Best Video Doorbell Without Subscription: 2022 Buyers Guide

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I’ve reviewed a lot of video doorbell models over the years looking closely at performance, features, and cost of ownership. That latter aspect is always contentious as the bestselling video doorbells demand a subscription for cloud storage and smart features. These features are critical to making smart doorbells worthwhile, so skipping them is a no go.

If you’re like me, you’ll be seeing the number of subscriptions you have for various things increase, so it’s worth looking at options for a great video doorbell without a subscription. To that end I’ve found the Eufy Video Doorbell Dual to be the overall best video doorbell without subscription fees.

Security device maker Eufy has been knocking it out of the park lately with the quality of their security camera products and the extra features they pack into them. Being a brand of Anker, they also sport really good battery tech, so they’re great options for easy wireless installations. Local encrypted storage, best in class camera quality, and Alexa and Google smart doorbell support pushed it over the top of the competition.

The best of the best isn’t for everyone if you don’t care about some of the included features. To cover those different preferences, I’ve also provided video doorbell options in several categories including wired and wireless alternatives, along with decent quality options for those on tighter budgets.

Best Video Doorbells Without Subscriptions

Best Overall
Eufy Doorbell Dual

Best Camera
Best Performance
Best Smart Features

Best Dual Band Wi-Fi
Nooie Cam

Best Battery Life
Dual Band WiFi
Expandable Storage

Best NVR Support
Amcrest AD410

RTSP and ONVIF
Local Storage Card
Good Camera

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use Ring Doorbell without a subscription?

You can use a Ring Video Doorbell without a subscription, but you’ll have a very limited experience. You’ll receive basic notifications when motion is detected, or the Ring video doorbell button is pressed, and you’ll be able to view the live feed from the camera and talk to whoever is there.

You won’t get any recorded Ring videos as it only uses cloud storage so, if you miss the event, you won’t be able to check up on what happened. You’ll also lose virtually all the smart notification features that the Ring doorbells provide which allow you to tailor what you get push notifications about and get only the alerts you care about.

What is the best video doorbell without a subscription?

Ultimately, for the best video doorbell without a subscription I settled on the Eufy Video Doorbell Dual based on features, utility, performance, and customer feedback as the best overall. Eufy is a solid company with a good reputation, decent support, and quality products. This premium video doorbell offers a good mix of installation options, secure local storage, and configurable smart motion features and notifications.

What do I get with a video doorbell subscription?

Video doorbells that use a subscription, even if they don’t require one, tend to provide cloud-based doorbell video storage and sometimes enhanced performance. That performance may be in the form of faster notifications or more advanced smart notifications to help filter out unwanted events.

It is common for a video doorbell without subscription requirements to still offer a cloud storage plan of some kind for storing video as an option, but in these cases it’s entirely up to you if you want to go that way with no penalties if you don’t.

How long does the battery last?

This varies by wireless video doorbell model (wired video doorbells often don’t have one), and is dependent on temperature extremes, battery capacity, and how much motion detection triggers it. Temperature is a major factor in lithium-ion battery performance, especially below freezing. Choosing a model with a dedicated motion detection sensor can also help by reducing camera use when it’s not needed.

Battery powered doorbell models rate their battery life between 2 and 12 months, but you should get between 2 and 6 months with typical usage.

Of course, you may not need a purely wireless video doorbell if you have wiring to provide power. That can save a lot of hassle in the long run, and it can be worth installing a transformer even if you don’t have one.

Will I get notified if I'm not at home?

This is a key benefit of smart video doorbells. You'll receive push notifications on your smart phone, and be able to see, and talk to, whoever is at your front door from anywhere. Some doorbells cameras offer the ability to set up pre-recorded messages for certain times or situations, so you don’t have to answer right away. These devices can be so much more than just a front door camera.

Do video doorbells need Wi-Fi?

Yes, these devices are all Wi-Fi video doorbell models, in that they use Wi-Fi to communicate with your home network and the internet in order to send you notifications and to access recorded videos. Wi-Fi video doorbell devices can be powered by doorbell wiring, but even then, they may use the Wi-Fi to ring and linked chimes and still rely on it for their other functions.

