Local Control Video Doorbells – Reolink, UniFi, Amcrest, Hikvision, Dahua.

October 29, 2022


By Overall Rank:
#1 Reolink WiFi: https://bit.ly/3yJwR3p
#2 Reolink PoE: https://bit.ly/3D4Uc1W
#3 Dahua VTO: https://amzn.to/3zrqBO6
#4 UniFi G4 Pro: https://store.ui.com/collections/unifi-protect/products/g4-doorbell-pro
#5 Amcrest AD410: https://amzn.to/3fdJMnM
#6 Hikvision DS-HD1: https://amzn.to/3U83H6k
#7 UniFi G4: https://store.ui.com/collections/unifi-protect-cameras/products/uvc-g4-doorbell

**As an Amazon Affiliate I earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you**

Doorbell Cameras for Advanced Users

I gathered all the most popular wired video doorbells on the market, and today on the hookup we’re going to take an in depth look at 7 of them that are capable of more advanced configurations. That means we’re going to look at things like fully local storage and control, RTSP and ONVIF compatibility, smart home platform integration, and advanced setup.  If those things don’t sound important to you, I’ll be making a second video in the next couple weeks with all of the doorbells using their standard cloud based configurations, but today we’re doing a deep dive for privacy focused smart home and security camera enthusiasts.  In this video I’m going to specifically cover integrations with Home Assistant and Blue Iris, but the information should be generally applicable no matter which automation and NVR platform you use.

For me the holy grail of doorbells is fully local with good image quality, available RTSP video streams, functional 2 way talk, and integrations into home assistant.  And out of these 14 wired video doorbells I’ve been able to narrow it down to these 7 that offer more advanced options and local control.

Going from least expensive to most we’ve got the brand new 5 megapixel Reolink PoE doorbell for $89, next is the 3 megapixel $95 Hikvision DS-HD1, which is also sold by a bunch of other companies like EZVIZ, RCA, LAVIEW, NELLY’S Security, and LTS, After that is the WiFi version of the 5 megapixel Reolink doorbell for $99, after that is the very popular $150 Amcrest AD410 which is also sold as the Lorex 2K doorbell and as the Dahua DB6I, then we’ve got the $150 2 megapixel Dahua VTO2311R, then the $199 UniFi G4 Doorbell, and finally the most expensive local control option is the $299 UniFi G4 Pro doorbell.

We’ve gotten used to calling these things video doorbells, but they’re actually a combination of 3 separate things: A doorbell, a security camera, and an intercom.  So the way I’m going to break down this video is by looking at how well they perform each of those tasks while maintaining secure, private, local control.

Starting with the most obvious, these things should be effective doorbells, and doorbells are often exposed to the elements, so water ingress protection ratings are important.  The UniFi doorbells are IP64 rated meaning they can withstand splashes of water, while the rest of the doorbells are IP65 rated meaning they can withstand a constant jet of water from any direction.  Basically that means that your UniFi doorbells should probably be installed under a porch or cover, but the rest of the doorbells should do fine in any conditions. I’ve also heard reports of doorbells failing in direct sun due to overheating and I was surprised by how hot the Hikvision DS-HD1 doorbell got without any direct sunlight, which was enough to melt the adhesive off of the Velcro pads I was using, but I didn’t have heat issues with any of the other doorbells.

As for their size the UniFi G4 Pro and Dahua VTO are by far the largest at approximately 5 by 16 by 3 centimeters, while the rest of the doorbells are more or less the same size at approximately 4.5 by 13 by 2 centimeters.

Since these doorbells are also cameras being able to aim them is important and the best way to do that is with angle mounting brackets.  The Hikvision DS-HD1 and Amcrest AD410 include both a horizontal angle mount and a vertical angle mount, while the Reolink and UniFi doorbells only include a horizontal angle mount and the Dahua VTO didn’t come with any additional mounting brackets.

