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If you’re in the market for a doorbell that does more than just chime to let you know that you have a visitor, the newest Skybell doorbell could be just what you need.
The Skybell is a “smart” video doorbell that uses a video camera, motion sensor, speaker, and microphone to help you better communicate with and see your visitors. You can see who’s there at any time, even if they don’t press a button.
The doorbell, which conveniently lets you answer the door with your phone, works with many iOS and Android mobile devices. It’s also not restricted by geographical location, as the Skybell lets you see who’s there from just about anywhere.
This review covers the Skybell Smart 2.0, the most current version on the market.
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As with most devices, there are a few requirements to consider to ensure that the doorbell works properly.
For starters, if you aren’t using a mechanical doorbell chime, you must use a 10 ohm/10 watt resistor for a connection between Skybell and the power source. Failing to do so will void the product’s warranty.
Skybell is compatible with the 2.4ghz band and will connect to b/g networks. It’s important to connect your phone to the 2.4ghz network before attempting to synch with Skybell. The doorbell requires an internet connection with at least 1.5mbps upload speeds.
Key Features of the SkyBell
The Skybell is full of helpful features, including on demand access and motion-sensing technology. Many users particularly like the live video feed, which lets homeowners know exactly who’s at the door (and when) even if no one is home. Here’s a closer look at some of the doorbell’s key features.
- Motion detection – Updated motion detection sensors activate even when your visitors don’t press a button and will send you fast, accurate alerts. While most Smart doorbells have motion sensors located above the camera, some have motion sensors installed below the camera. That’s because Skybell made a sensor update shortly after releasing the first version of Skybell 2.0. The newest version is the one with the sensor above the camera.
- Live video feed – One of the doorbell’s best features is that it lets you open video feed from the app to see who’s at your door, even if you’re not home. When a visitor rings the doorbell, a push button alert instantly gives you live feed through your phone. The live video feed can also come in handy if you’re home and want to see (and/or hear or talk to) the person at the door before deciding to answer it. The on demand feature lets you see directly out of Skybell’s video camera at any given time using the app. There’s just one catch…the live video feed and related alerts only works if you have WiFi or cell connection at the time.
- iOS and Android compatibility – Skybell works with most, but not all, iOS and Android devices. According to the official Skybell website, the Smart doorbell works with the following devices: iPhone and iPad with iOS 5 or later and Android Jelly Bean 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, Kit Kat 4.4 or later. It’s also optimized for these Android phones: Nexus S, HTC One, Samsung S3 and Samsung S4; Skybell account. However, Skybell isn’t compatible with any Samsung phones sold through T-Mobile.
Pros of the SkyBell
At a glance, this doorbell has a lot to offer. Many items on this list of pros revolve around the Skybell’s best features, such as video feed and simple, secure connectivity. Here’s a closer look at some of the pros:
- Relatively straightforward configuration – If you’re like most homeowners, you don’t want to purchase a doorbell only to find that it’s nearly impossible to configure. Fortunately the Skybell is pretty easy to configure as long as your system meets the general requirements. The process begins by entering the activation code on the Skybell box. Once the code is in, simply hold down the doorbell button until the light flashes red. Your Android or iOS app will give you instructions to connect to the Skybell network then your own WiFi network.
- Multiple user accounts – Skybell can be used by various family members or multiple people who want to be on the same account. When the doorbell rings, everyone on the account can see who’s there on their individual phones. There is one drawback, though. Only one person on the account can actually see the video feed at once.
- Upgraded camera – While the Skybell’s current camera and resolution isn’t perfect, it’s definitely a step up from the previous version. The latest camera produces a high-quality picture with a low data rate, ensuring that the video will load quickly and won’t get dropped when you’re on your cellular network. Aside from better video quality, there’s also a wide angle lens to give you a more complete look at your doorstep. A combination of optics and the upgraded camera ensures good quality images even if there is bright light behind the visitor. You can activate the contrast toggle with a simple switch.
Cons of the SkyBell
While it has a lot to offer, there are also some serious drawbacks to consider. Common complaints include subpar video and sound quality along with a lack of video recording capabilities. Setup can be complicated in some households.
- Setup can be difficult – Setting up this doorbell can be a major headache, especially if your home isn’t already wired for a doorbell. The Skybell needs to be wired to a doorbell transformer via the two wires in the back of the device. If your home isn’t already set up for a doorbell, you’ll need to run the wires yourself and install a transformer. Setup is also tedious and much more difficult in houses with intercom units, as the wiring is much more complex than what’s shown in the Skybell setup tutorial.
- Subpar video/audio quality – Some of the main complaints are that the video quality is grainy, color accuracy is poor, and that the video generally lacks detail. Facial details are also often blurry and can make it tough to figure out who’s really at your front door. While the doorbell offers a two-way audio communication feature, the sound quality isn’t that great. For example, even a slight gust of wind can cut out words or even entire sentences.
- No activity log – The video feed can take snapshots and adjust image contrasts based on the amount of light in the background. It also enables two-way conversations. However, the Skybell 2.0 lacks an activity log and there’s no way to record video feed. This could change in the near future, though, as Skybell plans to launch server-based video storage.
Features of the SkyBell
The Skybell is loaded with features. Here’s what you’ll get for $200.
|Various baseplate colors||Live video feed||Compatible with most iOS and Android devices||Operates in temperatures from -40 to 150 degrees F|
|Connects to existing systems||2-way audio||Uses home WiFi network||Silent doorbell mode|
|Compatible with low voltage transformer||Infrared (night vision)||Works with 2.4ghz band||Contrast settings|
Should I Buy It Now or Wait?
The Skybell joins forces with your iOS or Android device to let you know what’s going on in your house at any given time. At $200, this doorbell is far from the cheapest option on the market.
However, it might be worth it if you’re looking for more advanced security measures and don’t mind putting up with a few flaws. It’s certainly not perfect, especially with its subpar audio and video quality.
There isn’t much competition at the moment, but that doesn’t mean a more well-rounded and reliable “smart” doorbell won’t be available in the near future.
Reviews for the latest Skybell are mixed. Many users agree that the video and sound quality should be much better for the price. Reports of false alarms (such as an animal walking by or a tree branch swaying in the wind near the device) are not uncommon.
A handful of owners had major problems getting the doorbell to sync with their iOS or Android phones. However, this issue is much more prominent in the earliest 2.0 releases and has since been largely resolved.
Skybell is aware of many of these issues and is reportedly working on fixing them in the near future. It really comes down to want your tolerance is for perfection at this point.
Early adopters will probably still be very happy with it, but with the industry and technology changing so rapidly, it’s not like you “have to” have this just yet. Check out this listing for pricing, as there are sometimes some good deals/promotions.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!