Best Video Doorbell Overall

Eufy Video Doorbell Dual
★★★★★

✔ ‘2K’ 2560x1920 HDR doorbell camera
✔ Secondary 1600x1200 package camera
✔ 6 month battery
✔ Local encrypted storage on base station
✔ Dual motion detection with radar
✔ Two-way audio
✔ Supports Alexa and Google Assistant
✔ IP65 Weather resistance

✘ Only 16GB on base station, not expandable
✘ Must be removed to charge

What I Like

I’ve chosen the Eufy Video Doorbell Dual as the best overall choice for a video doorbell without subscription fees. It is the simply most innovative video doorbell on the market today. The key reasons for this are the inclusion of some extra hardware to improve the capabilities of the device in some actually useful ways.

Not only does Eufy provide a very high quality 2K Sony camera sensor, delivering the best video quality on the market, but they’ve added a second camera to give a view below the doorbell to keep a really good eye on those packages. They’ve also bulked up the motion detection feature by not only using infra-red detection, but a radar sensor as well. Yes, really. The two sensors are used in conjunction to eliminate false positives. Eufy says this reduces bad notifications by up to 95% over the competition.

Those features come at a cost, however, so you could opt for the cheaper Eufy Video Doorbell 2K and still get most of the same quality and features. Those include superior night vision combined with a comprehensive set of advanced motion detection features, and the option of both a wired model and pure wireless doorbell thanks to a battery powered version I’ve picked here. I find Eufy’s app to be thorough in its execution and offers a lot of control over the smart features and doorbell configuration, although this does make it a bit of a handful to navigate at times.

That feature set is derived from Eufy’s bigger focus on being a comprehensive smart home security system, so they offer a variety of other good quality security cameras and sensors that can tie into this as well. As this video doorbell comes with their Homebase 2 product to use for local storage, you’ll be set if you want to add any of those other products later.

Recorded video is saved on the base station, which also acts as a Wi-Fi repeater to guarantee you get good signal to the doorbell’s location. This keeps your videos safe from tampering, and the Homebase will also act as a doorbell chime. There’s enough storage on board to save up to 6 months of video clips using the default 20 second clip length. You can also use Amazon Echo devices as doorbell chimes if you configure it to use Alexa. Google Assistant is also supported for basic functions, but not chimes.

Finally, Eufy also has reasonably good support to back up their products compared to some other offerings, all of which adds up to a great video doorbell with a 90% user satisfaction rating.

Potential Concerns

While Eufy touts a pretty solid battery life, there are a great many reports of much shorter run times. It’s hard to state this is a definitive issue, as there are so many factors that play into this, from your sensitivity and motion zone settings to what level of traffic you get in front of the doorbell, to the climate you live in as ambient temperature plays a big part in battery life.

Charging the battery requires the video doorbell to be removed. The battery is built-in, so it has to be done on the doorbell itself, just like my first-generation Ring doorbell before they updated the design to include removable battery packs. It’s not a deal breaker, but that also depends on how often you need to take it down to charge.

As noted above, folks who have freezing winters are going to struggle with a rechargeable battery outside. Thankfully this model supports wired power as well, so you can go with that option if you have trouble or have existing doorbell wires.

Eufy has promised in the past that a USB expansion option for the HomeBase storage was coming, but it hasn’t eventuated yet. Having only 16GB to store video locally is fine just for the video doorbell. If you’re like me you’re not concerned about keeping weeks of doorbell footage for posterity, just being able to see what you missed, and it’s plenty for that use case. If you start adding other cameras though it could become a constraint. Eufy offers paid cloud storage as well, but we’re not here to pay a monthly fee.

