Nest Doorbell review: Google’s porch sentinel shines

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It’s been three years since Google launched the Nest Hello, a wired video doorbell with facial recognition that helped set the standard for smart doorbells. In that time, many competitors have appeared, but few have come close to the quality and reliability of that device. But now there’s a competitor.

The Nest Doorbell (battery) is a Google-made video doorbell that can run on battery power (it can also operate on wired power, if you have that infrastructure and wish to connect it to your existing doorbell chime). In our tests the device performed excellently, didn’t give any problems, and proved itself to be a worthy sister device to the original Nest Hello. (As part of the launch of the new doorbell, the original Nest Hello has been renamed the Nest Doorbell (wired).

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best video doorbells, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.

New hardware

A large, round black circle with a camera in its center is at the top of the new Nest doorbell. A small LED below that indicates when the camera is recording or processing video. A button equal in size to the camera circle is at the bottom of the doorbell, with a ring around it that glows when someone comes close.

nest doorbell battery snow buttonpress 16x9 Google Nest

Visitors will have no trouble figuring out where the Nest Doorbell’s ringer button is located.

The inclusion of a battery has made the new doorbell noticeably taller than the wired model—6.3 inches (160mm), versus 4.6 inches (117mm)—and it weighs nearly twice as much at 7.3 ounces (206g). But if you have the room to install it, these dimensions don’t matter too much.

Don’t miss our equally in-depth Nest Cam (battery) review.

Freed from the requirement to be wired (again, you can connect it to power if desired), the doorbell can be used on or nearly any door, whether doorbell wiring exists or not. The only infrastructure requirement is a Wi-Fi network (both 2.4- and 5GHz networks are supported).

nest1 Martyn Williams / IDG

The Nest Doorbell (battery) (left) is quite a lot taller than the earlier and wired Nest Hello (which has been renamed the Nest Doorbell (wired).

It’s not just the battery that’s new. Three years on from the original doorbell, Nest has also been able to make use of technological advances.

On-device processing

One of the biggest changes is the shifting of image processing and recognition from the cloud to the camera. A machine-learning algorithm sits in the doorbell software and handles detection of several different classes of alert, and this has several advantages.

Among them is more accurate detection based on double the number of pixels and double the frame rate of the Nest Hello. Because the processing is done locally, alerts are also dispatched faster.



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