To power these doorbells you’ve got two options: The Reolink WiFi, Amcrest, Hikvision, and UniFi G4 doorbells all utilize your existing doorbell wiring for power, and WiFi for data, while the Dahua VTO and Reolink PoE uses power over ethernet for both power and data.  The UniFi G4 Pro doorbell by default uses your existing doorbell wiring for power, and WiFi for data, but there is a power over ethernet adapter planned that is currently in early access.  Now, I’m not allowed to show early access products or specifically talk about them, but I just want to show that the USB-C plug on the G4 pro is not recessed, so if you want to use that plug like with a PoE adapter it will require a fairly large hole drilled in your wall unlike the flush mounted solutions from Reolink and Dahua.

When someone presses the doorbell the most traditional way for you to be alerted would be to use your existing doorbell chime, and the Amcrest AD410, Hikvision DS-HD1, and UniFi doorbells can all do exactly that while the two PoE doorbells from Reolink and Dahua cannot.  The only WiFi doorbell that isn’t able to activate your existing chime is the Reolink doorbell.

And that’s probably why the Reolink doorbells are the only ones that come with an external wireless chime.  Add on chimes are available for the Amcrest AD410 and UniFi doorbells, but only as a separate purchase, and even priced around $50 they both seem to be low stock and hard to come by.

The high tech way to be alerted for a doorbell press is on your phone, which is where this video starts to get a little more complicated.  Of course all these doorbells can alert you via a notification on your phone if you are using their default apps and connecting them to the manufacturer’s cloud, but if you’re trying to follow cybersecurity best practices and block your security cameras from the internet then those notifications will stop working.  So those doorbell presses will need to be able to be detected locally in some other way.

In the case of the Amcrest AD410 the home assistant Dahua integration does a great job of passing in motion events and doorbell presses where they can then be used to send notifications without giving the doorbell access to the internet.  Unfortunately while that same integration can be used to import the Dahua VTO, none of the motion or button press events work.  I also tried the Dahua VTO to MQTT custom addon, and I tried setting up a SIP server using asterisk to get button presses into home assistant, but nothing worked, I literally spent an entire work day trying to make the Dahua VTO work with home assistant but ultimately failed.  I’m not saying it’s not possible, just that it’s not straightforward and I couldn’t do it in a time efficient manner.

Thankfully the other doorbells weren’t so difficult and the UniFi protect integration does a great job passing motion and doorbell press events into home assistant to use in your own notifications, but it of course requires you to have some kind of unifi protect server like a dream machine pro, cloud key gen2 plus, or UNVR.

The Reolink integration doesn’t currently work to detect doorbell presses, but I’m not super worried about it yet because I imagine that functionality will come pretty quickly once the doorbell is widely released.  The motion and person detection sensors from the doorbell work in home assistant, so once the Reolink doorbell gets into the hands of the integration author I’m hoping it will be trivial for him to add the new “visitor” sensor to his Reolink API library.

As for the Hikvision, there is no easy way to capture button presses.  There are literally 300 pages of forum posts on it talking about ways to flash different firmware, modify the internal circuitry, and write custom firewall alerts in pfsense to capture the AWS web request for a button press, but the cliffs notes of those 300+ pages is that none of the options are easy, completely reliable or work with every feature.

The second obvious feature of these video doorbells is how effective they are as security cameras, and that topic is also a little more complex than it seems on the surface, because not everyone will be using these video doorbells in the same way.

In the surveillance world the way we describe the purpose of a security camera is with the abbreviation DORI, which stands for detection, observation, recognition and identification.  Detection and observation zones are generally covered by wide angle cameras while recognition and identification zones should be covered by more zoomed in narrow field of view cameras.

I think it’s relatively common for people to use a ring, eufy, or nest doorbell as their only “security” camera in which case focusing on detection and observation with a wide angle lens makes sense, but I think most people who are interested in this video will probably already have at least a couple other cameras and should focus more on recognition and identification around your front door entry point.

