RemoBell S impressions: A new standard for budget smart doorbells

We recently reviewed the RemoBell W video doorbell, a range-topping model that, at $200, failed to deliver the features or performance to qualify it as a premium door-dinger. The new RemoBell S is an altogether more value-oriented proposition. It drops the W’s integrated PIR (passive infrared sensor) in favor of video-based motion detection and adds a slightly wider, 180-degree field of vision. 

Elsewhere, you’ll find a solid feature lineup that includes HD video (a square 1536 x 1536 resolution rather than the RemoBell W’s more standard 1080p resolution), two-way audio, and night vision, plus support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Best of all, you can pick up this hardwired model for just $99, making the RemoBell S one of the cheapest smart doorbells around. 

Small price, big presentation

Despite the budget price, Remo+ has upped its game on package and presentation. The RemoBell S arrives with a well-stocked accessory locker, including a rear bracket, two angled mounts, power kit, extension wires, screws, and wall anchors. This time around, they’ve thoughtfully included a screwdriver, bubble mount, and drill bit — the kind of thing we expect in premium devices like Nest Hello and a very welcome surprise.

Installation of a wired bell is a little trickier than a battery-powered model. It operates on your home’s existing 16-24 V AC circuit, so you’ll first need to open up your doorbell’s mechanical chime box and hook up an included power kit. It’s a straightforward job, made easier by clear step-by-step instructions included in the box. We’re also happy to see the power kit has been upgraded from RemoBell W’s bare PCB with a plastic enclosure and sticky mounting pads.

RemoBell S
Terry Walsh/Digital Trends

The doorbell itself represents a huge leap in style and quality from the previous model. The cheap, glossy plastic construction has been retired, replaced by contrasting metallic-looking finishes and — thankfully — a subtler logo. The large brushed-metal button adds class to a greatly improved design.

Once hooked up and powered on, you’ll see an LED ring around the button glow and hear voice prompts from the doorbell’s (rather coarse) speaker guide you through the remaining installation process. We found connecting the RemoBell W to our home network to be a clunky experience and, sadly, the same is true of RemoBell S. Perseverance is the key.

Responsive notifications and straightforward features

Once you’re up and running, you’ll find the RemoBell S simple to use. Forget fancy features like person detection or facial recognition — this sub-$100 doorbell offers the basics, including smartphone notification of callers, livestreaming video of your doorway, and two-way chat. If you want to record and manage video clips in the cloud, you’ll need to add an available $3 monthly/$30 per year cloud subscription plan. A 30-day trial is available and, given the low price point, we think it’s a worthwhile investment.

We’re pleased to see the switch away from a dedicated PIR to video-based motion detection hasn’t made RemoBell S any less responsive than its big brother. Notifications for detected motion and callers pressing the doorbell button were triggered immediately throughout our tests. Sensitivity and basic motion zone settings can be tweaked for those experiencing regular false alarms.

remobell s impressions screenshot 20190825 100656
Terry Walsh/Digital Trends

We found video quality to be acceptable for a budget device, but be prepared for compromise. Daytime images offer reasonable clarity but suffer from heavy fish-eye distortion, noticeable artifacts, and blown-out skies. The doorbell’s night vision feature thankfully didn’t suffer from the ghostly purple hue we encountered on the RemoBell W, but lacked the brightness and range of pricier competitors. Up close, your visitors will be reasonably well-illuminated, but don’t expect to see what’s happening on the other side of the street.

Conclusion

There are better-performing, smarter doorbells around, but few deliver the value you’ll get from the $99 RemoBell S. An attractive design, responsive performance, and a solid selection of basic features come together in a capable device that won’t break the bank. 

At this price, RemoBell S has few peers — particularly when it comes to wired models. For a boost in video quality, Anker’s Eufy Security Video Doorbell ($160) leads the way with 2K UHD resolution and High Dynamic Range. Alternatively, the Ring Video Doorbell ($100) offers wireless convenience, but lacks the style and build quality of the RemoBell S.

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