Google Nest Doorbell (2021) Review: Cheaper, but Not Better


A photo of the second-gen Nest Doorbell camera

The Nest Doorbell digital camera is now battery-powered.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Over the previous few years, Google has been transitioning its Nest sensible house model away from a stand-alone firm and bringing it into the Google fold. Now you possibly can combine and match sensible shows and different devices that hook up with the Google Assistant as you see match. This is handy, to make sure, but it additionally has some drawbacks.

Take the brand new Nest Doorbell for instance. The new mannequin is cheaper than the primary technology, sports activities an upgraded design, and is battery-powered, too. If you haven’t already purchased into the concept of a doorbell digital camera and also you’re searching for one which connects to Google, this can be a stable one, although there are some caveats, particularly for renters.

And then there’s legacy Nest customers like myself, who would possibly discover themselves grappling with the nuances of the brand new Nest. Bringing this doorbell digital camera into an present community of Nest units jogged my memory that Nest is now totally a Google product. Google has been actively shifting away from utilizing the unique Nest cell app for connecting Nest devices, which I can settle for, but nonetheless. Change is difficult.

A Thoroughly Modern Doorbell

I’ve been residing with the unique Nest Doorbell because it launched in 2018. I’ve appreciated its utility over time and its cheeky holiday-themed chimes. It’s even moved properties with me. But I’m particularly into it as a result of it doesn’t look apparent and boxy just like the Ring doorbell everybody else appears to have within the suburbs.

The new Nest Doorbell appears like a twenty first century house accent—nearly too fashionable for my Seventies home. Its chassis is decidedly flatter than the earlier technology, and it’s additionally a honker. It’s greater than six inches tall, making it extra distinguished than the wired Nest Doorbell, which is rather less than 5 inches lengthy. The distinction is important when seen aspect by aspect, although it was seemingly a design resolution to accommodate the battery pack.

A photo of a hand holding the new Nest Doorbell next to the old one

The second-gen Nest Doorbell digital camera is considerably bigger than the first-generation Nest Doorbell digital camera.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The remainder of the Nest Doorbell incorporates a matte chassis, which I’m hoping will fare higher in opposition to sizzling, smoky California days than the glassy first-generation model, which now has warped plastic on the edge. Google supplied Gizmodo a grey one for review, although it additionally affords the doorbell in white, beige, and a green-gray hue.

You’ll make some sacrifices with the brand new mannequin in comparison with the outdated. The new Nest Doorbell incorporates a 1.3-megapixel digital camera with 6x digital zoom and a 3:4 facet ratio. The wired Nest Doorbell is supplied with a 3-megapixel sensor with 8x digital zoom. I particularly seen discrepancies in the way in which every of the cameras dealt with mild coming in—the second-gen Nest Doorbell was way more delicate to it.

There can be a distinction in decision between the 2. The Nest Doorbell digital camera’s most decision is 960 x 1280, in comparison with the unique’s 1600 x 1200 decision. The upside is that you’ll save on each bandwidth and battery by choosing the decrease decision. The battery-powered Nest Doorbell digital camera has a 145-degree area of view, in comparison with the first-gen’s 160-degree area of view.

The wired Nest Doorbell comes with an adjunct known as a chime connector. It’s supposed to assist with energy administration as soon as it’s related to the ability line. It labored at my outdated townhouse, but not once I moved. As a outcome, I’ve been utilizing the outdated doorbell solely with the Assistant-connected units in my house.

A photo of the battery-powered Nest doorbell

You don’t must hardwire the battery-powered Nest Doorbell.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The battery-powered Nest Doorbell affords one thing just like my workaround: You don’t want a wire to get the “bell” performance working. However, it does require that you’ve Nest-compatible sensible audio system and sensible shows related in your house. Otherwise, you’ll be solely reliant on the Google Home app and cell notifications to listen to if anybody is on the door. The doorbell additionally affords an audible chime, but you won’t at all times hear it when you reside in an enormous home or work in a again room.

You can select to hardwire the brand new Nest Doorbell, a choice that provides a key profit: If it’s related to your private home’s built-in chime, so that you’ll hear the doorbell whenever you’re inside the home regardless in case you have Assistant units. It additionally concurrently powers up the digital camera, so that you’re not counting on the battery.

Not for Renters

A photo of the mounting plate for the Nest Doorbell secured to a wood panel

Renters, beware: If your home doesn’t assist you to put holes within the exterior, you may need a tough time putting this doorbell digital camera.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Depending on the outside of your private home or house, you received’t want an influence drill to put in the most recent model of the Nest Doorbell. The Doorbell digital camera requires you to put in a base plate, together with two wall anchors and screws, but it’s all potential with a regular Philips screwdriver. There’s a 20-degree wedge plate included within the field to angle the doorbell and spacers for slabbed exteriors, and there’s additionally a key to launch the doorbell unit from its base.

What I didn’t see within the field was a solution to set up the doorbell with out making holes. I’d anticipated one thing just like the No-Drill mount from Amazon’s Ring Video Doorbell 3 and three Plus. You would possibly have the ability to get away with a set of super-strong adhesive strips on the again of the doorbell with out the usage of a plate, as a result of the again is sort of flat. But that will block off entry to the USB-C port for recharging the system, and people outdoor-use Command strips are finest when used as soon as.

