Ring founder and chief executive Jamie Siminoff holds a Ring Video Doorbell, left, that has a video camera so residents can see who's knocking with a smartphone app. Ring founder and chief executive Jamie Siminoff holds a Ring Video Doorbell, left, that has a video camera so residents can see who's knocking with a smartphone app. Before you buy any "smart" gadgets, make sure they're not dumb. This holiday season, a third of Americans plan to buy a smart home device, according to the Consumer Technology Assn. The trick is figuring out which ones are worth the cost, trouble and inevitable security risks.
A number of firms have shown off smart doorbell products at CES, aimed at the growing smart home security market. Amazon-owned Ring's Video Door Cam can be attached via an existing peephole in a door. The firm told the BBC it was aimed at renters who may not be allowed to drill holes in a door. It also has a sensor which notifies you if someone knocks on the door instead of ringing the bell. French firm Netatmo is offering free video storage with its new product.
Your message has been sent. There was an error emailing this page. It's not printed in big letters on the box, but many of the latest smart home gadgets require a monthly subscription to unlock all their features. It might only be a few dollars a month, but over the life of a product it can easily double the purchase price. I can be particularly onerous if you're paying subscription fees for more than device.
This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. If you want to see who's on the other side of your door without having to get up and look yourself, then the Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the best choice for most everyone. It lets you screen (and record) visitors and keep an eye out for package deliveries. Motion and ring alerts to a smartphone are typically fast, audio and 1080p video are clear, and the Ring 2 can be powered by either standard doorbell wiring or a removable rechargeable battery. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 performs like a cross between a modestly aggressive guard dog and a trusty digital butler. In addition to notifying you--audibly and via smartphone--of activity, it records all motion events to the cloud, letting you view those recordings (as well as live video) on your phone or computer any time. It's also compatible with a good number of smart-home devices, platforms, and monitored security systems. Though video recording and storage require a subscription, the $30 annual fee (a mere 8¢ per day) for 60 days of unlimited video storage is downright cheap compared with the competition. We like the Ring Video Doorbell Pro for all the reasons we like the Ring 2. Additionally, it has a much slimmer and sleeker design that will fit in more doorframes and includes the option for customized motion-detection zones.