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Nest Doorbell (wired) review: The smartest doorbell

Nest Hello hero
(Image: © Android Central)

Our Verdict

Bottom line: Nest Doorbell (wired) is among the very best video doorbells you can buy. It's the only video doorbell that can recognize faces and tell you who's there (and who shouldn't be there). Just make sure you're fine with paying a monthly subscription because it's basically useless without one.

For

  • Sleek looks
  • Intelligent notifications
  • Familiar Faces is uniquely impressive
  • The best Google Home integration
  • 24/7 recording (with the right subscription plan)

Against

  • No local storage
  • No battery backup
  • Subscription required for most features

This review was written on March 27, 2018, and reflects the reviewer's thoughts at that time.

In retrospect, I should have seen this coming long ago. The idea of a video doorbell isn't all that novel. It's just a basic button, camera, speaker, and mic, with some flashing lights tossed in. That's not all that technologically advanced, right?

Nor does such a thing need to do all that much. It needs to show you who's at the door. It needs to allow you to talk to that person, and you talk to them. And it needs to record all this somewhere accessible, should something untoward happen.

No. Video doorbells, at their core, really are relatively simple products. So what could Nest Doorbell (wired) — the video doorbell entry from the Google-owned company known for its gorgeous thermostats, cameras, security system (and not-inexpensive prices) possibly do that the other best video doorbells don't?

A good bit, I've learned in a week or so of initial use of a Nest Doorbell (wired) purchased at retail. But also not without some room for improvement.

Nest Doorbell (wired): Price and availability

Nest Hello

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Since its original release, Nest Hello has been renamed Nest Doorbell (wired). This is to help differentiate it from the Nest Doorbell (battery), a redesigned battery-powered version of Google's best doorbell.

Nest Doorbell (wired) still retails for the original $229 price, despite its age, and is one of the only video doorbells that supports 24/7 continuous recording. You can find Nest Doorbell (wired) at Best Buy, home improvement stores like The Home Depot, and on the Google Store website.

In order to get access to most features, plus cloud storage, you'll need to subscribe to a Nest Aware plan. Nest Aware is a monthly subscription that enables cloud storage and many cloud-based computing features like Familiar Faces.

Nest Doorbell (wired): The basics

Nest Hello AC 2

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Here's the gist: Nest Doorbell (wired) is a $229 video doorbell that's powered by a low-voltage wiring system. There's a good chance that if you already have a doorbell, you've already got this. But ... it needs a low-voltage system with a transformer capable of handling 16V-24V.

As the name implies, it's got a camera built-in. Plus a mic and speaker. So using the Nest Android or iOS app (or Nest's web portal in a browser) you can see who's at the door either live or via a recording. You can talk to them, they can talk to you.

Your doorbell can still ring like it always has, but Nest has some excellent smart notifications rigged up. More on those in a bit.

Nest Doorbell (wired): Installation

Nest Hello box

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

The first thing anyone asks me about one of these doorbells — and this is either the fifth or sixth I've installed in my own home — is about how easy it is to put in and set up.

Can you use a screwdriver? What about a drill? Can you follow basic instructions and maybe watch a video or two? Know how to turn off a breaker in a breaker box? That's all it takes. And for what it's worth, the process is almost identical to that of installing a Ring Pro, that company's high-end doorbell.

Before you do anything, though, I'd recommend spending a few minutes with the installation video, just so you don't rush things. (I dunno about you, but I tend to get a little ... excited ... when I've got a shiny new thing in hand. This is just insurance.) In fact, here's the video:

Nest walks you through the physical installation as you add the doorbell to the Nest app. Like with other Nest products, you do that by scanning a tiny barcode. I like that over putting the doorbell into a pairing mode and then praying Wifi Direct actually works because Wifi Direct often doesn't actually work on the first try. From there, the app goes through every single step you'll need, with that video to help guide you.

If you can change a light fixture, you can install Nest Doorbell (wired).

You'll also have to do a little work at the doorbell chime — and you do have to have a low-voltage system with a transformer capable of handling 16 volts, which is something I had to upgrade (again, just a very minor wiring job) back when I installed the Ring Pro. You'll rig up a little bypass in there (also just like with the Ring Pro), and then head outside.

That's all simple enough. And as it does with its other products, Nest includes pretty much everything you need to install right there in the box. (The Nest logo on the drill bit and SIM card tool — which you use to remove the doorbell from the wall — is a cute touch. Try not to lose it, though.)

My only real quibble with the installation process is that there's not a whole lot of wiggle room when it comes to positioning the doorbell itself because of how the low-voltage wires come through the mounting plate. That's a relatively minor thing, though — I had to drill a new hole and reroute the wires. Again, that's sort of basic home improvement stuff. And the wire extensions Nest included helped with that as well.

