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4 Best Video Doorbell Cameras (2022): Smart, Wireless, and a Word About Eufy and Ring

4 Best Video Doorbell Cameras (2022): Smart, Wireless, and a Word About Eufy and Ring

Wired Vs. Battery Powered: Smart doorbells require more power than traditional doorbells. You may need a new transformer, and you will likely want to hire an electrician for safe installation. The main advantages of wired doorbells are that you shouldn’t need to touch them again after installation, and they will ring your existing doorbell chime. Wired doorbells are usually a bit cheaper and slimmer than models with batteries, too.

Battery-powered smart doorbells are easy to install yourself and can be mounted wherever you like. The main downside is that you must remove and charge the battery every few months, which means some downtime unless you buy a spare battery to switch in. Remember also that your regular doorbell chime won’t work with a battery-powered smart doorbell, so you will probably need to buy a wireless chime device to plug in somewhere in your home, though you can also configure smart speakers to act as doorbell chimes.

Most battery-powered video doorbells can also be wired, which may be the best solution if you have concerns about power outages.

Resolution and HDR: The higher the resolution, the clearer the picture you get, but consider that higher resolution video also requires more bandwidth to stream and takes up more storage space. If your front porch is in direct sunlight or strong shade, we strongly recommend opting for a video doorbell with HDR support as it helps to prevent bright areas from appearing blown out or shadowy areas from being too dark to see.

Field of View and Aspect Ratio: If you want a head-to-toe view of the person at your front door, then think about the field of view and aspect ratio offered by your prospective pick. A wider field of view will take more in but can cause a fish eye effect. Rather than a traditional landscape aspect ratio, you may prefer a square or portrait view to ensure you can see a visitor’s face and any packages that might be on your porch.

Local or Cloud Storage: If you don’t want to sign up for a subscription service and upload video clips to the cloud, ensure your chosen doorbell offers local storage. Some video doorbells have MicroSD card slots, while others record video to a hub device inside your home. You can expect to pay somewhere around $3 to $6 per month for 30 days of storage for a video doorbell.

Advanced Features: Many video doorbells offer features like package detection and person recognition. These features can be handy for filtering alerts, so you only get useful notifications. Bear in mind that you may need a subscription to gain access to advanced features.

Choosing a Brand: If you already have a security camera system or plan on getting one, it makes a lot of sense to stick with the same brand for your doorbell. That way, you can access everything in the same app and get a single subscription if required. If you have a smart home setup, check that the doorbell is compatible with your preferred ecosystem and voice assistant.

Security: A couple of things we recommend looking for are two-factor authentication (2FA) to ensure that someone with your username and password cannot log into your doorbell and encryption to ensure anyone accessing the manufacturer’s servers cannot see your Wi-Fi login details or watch uploaded videos.

Here’s What the ‘Matter’ Smart Home Standard Is All About

Here’s What the ‘Matter’ Smart Home Standard Is All About

The ideal smart home seamlessly anticipates your needs and instantly responds to commands. You shouldn’t have to open a specific app for each appliance or remember the precise voice command and voice assistant combination that starts the latest episode of your favorite podcast on the nearest speaker. Competing smart home standards make operating your devices needlessly complicated. It’s just not very … well, smart.

Tech giants try to straddle standards by offering their voice assistants as a controlling layer on top, but Alexa can’t talk to Google Assistant or Siri or control Google or Apple devices, and vice versa. (And so far, no single ecosystem has created all the best devices.) But these interoperability woes may soon be remedied. Formerly called Project CHIP (Connected Home over IP), the open source interoperability standard known as Matter is finally here. Some of the biggest tech names have signed on, like Amazon, Apple, and Google, which means that seamless integration may finally be within reach.

Updated October 2022: Added news of the Matter 1.0 specification release, the certification program, and some additional details.

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Table of Contents

What Is Matter?

Matter promises to enable different devices and ecosystems to play nicely. Device manufacturers need to comply with the Matter standard to ensure their devices are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and others. For folks building a smart home, Matter theoretically lets you buy any device and use the voice assistant or platform you prefer to control it (yes, you should be able to use different voice assistants to talk to the same product).

For example, you’ll be able to buy a Matter-supported smart bulb and set it up with Apple Homekit, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa—without having to worry about compatibility. Right now, some devices already support multiple platforms (like Alexa or Google Assistant), but Matter will expand that platform support and make setting up your new devices faster and easier. 

