Skybell Doorbell Camera Review
Skybell creates sleek and feature-rich video doorbells that allow users to see and communicate with whoever is at their door. Founded in 2013 by a former Google employee, Skybell was originally funded by an Indiegogo campaign. It has grown into a company with a 9 figure valuation, and gone on to partner with larger companies like Honeywell and Nest.
Skybell products and accessories are modern-looking with all the features you would expect from a video doorbell and then some. While the price tag may be a bit higher than some other competitors on the market, both Skybell HD and Skybell Trim Plus have features that stand out from the crowd, including a live video feed and a motion sensor that will alert you to someone at your door, even if they haven’t touched the doorbell.
Both renters and homeowners alike can benefit from Skybell products. Designed to replace your traditional doorbell, you can take the hardware with you when you leave. There are no monthly contracts, so you won’t be tied to the service either if you move. Overall, if you’re looking for a doorbell packed with features at a fair price, Skybell is an option worth looking into.
Skybell Doorbell Camera Features
Customers can choose from two products; the Skybell HD and the Skybell Trim Plus. They share identical features, aside from two key differences — size and frames per second. The Skybell Trim Plus is thinner, and can fit on smaller door panes if needed. It looks like a more traditionally shaped doorbell. Skybell HD is larger and circular, and also shoots at 30 frames per second, where Skybell Trim Plus is 15 frames per second. Both Skybell doorbell options have the following features:
- HD Video: Skybell cameras offer HD quality video, so you won’t have to worry about seeing exactly who or what is outside your front door. Crystal clear video is easy to see on the app and store for future use.
- 180-degree view: This wide-angle field of vision allows you to see everything at your front door and in your yard without needing to pan.
- Zoom: If you’re trying to see someone or something that is a little farther away than your front door, the Skybell HD and Skybell Trim Plus both have a 5x zoom option.
- Free cloud recording: You’ll receive seven days of free cloud recordings with Skybell. This is a big plus, because many competitors require a subscription plan for cloud storage.
- Motion sensor: Even if a visitor, or perhaps stranger, is at your front door and fails to press the doorbell, Skybell can still send you an alert if they are there for 10 seconds or longer. That means if someone knocks on your door instead of using the doorbell, you won’t miss a notification thanks to the sensor.
- App with alerts: Users can see live streaming video, adjust preferences, and set up smart home integration options all from one app. It’s important to note it does not have great reviews from either the Apple or Google Play store, and as of the end of 2019, it hasn’t had an update in a year.
- Weatherproof hardware: These doorbells are sealed with special coating to stand up to the elements. It can withstand temperatures of - 40 degrees fahrenheit, all the way to 140 degrees fahrenheit.
- Two-way talk: A feature available on most video doorbells, two-way talk means you’ll be able to view who is at your door, as well as communicate with them.
- Live video feed: Even when there’s no one at your door, you can get a peek at what’s going on outside with the live video feed feature.
- Video recording and picture snapping: If you see something interesting, funny, or strange happening on your video feed, you can take a live recording or snap a still.
- Activity history: This feature on Skybell HD and Skybell Trim Plus allows you to see in one convenient spot exactly what happened outside your front door. The last 20 videos will be stored in one spot for a simple way to keep tabs on activity, even if you didn’t have time to catch all the notifications during the day.
- Color night vision: This feature is great if you need to give a specific description to authorities about what color clothes the suspect was wearing in a burglary, or even what color car they were driving.
- Smart home integration: Although Skybell doesn’t make an array of its own smart home products, it is compatible with Amazon Echo, Nest, IFTTT, Honeywell, Kwikset, and i Control. Each company and product has its own set of tricks when it works with Skybell products. The most interesting one is when you pair Skybell with Nest Protect. If Nest Protect detects carbon monoxide in the home, your entire Skybell doorbell will change the color of the LED button to let you know not to enter the house.
- Silent mode: If you have a baby you don’t want to disturb or a dog that barks incessantly when the doorbell rings, you can initiate silent mode straight from the app. That means you’ll receive a notification that someone rang your doorbell and is at the door, but you won’t hear the traditional ring throughout your home.