Google Account Required

The new Nest Doorbell requires that you’ve a Google account or a Nest account that’s been migrated over. Most longtime Nest customers already converted when Google force-enabled two-factor authentication for safety functions. If you’re new to the ecosystem, you received’t have to join a Nest account in any respect. But when you’ve had Nest units for some time, this may be the place it will get complicated.

My husband, the proprietor of our Nest account and the title on the invoice for Nest Aware, Google’s paid subscription service for steady video-recording, was equally confused by the changeover. We nonetheless use the unique Nest app to regulate and test in on our present safety cameras. We have entry to all these different units within the Google Home app, together with the thermostat and smoke detectors. But the menu buildings are completely different for the safety cameras between the 2 apps, together with the way you view and save video clips.

It’s not a dealbreaker, but having to transform to utilizing the Google Home app is one thing to bear in mind when you’ve been utilizing Nest safety cameras for years. (It may be finest to adapt now earlier than Google kills it off solely.) The Home app takes some time to scroll by way of the completely different rooms and units that I’ve arrange in my sensible house earlier than I get to the choice to test on the yard doorbell digital camera. I discovered this takes some time if I by chance swipe away the movement notification and I need to peek in on the digital camera.

If you’re on an Android system, you get the added perk of the built-in capability to handle your sensible house by long-pressing the ability button. This mechanism will change in Android 12 when the sensible house controls transfer to a devoted settings tile within the notification shade—Google’s imaginative and prescient for an built-in expertise.

Nest cameras and doorbells are nonetheless appropriate with Alexa per a Google support page. However, the brand new Nest Doorbell digital camera didn’t seem as an choice once I tried to pair the units by way of an present ability, as a result of I paired the system by way of Google and never my Nest account. Google mentioned the brand new doorbell shouldn’t be appropriate with Alexa at launch, which is one other trade-off to make, relying on which voice assistant you favor.

Battery-Saving Features

A photo of the Nest Doorbell affixed to a wooden plank

The battery-powered Nest Doorbell affords options that assist it maintain on to its juice.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The second-generation Nest Doorbell works and capabilities just like the 4 wired Nest cameras I’ve arrange on my community. The good thing about this explicit mannequin is that it’s battery-powered and programmed for power-saving use. Sometimes it felt slower than my wired cameras, although. A couple of occasions, it took greater than 5 seconds earlier than a wise show may dial within the preview window to the battery-powered Nest Doorbell as a result of the digital camera goes dormant when it doesn’t sense movement. That’s additionally why I didn’t have night time footage to share throughout this review: Nothing occurred to warrant the digital camera turning on to seize it.

The Nest Doorbell has an upgraded TPU chip that may acknowledge 9 completely different objects with none cloud processing. It does most of its movement recognition offline, which might help save battery. You can go into the Google Home settings for the doorbell digital camera and modify its sensitivity to varied objects, together with pets, folks, autos, and packages.

I don’t but have an correct learn on whether or not the on-device processing helps battery life in the long run. The Google Home app retains you alerted to how a lot battery you will have leftover whenever you log in for a peek on the digital camera. On my finish, the battery says it ought to final for 2 weeks (I’ve been testing for a couple of week). You should take away the doorbell from its anchoring plate to cost the 6 Ah battery, which is type of annoying as a result of when the doorbell is off the plate, it turns off, and you may’t use the digital camera or doorbell until it’s seated in its base.

The doorbell took about an hour to cost up 30%, so that you’re not seeing smartphone quick-charging speeds right here, but a few hours of charging each couple weeks isn’t the tip of the world.

How the New Nest Stacks Up

A photo of the Nest Doorbell with the button lit up

The Nest Doorbell lights up after the button has been pressed.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The battery-powered Nest Doorbell’s on-device processing means it doesn’t require a Nest Aware subscription to work. That subscription has two tiers: a primary plan for $6/month or $60/12 months that features 30 days of occasion historical past, or Nest Aware Plus, which is $12/month or $120/12 months and affords 60 days of occasion historical past plus 10 days of 24/7 recording. The Nest Doorbell contains three-hour occasion video historical past by default and can’t constantly report video. That’s the place it majorly differentiates from the wired model of the Nest Doorbell and why you’d select that one over the battery-powered mannequin.

The $230 wired Nest Doorbell does price just a little greater than the battery-powered one, but you get a tool that’s consistently related and thus, capable of report video and sound across the clock. Many folks don’t require that type of surveillance at their door—or they don’t the power to wire a doorbell—and that’s the place the second-gen Nest Doorbell is available in. For $180, you get the identical Google-powered particular person and object recognition and seamless integration with the remainder of the units in Google’s ecosystem by way of the Google Home app.

The incontrovertible fact that particular person and object recognition occurs on system as a substitute of within the cloud can be considerably reassuring from a privateness perspective, to a sure level. Using a Google product comes with its own specific drawbacks, and your Nest Doorbell footage can nonetheless be requested by police, although the corporate doesn’t have a approach for police to request information immediately from customers the way in which Amazon Ring’s Neighbors social network does. Ring works directly with police, although the corporate just lately added end-to-end encryption so customers can stop police from accessing their video footage and not using a request.

All in all, the brand new Nest Doorbell cam is okay, particularly when you’re all in with Google Assistant, although there are different, cheaper, platform-agnostic doorbell cameras that provide comparable options. As a long-time Nest consumer who has a completely Google house, I skilled some pains with this doorbell, so I like to recommend springing for the wired model when you can. The smaller profile and 24/7 recording are price the additional cash.



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