Update, 12/19/2022: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and updated our Best Budget and Best No-Subscription Picks.
What to look for in a video intercom in 2022
Installing a video doorbell is one of the best ways to help protect your home. For the most part, it works the same as a home security camera, except it’s designed for the front door. Unwanted visitors will think twice before breaking in when they see a doorbell camera in front of them.
So how do you choose the right video intercom for you? With so many options on the market, it all depends on what you’re looking for.
Doorbell cameras come with a wide variety of features, including two-way audio, high-resolution video, motion detection, sending instant alerts to your phone, and night vision. You can find video doorbells with premium features, like 3:4 aspect ratio lenses for viewing visitors from head to toe, and compatibility with voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant.
You generally have two options when installing video doorbells. The first is to connect them to your existing doorbell. This option is ideal for those who never want to worry about battery life.
The second is to wirelessly install the doorbell on your home door using the tools provided with the camera. Of course, you need to recharge or replace the video door phone battery when it is low or exhausted.
The last factors you’ll want to consider are storage and application control. If you’re going to store a large amount of footage and for long periods of time, you’ll need a subscription service. These services usually allow you to save a large number of images in the cloud.
Most devices with local storage don’t come with much built-in storage, so you’ll have to empty your saved videos frequently. You may also prefer to have full control of your video doorbell through an app as it is convenient to use.
Now that you know what to look for, let’s go over the best options on the market.
How do I install a video intercom?
The installation process is different for each product, although most require a mounting plate to be installed near the front door before connecting the door station. If you’re using a corded model, you’ll need to plug in some cables, while wireless models will require disposable or rechargeable batteries.
Is there a video intercom that does not require Wi-Fi?
Although you may be able to find video doorbells that don’t require Wi-Fi, few of them are worth your time and money. Wi-Fi provides access to a large number of remote functions, and many of the best products on the market require this wireless connection.
Are there smart locks that work with video intercoms?
Yes. Some manufacturers bundle both products into one (like Lockly), while others can provide access to your smart lock while using your video door station’s smartphone app (like August).
How much is the average cost of a video doorbell subscription?
Basic plans that offer services for a single doorbell typically cost less than $5 per month, although advanced plans that offer services for multiple devices (along with professional monitoring services) can cost upwards of $20 per month.
Should I buy a wired or wireless video intercom?
If your home is already equipped with a wired connection, then a wired video door phone is a smart choice as you never have to worry about changing batteries. However, wireless video doorbells tend to be easier to set up and are a great option for every home.
- ✓ Capture video in 1080p HD
- ✓ Records in full color during the day and night
- ✓ Can connect to a 5.0GHz network
- ✓ Motion detection sends a pre-roll video
- ✓ Visitors can leave a message.
- ✓ Alexa-enabled
- ✗ Requires a subscription to access all features
- ✗ slightly expensive
It’s no surprise that Ring offers one of the best video intercoms around. One of the newer versions, Ring Video Doorbell 4, is priced at $200 and offers several premium features.
You can install the camera and keep it running on the rechargeable battery, no wiring required. The battery can last several months, but it depends on multiple factors, such as how often you capture activity and the local weather.
If you want, you can still pair it with your existing doorbell as an alternative to never worry about battery life. However, you will need a stable 2.4 or 5.0 GHz Wi-Fi connection to set up the camera either way.
Doorbell 4 captures video in 1080p HD, so you’ll have a clear image of anyone at your door. It also records in full color in broad daylight and at night, which is a huge plus. Color night vision is not something many video intercoms have! The camera is also weather resistant, so don’t worry if it gets wet.
Whenever the video door station detects motion, it will instantly give you a pre-roll video that you can watch from your phone. This ensures that you never miss someone at your front door. You can then speak into the camera’s microphone in the Ring app on Android or iPhone to say hello. Alternatively, turn on the option that allows visitors to leave a message when you’re not available.
In the Ring app, you’ll also have full control of all camera settings, including privacy zones. Ring Video Doorbell 4 is also compatible with Alexa and Echo Show, giving you even more hands-free capabilities.
If you need maximum protection, get the Ring Protect plan to review, share and save images that the camera records. Pricing starts at $3/month or $30/year.