Best Dual Band Video Doorbell

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Nooie Cam Video Doorbell
★★★★

✔ ‘2K’ 2560x1920 4:3 doorbell camera
✔ IR motion and sound detection
✔ 1 year battery
✔ Local Micro SD storage (on chime)
✔ Smart human detection
✔ Two-way audio with quick responses
✔ Supports Alexa and Google Home
✔ IP66 Weather resistance

✘ Setup can be temperamental
✘ Micro SD card not included

What I Like

Nooie is a US startup making fairly good quality smart home products. The Nooie Doorbell is the latest addition to the lineup and offers something a little different in terms of its design. It’s a truly wireless video doorbell, so battery life is important. To cover that they’ve included a massive 10,000mAh removable battery that contains its own USB-C port for charging. It also features a dedicated infrared motion sensor, and it connects to the free electronic doorbell chime which also houses the microSD card for video storage.

As with the Eufy video doorbell and several other brands, the 2K night vision doorbell camera is using a 4:3 aspect ratio to give a better vertical more suited to doorbell use as it covers more ground in below your front door instead of to the sides. You can angle it slightly to one side using the included optional angle mounting plate. A nice feature with this video doorbell is a tamper alarm to deter any would be vandals. If contact with the mounting plate is disturbed the alarm will sound from the doorbell itself.

The chime base station includes a wired Ethernet port as well as dual band Wi-Fi (yes it supports 5GHz as well). This is a nice bonus as it gives options to overcome Wi-Fi problems that some people have with these kinds of products.

Nooie’s product support has reportedly been good, and they did have some issues with battery life in one batch that was clearly faulty. Those units were replaced without fuss. Overall, I’ve awarded Nooie best subscription free video doorbell for dual-band wireless users based on their 83% customer feedback rating, besting Amcrest thanks to a huge battery and better smart home integration.

Potential Concerns

The setup process can be a bit finicky. If you follow the instructions precisely you should be fine, but people tend to jump in and figure it out themselves. That’s caused a lot of people some pain getting it going. Once it’s set up it runs well, though.

The design of the Nooie video doorbell is something to consider up front, brown isn’t for everyone after all. It’s also very large, measuring 2.5 inches deep and nearly 2 across. You’re not likely to be mounting this on a door frame, and you don’t want to get fancy with the mounting plate due to the risk of the tamper alarm going off unexpectedly.

As with other models, the Nooie must be removed from the mount in order to charge the battery. The battery itself is removable, but you need to get access to it first. Having a spare would alleviate the fairly long charge time - it can only pull 1A from the USB charger - but they don’t appear to be selling replacement batteries separately, an odd decision.

The claimed 1 year battery life is also, shall we say, optimistic. It’s certainly a generous capacity, and it should last you a good while, but your mileage will absolutely vary with environmental and usage factors. It’s still better than other video doorbells, though.

The only other notable issue to be wary of is the chime. While they offered European versions during their launch, those appear to be sold out so you’ll only be able to find US versions. It’s also not very loud, and probably only useful in the room that it’s installed. You can’t adjust this, so you may be relying on notifications more, and not having any wired option means it can’t use an existing wired doorbell chime either.

Best Video Doorbell For NVR Recording

Amcrest AD410
★★★★

✔ ‘2K’ 2560x1920 4:3 doorbell camera
✔ 164 degree vertical FOV
✔ Wedge mounts included
✔ Supports Alexa and Home Assistant
✔ Dual band Wi-Fi
✔ Two-way audio
✔ Supports RTSP and ONVIF DVRs
✔ IP65 Weather resistance

✘ Wired only
✘ Micro SD card not included

Why This Model?

Amcrest has a robust smart home security system with a variety of related devices, and the AD410 Amcrest video doorbell is the latest smart doorbell model in their lineup. It actually came very close to knocking Lorex out of the ‘best wired-only’ video doorbell without subscription spot, but I had to pass it over due to a lack of Google Home support.

If you prefer to use a centralized brand-agnostic video recording system, though, The AD410 is the best video doorbell that supports those without a subscription. Amcrest has a very solid offering here, with a higher resolution camera that offers better video quality than many cheaper video doorbells (although it only delivers 15fps video), dual band Wi-Fi support, and full RTSP and ONVIF compatibility for network video recorders (NVRs), which gives you excellent options over using the onboard microSD card for video storage.

