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7 things you didn’t know a video doorbell could do

You never want to give anyone the idea that no one is home, especially would be burglars who may be on the prowl. A video doorbell can be one of the most powerful items in your home security arsenal; after all, it’s impossible to know whether someone is inside the home or not since you can speak through the doorbell. It’s also an easy way to keep an eye on the goings-on around your home. Better yet, with online shopping bigger than it’s ever been, you can keep an eye out for porch pirates.

But did you realize there are a lot of features that go overlooked? Different brands of video doorbells have different capabilities, but you should make use of these features if your doorbell can handle them. You’ll be surprised by what they can do, so if you’re in the market for one, there are plenty of deals and options around to consider.

Your doorbell can know your friends’ names

The Nest Hello, the Kami Doorbell Camera, and several other brands can not only pick up motion at your door, but they can also recognize specific guests. Instead of receiving a generic notification that someone is at your door, you’ll received specialized alerts — “Bob is at the door,” for example — if that person is in the recognized database.

Only a select few video doorbells have this feature, and some companies flat-out refuse to include it.

Your doorbell can let you know a package has arrived

Let’s face it: One of the main reasons anyone has a video doorbell is to talk to delivery drivers and let them know where to leave packages. If you miss the notification, though, you might not know you have a package till you open your door.

The Nest Hello, the Vivint Video Doorbell Camera Pro, and the Arlo Video Doorbell all have package-detection capabilities. This feature uses artificial intelligence to look for an outline that it defines as a package and then notifies you on your phone.

Your doorbell can greet guests for you

Ring’s smart greetings allow Alexa to respond when guests arrive at the door. It’s an interesting feature that makes it feel like you have your own wait staff at your home. When someone arrives, Alexa will say, “Hi, this is Alexa. May I know the purpose of your visit?”

If the person is dropping off a package, Alexa will provide instructions on where to leave it. If the person is there for a visit, Alexa can take a message and relay it to you on your phone. For now, Ring is the only video doorbell that has this particular feature.

Your doorbell can see color in the dark

Almost every video doorbell has night vision, but most of it is in black and white — kind of like what you might imagine your dog sees. It’s good to see at night, but color is far better than black and white. After all, if you’re trying to identify a porch pirate, color details can help you provide more information to the police.

Circle View Doorbell mounted on brick.
Adam Doud/Digital Trends

Ring has added color night vision to its video doorbells, but it does require enough light to work. If there is no light at all, the video will only be in black and white. It’s a good idea to pair your video doorbell with a motion-activated front porch light so your doorbell has enough illumination to pick out colors. There are a handful of other doorbells that offer color night vision, like the recent Logitech Circle View Doorbell.

Your doorbell can give you a bird’s-eye view of your property

When people come to your property, they no doubt follow a similar path every time — perhaps along a walkway you have set up, or they walk from the sidewalk to your front door. Someone veering off the path would raise a few questions, but would you know the path they took?

With Ring’s Bird’s Eye View feature, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 can show you a person’s position on your property as a series of dots on the map. It can show the location of a delivery person leaving a package around the side of the porch and the path they followed to get there — even if they’re no longer in view of the livestream. It does this through 3D Motion Detection and is a powerful security feature.

Your video doorbell can control your smart home

Many would-be burglars will ring the doorbell before breaking in. This tells them if a dog is inside, if someone is at home, and other information they might want to know before trying to find a way inside — and in most cases, they leave if someone is home.

You can simulate the presence of someone in your home by linking your video doorbell to smart lights. When the doorbell picks up motion or is rung, it will trigger a series of smart lights to turn on inside, as if someone were making their way to the door.

Almost any brand of video doorbell can do this. You can link your doorbell with your other smart devices through IFTTT and other similar services.

Your doorbell can connect you with the community

Ring’s Neighbors app allows you not only to see your own home but also to stay aware of activity in your neighborhood. It provides real-time crime and safety alerts from your neighbors and other public safety agencies.

Users can post updates about things they see in their neighborhood, and all the information is consolidated into the Ring app on your phone. It’s an easy way to make the whole neighborhood a little bit safer, not just your own home.

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Patrick Hearn
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Patrick Hearn writes about smart home technology like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, smart light bulbs, and more. If it's a…
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