SkyBell’s $199 US-0nly HD Wi-Fi Video Doorbell caught me off guard. The previous SkyBell buzzer I reviewed was all right, but lacked a handful of major features. It didn’t have HD video, it didn’t work with third-party products, and you couldn’t record or save video clips.
But the startup’s next-gen doorbell is upping the ante in a very real way, with features competitive with the all-new (and noticeably pricier) $249 Ring Video Doorbell Pro. Specifically, the latest SkyBell comes complete with a 1080p resolution, on-demand live streaming and free clip storage, as well as integrations with Amazon’s Alexa and Google/Alphabet’s Nest. It also has its own IFTTT channel.
Tack on its responsiveness and straightforward app interface and you end up with an unexpected leader in the burgeoning smart doorbell category. The SkyBell HD Wi-Fi Video Doorbell is definitely worth consideration, especially if you aren’t sold on August’s Doorbell Cam and its other brand-exclusive smart home accessories.
Pretty, pretty SkyBell
With a rounded design measuring 2.8 inches by 2.8 inches and a depth of 0.9 inch, SkyBell’s HD doorbell looks virtually identical to the previous model. I like the style of this doorbell, though, so that’s a good thing. Plus, you can get it in either brushed aluminum or oil-rubbed bronze for matching it to the other hardware in your home, HGTV-style.
The issue arises at install time. At nearly 3 inches wide, this thing is not going to fit on every door frame. And, since it requires a hard-wired set up to work, you’ll have to relocate your existing doorbell wiring for a more permanent, tidy-looking install (unless you don’t mind your doorbell hanging into your doorway).
This isn’t unique to SkyBell. August’s $199 Doorbell Cam clocks in at 2.9 inches wide, and the $199 Ring Video Doorbell measures 2.43 inches. It’s as if every smart doorbell brand was searching for a way to differentiate itself from your everyday buzzer that’s small and rectangular and unobtrusive. But, these in-your-face designs aren’t particularly door-frame-friendly. It’s little wonder, then, that Ring’s newest model, the Video Doorbell Pro, looks a lot more doorbell-y at just 1.85 inches wide.
Despite the whole doorframe overhang issue, the SkyBell HD was simple to install. Just switch off power to your doorbell, remove your old buzzer and attach the existing wires to the included SkyBell mounting plate. If you aren’t rerouting wiring to a new location (which could require a specialized drill if you’re installing it on a brick facade or some other tough surface), all you really need is a Phillips-head screwdriver, which SkyBell includes in the box.
Note: This unit will only work with a hard-wired system and is easiest to install with a traditional mechanical chime. SkyBell does also provide a digital door chime adapter, but that requires some additional effort. Check out this tutorial video for more information.