The onboard storage supports up to 128GB cards, but it doesn’t come with one included, instead Amcrest gives you a 1-year free subscription to their cloud service. You can continue without subscription afterwards by simply using the onboard card instead. It’s probably best to go that way from day one.

While this model includes just the doorbell, it is compatible with Amcrest doorbell chimes and other wired chimes you may already have on your existing wiring. The AD410 also comes with three mounting plates; the base one, plus a vertical and horizontal wedge, and these can be stacked to get the best placement for your situation.

Potential Concerns

While the camera offers very good day time video quality, the night vision can struggle a bit. This could be resolved by adding an IR lamp to boost the light level in front of the camera, either a standalone unit or something like a LIFX Nightvision smart bulb that can output IR when it’s ‘off’.

The mounting bracket is not security focused in that it’s a plastic snap on design with no securing screws. Some people take the view that it doesn’t matter as a determined thief will get it off regardless of the mount, but it’s unusual for a doorbell to not provide some sort of securing mechanism.

Finally, the app has limited smart features, offering only basic motion alerts with an optional person detection filter.

Best Wired Only Video Doorbell

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Lorex 2K Video Doorbell
★★★★★

✔ ‘2K’ 2048x1536 4:3 doorbell camera
✔ High dynamic range (HDR)
✔ Integrated step nightlight
✔ Wired power
✔ Person detection
✔ Two-way audio with quick responses
✔ Micro SD card included
✔ Supports Alexa, Google Assistant
✔ Weather resistant

✘ No remote chime (can use wired chimes)

What I Like

Lorex has been around for a while in the home security space, and this is the newest model of their smart video doorbell camera. This is my pick of the purely wired subscription free video doorbells, and as with other wired-only video doorbells it’s quite sleek. Not requiring an internal battery makes it less intrusive to install on your front door, and it features a few things that make it stand out above other wired doorbell models.

The video doorbell camera is a decent 2K 4:3 aspect ratio, again offering better views of the space in front of the door than conventional 16:9 doorbell cameras, but it also features color night vision and full HDR, which is uncommon so far. As an added bonus for nighttime use, it also sports a LED night light on the bottom edge which can be used to illuminate the doorstep or act as an extra deterrent to unwelcome visitors.

Doorbell ring videos (and other events) are stored on an internal memory card, and you get one included to get started. This can be upgraded up to 128GB if you wish later. This means there is no separate base station or remote chime to worry about, and it supports existing wired doorbell chimes if you need something inside.

All the expected smart features are there, and work well, including person/human detection and motion zones, and support for answering doorbell rings on Amazon Echo and Google smart displays. It does support Lorex’s Fusion system, but full integration into their Home Center product is still ‘coming soon’.

As it’s fairly new to market there’s still some real-world experience testing to come, but so far there have been 0 negative reviews so I’m awarding this one the best wired only model for its design and camera features.

Potential Concerns

The lack of a remote chime option may be inconvenient for some installations. It’s nice to be able to add a wireless doorbell chime somewhere to ensure doorbell rings get noticed. However, if you’re replacing an existing wired doorbell then you’ll be able to use the existing doorbell wiring and chime, so it’s probably not a big deal.

Not having that internal component, though, does mean the memory card is in the doorbell itself and subject to loss if the doorbell gets stolen. The doorbell is secured to the plastic mounting plate by only a small locking clip that is released using a pin from underneath. It likely wouldn’t take a lot to force it off, so it may not be a great option if you’re too exposed to the street.

Best Value for Money

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eufy Video Doorbell 1080p
★★★★

✔ ‘HD’ 1600x1200 4:3 doorbell camera
✔ Wide Dynamic Range
✔ 4 month battery
✔ Local Micro SD storage (on chime)
✔ Person detection
✔ Two-way audio
✔ Supports Alexa and Google Assistant
✔ IP65 Weather resistance

✘ Micro SD card not included
✘ Must be removed to charge

What I Like

Coming back to battery powered wireless video doorbell options I’ve chosen another Eufy model as the best value for money, their standalone 1080p Eufy Video Doorbell offers a good video doorbell for those that may not find Nooie’s aesthetic choices to their liking, and don’t want the expense of its big brother.