Finish the setup in the app, and you're done. If you know what you're doing, it should take maybe 20 minutes or so.

Nest Doorbell (wired): Using it

Nest Hello

Nest Doorbell (wired) shows up in the Nest app like any of its other sibling cameras. In fact, you very much get the sense that it's a camera first, and a doorbell second. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you're experienced with any of the other cameras in Nest's stable. It works exactly the same. (Up to and including the ability to have it shut off when Nest sees that you're home — but I'm not sure why you'd ever want to do that.)

It's worth spending a few minutes looking through all the options, particularly when it comes to notifications. Because that's where Nest Doorbell (wired) really starts to shine.

Nest Hello notification

As a prerequisite, though — you're going to want to have a Nest Aware subscription. You get a free month to try it out. Beyond that, I've opted for the least expensive plan at $50 a year. (Subsequent devices get a discount, but it still adds up.) For that, you get continuous recording, with everything backed up to Nest's cloud for five days before rolling over. (You can pay more for 10 or 30 days of backup, but I've found that five is plenty for me.) Do you have to have a Nest Aware subscription? No. You get 3 hours of recorded video for free. But you'll miss out on the smart alerts. And they work thusly:

Like some other Nest cameras, Nest Doorbell (wired) is able to tie into the "Familiar Faces" thing. It works like this: Nest sees a face, then gives you the option to give it a name. The next time it sees that face, the notification will say something like "Hey, Phil's been seen in the camera." It's more personal, which is cool, but it also means I can parse notifications that much more quickly. Nest Hello sees my kid at the door? Cool. I don't need to actually open up the app and see who's there. It's a time-saver.

Image quality, connection speed, and smarter notifications give Nest a huge edge.

But Nest Doorbell (wired) actually goes even further in that when someone rings the bell, it can fire off notifications through any Google Home device — Mini, OG, or Max — to let you know someone's there. I've got a Google Home Mini stashed on my back patio, and now I'll never miss someone at the door because I couldn't hear the chime.

Familiar faces can be a little hit and miss sometimes — I think I need to retrain it to my face, for example — and I really want the option to not have all six Google Homes go off. (OK, maybe that's just a Phil problem.) But in any event, the notifications are so much smarter than anything I've used in another doorbell. I also have gotten far fewer false positives.

The other major advantage of Nest Doorbell (wired) has to do with lag and latency. If someone triggers a motion alert or rings the bell, you need to be able to respond as quickly as possible. There's always going to be a little lag in this sort of thing, but you want that latency as close to zero as you can get. Having the camera run continuously helps with that, no doubt. And maybe Nest has some other secret sauce in the hardware, or maybe it's just really good on the server-side of things.

But the bottom line is I've not had a single instance where the camera failed to load in the app, or it was so far behind that I never had a chance to respond to the notification. That's aces.

And speaking of responding, Nest has another trick up its sleeve with a trio of verbal quick responses. If you don't want to actually speak to someone at the door, you can choose one of the three canned replies. Neat trick. But useful? I'll just have to see.

All that's great, though. But what's really sold me on Nest Doorbell (wired) is that it just looks so much better than anything else I've used. It touts having HDR baked in, and there's definitely a noticeable difference, especially on a front porch that's often backlit. Night mode is just fine, too.

Nest Doorbell (wired): Competition

Nest Hello vs. Ring Pro

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Since Nest Doorbell (wired) debuted many years ago — and saw the subsequent name change to Nest Doorbell (wired) — several viable competitors have taken up the mantle as the best doorbell to buy in certain situations. Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 remains Ring's top-tier alternative to the Nest Doorbell (wired). While it lacks some of the most advanced notification features of the Nest Doorbell (wired), Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 has a Radar-powered "3D motion detection" that can be a more granular way of detecting motion from 5-30ft away. Ring products are always best when paired together since they don't work well with Google Assistant.

Arlo Video Doorbell is an almost feature-for-feature replacement for Nest Doorbell (wired) and even offers local storage options if you have an Arlo hub. This one is an excellent, more affordable alternative and only lacks the Familiar Faces feature from Nest Doorbell (wired). Otherwise, you can expect similarly intelligent notifications, people, animal, package, and vehicle AI-powered motion detection, and a $3 per month subscription that's basically required to get any of the best features — just like Nest.

Eufy Video Doorbell also requires a wire but, even at the bargain $160 price tag, doesn't require a subscription for any of its features. While it only can recognize people — meaning false notifications from things blowing in the wind is always a possibility — Eufy prides itself on local on-board processing and local storage. In short, you pay for this thing once and never have to spend another dime.