The first protocol runs on Wi-Fi and Thread network layers and uses Bluetooth Low Energy for device setup. While it will support various platforms, you’ll have to choose the voice assistants and apps you want to use—there is no central Matter app or assistant. Overall, you can expect your smart home devices to be more responsive to you. 

What Makes Matter Different?

The Connectivity Standards Alliance (or CSA, formerly the Zigbee Alliance) maintains the Matter standard. What sets it apart is the breadth of its membership (more than 550 tech companies), the willingness to adopt and merge disparate technologies, and the fact that it is an open source project. Now that the software development kit (SDK) is ready, interested companies can use it royalty-free to incorporate their devices into the Matter ecosystem.

Growing out of the Zigbee Alliance gives Matter a firm foundation. Bringing the main smart home platforms (Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings) to the same table is an achievement. It is optimistic to imagine a seamless adoption of Matter across the board, but it has enjoyed a rush of enthusiasm with a range of smart home brands already signed up, including August, Schlage, and Yale in smart locks; Belkin, Cync, GE Lighting, Sengled, Signify (Philips Hue), and Nanoleaf in smart lighting; and others like Arlo, Comcast, Eve, TP-Link, and LG. There are more than 280 member companies in Matter.

When Will Matter Arrive?

Matter has been in the works for years. The first release was due in late 2020, but it was delayed to the following year, rebranded as Matter, and then touted for a summer release. After another delay, the Matter 1.0 specification and certification program is now finally ready. The SDK, tools, and test cases are available, and eight authorized test labs are open for product certification. That essentially means you can expect to see Matter-supported smart home gadgets going on sale as early as October 2022 after they’re certified. 

The CSA says the last delay was to accommodate more devices and platforms and ensure they all work smoothly with one another before release. More than 130 devices and sensors across 16 development platforms (operating systems and chipsets) are working through certification, and you can expect many more soon.

What About Other Smart Home Standards?

The road to smart home nirvana is paved with different standards, like Zigbee, Z-Wave, Samsung SmartThings, Wi-Fi HaLow, and Insteon, to name a few. These protocols and others will continue to exist and operate. Google has merged its Thread and Weave technologies into Matter. The new standard also employs Wi-Fi and Ethernet standards and uses Bluetooth LE for device setup.

Matter is not a single technology and should evolve and improve over time. It won’t cover every possible use case for every device and scenario, so other standards will continue to develop. The more platforms and standards merge with Matter, the greater its potential to succeed, but the challenge of making it all work seamlessly also grows.

Will Matter Work With Existing Devices?

Some devices will work with Matter after a firmware update. Others won’t ever be compatible. There’s no simple answer here. Many devices that currently work with Thread, Z-Wave, or Zigbee should be able to work with Matter, but it’s not a given that they will get upgrades. It is best to check in with manufacturers about specific devices and future support.

The first specification, or Matter 1.0, covers only certain categories of devices, including:

  • Light bulbs and switches
  • Smart plugs
  • Smart locks
  • Safety and security sensors
  • Media devices including TVs
  • Smart blinds and shades
  • Garage door controllers
  • Thermostats
  • HVAC controllers
The 5 Best Water Leak Detectors for Your Home

The 5 Best Water Leak Detectors for Your Home

Here’s what you need to think about when you shop for smart leak detectors and install them in your home.

Placement and Sensors: Unless you have a single problem spot or appliance you want to monitor, you will likely need multiple leak detectors. Most have cables with sensors on the end, some have water-sensing cords, and others are self-contained. You also have the option of extension nodes with some detectors. Think about the areas you want to cover and consider what kind of detector would work best for you and how many you need.

Alerts: All the smart water leak detectors we tested send push notifications when there’s a leak, but some also send emails and texts. Most have some kind of built-in alarm sound, but some offer separate sirens or can be configured to send alerts through smart speakers or other devices. It’s worth checking that your pick supports disconnection alerts to warn you when the connection is lost, which may happen if power or Wi-Fi goes out.

Power: Most detectors are battery-powered, but you can get some that plug directly into outlets. You can set and forget plug-in detectors, but batteries give you more flexibility with placement, and the companion app will typically warn you when the batteries need to be changed.

Wi-Fi Access: Most smart water leak detectors connect directly to your Wi-Fi router or a hub, so make sure that you have a decent signal wherever you are installing them. Most of the devices we tested only connect to Wi-Fi on the 2.4-GHz band. Remember that they need internet access to alert you to any leaks or problems when you are away from home. If your internet goes down, they will simply act as local alarms.