There’s a lot to like with this one, as it comes with largely the same features as it’s more expensive 2K sibling. The main difference is the video doorbell camera has a lower 1080p HD video resolution, but still a 4:3 aspect ratio for good views of the door area. Wide dynamic range is still there to help compensate for shadows and back lighting, but it can only do so much as its not full HDR. I find the video quality is still fine unless you need to cover a large area.

The other key difference is the ‘mini homebase’ chime that it must be paired with. The chime provides its connectivity to the video doorbell and also holds the memory card that stores the recorded video clips, or you can still opt into their cloud storage for a small fee. This approach is used to avoid having to run full Wi-Fi on the doorbell in order to extend battery life.

You’ll get the benefits of the Eufy apps suit of smart features and smart doorbell integrations, but it’s probably not the best option if you have, or want, a broader Eufy security setup as you’ll be doubling up on base stations. The chime on this one only supports this doorbell, and it can’t connect to the normal HomeBase product.

Good build quality, performance, and support net this one a solid 88% customer feedback rating, so it’s certainly worth a look.

Potential Concerns

Depending on a proprietary chime hub is not always good thing. It helps to protect the memory card from theft, and theoretically extends battery life on the video doorbell, but there have been some issues with its own connectivity.

This is going to come down to your own Wi-Fi setup, but there are quite a few people who have had issues with it connecting, or staying connected, and it appears to have issues with some mesh networks. Hopefully for those effected it’s something Eufy can sort out with firmware updates.

As with the 2K product, the usual caveats about battery life apply. Usage and environmental factors will impact what you actually get, and there are many reports that it’s not even close to 120 days. A lot of these will be down to cold weather, most likely, but it’s always something to be wary of when choosing a wireless video doorbell model.

Best Budget Video Doorbell

XTU J7C
★★★★

✔ ‘2K’ 2560x1920 16:9 doorbell camera
✔ 3 month battery
✔ Tamper alarm
✔ Local Micro SD storage
✔ Human detection
✔ Two-way audio with quick responses
✔ IP66 Weather resistance

✘ Recording delays
✘ No smart home integration
✘ Poor night vision
✘ Micro SD card not included

What I Like

There’s always a cheaper option, and this will be your best price for a subscription free video doorbell. This battery powered video doorbell is branded under XTU, but it’s a mass market device sold under a dozen names such as ZUMIALL, Arenti, MUBVIEW, and many others. They’re all identical apart from the label.

I’ve chosen this as a budget option due to a good range of features and because it gets fair user rating, coming in at an impressive 80%, better than many other video doorbells on the cheap end of the scale.

It’s not the best smart doorbell as it doesn’t support any third-party integration. What is does have is a reasonable 2K camera without HDR, backed up by a PIR motion sensor. It uses an internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can be recharged in place thanks to a micro-USB port on the side of the unit (with a rubber weather plug).

Local storage for video recordings is on the internal microSD card (located inside a compartment on the back for security), with support up to 128GB. To keep the costs down they don’t include a card with the unit, so you’ll need to grab one of those as well. A Lexar 64GB card will only set you back a few extra bucks and provide more than enough storage space. The mounting bracket is actually pretty solid, better than some higher end models, in fact. It’s a nice bonus that it serves as a shade for the lens to help stave off sun glare.

There’s some person detection capability and two-way talk, which I’d expect as a minimum, and it has an infra-red sensor for enhanced motion detection. If you’re not after anything too fancy, this could be enough for your needs.

Potential Concerns

These doorbell cameras are nothing fancy, despite their 2K resolution. The video quality is OK but there’s no exposure compensation, so it will suffer from strong contrast situations. No camera is perfect with the sun behind your subject, but without HDR you’ll need to be more careful with placement to avoid strong light and shadow combinations. The night vision performance is also pretty average, so you might want to have some light outside at night if you’re expecting to capture anything useful. Using a LIFX Nightvision smart bulb or other IR source will help for this.