Best overall video intercom
Doorbell Video Doorbell 4
The Ring Doorbell 4 has everything you need in a video doorbell. You will feel safe at home or when you are away.
- ✓ Affordable
- ✓ Capture 1080p images
- ✓ Excellent integration with Alexa and Ring apps
- ✗ Requires a wired connection
Despite a price that often falls below $50, the Ring Video Doorbell Wired is packed with features. It also has a sleek look, with a black chassis and the iconic blue “ring” button making it look like a much more premium product than it is.
Inside that chassis, you’ll find a camera that records in 1080p and software that easily integrates with the Alexa (Android and iPhone) and Ring (Android and iPhone) apps. And as you’d find on much higher-priced doorbells, the Ring Video Doorbell Wired offers two-way audio, night vision, and access to Ring Protect plans that let you store footage for up to 180 days.
Its wired connection means you’ll need to feel comfortable unplugging your old unit and running a few wires to your new video door phone, something not everyone will want to do. However, the installation process is worth it for its continuous power supply, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more capable doorbell in this price range.
The best cheap stamps
Wired Ring Video Doorbell
The Ring Video Doorbell Wired offers an impressive list of specs (1080p streaming, two-way audio, and access to Ring Protect Plans) despite its rock-bottom price.
- ✓ Live video streaming with 4K resolution
- ✓ Motion detection alerts included without subscription
- ✓ two-way audio
- ✗ You will still need a subscription to save video history
If you’re not excited about signing up for a monthly subscription, consider checking out the Arlo Essential Doorbell. Most doorbells (including this one) lock a lot of features behind a paywall, but at least the Arlo Essential Doorbell gives you incredible performance right out of the box.
Almost all door stations can capture HD images, but few reach the 4K resolution that Arlo offers. This not only means you’ll have sharp video to review, but you’ll be able to zoom in and pick out far details with ease. Two-way talk and audio are also included for free without a subscription, as are motion detection alerts and smartphone app access.
Those are impressive features, but as is always the case, signing up for a monthly subscription can be tempting. The ability to set activity zones, store up to 30 days of footage, and receive targeted notifications based on what has triggered your camera are all compelling reasons to opt for the $3/month Arlo Secure subscription.
But if you just need the basics, there’s no better way to get them than with the Arlo Essential Doorbell.
The best video intercoms without a subscription
Arlo Essential Doorbell
You’ll still need a subscription for some premium features, but motion alerts, two-way audio, and 4K imaging are included out of the box.
- ✓ Set up wirelessly or wired
- ✓ 1600×1200 HD video quality with a 165 degree lens
- ✓ aspect ratio 3:4
- ✓ Battery life lasts six months.
- ✓ Record an hour of footage during a Wi-Fi outage
- ✗ Just view event history for up to three hours for free
- ✗ The camera is quite heavy and bulky.
Are you looking for a premium doorbell camera that is wireless? The Google Nest Doorbell is your best bet, and it’s reasonably priced at $180. This popular camera is an upgraded version of the wired camera and is a great bet for many.
Even though the Nest doorbell is battery-powered, you can still connect it to your current doorbell for constant power if you want. If you choose to go wireless, it’s easy to install and the battery life is six months, which is excellent. This is a relatively long time of not having to worry about a recharge!
The Nest Doorbell records in 1600×1200 HD video with a 165-degree lens, a larger field of view than most doorbell cameras. It also records in a 3:4 aspect ratio for head-to-toe viewing. Combined with the large field of view, you can observe everything going on around your front door.
The camera records in HDR and with night vision, allowing you to see clearly day and night. Sensors can differentiate between people, packages, animals, and vehicles to send you motion alerts specific to what’s happening at your door. You will receive instant alerts on your phone so you can reply in real time or leave preset messages.
The Nest Doorbell is the perfect complement for Google Home owners, as you can integrate and control it from the Google Home app on Android or iPhone. Nest offers an additional feature of up to an hour of video recording in case the Wi-Fi network goes out. You can also see what you missed for up to three hours of event video history for free.
If three hours of event history isn’t enough, you can upgrade to a Nest Aware subscription to save up to 60 days of event history. The subscription starts at $8/month, allowing you to continuously record and allow the camera to recognize familiar faces.