Today on the hookup we’re going to take a look at battery powered video doorbells, which is kind of what your stuck with if your house was built without a wired doorbell. We’re going to compare 4 different brands in a bunch of different categories to determine if there is a clear winner in this relatively small category of devices.
When my house was built, I specifically decided where to put the ethernet, coax, and electrical outlets, but at no time during the construction process did anyone ask me whether I wanted a doorbell, and I guess I just kind of assumed it was a standard item… well, I was wrong. It wasn’t a huge deal at the time since battery powered RF doorbells were cheap and effective, but when wired video doorbells started hitting the market around 2014, I was out of luck and a bit jealous. Fast forward 6 years and we finally have a little bit of variety in the battery powered video doorbell market so today we’re going to take a look at 4 different models from 4 different manufacturers to see how they stack up in these different aspects:
Our first is the original video doorbell, and the one by which all others are measured: The Ring Doorbell. This one happens to be the ring video doorbell 2, and it retails for $199. To enable even the most basic features on your ring doorbell you’ll also need to pay an additional $2.99 a month for their cloud subscription which allows you to have up to 60 days of recordings saved to the cloud and gives you the opportunity to download and share your video clips.
Next is the newly released EufyCam Battery Video doorbell which also retails for $199. Unlike the ring, the EufyCam doesn’t require any additional cloud subscription and instead records locally onto the 16 gigabytes of internal storage on the included EufyCam Home Base 2.
Third we’ve got the brand new Toucan video doorbell that was unveiled at CES. The toucan has a much lower initial cost at only $89, and comes with free cloud storage for clips that occurred in the last 24 hours, but to get more storage you’ll need to pay $2.99 per month for their cloud subscription, which still only gets you 7 days worth of stored footage.
And the last doorbell I’ll be testing is a Chinese white label doorbell sold by a few different companies on Amazon and AliExpress. The specific one I tested is made by Meco, but I imagine you’d end up with an identical experience if you purchased one Zumimall, Geree or another distributor. This doorbell retails for $89 and comes with a 32 gigabyte SD card preinstalled. The downside to internal flash memory is that unlike the local storage on the Eufycam base station, someone could walk away with the whole doorbell module, which would include all your stored video clips. Not to mention storing the clips on a battery powered device means that accessing them will drain the battery. Meco does offer a cloud backup option through their cloud edge app, but it will cost you $2.99 a month only gives you 3 days of recorded footage.
For initial value, the Toucan and Meco seem very tempting, but there’s no point in getting a cheap device if it doesn’t perform well, so lets keep going to see if you get what you pay for.
Most people associate video quality with resolution, but in actuality video quality is influenced by many factors including: Resolution, frame rate, bitrate, and lens design. The EufyCam records at 2K resolution, or 2560x1920 while the Toucan records at a rather odd 1504x1504, the Ring and Meco cameras both record at true 1080p or 1920x1080. Equally important to resolution is bitrate where the Ring camera is massively superior to the rest with almost twice the bitrate of the other cameras, and then comes framerate where the toucan wins with a framerate of nearly 20 frames per second.
Lens design also has a lot to do with image quality, wide angle lenses will give you significantly greater field of view at the cost of image distortion around the edges of the video. Meco has a fairly standard lens resulting in a quality image, but narrow field of view. The Eufycam lens is slightly fisheyed, but is nothing compared to the ring and toucan doorbells that produce almost 180 degrees of horizontal field of view. The toucan takes it one step further by also giving nearly 180 degrees of vertical field of view as well.
When it comes to picture quality, it’s hard to argue with a side by side comparison. You can see that even though the Eufy is recording at the highest resolution, the Ring and Toucan videos just look better due to their higher bitrate and framerate. The Meco footage looks isn’t bad, but for such a narrow field of view, I’d expect better.
Nighttime recording quality was passable for all the cameras, but not great. Unlike all the other clips from this video, these are not all from the same event. Since I didn’t want the infrared LEDs from one camera to influence the video quality of the others I tested them one at a time and removed the other cameras during each test.
I rated all the cameras equal for night time video quality, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. You can see that during the day the ring and eufy cameras started their recording slightly earlier than the Meco and Toucan, but at night, the Eufycam began recording significantly before all the other cameras, and the Ring actually did the worst by failing to detect motion at all until I physically touched the doorbell… Which brings me to my next important category, motion detection.
For nighttime motion detection the eufycam was consistently superior to the other cameras, so if you are putting this camera in a dark area, the eufycam is the clear choice. But lets see how they perform in some other typical situations:
Probably the most common scenario involves someone walking up my driveway, then up the pathway to my front door to either leave a package or ring the doorbell.
In this test you can see that the ring starts recording first, followed very closely by the Eufycam, then the toucan and the meco.
A less common, but still important scenario would be someone entering from the side of my porch, possibly to steal a package. To be funny I decided to act like a package thief and threw on my hoodie while I stole the package. To my surprise the hoodie was not only effective at blocking my face from being recorded by the cameras, but it also prevented the Eufycam doorbell from recording at all.