Nest Doorbell (wired): Should you buy it?

Nest Hello AC

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

You should buy this if...

  • You want the most intelligent alerts of any video doorbell
  • The Familiar Faces feature would be useful for you
  • You want a video doorbell that can record continuously

You shouldn't buy this if...

  • You don't want another monthly subscription
  • You want a video doorbell that supports local storage
  • You don't want to wire it up (or you need a doorbell with battery backup)

There are quite a few video doorbells out there at this point. I've used everything from Ring. Nest Doorbell (wired) is better. It's better because the picture itself is better. It's better because the notifications are smarter.

Nest has made a better smarter doorbell.

That's not to say it's without faults. Nest's apps could use better options for granting permissions to family members. The Nest Secure security system has secondary account access for family members — the doorbell would be good to take advantage of this, too. As it stands, I've had to give my kids full access to our Nest account. I'd prefer something I have more control over.

4.5 out of 5

On its own, Nest Doorbell (wired) easily is the best doorbell I've used. I wouldn't rip out an existing Ring Pro for it, but it is the one I'll be recommending from here on out — especially if you're already an owner of other Nest products.

Nest Doorbell Wired Crop

Nest Doorbell (wired)

Bottom line: Wiring up a doorbell isn't particularly difficult, but it's totally worth it when Nest Doorbell (wired) is the one you chose. Intelligent alerts, amazing Google Home integration, and a sleek design make this one of the best video doorbells you can buy.

Review Changelog

This article was originally published in March 2018. It was updated in October 2021 with the following changes:

