Best Video Doorbell Without Subscription: 2023 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.

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. Read on for my detailed comments on the pros and cons of each.

My Top Video Doorbell Picks With No Subscription

Best Overall


Eufy Doorbell Dual

Best Camera Quality
Best Performance
Best Smart Features

Best Dual Band Wi-Fi
Nooie Cam

Best Battery Life
Dual Band Wi-Fi
Expandable Storage

Best NVR Support
Amcrest AD410

RTSP and ONVIF
Local Storage Card
Good Camera

What To Look For In A Video Doorbell

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.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 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. Without them you can’t tailor the motion notifications to only those that you care about.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Yes, these devices are all Wi-Fi video doorbell models. 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 any linked chimes and still rely on it for their other functions.

Best Video Doorbell Overall

Eufy Video Doorbell Dual
★★★★★

Key Features
• ‘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

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. Motion detection is bolstered by using radar in conjunction with infra-red sensors. The two sensors are used in conjunction to eliminate false positives. This is rapidly becoming a common feature on video doorbells, and 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. My only gripe here is motion zones are not as flexible as other major brands and are limited to rectangular areas.

The overall feature set comes 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 encrypted 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

Eufy has run into some controversy lately with the discovery of some fairly significant holes in their security design. Now, security is hard and all companies make mistakes. The important thing is that they are up front with their customers about it and fix them quickly when discovered. The be fair to Eufy they have indeed moved quickly to fix these issues, but the problem is that they openly lied about the existence of these flaws until the media dragged them to confess.

This is also not the first time Eufy has had security issues which have led some, such as myself, to question their competence in this area. There is nothing to suggest any malice on Eufy’s part, and as far as we can see they have responded correctly on the technical front. They’ve also pledged to engage third-party auditors and set up a bug-bounty program to encourage security researchers to find anything else that needs fixing over the longer term. Their muddled communication about this recent incident leaves some room for pause, however.

Personally, I’m satisfied they are going in the right direction and will be keeping my Eufy cameras. If you're not as comfortable though, I can whole-heartedly recommend my Best Value pick below as a fantastic alternative that ticks almost all the same boxes as Eufy.

 
✔ Excellent camera
✔ Second package camera
✔ Dual motion detection
✔ Local storage
✘ Need to remove to charge
✘ Storage not expandable
✘ Motion zones are limited
 

Best Value Video Doorbell

WUUK Smart Doorbell Pro
★★★★★

Key Features
• ‘2K’ 2560x1920 HDR doorbell camera
• 6 month battery
• Local encrypted storage on base station
• Dual motion detection with radar
• Human Detection
• Two-way audio with Quick Responses
• Supports Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT
• IP65 Weather resistance

What I Like

WUUK is a relatively new brand in the smart security space, founded in 2019 they are already onto their second generation of a growing list of camera products. The one of interest is the WUUK Smart Doorbell Pro which offers a great range of features along with top tier performance for a mid-range price.

Modelled after Eufy doorbell the Smart Doorbell Pro also features dual motion sensing with PIR and radar, as well as on-board human detection for smarter notifications. Video is stored encrypted on the base station which has 32GB of on-board storage space, enough for many months of video events.

You’ll get a huge range of options and extras in the app such as a voice changer for two-way talk, custom quick responses, customizable mode settings, multi-user sharing, anti-theft alarm, and a nice light up ring button that’s triggered when motion is detected in front of the doorbell.

Video performance is very fast, with crisp 2K video captured as soon as an event is triggered. This is bolstered by HDR and superb night vision which ensures any activity is clearly visible at any time of day or night. Video at night remains remarkably clear, with none of the ghosting and motion blur I often see on night vision cameras.

On top of all that, if smart home integration is important then you get support for Alexa, Google, and IFTTT. This is a better offering than most competitiors as IFTTT has fallen out of favor a bit. This is unfortunate as it remains a useful tool for integration triggers and actions between device brands when they don’t support the same platforms.

All of this present a superb value proposition at this price point, and easily makes it my best value pick for no subscription video doorbell options. You can see more detail in our full review.

