Standard doorbells are so last century. Today’s video doorbells are far more advanced, connecting to your home wi-fi network to give you a live video feed of who’s at the door - wherever you happen to be.
They even let you speak to your caller using a microphone and speaker, so you can pretend you’re in even if you’re on a beach on the other side of the world.
Ring Video Doorbell 2 vs Nest Hello: How do they look?
As with any gadget, in order to be desirable a video doorbell has to look good. Obviously this is a very subjective test but it doesn’t make it any less important.
The two doorbells have very different looks. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 looks quite imposing; with its boxy, staunch design, it could pass for a bouncer at a nightclub. The black section at the top houses the camera, while the ringer button lights up blue below.
The Nest Hello is a lot sleeker, with rounded ends housing the fisheye lens at the top and the ringer at the bottom. An LED above the tiny Nest logo changes colour when pressed or when it detects motion.
How do they work?
Both doorbells are designed to do broadly the same thing – provide a digital window on what’s on the other side of your front door – but they go about it slightly differently.
The main difference is when they record video. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 starts recording the second it detects movement, or when someone presses the doorbell. You’ll get an alert on your smartphone or tablet, from which you can tune into the live feed and watch what’s happening. So whether it’s a courier delivering a package, someone posting leaflets through your door or a passer-by, you’ll know about it.
You can talk to your caller through the app thanks to the Ring doorbell’s built-in microphone, and you can fine-tune the doorbell’s motion-sensing settings, which is handy if it’s sending you notifications every time the wind blows.
The Nest Hello is a bit more advanced. It has the same features but can record video constantly if you have a Nest Aware subscription (which starts at £40 a year). That means if you get home to see a window has been smashed (and you didn’t get an alert at the time) you can look back through the footage to see what happened.
Nest Hello can distinguish people from animals, gives you pre-recorded responses so you don’t have to chat to the postie, and – with a Nest Aware subscription – has facial recognition, so it can tell you who’s calling if they're on your regular callers list.
How do they record video?
How do the two compare in terms of video output?
The Nest Hello records video footage at 1600x1200 pixels, complete with HDR (high dynamic range, making for a clearer picture). Its 160-degree field of vision offers a head-to-toe view of whoever is at your door.
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 films at 1920x1080 pixels (the same quality as a high-definition TV). It has the same 160-degree field of vision, but records in widescreen, so you’ll see more to the sides of your subject but less vertically.
Which is better really depends on the set up of your front door. If you want to see more of a panorama, go for the Ring. If the space is more enclosed and a better vertical view would be better, the Nest is more suited to you.
How do you install them?
While it can be mains-powered, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 comes with a rechargeable battery, which is more convenient if you don’t want to wire it to the mains. This will last between six months and a year before it needs to be recharged. All you have to do is fit it to the wall or doorframe using a drill and connect it to your wi-fi.
The Nest Hello requires professional installation, as it has to be connected to the mains. If you don’t want to ring around electricians, Nest can set you up with one, but it’ll cost you £100.
Do they work with other smart home devices?
Yes, they do - but not the same ones.
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 works with Amazon Alexa devices, which include Amazon’s Echo smart speakers and Fire TV streaming devices. That means your Echo speaker can announce that someone has arrived at your front door, or sound the doorbell chime. You can also speak to whoever’s at your door through your Echo speaker, rather than having to reach for your phone and open the Ring app.
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 also works with smart lock systems from Kevo, LockState, Kisi and Lockitron, and smart lights like Philips Hue. That way, your lights can flash when someone rings your doorbell, which is handy if you’re hearing impaired.
Nest Hello is compatible with other products made by Nest, like the Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect smoke detector. It also works with the Google Home and Google Home Hub speakers – they will sound the doorbell chime, and the latter will show the Hello’s live video stream on its screen. If you have a Nest Aware subscription, your Google Home/Home Hub speaker will announce who’s arrived too, as long as they’ve been entered into your familiar face library.
How much do they cost?
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 costs £139, while the Nest Hello is £229. If you’d like the Nest Hello professionally installed (which would be advised, unless you’re a qualified electrician), it’ll cost £329.
Both have optional subscription services too, on top of the purchase price.
Ring Protect lets you store, review, share and download videos that your doorbell has recorded. It costs £2.50 month or £30 for a year for one doorbell, or £8 a month or £96 a year for unlimited doorbells.
Nest Aware lets your doorbell record video continuously and enables facial recognition. It starts at £4 (for a five-day recording window) for your first doorbell, and £3 for each additional doorbell, to £24/£12 for a 30-day recording window. It’s also available with an annual subscription, starting at £40.
Which video doorbell should you buy?
Both doorbells have many strengths. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is easier to set up, cheaper and works with more smart home devices. Hence if you’ve already got a smart home set-up and want an easy-to-use, convenient video doorbell that will integrate seamlessly into your smart life, the Ring could be for you.
The Nest Hello records video at a higher resolution, has more advanced features and looks a little sleeker. If you have a Google Home or Home Hub smart speaker, want extras like continuous recording and facial recognition and don’t mind paying a bit extra, it should be your smart doorbell of choice.