  • Reformatted to match newer reviews.
  • Added price and availability section and linked to newer Nest doorbell products.
  • Added competition section.
41 Comments
  • Might be a draft question but does it have quite a wide angle view? My current doorbell is over to one side and people stretch their arm out to press it. I'd hate to have great footage of an arm coming into view and nothing else!
  • According to the specs, the pictures and video that accompany this review, yes. It does.
  • Not only is it a wide angle (fish eye) lens, but it comes with a 15 degree wedge accessory for installation in cases like that. I have the same situation as you and it works fine for me.
  • I'm suing the wedge for the same situation as well. Works great.
  • So, does it have to be an always on camera? Can the camera be set to only record when it detects motion? I don't really want to upload 300GB a month. Pretty sure my ISP will balk at that.
  • the camera has a home and away feature. While it sin away mode the camera cuts off. When it detects motion the camera cuts on.
  • Yes.. you can set the schedule and also video quality to manage total data usage. But, when it's on, it's recording.. That's way you get the benefit of the analytics on your data. And, motion detection especially outdoors isn't perfect so I'm glad I've got everything on video, it is a feature. I've got 11 TB up in the past 30 days (many cameras) and isp had no issues with it, just check with them.
  • And yes, you can set the video to be off when you are home as well per the other post. (Although I run mine 24x7 since my being home may not lessen the incidents I want recorded).
  • I think it's a165 degree view, check their site. It also comes with a small metal angle bracket that adds another 15 degrees if you'd like.. mine's off to the side of a double door with a sidelight and it gets a good view (although I will relocate it a bit).
  • I'd like to replace my ring with this....
  • Definitely do it. I replaced my Ring Pro with the Hello and it has been the best thing I could have done. The wide-angle views are great, especially vertically. The Nest app is superior to the Ring app. It is so much more consistent than the Ring app ever was. Even the notifications themselves are great with Nest. The animated gif showing you doorbell rings and motions that exist right in your notification dropdown is brilliant. HDR really makes a difference, too. I never thought it would, but it actually makes a big difference in certain lighting conditions.Add to that, familiar faces as well as announcements on any Google home devices that you have, and you end up with a really fine product. The Nest Hello is awesome.
  • I have a Skybell HD. How does the night video compare? Also I love that I can disable my electronic chimes from the Skybell app, can the Nest do that? If not does the current interface allude to the possibility of it being added via software at a later date? My only group with the Skybell is the motion detection.
  • You can set your schedule when the chime should sound (electronic or traditional). The hello has a small battery so they must use that to help with this function. The notifications will still function during the quiet time (unless you turn those off as well).
  • I actually disabled the night view because my porch is lit and the regular video is so much better. But night view works really well if you have an inadequate light source for the color recording.
  • Awesome review, thank you.
  • This question might be redundant, but here goes. But first... I recently moved into a home with an older Nutone intercom/doorbell system. It looked awful inside the house and outside. The speaker sound quality also stunk, so I had painters rip out the inside control boxes, patch up the holes, and paint over them. Looks better but now I have no working doorbell. Didn't think it through all the way. *I do however have a Google Home and several Google Home Minis. Question: can I use the Nest Hello without a doorbell chime (the part that chimes inside of the house) and instead rely on a chime to play only thru my Google Home system? If yes, do I even need a transformer? How does the wiring of the Nest Hello change in this scenario?
  • That is a good question. I expect that it would work fine with any existing Google homes as well as providing you notifications of Rings or announcements on your phone or tablet devices.
  • I ran into a situation like this where my wirres where ripped out in the attic. So I skipped my doorbell and just hooked it to my transformer. Do not hook up both wires to the transformer. Then skip through the doorbell set up and the little connect chime thing in the box. Then just set it up to ring through the Google homes. Although there is a delay in the Google home sometimes up to 10 seconds. Where as a doorbell is instantaneous. If you have to install a transformer you might as well get the doorbell kit for around 30 bucks and hook it up properly.
  • The design expects you to have a chime, and includes a connector that goes into the chime box (undocumented as to what it does). Per the below you may be able to simulate having a chime but may work better (or at all) with an actual doorbell chime. You don't necessarily have to have the chime by the front door though, so if you want to put it out of sight, you could do that. It would take some research to see if you could do it without a chime but still use their connector..I did read that straight connection to the hello without the connector does not work.
  • And yes you need a transformer otherwise the hello has no power. 10VA for each hello, 16-24 volts. See the compatibility guide on the nest site.
  • Getting ready to install and I just saw this. I too am hoping they give us the ability to choose which Google Homes get alerts, as we have a mini in the kids room for listening to music (kept commandeering ours) and I really don't think they need to be notified in the middle of the night if someone rings our doorbell. Aside from that, I'm really like what I've seen, heard, and read so far.
  • Agree, and hopefully they will add that. I'd like to pick which home devices do the announcement.
  • I don't have a roofed entrance, does anyone know how it would fare completely exposed to the elements? Btw I live in PA, so we do get a fare amount of snow...
  • Can anyone confirm the camera "cool" off period? I read that once the camera is triggered it will not re-trigger for close to 30 mins. If that's the case, that is a major problem. Example: The UPS man delivers your package, he rings the doorbell, triggers the camera and leaves. Someone comes up 10 mins later and takes the package without triggering the camera.
  • Where did you read about a cool off period? Makes no sense.. it's always on and no where did it say that your are limited in how many times it can be pressed in a period of time.. no one would but that ever?
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfNH8r9Aby0
  • I read somewhere that the temperature range is a bit restricted, but I can't find that info anywhere now (not even on Nest's site). Do you have that info handy? Edit: Never mind, I found it (14° to 104°F). I also spotted that it only has IPx4 weather resistance.. If your doorbell button is exposed to the rain (like mine) this might not be enough?
  • After seeing the reviews showing problems with notification lag, recordings jot including your voice, and poor nighttime visibility while costing a lot more I'll stick with my Ring Pro for now. Ever since I push a node of my mesh nearby it has been very consistent.
  • Can anyone confirm (or deny) that if Hello is connected to a Google Home set-up that you are not able to choose which Home or Home Minis alert you when someone is pressing the doorbell button? Like other posters on here, I have Minis in locations (e.g. kids room) where I wouldn't want the doorbell notification to sound.
  • Confirmed. If you set the notifications to play on your home also, it plays on all.(you do not have to have it play on your home.. The app notification on your phone will work regardless). I bet they are working on that one though since it seems to be a popular request.
  • The feature I want is a unique notification sound/vibrate for a door press. Right now, it's the same as any other notification.. It needs to be unique so that I know to pull my phone from my pocket on a door press if I'm not home. Request already submitted.
  • It looks great until I read the specs on operating temperature. I live in Minnesota where the temperature in the middle of winter often gets below -4°F. So maybe as much as I'd like to get this I think I'll pass for now.
  • I just replaced my Ring with the Nest doorbell and am already much happier.
  • Am I correct that this is only targeted towards southern states? Since the northern states often get colder than the rated 4 below zero? I really want this, but I live the Midwest. Thoughts?
  • Even worse. 14 above, not 4 below.
  • Are competitor products any better on this spec?
  • No covered doorway so exposed to good ole southern storms, heat. Guess I'll have to pass
  • Are competitor products any better on this spec?
  • Is ipx4 insufficient for a doorbell?
  • I don't see the main issue covered here, which is how much is the subscription service? That's why I went for the Ring doorbell.
  • I have an original Ring video doorbell attached to a transformer with no hard wired bell and I use 2 Ring Chimes as a bell substitute. Can the Nest doorbell be installed without a hard wired bell and use only the Google Home Mini or regular Google Home as a doorbell? I have a bunch of Google speakers installed around the house so it should cover any area I might be at.