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The follow-up to the Nest Hello Doorbell gets almost everything right. Almost everything.
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No discussion of home security or home automation is really complete without talking about Google Nest. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do today.
Before we get going though, I should point out that Google has recently streamlined, reworked, and rebranded its offerings in the past couple of years. The Google Nest Cam IQ is no more, giving way to an indoor/outdoor Google Cam, and the Nest Hello doorbell dropped the “Hello” and now comes in a hardwired or battery-operated version of the more elegantly designed Nest Doorbell.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking to comparison shop, be sure to check out our review of the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell as well. It’s a little cheaper than the Nest Doorbell and offers many of the same features.
Now the Nest Hello was a fine product. I really appreciated its advanced features, great two-way audio, facial recognition, and package detection. It was small, easy to install, and really well designed. The new Nest Doorbell has some pretty big shoes to fill.
How exactly does the Nest Doorbell compare to its predecessor? We’ll unpack all of that here, but first, let’s take a look at some pros and cons.
Now that we know a little of the good and a little of the not-so-good, let’s jump in.
I always get excited when I’m reviewing Nest products. They’re thoughtfully designed and incredibly easy to work with, so I know I’m not getting into a headache-inducing bout with a piece of unresponsive, uncooperative equipment. And the Nest Doorbell was no exception to this rule.
Everything is packaged in a way that makes sense, and even if you’ve never worked with a video doorbell before, you can probably guess how the installation process is going to go just from what’s included in the box. More on that in a minute.
I really appreciated the design of the unit itself. It’s sleek and rounded and, in my honest opinion, a lot nicer looking than some of the boxier options that we saw in our review of Ring’s Video Doorbell. I also really appreciated that it comes in a variety of colors, including:
I went with Ash since I thought it would match my trim the best, but all of the available colors are matte-finish plastic with minimal branding. Excellent job there, Google.
Pro Tip: Also included in the box is a sticker to let folks know you’re recording. In some states it’s illegal to record audio without the consent of the other party, so make sure you understand your state’s laws before you set your doorbell up.
I also really appreciated that each of these units is constructed using 43 percent recycled materials. E-waste is a huge problem, and it’s nice to see a company that’s trying to take some responsibility in that regard.
Let me step down off my soapbox to get this Nest Doorbell installed and running.
First things first, you’re going to need to plug the unit into the wall or into a computer or tablet since Google doesn’t provide you with an adapter. Since the version of the Nest Hello I tested was battery-operated, it needed to charge for about five hours to reach capacity, but I always recommend letting your battery-powered security equipment charge overnight just to be sure.
Once it was all charged up, it was time to set things up through the app. I’ve tested plenty of Google products before, so I already had Google Home on my phone. If you don’t, it’s simple enough to download. Just make sure you have a Google account before you start down this road.
After that, I scanned the QR code on the back of the device, clicked a few “I agrees,” and before I knew it, the firmware was downloading and the camera was initializing. Really, it couldn’t be easier to set up Google products. It’s almost refreshing.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have one, you’re going to want to invest in a decent drill. Using a manual screwdriver to install a Nest Doorbell isn’t impossible, but it won’t be easy.
After maybe five minutes or so, everything was ready to go. The app let me watch a video that described how to install the doorbell and how to best optimize the camera’s positioning. It’s designed to work best about four feet off the ground and includes a 20-degree wedge you can use to make sure its camera is pointing in the right direction. That and the mounting bracket are easy enough to install. Just use the brackets as templates, mark where the screws need to go, drill your pilot holes, and screw the bracket and wedge (if you need it) into your door frame. The doorbell then snaps into the bracket. All said and done, it shouldn’t take you more than half an hour from unboxing to ding-dong.
Overall, I was really happy with the performance of the Nest Doorbell. It was reliable, all of its functions worked as they should, and I never felt like I was missing important activity. Let’s talk specifics, though.
The Google Nest Doorbell’s resolution is 960 x 1280 pixels, and it records up to 30 frames per second. If that doesn’t mean much to you, the long and short of it is this: The image quality is good, verging on great. It’s not the best I’ve ever seen, but it certainly gets the job done and then some.
Another thing to point out about the image quality: The Nest Doorbell has a 145-degree diagonal view. What does this mean, exactly? It means it sees “tall” rather than “wide.” While that might not sound important, it really is when you consider how video doorbells, especially those with package detection, are used. You want to be able to see as much of the ground beneath the camera as you can, as that’s where packages are placed.
One of the great things about video doorbells — good ones, anyway — is that you can use them to talk to whoever turns up at your door without having to physically be there. They’re great for safety, and great for introverts like me. No, I don’t want to hear about your special offer, thank you.
Two-way audio functionality really works only if two things are working in tandem: low latency and high-quality speakers. The Nest Doorbell, I found, has both. While it wasn’t exactly like speaking with someone face-to-face, it was close enough to be really functional.
Pro Tip: You don’t want to be standing too close to the doorbell if you’re going to use the talk function. If you are, it’ll echo and you’ll get feedback, which is unpleasant for you and the person you’re trying to talk to.
There is one drawback. The Nest Doorbell also has “quick responses” that you can use if you don’t want to talk directly to the person standing at your door. These include options like “We’ll be right there” and “No one can come to the door.” I found, though, that these quick responses were anything but. It took five or six seconds from the time the response was selected for it to play through the speaker. Again, not a deal-breaker, but something to point out.
Another great thing about the Nest Doorbell is the ability to tailor how sensitive it is to your needs. You can switch alerts on and off for passing cars, animals, and all motion. One of the most annoying things about setting up a new piece of smart security equipment is going through the mountain of alerts it starts giving you and trying to lower sensitivity levels. With the Nest Doorbell, it comes pretty much calibrated right out of the box.
