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Home / Apple / SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro Review: Sharp video leaves a positive impression

SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro Review: Sharp video leaves a positive impression



SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro is a wired doorbell with infrared motion detection that gives a great picture.

This is the first such product from SimpliSafe which has had a major impact on the home security market when it introduced its DIY no-contract home security system in 2009. This doorbell will not do the same for the smart home market, but it's a well-made product which is worth considering from anyone considering buying a video doorbell.

The camera has a comfortable design – the result of a partnership with the design company IDEO – and measures 4.35 x 1.35 x 1.12 inches (11 x 3.5 x 2.8 centimeters). It makes it a bit higher than, says Ring Video Doorbell, but it's more compact.

The white front panel is removable, but today there are no other colors on the SimpliSafe website. A version of BestBuys website contains them in white, jade and black.

If you have one of SimpliSafe's second or third generation home security systems, the camera starts recording when a security sensor is triggered. However, as a standalone device, it is not compatible with other security systems or with smart speakers, such as Google Home or Amazon Echo.

  doorbell3 SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro has attractive industrial design.

Image Quality

The image from the doorbell is good and better than most. It shoots in 1080p HD, and the camera's support for HDR (high dynamic area) was immediately obvious when I installed it. The dark overhang over my porch was well exposed without the rest of the image being washed out.

The display area is 162 degrees, so it gives a nice, broad view of what's happening in front of your house.

  screenshot 20181108 102030 simplisafe Martyn Williams / IDG

This view from the SimpliSafe doorbell shows the benefit the HDR video provides.

Nighttime infrared image was also good.

  screenshot 20181102 213030 simplisafe Martyn Williams / IDG

A Night View from SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro.

Notification and Motion Detection

The doorbell has only four motion detection settings: off, low, medium and high. It uses an infrared sensor to detect motion so it's looking for hot springs. This could be a person, an animal or a truck driving down the street.

SimpliSafe promises to add image classification in the future to determine if the detected object is a person or not. It would make the notifications more accurate, but in the meantime I found the low setting work for me. Any higher and transient vehicle triggered the detector.

There is no option to add detection zones: The camera monitors the entire image or none of it.

Not the subscription experience

One of the selling points of SimpliSafe's video doorbell is that you do not need a subscription to basic features to work and that's good news.

Without paying $ 4.99 per month fee, the doorbell app will display a notification on the phone when the doorbell senses motion or when someone presses the call button. You can pull up a live video view and speak externally to the person in front of your door.

  20181108 094809 Martyn Williams / IDG

A SimpliSafe notification on an iPhone.

Take a closer look at that screen and see if you notice something strange: Yes, the motion detection seems to have happened in the future. The messages are set to Eastern Standard Time and my phone is on Pacific Standard Time. SimpliSafe says it is a known problem and should be corrected soon. Interestingly, it only affects the messages. The event timeline was displayed correctly in local time.

If you're on the free service, you will not get video. Unless you catch something when it happens, you will not be able to go back later and see what caused the doorbell to alert you. If it is important to you, you work with the monthly subscription price when considering the door bells, or choose one with recording and no monthly fee.

TechHive provides guidance for the best subscription smart home products.

  20181108 102138 Martyn Williams / IDG

Without a paid plan, users will not be able to watch video triggered by prior notifications

Installation

Video Doorbell Pro sits on a screwed plastic bracket in the woods or brick near your front door. SimpliSafe provides a plastic wedge that helps you angle your doorbell better if you have shingles or anything else which means that the front of your house is not plumb.

You need an existing doorbell cable. The device is compatible with 8-24 power supplies (ie 8 amps, 24 volts).

I have installed a bunch of video port doors for testing and the SimpliSafe wireless connection process was a new one. Usually, you must connect the smartphone directly to the doorbell via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, juggling connections on the phone, so you can program it with details about the Wi-Fi network.

Not with SimpliSafe. Information about your Wi-Fi network is provided through the app, and the app shows a QR code. You hold the QR code up to the door bell camera and it reads the data and connects to Wi-Fi.

I decoded the QR code and sure it contains the name of my Wi-Fi network and password. This is a great way to do it because it avoids the clear switch between connections on your smartphone.

The Support Experience

When I first installed the app, I did not get notifications. I spent an hour on the phone with SimpliSafe trying to solve this mystery (it appears that there was old data left on the phone from a previous installation) and the support was great. The representative I spoke to was helpful, patient and went back several times to try and solve my problem.

The only strange part was my first conversation. I called the phone number that was printed in the instructions and turned out to be nothing but spam. "Special offers" after "special offers" without a sign to get to the support center. I finally gave up and searched for another number.

It appears that someone has dialed a number similar to SimpliSafe's, but with the last two digits reversed: 57 instead of 75. They even have the ringer ID programmed to read "Home Simplisafe Security "to trick people as misdemeanors. In this case, however, the mix was not by a SimpliSafe customer, but by the one who wrote the printed installation guide. The company needs to be reinstated if it avoids the customers being caught by such fraud.

Conclusion

SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro is a quality listing in a competitive field. The image is top, the design is comfortable and the app is stable. A few minor concerns – such as the notification time zone problem – are promised to be resolved soon. However, the absence of wider smart home help is a significant disadvantage.

This is a product that will be most appreciated by people who either have a SimpliSafe system, plan to buy one or people who want to run it as a standalone device without further smart home integration.


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