect it to 16-24 VAC wiring.

We’re looking forward to getting our hands on a local storage model like this and testing just how well the SD card management works. For now, if you use a microSD card in your camera or handheld console, you know what to expect.

Does a video doorbell need two cameras? Not necessarily, but Eufy’s 2K cam does create a comprehensive image that can be very useful if you have a large front yard to watch over as well as your porch, while the 1080p cam keeps a specific eye on your up-close packages. That’s not the only dual package in this Eufy doorbell: It also uses a dual motion detection system with radar and PIR (passive infrared) to help increase accuracy. Package, human and waiting-human detection round off the useful doorbell, which is available in battery and wired formats.

While some Eufy devices offer cloud subscriptions, the S330 is a one-time purchase only. Like the Blink video doorbell, it offers a local storage hub, the HomeBase S380, with 16GB of storage to manage. The HomeBase is included in the cost, which is fortunate because Eufy’s doorbell already has a steep price of about $260. If that’s a little high for your doorbell budget, you may want to review the S220 model, available without the dual cam for a lower $200.

Finally: We know Eufy has had privacy issues in the past, specifically a 2022 problem with sending what was promised to be local-only data to their cloud servers. Since then, parent company Anker has reported that end-to-end encryption and adopting the WebRTC standard have made their cams safer to use. When data vulnerabilities are sadly common, we appreciate companies taking steps to fix them -- even if they need to be called out first.

At CNET, we’ve reviewed video doorbell models from everywhere, including popular brands like Google’s Nest and lesser-known models like the no-subscription Lorex. We know all about the latest features, and if they’re worth those extra dollar signs. After putting numerous doorbell models through their paces, we have high expectations for video quality, storage, AI motion detection, two-way audio and the other security benefits you really want on your new doorbell.

The app view from a Lorex doorbell on a phone.

Nowadays a smart home device is expected to work with at least one major smart home platform. Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant  and Apple HomeKit  are the main ones you need to look for. 

Video doorbells capture a lot of everyday moments, and many of them store that footage in the cloud. One of our priorities is checking a brand’s track record with privacy practices, digital storage and overall security.

Review our best-of list above, and you’ll see we discuss topics like how readily a doorbell maker hands over video to the authorities, or how they have responded to data vulnerabilities in the past. This is also the reason why some doorbells didn’t appear on our list: Wyze, with repeated security flaws as recent as the September 2023 video caching issue that let others look through strangers’ doorbells, didn’t make the cut.

Video storage is integral to the video doorbell experience. With so much video automatically captured, we focus on how that video is uploaded, its storage limitations and how easy video is to access or share. Saving video footage is especially important if you want to report a porch pirate to the police or save a similar unpleasant event to take later action (sometimes you also catch animals being cute).

Video storage varies greatly across doorbell devices. Some allow a certain amount of online video storage for free, but many require monthly subscriptions to store video in the cloud, or greatly increase storage options with a subscription. Other doorbells have the option to use local storage with a microSD card, a less expensive option that requires significantly more manual video management. We like to see as many free and user-friendly options as possible in video doorbells, with the assumption that you have enough home tech subscriptions as it is.

AI and video doorbells are a useful — and increasingly common — combo. We look for AI software that can correctly identify packages, pets or even the faces of people in your contact lists and send you more accurate alerts about what’s happening (and if a package unexpectedly vanishes). On the other hand, we also like to see smart motion detection that can easily ignore passing cars or falling leaves to cut down on unnecessary alerts.

Wired vs. wireless is largely a matter of preference, but it’s an important preference. Wired doorbells always have power and can often be wired into an existing door chime, too. Wireless models are far more flexible in terms of placement but you’ll need to recharge them every several months or so and they won’t connect to a hardware chime. One isn’t necessarily better than the other and many doorbells offer both options, but it’s important to think about how you’d prefer to use one.

If your smart doorbell camera takes a long time to send a push notification after someone rings your doorbell, then you risk missing your visitor completely. You also need to be sure you're getting notifications when something sets off the motion detector, as you can set the motion sensor of most video doorbells to notify you of activity happening near your door, even if no one rings the buzzer. If you have latency problems, start with your Wi-Fi connection. If it isn't strong where the doorbell is installed, you might consider moving it (or, more easily, getting a Wi-Fi range extender). It could also be the way the software works.