This is an unfortunate result of an awesome feature on the EufyCam called “Human Detection” that uses on device facial detection to determine if an actual human is responsible for the motion. Throughout my two weeks of testing false alerts caused by passing cars, blowing leaves or moving shadows made me pay significantly less attention to notifications sent by the other cameras, but the Eufy only notified me when an actual human was in the frame. The motion recording settings in the eufy do allow you to turn off human detection and record on all motion, but as expected this results false motion alerts just like the other cameras. I can say with 100% certainty that without the Human Detection feature I would turn off motion notifications from these cameras, but I hope Eufy gives us the option of recording on all motion events while only sending notifications for human detection.
Ring is currently piloting their own human detection system, but unfortunately my device wasn’t eligible yet for their gradual rollout. Luckily, a friend of mine did get the human detection firmeware update so I headed over to his house to test it out. Unfortunately in our testing, turning on human detection appeared to render the doorbell’s motion detection completely useless, and we couldn’t get it to detect motion even while standing right in front of it with human detection on.
It appears both Ring and Eufy both have some work to do with their human detection systems, but I’m excited to see how they develop. If you’ve had better luck with Ring human only alerts, let me know down in the comments.
For motion detection, the EufyCam had the most consistent motion recording and the least amount of false motion events. The ring also performed well but with a significant number of false motion events, and the Toucan and Meco were passable but consistently started the recordings well after motion began.
Almost equally important to the quality of recorded video and motion detection is the ability to easily access and sort through your motion events, because what good is recorded video if you can’t find the clip you’re looking for. So lets look at the app experience.
Historically, there are two common ways to organize surveillance footage: List form, and timeline form.
The Ring app offers both timeline and list based video organization which I really like. Footage was easy to find, easy to view and easy to download. The ring app provides an easy to use responsive experience with very few bugs. The ring app also has the option to share video and view shared videos from your neighbors in a kind of neighborhood watch functionality. While I have some concerns about the privacy associated with this feature, overall I really like it.
The EufyCam app uses list form with the motion event type and a thumbnail of the event. If you have human detection on it also gives you a small thumbnail of the person’s face next to each clip. Accessing and saving video was quick and easy and like the Ring app I found the EufyCam app to be easy to use, responsive, and mostly free of bugs.
The Toucan app has thumbnails of each event in list form and classifies them as motion events or doorbell events, but for some reason doorbell events don’t include video because pressing the doorbell doesn’t automatically trigger a video recording. Scubbing through the timeline is painfully slow and often causes the app to freeze. Saving clips in the toucan app is also buggy and even though I was always able to eventually get them to save, it never happened on the first try. The Toucan app is usable, but needs quite a bit of work still.
The Meco doorbell uses an app called “cloud edge” which like the ring app offers both list and timeline based playback, sort of. To select your initial clip you use the list which classifies motion events and generates a thumbnail preview. Then, to actually see the clip, you click on the orange play button next to the thumbnail. If you aren’t paying for the cloud subscription, it will give you the message that no video is available, and you need to click on history instead of cloud to bring up the videos stored on the internal SD card. The initial loading process has to retrieve all the clips from the device which not only takes quite a while, but as I mentioned before, also causes battery drain since the clips are stored on the actual doorbell. Aside from responsiveness, the app is actually pretty easy to use once you get used to it.
Next lets take a look at how these things function as doorbells.
The most obvious thing a doorbell does is alert you that someone is at the door. Each doorbell has a lighted ring around the button to confirm to the visitor that they have correctly pressed the button, this feedback was especially important on the toucan doorbell which needed to be pressed at the top of the button rather than the middle in order to register.
The Ring, Eufy and Meco doorbells also have an audible ringtone that comes from the doorbell itself but the indoor chime is much more important. Inside the house the EufyCam plays a chime out of the included home base 2, the Toucan plays a chime out of a separate battery powered portable unit, and the Meco has a USB powered chime that can be plugged directly into any powered USB port or into a wall socket with a USB adapter.
If you want your Ring doorbell to play a chime inside your house you’ll to need to buy the separate $29 ring chime or set up alerts on your amazon echo devices which the EufyCam and Toucan can also do.
The problem with using your echo devices as a chime is it there is no way to specify which devices to play the chime from, so if you have echo’s in your kids bedrooms you’ll also need to make sure that you have do not disturb schedules setup in order to avoid waking them up when the UPS guy comes at 10PM.
Another cool feature of these video doorbells is two way audio, which in theory allows you to talk to the person outside your door even if you aren’t home, but here’s how they worked in practice:
The eufycam provides the best 2 way conversation experience, followed by the ring, then the Meco, and last the toucan, but also important to note is that the ring was the only doorbell that recorded the 2-way conversation. The other doorbells recorded the initial button press and then stopped recording before the conversation occurred. I’m not sure if is a hardware limitation or something that can be fixed in a software update. Speaking of hardware:
[EufyCam – 8, Ring – 7, Meco – 6, Toucan – 7 (NA)]
Next is battery performance, and I unfortunately can’t give an exact estimate for battery life since my testing involved ringing the doorbell and bringing up the live view dozens of times a day which is hardly normal use, but for the purpose of transparency, the EufyCam battery dropped around 1% per day, the ring about 1.5% per day, and the Meco around 5% per day. The toucan does not report its battery life in %, so I don’t have any useful data to report regarding the toucan. I’m going to keep all 4 doorbells installed until they need recharging and I’ll update the video description with expected battery life for each camera as that data becomes available.