Finally, I did want to mention the Nest Doorbell’s reliability. At no point during the testing period did I feel like I was missing anything. Everything worked exactly as expected, and there were no major service interruptions. Fully charged, the doorbell will run for about two-and-a-half months, and if your Wi-Fi goes out, it will record to onboard storage for up to an hour. Rock-solid performance.
But that’s just the day-to-day functionality. Now let’s get into the more fun stuff.
Google packs its products with some pretty high-tech features. Let’s take a look at some of the best ones for the Nest Doorbell now.
One of my favorite features in the Nest suite of products is the Familiar Faces function. As the name implies, when this feature is active, your Nest Doorbell will recognize certain people and alert you if they’re seen. The first time the doorbell notices a new person, it will ask if you know them. If you do, you can enter their name. Google then remembers them and will tell you when they’re around. It works very well, and it’s extremely reliable. At night, it can be a little finicky, but for the most part, it never misses.
Who doesn’t love getting something in the mail? I certainly do. What I don’t love is when I don’t know that my package has shown up and it gets rained on or grows legs and walks off. With the Nest Doorbell’s package detection system, that won’t happen. Its AI tools recognize boxes and will alert you immediately when they show up on your porch. And with the long field of vision, there aren’t a whole lot of blind spots like I saw with this doorbell’s predecessor, the Nest Hello.
Like I said above, the Nest Doorbell’s sensitivity is pretty well dialed in right off the bat, but if you’re still running into problems with unwanted alerts — maybe you live on a busy street or in a ground-floor apartment — you can set up activity zones to exclude certain motion.
Just drag the points to where you want the doorbell to pay attention. That should cut down on the noise. If not, you might consider adjusting your settings or maybe repositioning the doorbell itself.
So that’s about it for daytime operations. Let’s talk briefly about how the Nest Doorbell performs at night.
Similar to what I saw when I reviewed the Google Nest Cam, the Nest Doorbell uses traditional IR night vision, meaning that once the sun goes down, things switch over to black and white (which isn’t really my favorite). For the price, I’d expect color night vision. It’s not a total deal breaker, but you might miss important details once your color drops out.
As far as the reliability and visibility, things were great. The picture was still very crisp, and for the most part, all of the AI tools like package detection and facial recognition still reliably worked. I just wish it was in color!
And speaking of enhancements to the Nest Doorbell, let’s talk about Google’s subscription service — specifically, whether or not it’s worth it.
There are two main reasons to get a Nest Aware subscription: if you want to record and store more video, or if you want to take advantage of the advanced features mentioned above. Without a subscription, your Nest Doorbell is going to store up to three hours of recordings on its own, and Familiar Faces won’t work. To help you determine if you need Nest Aware, here’s a quick breakdown.
|Feature||Nest Aware||Nest Aware Plus|
|Event video history||30 days||60 days|
|24/7 video history||No||Up to 10 days|
|Number of devices||All in home||All in home|
|Price||$6 per month, $60 per year||$12 per month, $120 per year|
For the price, we think the features are worth it. You’ll be getting the most out of your camera, but it is important to consider the monthly or annual cost when you’re considering which security system to go with. And speaking of price …
When you’re thinking about purchasing a home security system, you have to think about things comprehensively. Security is iterative, and one piece of equipment builds off of the next until you have a complete security posture. More simply — in Yoda-speak, a video doorbell alone does not a complete home security system make.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a quick look at Google Nest’s prices.
|Nest Doorbell||Video doorbell||$179.99|
|Nest Cam (Battery)||Indoor/outdoor battery-operated camera||$179.99|
|Nest Cam (Wired)||Indoor camera||$79.99|
|Nest Cam with Floodlight||Outdoor camera with motion-activated floodlight||$279.99|
|Nest Protect||Smoke and CO alarm||$119.99|
We have more information on this in our guide to Nest’s pricing and costs, but as you can see, these pieces of equipment aren’t exactly cheap. So considering that, let’s answer the most pressing question.
There are plenty of video doorbells on the market today: some great, some good, and some you shouldn’t even bother with. Where does the Nest Doorbell fit on this spectrum? I’d argue somewhere between good and great.
The Nest Doorbell is well designed, reliable, and easy to use. It’s got advanced functionality that feels more meaningful than gimmicky, and I could easily see myself using this product long term. It does have a few drawbacks — namely, its lack of color night vision and a few latency issues — but overall this is a really strong offering by Google in this space.
Is it worth almost $180, though? I can’t decide that for you, but I will say I wouldn’t feel ripped off at that price point. Do I wish it was a little cheaper? Sure, but I could say that about a lot of things. Should you check out your options before pulling the trigger? Absolutely. So head over to our list of the best video doorbells. There, you can compare some of the top names in the industry to find what’s right for you, your family, and your budget.
A Nest Doorbell typically costs $179.99, but Google often runs sales and deals on these products.
While it is a little pricey, the Nest Doorbell is among some of the best in the industry. Its robust design and full suite of AI features make it one of the most functional pieces of equipment available.
While it’s not required for the Nest Doorbell to function, a Nest Aware subscription will allow you to record longer and take advantage of some of the doorbell’s more advanced features.
The Nest Doorbell is 6.3 inches tall and 1.8 inches wide. Generally speaking, it’s an average-sized video doorbell.
There is a hardwired Nest Doorbell option, but Google offers a battery-operated version as well. This review was on the Nest Doorbell (battery).