Battery life is claimed to be 2-5 months. Everyone overstates their battery life, but there are mixed reports on this front. The worst of these look to be related to faulty batteries and seem to have been addressed by the manufacturer promptly. The external charge port makes this a bit more bearable as you can use a portable charger to top it up, but there’s no accommodation for fixed wiring.

As with any cheap off-brand smart device, you’re going to taking a gamble on how long it’s going to last, and it’s going to be hit and miss. Still, there’s plenty of positive customer feedback on this one, so if you want to keep the costs down it could be worth a shot.

Alternative Video Doorbells Without Suibscription

Toucan Video Doorbell
★★★★

✔ ‘HD’ 1920x1080 doorbell camera
✔ 180 degree FOV
✔ Free 24 hour cloud lookback
✔ Selectable motion detection areas
✔ Two-way audio with quick responses
✔ Supports Alexa and Google Home
✔ Weather resistant
✔ Built-in alarm

✘ Must be removed to charge
✘ Recording delays
✘ Downloads need subscription

What I Like

Smart home security company Toucan has taken a different approach to the no-subscription question with their 1080p video doorbell. Instead of using local storage, they use their free cloud storage service to record video. You get 24 hours to check up on what happened if you miss a motion event of doorbell ring, and don’t have to worry about keeping a memory card secure or having a hub.

The camera provides HD video quality with night vision, and a 180-degree field of view to help show the doorstep better. You’ll also get the usually two-way talk feature, 9 selectable motion detection zones, and a built-in siren that you can trigger from the app to deter those porch pirates. The software setup is also quite straightforward, which can be good for the less technically inclined family members.

A wireless doorbell chime is included which supports 6 different chime sounds, and you can add up to 10 chimes to ensure you can hear it wherever you are in the house. The Toucan doorbell is powered by an internal 6500mAh rechargeable battery which provides a decent battery life, but you’ll need to remove it to charge periodically.

A Metal mounting bracket is provided, along with adhesive tape it you don’t want to drill holes. The metal bracket is an upgrade from many big-name brands that only provide plastic ones. That and the (very) glossy finish give it a more premium video doorbell feel.

Potential Concerns

A couple of big complaints I’ve seen with this video doorbell is that the chimes can have trouble staying connected, and that they chew through their AA batteries pretty quickly. You could just rely on the smart phone notifications, but that’s not always an option. The second is that the doorbell can be slow to detect motion, and slow to start recording resulting in your seeing the back of someone as they leave. This is not altogether uncommon for video doorbells and can be related to your Wi-Fi signal or other factors. Often, it’s just not a great implementation though.

Another note they leave out of the marketing is that if you want to save any recorded videos, you get 5 for free before you need to upgrade to the ‘pro’ plan.


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Hikvision SD-HD1 Video Doorbell
★★★★

✔ ‘2K’ 2048x1536 4:3 doorbell camera
✔ 180 degree vertical FOV
✔ IR motion detection
✔ Motion detection areas
✔ Two-way audio
✔ Supports Hikvision and ONVIF DVRs
✔ IP65 Weather resistance

✘ PIR sensor can be mistaken for button
✘ Micro SD card not included

What I Like

Hikvision is a stalwart brand name in the CCTV security camera market, you see these things everywhere. They also do a range of consumer products, including the new SD-HD1 2K doorbell. Generally, they have a good reputation for reliable work horse security gear, so that’s a plus. A contender for the best video doorbell for NVRs, I had to drop it down due to a lack of RTSP support, and some concerns about future availability and support.

You’ll get decent quality from the 2K 4:3 video doorbell camera with a 180-degree wide viewing angle, plus a dedicated motion sensor, custom motion detection areas and two-way audio. Something most other contenders don’t offer is ONVIF support, which provides the ability to connect it to a network video recorder used for your CCTV system as a destination for your recorded footage, without a subscription.