So looking at field of view, the UniFi G4 Pro doorbell has the widest horizontal field of view at 136 degrees and thanks to an additional downward facing package camera it also has over 180 degrees of vertical field of view.  The G4 doorbell is similar to the main G4 Pro camera with 134 degrees horizontal but only 108 degrees vertical.  The Hikvision DS-HD1 uses portrait orientation and a fish eye lens to get 148 degrees of vertical field of view with a single camera, at the expense of horizontal field of view which I measured at just 108 degrees.  The reolink doorbells and Amcrest AD410 were about the same with around 95 degrees of vertical field of view and 125 degrees horizontal and the Dahua VTO was by far the most zoomed in with just 60 degrees of vertical field of view and 112 degrees horizontal, so we would expect the Dahua VTO, Amcrest AD410 and Reolink doorbells to be the most useful for identification purposes, but let’s see how that holds up to testing.

During the daytime the video quality from the reolink doorbells was unmatched and at 20 feet the images could easily be used for identification.  You’ll notice the difference in perceived video quality between the Reolink WiFi and PoE doorbells, which was caused by differences in lighting conditions, however even though the sign was overexposed on the PoE image, I think the Reolink software did a great job correctly exposing my face which is ultimately the most important part of the image.

After the Reolink doorbells the best performer was the Hikvision DS-HD1 which was a little blurry due to it’s low resolution, but could probably still be used for identification purposes.  As with basically every Amcrest camera that I’ve ever tested, low bitrate seems to be their number one enemy and my face got totally lost in encoding artifacts and despite the low field of view on the Dahua VTO the 2 megapixel resolution resulted in a blurry image.

The worst images at 20ft came from the UniFi doorbells which as I mentioned is largely due to their wide field of view lenses, but that’s not the whole story.  Even though both UniFi doorbells advertise a 5 megapixel main image sensor they output video at 1600×1200 which is only 2 megapixels, which when spread out over 135 degrees of horizontal field of view, means that the number of pixels per degree of field of view is roughly half of the reolink which is why using the DORI model the UniFi doorbells could probably only be used for observation at 20 feet and definitely not for identification.

As I approached the door I took another still at 5ft where the Reolink doorbells also performed the best.  At 5 feet the Amcrest AD410 could also be used for identification, but you can still see all the encoding artifacts in my shirt and some on my face.  The UniFi G4 and G4Pro doorbells did significantly better at 5 feet than at 20 feet, but still weren’t great and the Hikvision image was a little worse than those due to its low resolution and high field of view resulting in a blurry image.  The Dahua VTO was by far the worst, which is definitely unacceptable given that it also has the lowest field of view by a pretty significant margin.

I also tested night time performance in both color mode and infrared mode and at 20 feet the results were expectedly worse than during the day, but in color mode with my exterior lighting on the Reolink doorbells did the best followed by the Hikvision, then the Dahua VTO and last were the Amcrest and UniFi doorbells which weren’t great at 20ft.

However, the most surprising thing was how bad some of them were at just 5 feet.  This would be the equivalent of where someone would stand after ringing the doorbell and taking a step back.  I felt that the Amcrest was unacceptably bad, followed by the Dahua VTO and Hikvision doorbell.  The UniFi G4 and G4 Pro doorbells were fine and could easily be used to identify me, but again the Reolink doorbells were both significantly better than the rest.

Switching the cameras into infrared at 20 feet the Amcrest had the worst image followed by the Dahua VTO.  Next were the G4 and G4 pro doorbells, and then the reolink doorbells.  And the surprising best performer was the Hikvision DS-HD1 despite it’s lower resolution and high field of view, but we shouldn’t give it too much credit because all the images were pretty bad.

At 5ft the Dahua VTO had by far the worst image, followed by a very pixelated and overexposed Amcrest.  The UniFi G4 doorbell was underexposed and pixelated while the reolink doorbells lacked contrast and were a little blurry.  I think the G4pro outperformed the G4 doorbell just due to random variations in my positioning, but the Hikvision doorbell was the best again, making it the champion for infrared performance.

That said, in my situation I think I vastly prefer using color night vision, and performance seemed to be better across the board as long as you have ample porch lighting, so if we just consider daytime performance and night color mode the Reolink doorbells were absolute lightyears ahead of the rest and are the new standard that all other video doorbells should be held to as far as video quality.

