On your way to achieving smart supremacy inside the home, it can be easy to forget about the outside. But with smart doorbells gaining more traction, more companies are chipping in, and that means thereâs never been a better time to invest in an intelligent ringer.
Doing so allows you to turn your front door into a portal for two-way communication, whether youâre at home or away. And two of the premier options from the growing crop are the Nest Hello and the Ring Video Doorbell 2, with the former being the companyâs first dip into the space and the latter being the Amazon-owned company's second-generation doorbell.
With little to split between the pair, below weâll be weighing up the pros and cons of each smart doorbell to give you a better idea of which is best for your front door.
Nest Hello vs Ring 2: Design and installation
The design of a smart doorbell may not seem like a priority, but not only are you going to have to stick this onto your door and see it every day, but the area also has crossover with the installation and recharging of your device â two crucial factors.
Starting with pure looks, the Nest Hello (shown above) is, in our view, the best looking smart doorbell on the market, sitting at around an inch thick, 1.7 inches wide and 4.6 inches tall. Compared to the Ring 2 (below), it looks tiny, with the rival coming in at 5 inches tall and 2.5 inches wide. However, despite one being more attractive than the other, both are going to be noticed, and that's obviously what you want from a doorbell.
Essential guide: Getting started with Nest
Though the base Nest design is stronger, Ring does potentially appeal more strongly to design-conscious potential buyers. Two faceplates come inside the box to help you match the doorbellâs look to your house, and setup now requires much less labour than the previous generation.
Like the original Ring, everything you need to get set up is in the box â right down to the wall plugs and drill bits. If you happen to be upgrading, and youâre wondering whether youâre going to have to install it from scratch, donât fear. The Ring 2 comes with a retro fit plate, meaning you wonât have to drill new holes, and the new angled wedges make it easier to fit onto a corner or a door with an angle.
Because of this, setup couldnât be much simpler for the Ring 2; it can take as little as 10 minutes. Many models require you to lift it off again when it runs out of charge, but thatâs a problem weâve seen rectified with the Ring 2. You can still wire it into your existing doorbellâs circuitry, but those running from a battery can now simply undo the security screw, remove the faceplate and charge the lithium battery through a Micro USB cable. Huzzah.
Sadly the same can't be said for the Next Hello, and that may prove to be a big point of contention for you. The fact that Nest recommends hiring a Nest Pro to come and install it says pretty much everything you need to know. In our experience, the service works well, but judging by the play-by-play account the professional gives of the installation process, you have to really know what you're doing to tackle this yourself.
Ding-dong: Everything you need to know about Ring
If you do happen to be feeling your DIY skills â or you donât want to shell out upwards of $100 for the service â youâll need a screwdriver and power drill to mount the wall plate the Hello rests on before dismantling your current chimer and following the instructions in the Nest app to connect the lot. Then, youâll have to connect the Hello to the wires on the other end at your door. Or, you know, you could opt for the Ring 2.
Nest Hello vs Ring 2: Features and performance
Even if one has the edge for you in the design department, itâs still got to work properly, right? Well, thankfully, both of these options are strong at doing just what they say on the box, but there are slight differences to note.
In terms of specs, the Ring 2 features a Full HD 1080p camera with footage shooting back at you at 15fps, while the Nest Hello delivers up to 30fps from its 3-megapixel snapper. Both, meanwhile, offer a 160-degree field of view and are adept at providing alerts and coverage around the clock.
Theyâre the numbers, but how it all works in practice is the real quiz here. Both work with the help of optional chimers that are set up around your home (meaning you donât miss out on a call if youâre far away from the door), while your phone, tablet and PC can all be synced up for notifications. In our experience, both doorbells are able to consistently and accurately alert you when someone calls, or if youâve set up notifications for movement and sounds around the door.
Catch up: Amazon buys Ring for $1 billion
The Ring 2âs footage does stutter slightly more than that of the Nest Hello; thanks, we imagine, to that disparity in frame rate. However, the Ring does make up for this in the performance of its video chat functionality. Thereâs noise cancellation, and the video output and audio feedback works seamlessly. On the very rare occasion you experience a problem, itâs more than likely that a dip in your Wi-Fi connection is the cause.
Itâs generally a similar story with the Nest Hello, though we have experienced more problems in the audio performance than in our time with Ringâs doorbell â despite Nestâs neat ability to fire out pre-set audio commands at your will. Video, though, was a treat â we rarely, if ever, experienced blurred viewing or delays. The difference between the two here is that Nestâs comes out at a 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning you see people head-to-toe, rather than the 16:9 wide-angle of the Ring 2.
Read next: The best Works with Nest devices
Both devices are subscription-free out of the box but, unfortunately, youâll have to get onto their monthly plans to get the best out of both doorbells â thatâs Nest Aware for the Hello and Ring Protect for the Ring 2. The latter gives you access to cloud storage for all your recordings for 60 days, allowing you to watch, download and share them as you wish, while Nest Aware offers up some more advanced features, like facial recognition, as well as a similar 24/7 recording. Youâre still going to get live looks and alerts for free, but those wanting to go deeper on their security pretty much have to invest in either service.
Verdict: Which is best for you?
We said up top that there wasn't much between these two smart doorbells, and while that's true, they do offer different packages that both propel and detract from their appeal.
The prices are fairly similar â $199.99 for the Ring 2 Video Doorbell and $229.99 for the Nest Hello â but you'll have to reconcile yourself to the various monthly subscriptions if you want to play back your recordings. And if you choose Nest, don't forget that potential setup fee, too.
For those prioritising ease of setup and use, there's no question that the Ring wins out here. The battery-powered solution means that setup is a cinch, and recharging is much, much more friendly than in the previous generation. However, what you have to compromise with the Ring 2 is more advanced features, like facial recognition â which nicely separates neighbourhood pets from your friends and family â and slightly improved video feedback.
You're a winner with whichever ringer makes it onto your front door, which is why both scored 4/5 in our full reviews, but the differences outlined above should give you a better idea of which is best for you and your smart home.