Should I Buy a Smart Video Doorbell in 2023? Maybe Not Yet – Here’s Why

Hey there! Looking to upgrade your doorbell with an exciting new smart gadget? Video doorbells sure promise useful perks like motion notifications, crystal clear footage, and sleek aesthetics. I totally get the appeal of decking out your entrance with cutting edge AI alerts and remote chatting features.

But hold that online order! While the top brands make compelling cases for installing their voice-enabled cameras, some hidden gotchas plague even the most advanced models today. Between ongoing security flaws, spotty connectivity, touchy installations, theft risks, and pesky false alarms, you may find smart systems more frustrating than helpful.

After analyzing the latest generation of video doorbells, I decided pumps the brakes a bit longer while manufacturers work out a few kinks. Here are the top 5 reasons I currently recommend avoiding these temperamental gadgets if possible:

1. Security Exploits Still Abound

First and foremost, insufficient data protections constitute my biggest barrier for personally adopting smart doorbell surveillance. Yes – ironic given their purported safety enhancements. But software vulnerabilities constantly crop up allowing hackers potential access to the entire home network.

Once inside, bad actors can infiltrate other connected devices, steal personal data, spy through additional cameras, or install nasty malware. For example, over 11 million Ring doorbells and cameras contained exposed logins reported just this month. Ring claims patching the defects, but experts warn similar compromises will continue as companies rush more products to market.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer keeping intruders out both physically AND digitally!

And privacy-wise, some brands like Google-owned Nest want permissions to tap even more data mining for improved facial recognition. Maintenance of user freedoms frequently plays second fiddle to tech advancements. The whole situation looks concerning from citizen rights perspectives.

While risks persist at the moment, I plan to reevaluate security maturity in a couple years after the video doorbell market hopefully achieves more safety rigor. But my WiFi credentials stay safely guarded offline for now!

2. Rock Solid High-Speed Internet Remains Essential

Think reliable internet seems like no big deal for performing video doorbell’s core functions? Think again! Consistent high-bandwidth connections represent an absolute necessity for seamless operation. And despite hype suggesting 5G cellular data suffices, experts affirm broadband WiFi works far better.

Without adequate throughput to maintain video feeds, motion alerts, sharp footage, and integration with your household smart network, the entire system performs quite poorly. Freeze frames, extreme compression artifacts, stuttering live views, and delays measured in minutes rather than seconds all constitute common connectivity-related complaints.

And that’s for households enjoying overall good signals! My friend dwelling rurally with spotty DSL suffered outright video DOA until getting Starlink dishes installed for sufficient bandwidth.

If you want to actually depend on smart notifications instead of shrugging them off as just another “broken sensor”, ensure the doorbell gets perfectly strong, consistent reception.

Factoring in network testing tools, WiFi extenders, or mesh system installations does carry the potential to mitigate areas with borderline strength. But going all-in on premium high-speed plans simply for doorbell sake strikes me as overkill financially.

I suggest first nailing down your home’s overall connectivity catering to phones and computers. Once hitting 300 Mbps or better reliably across the property, you can reconsider shelling out $100+ for these data-hungry devices.

3. Installations Daunting without Pro Assistance

Perhaps I simply exemplify stereotypical millennial inability to use basic hand tools… But properly hardwiring electrical gadgets well exceeds my comfort zone! Runtime estimates for seemingly simple smart doorbell installations turn into multi-hour ordeals requiring multiple YouTube tutorial pauses. And DIY attempts risk hazardous electrocutions when working with ring transformers converts and wall current.

Sparing myself frustration, I gladly hire out skilled electricians and handymen instead of tackling tricky tech myself. But even professionals admit some video doorbell placements and wiring prove quite ornery depending on fixtures. Outdoors drilling through brick and stone immediately intimidates!

And it doesn‘t stop there – connecting accessory modules like WiFi range extenders or additional doorbell push buttons also demand precision placements maintaining signal strength and user experience quality. Rushed, inaccurate installations result in endless connectivity headaches or misleading alerts.

While calling in installation pros may seem the obvious solution, it tacks on hundreds more in labor fees. And appointment scheduling itself contains uncertainties too depending on contractor availability. The total upgrade cost can really start exceeding gadget-lover budgets.

Ultimately acing video doorbell installations requires skills surpassing my tool belts. I decided keeping projects straightforward using simpler battery powered options works better for now while technology & techniques mature. But batteries do carry capacity limitations…

4. Hot Targets for Porch Pirates

Hate to say it, but even security devices now suffer growing theft rates themselves thanks rising prices for resale serving the flourishing black market! The trendy gadgets prominently visible by front doors present irresistible temptation for pirates seeking lucrative five finger discounts.

Once stolen, prized video doorbell originals and replacements command lucrative premiums on platforms like eBay and Craigslist due to very high product demand and scarcity. For instance, the latest Ring model retails around $100 USD. But curiosity on popular auction sites reveals willing buyers paying upward of $150! Few households can afford replacing constantly pilfered $100 devices even WITH video evidence.

And besides hitting household finances, preventing “victimless” property crimes ranks pretty low on busy police priority lists. So increased video surveillance paradoxically does little discouraging this emerging nuisance theft category from continuing. Very frustrating for owners indeed!