In a normal video doorbell test I might check on things like motion detection accuracy and recording speed, but that doesn’t matter as much for these doorbells because I’ll be using my local NVR blue iris to do motion detection, computer vision, and recording of their local video streams.  In fact all the footage you just looked at was recorded via Blue Iris, except for the UniFi video because I got worried that the RTSP streams outputting to blue iris might have been lower quality than what I could get in UniFi protect, but after testing, it didn’t seem to make much of a difference.

When it came to getting each doorbell into Blue Iris, I’d say none of them were perfect, but the Amcrest AD410 and Dahua VTO were definitely the easiest with true ONVIF support for both a full resolution main stream and lower resolution substream, but confusingly the DahuaVTO’s main stream has a maximum resolution of 720p while the substream can do 1080p, so in blue iris you actually have to put the mainstream in the substream and vice versa.

The Reolink doorbells also support ONVIF, but reolink currently has a few different firmware variations and this one doesn’t support the fixed frame rate option, at least not yet, so to get your Reolink doorbells working flawlessly in Blue Iris I’d suggest setting them up using RTMP instead of ONVIF RTSP which still has occasional dropouts.

Setting up the UniFi doorbells in blue iris was a little more complicated because they first need to be added to UniFi protect, then under advanced you need to toggle on the SRTSP stream, then you need to copy and modify the resulting URL to use RTSP instead of SRTSP.

The Hikvision doorbell was the strangest to setup and I was only able to get it working after reading that 300 page forum thread, but essentially there is a hardcoded password printed on the back of the doorbell that you need to use with this stream URL, but unlike the rest of the doorbells, there is only a main stream and no substream.

Unsurprisingly, even though I always try to check the box to set up an RTSP back channel for 2 way audio, none of the doorbells work in Blue Iris for 2 way audio which is pretty disappointing.

To use their 2 way audio you’ll need to use their individual phone apps, and to do that securely, we’re going to block the cameras from the internet using firewall rules and access the cameras locally on my network, and since the intercom system is most useful when I’m not at the house, I’ll use a VPN to connect back to my home network using a cellular connection, which basically means that my phone looks like it’s on my home network, even when I’m on a cellular connection.

As I said, for this to work the cameras have to be accessible locally via their apps.  The reolink doorbells paired with the Reolink app worked flawlessly using a local only connection, just like they always do.  You can see that connecting on cellular I get a connection error since the cameras are blocked from the internet, but once I activate my VPN I can access them just as easily as I could on my home network.

The same goes for the Dahua VTO using the Dahua DMSS app.

The UniFi doorbells are a little different because they have to be accessed via UniFi protect and while the UniFi protect app can discover my Dream Machine Pro locally, for whatever reason it doesn’t work when I’m on cellular using the UniFi VPN, and the only way to access your UniFi protect cameras on a cellular connection is to use the UniFi cloud login, which I really don’t like.

The Amcrest AD410 usually works with the Amcrest cloud app, but as the name suggests that connection requires P2P and the Amcrest cloud and I wasn’t able to get the AD410 to connect to that app or the Amcrest View Pro app when the doorbell was blocked from the internet.  I was able to use the Dahua DMSS app to directly connect to the Amcrest doorbell using its local IP, but even though 2 way talk looked like it was working, it actually just froze the camera feed.

And of course that wasn’t great, but it still worked better than the Hikvision DS-HD1 that wasn’t able to connect locally on any of the apps that I tried, and seems to only work using the Hikvision Hik-Connect app, and only when the doorbell has full unrestricted access to the internet, which isn’t an option for me.

As for the quality of two way talk, we’ll start with the Reolink and Dahua VTO since those are the only ones I could get to work securely via VPN.

The Dahua VTO’s 2 way talk was frankly incredible, the audio delay was 4 frames which is approximately 1/10th of a second, and the audio in both directions was crystal clear with plenty of volume.  The VTO is easily the best 2 way audio I’ve ever experienced, and this test was just through the Dahua DMSS app, but the VTO doorbell also supports the SIP protocol which lets it act like a voice over IP phone, so if you are already familiar with SIP or are willing to mess around with home assistant long enough to get SIP working your Dahua VTO doorbell could theoretically call your phone or even multiple phones when someone rings the doorbell.

