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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Eufy Doorbell Does the Impossible and Skips Mandatory Subscriptions

A Eufy Video doorbell with the blue button lit installed next to a front door.
Josh Hendrickson

Video doorbells are among the best investments for your smarthome. But they usually come with the major drawback of mandatory cloud subscriptions for the best features. Eufy’s Video Doorbell throws that out the window—it doesn’t require a subscription at all.

When it comes to video doorbells, Ring and Nest are the two most popular. They offer a variety of features, like the ability to respond to a doorbell ring from your smartphone, people detection, cloud storage, and automatic recording triggered by movement or when someone approaches.

But many of these features require cloud subscriptions, and you do give up some privacy in the process. Eufy’s Video Doorbell ($160, at this writing), though, is different. While it still offers nearly all the same features as Nest or Ring, you don’t need a subscription to benefit from them.

The only subscription Eufy does offer for the doorbell is optional $3 per month cloud storage, but even that’s unnecessary. The doorbell has 4 GB of eMMC storage to store your video. Because the doorbell only records when an event triggers it, that’s enough storage for 30 days of footage. When you run out of space, the doorbell deletes the oldest video to make room for the new.

A Wired Doorbell with People Detection

The Eufy Doorbell is a boxy affair that doesn’t stand out as pretty or sleek. It screams, “I’m a video camera,” and I can get behind that. When it comes to security, just knowing a system is watching is a powerful deterrent.

An Eufy Doorbell Android notification Person alert showing an image of a person at the door.

But what it lacks in beauty, it makes up for in power and capability, at a low price. At this writing, the Eufy Video Doorbell costs $160, which is about $40 less than Amazon’s Ring Video Doorbell 2, and $70 less than Google’s Nest doorbell. And for that price, you also get enough local storage for 30 days of event-triggered video, motion and human detection, and the ability to respond in real-time without a cloud subscription.

Despite the lack of a cloud connection, Eufy does an admirable job of locally processing video to detect human presence. When a human approaches your door, it takes her picture and notifies you with a thumbnail of it. It’s handy to know who’s there before they even ring the bell. Unlike Nest, you don’t get a name with the thumbnail, so it’s up to you put a name with the face.

You can also create and adjust detection zones, so that every car that drives by, or every cat that walks into the frame doesn’t trigger a notification. And it works surprisingly well—almost as good as the Nest Hello, despite its lack of cloud power.

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