In higher theft risk neighborhoods, I suggest homeowners carefully consider simpler less conspicuous options less likely to catch thieves eyes. Perhaps boring proves best! But improving community conditions could make revisiting video doorbells reasonable too.

5. Endless False Alerts Exhaust Users

Finally, even well-executed installations must contend with dubious detection algorithms constantly crying wolf! These devices lacking robust sensor suites or training data have extreme difficulties distinguishing actual trespassers from harmless passersby.

I don’t know about your neighborhood, but vibrant wildlife and reasonable foot traffic characterize mine. Alert fatigue rapidly sets in when camera systems misclassify squirrels, postal delivery trucks, and dog walkers as imminent home invasions multiple times daily. Pet owners in particular suffer incredible volumes of erroneous cat and dog detections.

Bothered recipients swiftly learn disregarding the hyper-sensitive apps completely. Which in turn defeats receiving legitimate alerts for approaching strangers! Sophisticated AI training may someday prioritize real threats more accurately. But companies currently leverage consumer data too freely for my liking.

I theorize simpler sensors and analytics avoiding live feeds may achieve better results differentiating welcome guests from dangerous intruders. But computerized vision appears stuck in proof-of-concept stage thus far. Human eyes still excel detecting actionable situations without connectivity or complex processors!

So for the foreseeable future, rudimentary chimes and peeking out windows serve my entrance awareness needs fine. Some gadgets demand patience for manufacturers to fully bake rather than snatching barely-out-of-beta designs!

Now if reading about smart doorbell pitfalls concerned you somewhat, take heart! Several easier alternatives nicely enhance household entry awareness without intensive wiring or connections. Streaming capabilities may lack compared to Ring and Nest cameras, however simplified needs see reliable performance for much lower costs and hassles.

Here are two straightforward options I recommend considering first:

Battery Wireless Chime Kits

For a completely seamless install, this $19 GE plug-in model delivers alerts to interior receivers up to 150 feet away using battery powered external buttons.

Rather than dealing with electrical wiring, it functions similarly to classic doorbells but with wider positioning flexibility and louder modern dual tone chimes sure to notify dwellers. Nice expandability too – syncing up to 4 total buttons lets covering multiple doors.

The uncomplicated nature simply works consistently without networked fragmentation concerns. Reliable hardware lasts years without charging or software updates. Sometimes keeping technology boring makes products BETTER!

Price<$20 fits all budgets
InstallationMinutes with no tools
Range150 foot wireless signal
Audio80 decibel dual-tone chimes
ExpandabilitySync up to 4 buttons
PowerCR2032 battery ~2 years
Warranty1 year + 30 day returns

Give basic wireless operation a shot before buying into subscription plans!

Video Enabled Magnetic Models

If feeling a tad more adventurous installing home electronics, this standout $140 video kit captured my attention with its simplified magnetic mount and offline video capabilities.

Rather than wrestling with electrical wiring, the plug receiver displays audio and visual alerts from the 1080P camera doorbell transmitting over an ultra secure RF signal ~1500ft away. Intelligent motion detection focuses on visitors rather than stray cats too. Very handy for screening guests!

Encased in IP65 weatherproof housing and powered by a built-in solar cell, outstanding durability promises years of reliable activity notifications without charging or direct sunlight requirements. It quite simply works continuously come rain, snow, or shine!

Accessories galore ship in the box for increased mounting versatility too – angled wedges, adhesive strips, screws, and wire extensions accommodate doors of all styles. And the receiver even thoughtfully replaces the outlet it borrows with an integrated pass through!

For affordable offline camera visibility and monitoring avoiding WiFi, this very complete kit makes setup simple. Once manufacturers better address smart products’ endemic security flaws, revisit more advanced integrations. But this suits home awareness needs today excellently Well!

Price$140 (+13% coupon)
Video Quality1080P full HD steaming
ConnectivityEncrypted RF signal
Range1500 feet indoor/outdoor
Field of View140 diagonal degrees
PowerSolar-powered battery
WeatherproofIP65 dust & splash resistant
Warranty3 years plus satisfaction guarantee

Capable protection without the hackable headaches!

Admittedly, monitoring solution advertisements tempt fantasies of catching catalytic converter thieves red handed and flawlessly filtering friends from foes via facial recognition. The innovator in me wants to embrace each and every shiny new gadget with abandon too!

But practically assessing my realistic WiFi reliability, installation skills, theft risks, and tens of needy pets, adding a video doorbell currently seems more trouble than it‘s worth. Today, anyway…

Yet enhanced visibility at the entrance does offer useful peace of mind for many households despite some models’ quirks. Thankfully doorbell technologies span an incredibly wide spectrum meeting diverse needs.

Where easily installed battery wireless chimes shine for affordability with limited range, sophisticated smart options eventually support intricate automations and custom alerts once achieving suitable security maturity. Video enabled but offline kits also balance improved footage with approachable setups.

Bottom line – skip the frustrations and wait for more progress before purchasing glitchy glorified gadgets. But keeping apprised of the video doorbell market on the horizon seems prudent once they work out lingering bugs. Core functionality doubtless improves exponentially in coming months thanks to heated manufacturer competition!

That help provide some guidance navigating modern monitoring options and realistic expectations? Let me know if any other home tech questions come to mind when securing that entrance!

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