Potential Concerns

There isn’t much to call out for this one. WUUK has been delivering quality products so far, with excellent customer reviews across the board. The usual caution about battery life applies (your mileage will vary), but the doorbell is easy to remove for charging thanks to a simple security push-pin design on the mount, and it supports fast charging via the base station or a 10W USB-C charger if you have one.

It’s worth noting that support, while competent, is only available by email. This can be an issue if you want to get help with someone urgently as you could be waiting a few days for a reply. This shouldn’t be a major issue, though, as the setup process is very easy, and the app walks you through any issues very well.

 
✔ Good Camera
✔ Great night vision
✔ Loads of feature options
✘ Only 5 ring tones
✘ Notifications don't specify human or not
✘ Audio quality could be better
 

Best Dual Band Video Doorbell

Nooie-doorbell-prod.jpg

Nooie 2K Video Doorbell
★★★★

Key Features
• ‘2K’ 2560x1920 4:3 doorbell camera
• Dual motion detection with radar
• 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

What I Like

Nooie is a US startup making fairly good quality smart home products. The Nooie 2K Video 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.

 
✔ Good camera
✔ Dual motion detection
✔ Long battery life
✔ Dual band Wi-Fi
✘ Setup sometimes difficult
✘ MicroSD card not included
✘ Limited motion detection controls
 

Best Video Doorbell For NVR Recording

Amcrest AD410
★★★★

Key Features
• ‘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

What I Like

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 spot below, 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.

For power users this means you could work around its smart home limitations using the awesome Scrypted intergation tool. The AD410 is a great choice for this thanks to its RTSP support. Using this method allows you to use it with both Google Home and Apple Home with full HomeKit Secure Video support.

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.

 
✔ Good camera
✔ Supports RTSP and ONVIF
✔ Dual Band Wi-Fi
✘ Wired only
✘ MicroSD card not included
✘ Limited smart features
 

Best Wired Only Video Doorbell

lorex-2k-doorbell.jpg

Lorex 2K Video Doorbell
★★★★★

Key Features
• ‘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

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 256GB 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.

 
✔ Good camera
✔ Doorstep nightlight
✔ MicroSD card included
✘ Wired only
✘ No remote chime option
✘ Cheap mounting plate
 

Best Budget Video Doorbell

XTU J7C
★★★★

Key Features
• ‘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

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.

 
✔ Good camera
✔ Tamper alarm
✔ Onboard storage
✘ Recording is slow
✘ MicroSD card not included
✘ Poor nightvision
✘ No smart home integration

 

Alternative Video Doorbells Without Subscription

aosu Video Doorbel V8S
★★★★

Key Features
• ‘5MP’ 2582x1936 4:3 doorbell camera
• 166-degree FOV
• Battery or wired install
• Dual motion detection with radar
• Supports Alexa and Google Home
• Two-way audio with quick reply
• Dual band Wi-Fi
• IP66 Weather resistance

What I Like

This relatively new brand is making waves and their V8S video doorbell is a serious contender for the top video doorbell without a subscription. The reason it’s down here in the alternatives is that we don’t know much about these guys yet. It’s clearly a Chinese company, but most subscription free doorbell brands are anyway. They’re ahead of the pack on support, with reportedly good phone and live chat on offer.

The device itself is also feature packed. On paper at least it actually exceeds my best pick, matching the dual motion detection system with radar and infra-red sensors, two-way talk with quick replies and a similar homebase set up. The homebase unit plugs right into a wall socket and acts as a signal repeater to help increase battery life on the doorbell and holds 8GB of on-board storage for video clips which is enough for 60 days.

They go further though, including a wedge kit in the pack, supporting dual-band Wi-Fi, a higher weather resistance rating, and even throwing in a voice changer so you can disguise your identity when talking to a visitor via the app. A bit of a gimmick perhaps, but it’s a bonus nonetheless. It also supports both wired and battery options in the one device so if you’re starting out on battery you have the option to upgrade to wired power later.