Other things to consider with Skybell HD and Skybell Trim Plus
Both Skybell video doorbells get high marks in the user-friendly department. They are straightforward pieces of equipment once they’ve been installed. Here are other factors to consider when purchasing Skybell products.
- Supports multiple users: Skybell allows for unlimited users to be added onto an account. That means if you have a big family, or you want all your roommates to have access to the doorbell, there is no limit on how many people can get on the app for notifications.
- Pay up front: While some companies provide a way for payments to be broken up monthly, that’s not the case with Skybell. However, with a price point under $200, it is manageable for most.
- Installation: Both Skybell HD and Skybell Trim Plus are designed to replace your traditional doorbell, but they both need to be hardwired. While this can be a DIY project, it is definitely for someone with advanced skills. The company says it is simple, but also says some users opt for professional installation.
- App issues: Both the Google Play and Apple Store users give Skybell’s apps some pretty rough ratings. Both stores rate it just over a 2, and customers say that there are some bugs involved with lagging video and failure to detect motion. The company responds to complaints in the comments, and talks about how developers are updating the app for a better experience. Let’s hope that happens sooner than later.
- No contract: If you don’t want to be tied to a lengthy contract, Skybell is an ideal option for you. The company does not provide professional monitoring, therefore there is no monthly contract to use the product. Once you buy it, it’s yours to monitor.
- Theft guarantee: If your doorbell gets stolen, Skybell guarantees it will be replaced.
- No professional monitoring: If someone breaks into your home, or if you see an emergency on your video recording, you’ll need to contact the authorities on your own. There are some home security companies that provide video doorbells with professional monitoring, but Skybell isn’t one of them.
- No extra video storage: Skybell offers seven days of video storage, which is likely all that most people need. But it has no subscription plans, so that means if you want to save video, you’ll need to save it to your phone and export it before seven days is up.
- No desktop interface: Skybell products are for smartphone users only. Currently, there is no way for users to view the feed or anything related to the doorbell on the computer. Everything is done via the smart phone app.
If you want to add some useful tricks to your smart home ecosystem, Skybell can handle it. It works with several different companies, as well as IFTTT technology, to allow you to do things from unlock your front door remotely, to turning on the lights for a guest when they arrive from your smartphone. You can also ask Alexa to turn your doorbell chime off to keep your baby from waking up.
Many video doorbells have an extra price associated with storing any videos captured after motion is detected. You’ll get seven days of free storage with Skybell. And it’s simple to download video right to your phone if you want to store important stills or video for the future.
There are only two Skybell doorbell options to choose from, and other than design and frame rate, they are essentially the same doorbell. Customers don’t have an array of hardware to choose from, and there are no smart home accessories manufactured by Skybell to add to the doorbell.
When the entire doorbell system is run through a smartphone app, it is a little worrying to see such dismal ratings in both app stores. While user experience can vary widely by cell phone company and model of the phone, bugs seem to be a widespread problem with the Skybell app, which could be something to consider before purchasing.
The Bottom Line
If front door security is a top priority, Skybell is a dependable option for your home. Although there is not a wide array of products to choose from with Skybell, the company has made a durable and attractive-looking doorbell that gets the job done.
You’ll be able to effectively keep tabs on who is at your front door, and create cool third- party automation options like telling other indoor cameras to start recording when motion is detected at the front door. You can even tell Alexa to arm and disarm your system. If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to monitor your home without a contract, Skybell is a solid choice.
- AWARD WINNING PERFORMANCE – SkyBell HD has won numerous awards and named the Best Video Doorbell by CNET in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
- WORKS WITH ALEXA – use simple voice commands using your Amazon Echo or Echo Dot for more convenience.
- Answer your door with your smartphone or tablet – all the convenience of using your mobile device to see, hear, and speak with whomever is...
- NO MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION FEES – recorded video is available to multiple users on your account FREE to download for up to 7-days.
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About the Author
Erin is a freelance video producer and writer based out of Florida. She works with major retail companies and digital startups as a brand storyteller. When Erin's not writing, you can catch her scuba diving and spending time with her dog (not at the same time).