With such an arrangement you can do continuous security recording on top of the doorbell functions, which is a bonus to some people. If that’s not for you, then you can install up to 128GB SD card inside the device for local storage, which should be plenty for most doorbell video use.

It has optional face plates in black, white and silver, and can trigger mechanical chimes via your doorbell wires as no remote doorbell chime options are on offer. There’s good control available on how, and how long it rings the bell, which is something not always available with other video doorbells.

If you’re looking for something that can stream to an NVR and have the existing doorbell wiring, this would be an alternative to the Amcrest models.

Potential Concerns

The biggest concern with Hikvision is that they’ve been caught up in some US government sanction actions due to their parent company’s involvement with the Chinese government. The result is that supply of their products may actually dry up in the US completely, but we’re yet to see the full ramifications of this.

Beyond that troubling situation, this is a fairly bare bones wired video doorbell as it lacks the smart features of the other models, and subsequently can be hard to limit motion notifications to something useful if your video doorbell gets a lot of traffic. It also has no HDR or exposure controls so, if you have strong backlighting, you’ll have a very dark image and little definition of the subject you likely want to see.

The 180-degree lens helps to cover the whole space in front of the door but leads to some distortion. It has some degree of correction applied, so it could be useful in placing it to avoid bright back lighting.

The app is not as slick as the more consumer focused brands above, and setup can be a bit of a chore. It’s definitely not tailored to the layman to get it up and running, but once it is it should be stable. Don’t count on much help from support though. This is the biggest complaint I see for this one, and Hikvision in general. I guess they’re used to servicing professional installers.

Considerations Before Buying

Video Doorbell Recording Options Without Subscription

Subscription offerings like the Ring doorbell usually provide for cloud storage and processing, but video doorbells without a subscription still need to store those videos somewhere. Cloud storage gives you some obvious convenience benefits and provides protection in the event an intruder is savvy enough to steal the device that is recording them. Third party cloud services are also prone to questionable security and privacy practices, and this is a much greater risk with lesser-known brands that don’t get the scrutiny of security experts, especially those few that offer free cloud storage.

The alternative is generally storing video locally on a memory card in the device itself, and many options without subscription do it this way. Some, like my pick for the best video doorbell without subscription fees, provide an additional base station that takes care of the storage keeping those videos safely inside the house. Not being exposed to direct theft from the outside, and in a less obvious location where an intruder isn’t likely to find them, comes close to the same thing as cloud storage.

Doorbell Camera Viewing Angle and Resolution

Bigger is always better, right? Not necessarily when it comes to viewing angle. A wider-angle lens covers more area, sure, but it also means detail is lost as the number of pixels covering any particular feature is necessarily smaller.

Like any video camera, larger resolution video doorbell cameras can help with this, but this doesn’t necessarily equate to video quality as that depends on the quality of the lens and sensor just as much. You also need to look at the actual resolution numbers. The usage of the moniker ‘2K’ is highly misleading and becomes even more so when we move away from 16:9 aspect ratios, as some cameras do. The 1080p HD video cameras are a standard 1920x1080 16:9 resolution, but 2K cameras could be various different resolutions. I’ll note those on the feature list in the reviews below.

Curiously, the best doorbell cameras don’t have to have better resolutions. The performance of the Ring Video Doorbell goes to show that resolution isn’t everything with one of these devices. Ring doorbells still perform well in spite of this, although are not as effective at covering large areas as a result.

Consider where you’re going to put the video doorbell camera, and what you actually need it to watch. If you only need to cover the porch, a narrower view is going to give better clarity of what’s important but go wide angle if you want to watch the whole front yard.

Night Vision performance

As we tend to use our video doorbells as security cameras as well it’s important to consider what you’ll want your video doorbell to see at night. There are two factors here. The first is how well good the night vision is on the doorbell camera itself. Is it super grainy? Can it focus properly? How far can it see?