[EufyCam – 9, Ring – 1, Meco – 7, Toucan – 1 (NA)]
One area that the EufyCam is wildly superior to all the other cameras is WiFi and internet reliance. The Ring, Meco, and Toucan cameras all connect directly to your WiFi network while the EufyCam connects to your network via Eufy Home base 2. This means that if your WiFi coverage isn’t great outside your door, you can position the Home Base in an intermediate location to give your doorbell a stronger signal. The other upside to this connection type is that your video is stored on site and doesn’t require an internet connection. To confirm this I used my firewall to block the cameras and home base from the internet and then created some unique motion in front of the cameras. As expected, the Ring and Toucan cameras failed to record any video when the internet was out, but the EufyCam and Meco with their local storage were able to capture the event, even though I wasn’t able to play back the clips until the internet connection was restored. I was disappointed to see that the videos on the Meco’s SD card are recorded in some proprietary format, so if the CloudEdge app ever goes away, you won’t be able to retrieve your videos from your camera’s SD card manually. I was also disappointed to see that the Eufy Home Base 2 uses internal flash storage, not an SD card like the previous model, so your footage is also not retrievable without connection to the Eufy App. Surprisingly, the Eufycam doorbell was the only camera to be able to access the live view from my local network when the internet was down. I ended up giving the EufyCam a 9 instead of a 10 in this category due to the reliance on the cloud for video playback, but it is still significantly better than the rest. If you experience frequent internet or WiFi outages I’d highly recommend the EufyCam doorbell, and you should be aware that the Ring and Toucan doorbells will fail to record video if they don’t have access to the internet.
[EufyCam – 7, Ring – 7, Meco – 1, Toucan – 5]
The last category I’m going to look at is voice assistant integrations, which I find a bit dubious.
Starting with echo skills: The Ring, Eufycam, and Toucan all have the ability to stream live video to your echo show or fireTV device using their individual skills, but none of them load particularly quickly, taking around 8-10 seconds on average. By the time you say the right thing and wait for the video to load, your guest will have been standing there for 20-30 seconds already. The Ring echo skill also allows you to activate the microphone to have a 2 way conversation straight from your echo device, with similar quality to using your phone. This added functionality is probably available due to the fact that Ring is now owned by Amazon, but the downside of that relationship is that the Ring cannot be integrated with google home at all.
Eufycam on the other hand has its own google home service which allow it to stream video to your google home or chromecast devices with similar delay to echo devices. The Toucan doorbell also has a google home service, but at the time of publishing this video both of their services are non functional. The Meco doorbell doesn’t have an amazon skill or a google service and does not integrate with either service.
So after all is said and done, here are the scores for each doorbell. The EufyCam’s largest shortcoming is its video quality, which suffers from low bitrate and framerate. I like that it records locally to the base station, and I appreciate that it doesn’t require a monthly fee. Human detection is an absolute must have if you plan on using motion notifications, and I’ve already reached out to Eufy to suggest allowing recording for all motion and notifications for human detection only.
The Ring camera is another solid all-around choice. The company’s experience in the market and development resources are obvious when comparing the polish of the app and experience with the other newer brands. I wish I would have been able to evaluate their human only notifications to see how effective they are compared with the EufyCam’s, but for now it seems like it isn’t quite ready.
The Chinese white label camera by Meco offers bare minimum functionality for a bare minimum price. I like that the recordings are local, but having to access a battery powered device to review my footage seems like a terrible idea, and the battery data that I collected during my testing seems to confirm that fact. The downfall of the Meco is certainly its batteries, and I’d expect it to need charging at least once a month.
And last is the Toucan doorbell. I love the super fisheye lens on the toucan, but everything else needs work. The app is buggy and the button hardware failure is also very concerning, and makes me wonder about the rest of the build quality. The initial value at only $89 is intriguing, but I just don’t think it’s ready for primetime yet.
I don’t think I missed any major players in the Battery Video Doorbell category, but if I did, make sure to let me know down in the comments.
Thank you to all my awesome patrons over at patreon for your continued support of my channel, if you’re interested in supporting my channel please check out the links down in the description. If you enjoyed this video please hit that like button and consider subscribing, and as always, thanks for watching the hookup.
These are my test results for BATTERY Video Doorbells:
Eufy Video Doorbell: https://amzn.to/2TXDmKu
Ring Video Doorbell 2: https://amzn.to/3aQrWiR
3: Meco (Chinese White Label): https://amzn.to/2Q5EZET
Toucan Doorbell: https://amzn.to/3aCyzoK