Smart Home Integration: While companion apps and mobile notifications are typical, some detectors support smart home standards, which allows you to access detectors in your chosen smart home app and set up triggers or automation. For example, you could set a water alert to flash your smart lights or maybe have a particular temperature trigger heating or air conditioning to turn on.

Automatic Water Shut-Off: With some high-end systems, you can install a water monitoring device with an automatic shutoff function, enabling any leak detection to shut off your water supply. But these systems are usually expensive and may require professional installation.

Temperature and Humidity Monitoring: Some smart water leak detectors can also monitor the temperature and humidity, potentially alerting you to the danger of frozen pipes or damp environments that could indicate a leak nearby. You can generally review the temperature and humidity over time, so you can immediately spot any notable changes that need investigation. Coupled with smart home automation, you can also trigger heating or fans at certain levels to reduce the risk of damage.

The Best Video Doorbell Cameras

The Best Video Doorbell Cameras

Wired Vs. Battery Powered: Smart doorbells require more power than traditional doorbells. You may need a new transformer, and you will likely want to hire an electrician for safe installation. The main advantages of wired doorbells are that you shouldn’t need to touch them again after installation, and they will ring your existing doorbell chime. Wired doorbells are usually a bit cheaper and slimmer than models with batteries, too.

Battery-powered smart doorbells are easy to install yourself and can be mounted wherever you like. The main downside is that you must remove and charge the battery every few months, which means some downtime unless you buy a spare battery to switch in. Remember also that your regular doorbell chime won’t work with a battery-powered smart doorbell, so you will probably need to buy a wireless chime device to plug in somewhere in your home, though you can also configure smart speakers to act as doorbell chimes.

Most battery-powered video doorbells can also be wired, which may be the best solution if you have concerns about power outages.

Resolution and HDR: The higher the resolution, the clearer the picture you get, but consider that higher resolution video also requires more bandwidth to stream and takes up more storage space. If your front porch is in direct sunlight or strong shade, we strongly recommend opting for a video doorbell with HDR support as it helps to prevent bright areas from appearing blown out or shadowy areas from being too dark to see.

Field of View and Aspect Ratio: If you want a head-to-toe view of the person at your front door, then think about the field of view and aspect ratio offered by your prospective pick. A wider field of view will take more in but can cause a fish eye effect. Rather than a traditional landscape aspect ratio, you may prefer a square or portrait view to ensure you can see a visitor’s face and any packages that might be on your porch.

Local or Cloud Storage: If you don’t want to sign up for a subscription service and upload video clips to the cloud, ensure your chosen doorbell offers local storage. Some video doorbells have MicroSD card slots, while others record video to a hub device inside your home. You can expect to pay somewhere around $3 to $6 per month for 30 days of storage for a video doorbell.

Advanced Features: Many video doorbells offer features like package detection and person recognition. These features can be handy for filtering alerts, so you only get useful notifications. Bear in mind that you may need a subscription to gain access to advanced features.

Choosing a Brand: If you already have a security camera system or plan on getting one, it makes a lot of sense to stick with the same brand for your doorbell. That way, you can access everything in the same app and get a single subscription if required. If you have a smart home setup, check that the doorbell is compatible with your preferred ecosystem and voice assistant.

Security: A couple of things we recommend looking for are two-factor authentication (2FA) to ensure that someone with your username and password cannot log into your doorbell and encryption to ensure anyone accessing the manufacturer’s servers cannot see your Wi-Fi login details or watch uploaded videos.

These Are Our Favorite Robot Vacuums

These Are Our Favorite Robot Vacuums

In the past few years, no product I’ve tested has advanced as quickly as the humble robot vacuum. Where once they ping-ponged randomly around your kitchen, you can now find robot vacs at every price point with an incredible array of features, including mapping capabilities, self-emptying bins, and even cameras. 

Vacuuming an ever-changing household is a complicated task, and no robot vacuum is perfect. However, I test them in one of the most challenging environments possible—a carpeted, two-story family home with messy kids and a shedding dog—and personally, I find them indispensable. Whether you’re drowning in cat hair, need to lighten your chore load, or just want to spend more time with your family, we have a pick that will help. 

Looking for other handy home items? Be sure to check out our other buying guides, including the Best Air Purifiers and the Best Pots and Pans.

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Updated May 2022: We’ve added new picks, such as the Roborock Q5+, and cut a few older units. 

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