Doorbells are often exposed to direct sunlight, but many others are installed under porches, near shady trees and in all sorts of other settings. It's important that the camera has night vision and can handle any of these scenarios so you don't get stuck with a nonfunctioning product that can't see faces under a porch. 

If the doorbell's microphone and speaker don't work well, you're going to have a tough time communicating with whoever's there. We tested this out multiple times to see how the doorbell's audio sounds over my phone.

Testing to determine the best video doorbell is similar to testing any other home security camera. 

First, a reviewer will download the corresponding app and create an account. While a lot of products include tutorial booklets in the box with your purchase, a good app includes detailed steps on the installation process, as well as how to connect to your Wi-Fi network and actually get the smart device up and running. It's your one-stop shop for taking your doorbell setup from start to finish.

We make sure the doorbell is installed based on the manufacturer's specifications -- either a hardwired doorbell or a battery - or solar-powered  one. 

Here are two wireless video doorbells, Wyze and Blink, that we installed to the CNET Smart Home for testing. 

As soon as it's connected and we're able to view the live video feed, we check the settings. We make sure features like motion detection, two-way or activity zones are enabled (they aren't always turned on by default) to get a complete sense of what it's like to use the product, and to see how well the device actually works as a replacement to a regular, nonsmart doorbell. 

To test motion zones, we first determine the motion zone, and then move around it to see when we get an alert and when we don't. The aim is to discover how precise those zones really are. For two-way talk, we'll have a conversation with a partner on the porch via the doorbell to listen for clarity and latency.

While testing, we always check how seamlessly the video doorbell camera integrates with third-party smart home voice assistants, like Alexa, as well as how usable the brand's app is for installation and monitoring. 

Like smart locks and home security cameras, many top-notch video doorbells will allow the camera to be integrated with voice assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. We download the respective apps, connect the video doorbell and see the ease (or hassle) of using voice commands to control the doorbell camera, plus how easily the doorbell cam integrates into the wider ecosystem of smart devices. 

If you want to read more about our review process, check out our in-depth article on how we test  home security cameras and video doorbells.

It depends on which brand you purchase, but generally, video doorbell monitoring subscriptions will set you back between $3 and $6 per month. Ring Protect and Arlo Secure both cost $3 for a single device and $10 for more. Google's Nest Aware service costs $6 for one or more. These services tend to get you cloud storage, more advanced notifications and a few extra perks.

While some video doorbells are fairly easy to remove (looking at you, Nest), that doesn't mean they're likely to be stolen. There isn't much evidence that doorbell swiping is common. It makes sense: you're likely to be filmed stealing the doorbell, after all. In addition, for the video doorbells that are easy to remove from the doorstep, there are just as many that are pretty rock-solid when installed.

Again, this depends on your product and subscription. Generally, without a subscription, live viewing is the only option available. Some brands, like Nest, will keep event recordings for a short period. If you purchase a subscription plan, you'll get anywhere from 10 to 60 days of event storage, and sometimes the possibility of 24/7 continuous recording.

The top brands are good about providing videos and manuals that walk you through the process, and you don’t need a lot of electrical experience to complete an installation.

Video doorbells come with a base plate that you screw into your doorway trim, nearby siding or the previous location of your old doorbell. Models like the Nest Doorbell come with a wedge to angle the doorbell outward in case of tight spaces. Wired doorbells are connected to your existing wiring via simple terminals, while wireless models are slotted into the base plate. Installation shouldn’t take longer than 30 to 60 minutes for the average doorbell.

They’re very similar pieces of technology used in significantly different ways. For many users, a video doorbell offers more utility in a compact package, allowing them to watch a front door, enable conversations, keep a watch on packages and generally manage security in a limited location. Security cams work indoors or outdoors, are less likely to have audio features, and you can place them nearly anywhere. They often function better as part of a larger home security system, while video doorbells are excellent solo devices.

Best Video Doorbell Cameras of 2024 - CNET

Intelligent Hub For security purposes, your video doorbell videos are only stored with your account, which means once you've deleted a video, even accidentally, it's gone. The best way to prevent losing an important video is to download it to your phone or computer. Keep in mind that cloud storage services may automatically delete events after 10 to 60 days, so be sure to check your doorbell camera's cloud storage frequently to avoid missing the window to save or download important videos.