Wemo Smart Video Doorbell review: The new HomeKit doorbell of choice | AppleInsider

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This HomeKit Secure Video doorbell is the epitome of a smart home device from Apple. Let’s take a closer look at Belkin’s newly announced Wemo Smart Video Doorbell.

Revealed during the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Belkin has continued its push towards the first HomeKit accessories.

The Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell measures 4.9 inches tall and 1.7 inches wide. Many have questioned how thick the doorbell is, and it is marginally thicker than its closest competitor: the Logitech Circle View Wired Doorbell. The Wemo is 1.4 inches deep, while the Logitech is 1.1 inches. If you use the wedge plate at an angle, it extends to 2.1 inches, which is on the thick side.

It has a 4MP sensor that captures 1200×1600 video with a 178-degree field of view. It works exclusively with Apple HomeKit and supports HomeKit Secure Video, which means all cloud recordings are stored securely within iCloud.

Like most HomeKit doorbells, it connects over Wi-Fi and supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz connections. The doorbell also features infrared-enhanced night vision for low-light motion detection and two-way communication.

Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell Review – Installation

Most people will have no problem installing the Wemo doorbell. The doorbell only connects with a single pair of wires which shouldn’t be a problem even for the most novice users. That said, if you’re in doubt or buying this as a gift, Belkin offers a professionally installed version through OnTech, for a $99 fee of course.

Connecting to your doorbell requires a bit more tinkering, but overall, we cleared our installation in less than 15 minutes.

If this is your first smart doorbell, you may need to use the included drill bit to drill pilot holes in your door frame. The Wemo doorbell is slightly larger than a typical doorbell button and will not fit into existing holes.

Back of the Wemo doorbell

The back of the Wemo doorbell

With the power off, remove the existing doorbell or video doorbell. We then used a Philips screwdriver to secure the two wires to the mounting plate. With the wires connected, we screwed the plate to the wall.

The screws are long and lend themselves to a more secure installation than the half-inch screws common on other devices. Optionally, you can install the wedge mount, which will tilt the camera and adjust to the left or right.

Two spring pins are located at the front of the plate and pressed into two contact points on the back of the chime. Slide the doorbell over the pin at the top and tighten the screw at the bottom.

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The chime is held in place with a Torx screw instead of a Philips, which helps reinforce security. If you don’t have Torx drivers handy, one is included.

Once the installation is complete, it’s time to move on to the HomeKit setup.

Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell – HomeKit Support

On the back of the camera is a sticker with your unique HomeKit pairing code, which is easy to access but not convenient during the setup process. You can connect the camera to a Micro USB cable and pair it before finishing the installation, or you can install it and scan the code in the last few pages of the setup manual.

HomeKit setup

HomeKit setup

A modal dialog sequence guides you through the basics of adding a new HomeKit accessory. Give your accessory a name, assign it a location in your home, and choose when your camera will record, stream, or set to private. You can also determine who in your household has access to these broadcasts or recordings.

After that, you can turn facial recognition on or off and set up access control.

More from HomeKit setup

More from HomeKit setup

The final steps in setup include choosing your doorbell preferences and enabling any automation HomeKit suggests.

At this point, the camera is very much ready to go. If you dive into the features a bit, you can refine the experience to better suit your needs.

As an example, HomeKit allows you to set custom activity zones. Without activity zones, any movement will activate the camera. Any car wandering down the road will send an unnecessary alert to our phone. By setting activity zones limited to our driveway and porch, we only get the notifications we want.

Video interface in HomeKit

The video interface in HomeKit

Beyond that, you can set notifications to be filtered based on the type of activity. You can filter to only allow notifications from vehicles, people, animals, packages, or any combination of the lot. This ensures that you don’t get fatigued by notifications and start ignoring the alerts that arrive.

Other benefits of HomeKit include rich notifications that can stream a live feed from your doorstep, notifications on your Apple TV, and a ringtone that will ring on your designated HomePods or HomePod minis.

We have a HomeKit wall switch that controls our porch light for our setup. That allows us to create an automation routine where the porch light turns on whenever the Wemo Smart Video Doorbell detects motion.

Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell

Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell

Any qualms we have are more with HomeKit than with the doorbell itself. Apple’s interface for reading video clips is a bit lackluster, and there’s still no way to quickly change a camera’s privacy mode with a scene or Siri.

At least firmware updates can be done through the Home app now, with Belkin being the first to take advantage of this.

Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell – Video Quality

The quality of the video captured by the doorbell is almost as important as the deep integration with HomeKit. As mentioned, this camera captures 1200 by 1600 video. This is designed for viewing on mobile devices by being taller than it is wide.

The 178-degree field of view is also quite wide. We can see both the brick to the left of our doorbell and our door. We can see the doormat and the top of the door frame. There’s no way someone can approach the door without being seen.

Wemo versus Arlo video quality and field of view

Wemo versus Arlo video quality and field of view

Belkin touts HDR deep in its specs list, but the background just washed out. Compared to Arlo’s doorbell camera, the Belkin Wemo lost some detail and contrast on our sunlit driveway compared to our shaded porch.

How this works for you will vary. If it faces south, the sun can be a problem for part of the day. You may have to play around with the mounting angles to get it right.

Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell

Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell

HomeKit limits the video capture resolution of cameras. With any luck, the maximum resolution will see a boost in future iCloud updates. However, we would need new hardware to support higher resolutions.

Should you buy the Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell?

As it stands, if you want the best HomeKit video doorbell, Wemo is what you want. There are only a handful of video door phones on the market today that take full advantage of HomeKit by supporting HomeKit Secure Video.

You can choose between Logitech Circle View, Robin ProLine or Robin ProLine Compact. If you’re okay with basic HomeKit support, you can opt for the Netatmo Secure Video Doorbell, the Arlo Wired Video Doorbell, or the Yobi B3, though the latter is basically vaporware at this point.

Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell

Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell

Its closest competitor is Logitech Circle View. Still, Wemo has two benefits in its wider field of view and the ability to manually perform firmware updates in the Home app. So to decide between the two, we have to hand it to the Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell.

We appreciated how easy the Wemo doorbell was to install, and its HomeKit compatibility is top-notch. HomeKit remains the biggest issue in the doorbell category, and Apple has regularly addressed them in iOS updates.

Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell

Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell

As it stands, if you want the best smart video doorbell to work with HomeKit today, Wemo has to be your pick. Tomorrow is another story, as the category has yet to fully mature.

Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell pros

  • Support for Apple HomeKit and works with HomeKit Secure Video
  • Motion and doorbell notifications on Apple TV
  • Doorbell on HomePod and HomePod mini
  • 178-degree ultra-wide field of view
  • Supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi unlike many smart home devices
  • infrared night vision
  • No additional subscription required outside of iCloud

Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell Cons

  • With the wedge it is very thick
  • Not compatible with Alexa or the Google Assistant; however, your mileage may vary if this is really a scam.
  • No wireless version available with HomeKit
  • HDR is mediocre

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Where to buy

You can pre-order the Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell now from Belkin Website for $249. It is expected to start shipping in February or March.

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