Both of the Reolink doorbells performed much more similarly to other video doorbells that I’ve tested, with 30 frames of audio delay which is about one second.  There was no appreciable difference between the PoE doorbell on a wired connection and the WiFi doorbell, and both of them had crystal clear audio in both directions despite a fairly significant audio delay.

As I mentioned there is no way to use the UniFi doorbells on cellular without connecting through the UniFi cloud, so these tests were done on WiFi using local discovery of my Dream Machine Pro running UniFi protect.

The G4 Pro had 10 frames of audio delay which corresponds to 1/3 of a second, and the audio was clear and loud, however the G4 doorbell did significantly worse with a few frames less delay, but absolutely terrible audio that was garbled on both sides of the camera.  And again, don’t forget that these are not working over cellular because UniFi still doesn’t support local discovery of UniFi protect through a VPN.

I didn’t bother testing the Hikvision doorbell’s 2 way talk for this video since it can’t be used without a cloud connection, but I’ll include it in my next video about these doorbells where I look at their more standard cloud based usage.

So after testing all their functions, which of these doorbells is the best for advanced users focused on security, privacy and local control?

Assuming the Reolink doorbell home assistant integration gets updated to include doorbell presses it seems like the obvious pick.  It’s not only the least expensive, but it has the best video quality by a significant margin, works in blue iris with both a mainstream and substream, is ONVIF compatible and can connect locally via the Reolink app, even using a VPN.

I would like to see Reolink offer a vertical tilt mounting bracket to allow the doorbell to see directly next your door, but I’m confident that the community will fix that quickly with 3d printing.

I didn’t see any difference in video quality or functionality between the PoE and WiFi versions, so unless having a wired connection on your doorbell is extremely important to you, I’m not sure the PoE connection is worth the hassle of running an ethernet cable to your doorbell location.

For as hyped as the Amcrest AD410 is, I was really unimpressed by the video quality, and even though the home assistant integration seems to work well, the inability to use 2 way talk without allowing the camera to connect to the internet is a total deal breaker for me.

The same goes for the Hikvision DS-HD1 which has an interesting camera focused on vertical field of view, but with no web interface, no ability to change the camera’s password, and no ability to connect to a phone app without the cloud, it isn’t a real option for me.

The Dahua VTO2311 seemed like it might be a good pick for someone looking for a really advanced locally controlled system with 2 way audio using the SIP protocol, but the video quality is REALLY bad, like unacceptably bad and I wouldn’t recommend the VTO if camera performance is important to you at all.

And that leaves the UniFi doorbells, and not only do they have questionable video quality due to downsampling their 5 megapixel cameras into a 2 megapixel stream, but I’m just not sold on UniFi protect from a privacy and security standpoint.  The doorbells have zero ability to work by themselves without a UniFi protect device like a cloud key gen2 plus, dream machine pro or UNVR, so unlike the other doorbells that I can block from the internet using their IP address and my firewall, the UniFi doorbells are ultimately connecting to the internet and protect app using my dream machine pro, and since I can’t block my dream machine pro from the internet without destroying my network there’s no way for me to compartmentalize the cameras.  I’m also still completely confused by the fact that I can’t use my local login with UniFi protect when I’m connected to a UniFi VPN, and that seems like an extremely obvious oversight on their part.

I might have made this video a little too early since the first major shipment of Reolink doorbells isn’t happening until December, but in my opinion the Reolink doorbells have been worth the wait, and I’m glad they took the extra time that they needed to put out a quality product and If you’re like me and have been waiting for your Reolink doorbell since July, I think you’ll be very happy with their performance once you get them hooked up.

I’d also like to thank my awesome patrons over at patreon for your continued support of my channel and 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 thumbs up button and consider subscribing and as always, thanks for watching the hookup.

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