The second is how the night vision will affect motion detection. As some cheaper video doorbell models rely on the doorbell camera to detect motion, this will be significantly impacted if it can’t see very far. Getting a model with an infra-red sensor built in will help overcome that limitation. Most video doorbells will be fine out to about 5 feet, but if you want to see more than that without an external light source you’ll need to pay more.

Wired or Battery Powered

A truly wireless video doorbell requires batteries, but this one comes down to whether you have existing doorbell wiring or not, and your local climate. Generally, there are a few different voltages that doorbell transformers deliver, and any wired video doorbell will support those. It still pays to check the voltage you have is supported by the doorbell you’re looking at, just to be sure.

Using the doorbell wiring option provides less maintenance, since you won’t be worrying about battery life. Even so, if you don’t have existing wiring available then the batteries on these devices should last for a month or more so long as you don’t have very cold weather. Lithium-Ion batteries used in video doorbells are very susceptible to cold weather which will significantly reduce battery life. If you have freezing winters, you’d be safer with a wired model.

In some cases, you can swap out the rechargeable batteries if you have a spare set, but in many cases the battery is built in and can’t be changed easily. I find it’s not a huge burden to charge the video doorbell now and then, and the better smartphone apps will alert you when it’s time.

Advanced Motion Detection Features

Video doorbell smart notification features are becoming more common, but cheaper models are still lacking in this area a lot of the time. These features cover advanced motion detection technology and include things like smart human detection, customizable motion detection areas, quick responses, and package detection, all driven by AI technology.

The best smart doorbells have these features to ensure you only get motion detection notifications that you care about, avoid false alarms, and you can respond in a realistic time frame. Tons of useless notifications and false alarms just mean you’ll start ignoring them, or even turn them off, which defeats the purpose of having a video doorbell. The more of these features, the better off you’ll be in the long term.

Infra-Red Motion Sensors

You’ll notice some video doorbells contain an infra-red sensor as well as the camera. Does this make it a better doorbell? Not necessarily, but it does help to reduce battery usage and improve response time.

It does this because a dedicated motion detector can be used to trigger the video camera immediately rather than the approach of some cheaper doorbell cameras where the camera itself is having to watch for movement, which consumes much more power.

Smart Home Integration

The best video doorbells will have some form of smart home integration. These “smart doorbells” can add utility to both the doorbell and the smart home, so you’ll need to pay attention to what platforms are supported. However, the smart home features on offer can be quite limited. Usually, you’ll only be able to answer the smart doorbell using a smart display, maybe via your voice assistants, have your smart speakers act as doorbell chimes, and possibly be able to use the doorbell as a motion sensor to trigger automation rules.

If you don’t have a smart display, that’s one benefit gone already, and the others may not be very compelling considering you’ll need the maker’s app installed on your phone regardless. It’s probably worth going with a better doorbell than compromising for one with support for your smart home.

The Wrap Up

There are so many smart video doorbells hitting the market, and many of the cheaper ones offer subscription free local storage. But those are also the ones that tend to suck. Whether it be poor camera quality, poor motion detection features, amateurish apps, or lax security, there’s plenty of reasons to stay away. There are some good ones though, but it was surprisingly difficult to narrow it down to the top 3.

Ultimately, for the best video doorbell without subscription fees I settled on the Eufy Video Doorbell Dual based on features, utility, performance, and customer feedback as the best overall. Eufy is a well-established brand with a good reputation, decent support, and quality products. The 2K video doorbell offers a good mix of installation options, secure local storage and extensive smart doorbell motion features and notifications.

If a dual-band wireless option is important for you the Nooie Cam Doorbell delivers a quality product that ticks all the boxes apart from their somewhat finicky setup process. As that’s a one-off task I didn’t mark them down too badly given everything else is great.

Likewise, for a pure wired option, the Lorex 2K Wired Doorbell is a quality product from an established company that has excellent camera performance and a sleek design. While feedback in the wild is still limited for this one, what is available is all positive, so I chose this over other more questionable models. However, I’ve included those in the review list as options if you want to look at something with a bit more history.