The install kit is very comprehensive and includes things like doorbell extension wires and a screwdriver. I expected the manual to be pretty sparse and poorly written, and I think earlier models may have been based on customer reviews, but the manual for this model is of a high standard, well worded with clear illustrations and directions for a variety of installation scenarios.

Potential Concerns

As with most of these subscription free models, you need to take it down to charge. This is done by pressing a small release catch through a hole in the bottom of the mount using a special pin tool that comes in the box. This seems a little less secure than security screws, but it’s not obvious to some unfamiliar with the model. Once down, you simply charge using a standard USB-C cable, which is also provided.

I’ve been looking pretty hard for flaws, but aosu is garnering very good customer reviews for this model. The biggest issue that stands out is quality control. There are a number of reports of clearly faulty units, with various issues such as short battery life, poor Wi-Fi connections or simply not working. This is to be expected with a newer brand, and they seem to be willing to resolve them without much drama.

The other common issue is late motion triggers. This is not uncommon with battery powered doorbells as they have to keep the camera off to save battery life, but some are better than others. You can work around this by adjusting the settings to pick up activity sooner, but then you risk having too many unwanted notifications.

 
✔ Good camera
✔ Good Support
✔ Dual-band Wi-Fi
✘ Needs to be removed to charge
✘ Motion alerts can be slow
✘ Some quality control issues
 

Blink Video Doorbell
★★★★

Key Features
• ‘HD’ 1920x1080 16:9 doorbell camera
• Battery or wired install
• 135 degree FOV
• Local storage on Sync Module
• Supports Alexa
• Two-way audio
• Weather resistant

What I Like

Amazon’s Blink brand of security devices are cute, cheap options for getting a simple home security setup that ties in well to Alexa. Indeed, the only wireless chime offering for this doorbell is an Amazon Echo device, although it will ring a wired chime if it’s connected to existing doorbell wiring. You’ll obviously get notifications on your phone from the Blink app as well.

Normally you’ll need a subscription to record videos from your Blink devices, but this one makes the cut here as you can record locally without a subscription if you use the Sync Module 2 (I’ve linked to the package that includes this). This module can take a USB thumb drive to use as expandable storage, and it’s also easy to remove in order to plug it into a computer for downloading and archiving your recordings if that’s your thing.

Installation has some flexibility by being able to run on a pair of AA lithium batteries, or more reliably with standard doorbell wiring. When on batteries the life is claimed to be an impressive 2 years, although with a lot of caveats in the fine print. Obviously, the usual environmental factors apply here, and you can expect a few months as a more realistic standby time.

Potential Concerns

As one of the cheaper options on the market, the Blink Video Doorbell is a competitive budget option, but loses out on a few key areas.

You get some basic doorbell features such as custom motion zones and two-way talk with visitors, but not much else. Motion zones are defined by selecting squares on a grid rather than the truly custom zones you can create with most other smart doorbells. Given there is also no object detection capability you’ll be getting notifications for anything that moves in those zones.

The choice of USB for storage seems to be a matter of convenience, but the downside is that it’s slow. If you have more than one Blink camera, it can only record from one at a time, so the rest have to wait. This means delayed notifications and video availability. It’s not long, but it could be a nuisance. There is also no automatic management of old videos. A folder is created for each month, and you’ll need to delete individual videos manually, or the whole folder by inserting the drive into a computer.

Finally, there are plenty of complaints about the mounting bracket design. It seems to be particularly susceptible to deformation when attach to the wall, which results in a lot of difficulty getting the doorbell to lock into place. This is reminiscent of the original Ring doorbell mount that had a similar issue. Some care with installing by not over-tightening the screws is likely in order.

 
✔ Low cost
✔ Clean design
✔ Battery or wired
✘ Manual recording management
✘ Limited motion zones
✘ USB drive not included
 

Toucan Video Doorbell
★★★★

Key Features
• ‘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

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.

 
✔ Free 24 hour cloud storage
✔ Built-in alarm
✔ 180-degree field of view
✘ Must be removed to charge
✘ Slow recording
✘ Subscription needed for downloads
 

Other Considerations Before Buying

Video doorbell recording options without a 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.

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.

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 support

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.

In Summary

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.