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on January 24, 2014
UPDATED September 24th, 2014 ---

I've had it with this thing. Finally bumped it down to one star after almost 9 months of use. Skybell simply doesn't work correctly, and their team can't figure out how to stabilize it.

Their team did an update at one point a few months ago that actually deleted all user accounts. Seriously? You guys can't figure out how to do updates correctly? We had to recreate the accounts with a new activation code.

More importantly - on-demand access still doesn't work. Just pulled up my phone today and there is no video and audio, ON THE SAME WI-FI network. The doorbell has also stopped ringing my phone. This is crazy - especially for how much this thing costs.

My advice after months of use? Stay away.

-------------------------
ORIGINAL Review:

OK, well here it is. Ordering from Amazon.com, I received one of the first Skybell orders off their production line and felt obligated to write a review.

1) Installation of this device is a pain. The mounting plate is easy to use and screw into your existing wall or wood outside of your door, and so is connecting the wires to your existing doorbell connection. Unfortunately, the ease of use for installation stops there. The Skybell team instructs you to use their "special tool" to secure your doorbell to the mounting plate, as well as adjust the camera. There is a major problem with this. The "special tool" that they provide is really a very tiny hex wrench that is VERY difficult to use during installation. The tool is so small that it is easily lost, and the camera, while they claim is adjustable is very difficult to move as well. In the course of trying to move the camera, I actually bent the tool. Separately, the whole process is a bit awkward, since you're trying to work with the tool at a bad angle.

2) Once fully installed, the setup of the device was flawless. It only took approximately 5 minutes to charge the battery at which point the device glowed bright red indicating it was ready for setup. Once the device was in setup mode, I was required to enter the serial number of the device, and then enter credentials for the Wi-Fi network I was currently connected to. This took a few minutes and things went well after that.

3) I'm using an iPhone 5 as the client device with the Skybell. Response times from the doorbell press in my setup are excellent. It takes only 1-2 seconds to receive an alert that the doorbell has been pressed. So everyone can compare if needed, I have a 100/20 connection and N wireless - I'm not sure this affects anything, but it's worth mentioning. Unfortunately, the Skybell app has not implemented a custom notification tone like Skype. This is a huge issue, especially when you have silenced your primary doorbell like we have in an effort to only use the phones. Instead of a "doorbell" chime on the iPhones that you can easily recognize, Skybell uses the standard tone. This is a silly oversight and should have been fixed during testing. Why not use a doorbell notification tone to differentiate it from all the other apps on your phone?

If you have a hard wired doorbell already in place and will pick up your phone based upon the chime, this may be less of an issue for you.

4) A lot of the features that they claimed to have during launch are non existent. EDIT: In my original review I referenced a backup battery. Apparently this isn't an actual feature and is only used to regulate power (huh?), so if your power is out, so is Skybell. Additionally, there is no motion detection and no ability to view the Skybell when someone isn't at the door. These are features that the vendor promised would be working when it shipped. Really disappointed in this. To make matters worse, the night vision feature they claim is also absolutely non-existent. I'm happy to post a screenshot, but in the dark, you literally will see nothing of the person at the door.

5) Last but not least, video quality, etc. The video quality of the Skybell is pretty good, as is the frame rate on a good connection. You're able to clearly see the field of view of the camera in daylight (see my note about IR / night vision above) and can tell who is at the door. Unfortunately, Skybell has not accounted for the height of a typical doorbell, even with the camera at the highest position. I'm 6'0" and I would need to duck in order for my face to be seen by the Skybell unit. This is a critical design flaw. When most people press a doorbell it is at arm level, and currently the camera does not adjust enough in order to provide an angle for viewing once someone has pressed it who is over a certain height.

If you're an early adopter and really anxious, go ahead and purchase. Otherwise, wait till they fix the hardware bugs and release an updated app that does what they promised originally. I'll continue to post updates as I use it over the next few months.

Update: I've posted pics via twitter of the resolution etc that you see in three different cases. I would have posted them here, but Skybell doesn't allow customer images, or Amazon doesn't allow them - either way:

pic.twitter.com/almkeTzzBP - Daytime
pic.twitter.com/hBIUOBavn9 - Nightime with porch light
pic.twitter.com/7TjhGLGKHF - Nightime with no porch light
427 helpful votes
428 helpful votes
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on February 8, 2014
Here are a few notes on my experience with the different aspects of this product so far, with yet another mini-update on June 5th, 2014. I started out the review with 2 stars. After running into several issues and my experience with their very ineffective customer support, I was tempted to drop it down to one star. But my patience has paid off a little now, and there has been several desperately needed fixes and improvements, so I added a star for that. Is the product perfect now? Nope, but it's getting better, just very very slowly.

- Camera:
The camera was difficult to adjust, and I had to use a screwdriver and put quite a bit of force into it to make it move (I did this prior to installation). Even with it pointing as high as it can, the camera is essentially useless since it doesn't really show anything other than the person's right arm given the position of the doorbell (I have one of those normal lower-than-eye-level to-the-side doorbells). I personally think this is a very big design flaw. I'm quite surprised they didn't think of this when designing the thing, since that was actually the first thought that popped into my head when I first saw the promo video for SkyBell, and figured they must have made the camera adjustable enough to work around that. Not that it would have mattered, since you can't make out any details in the camera anyway since the camera doesn't show much of anything aside from a shadowy rendering of the person at the door (or rather, their arm) during daytime because sunlight would be coming in from behind the person, which would apply to most doors I think. Their website says they will work on improving this in the future. But that is probably going to be months down the road. (June 5th edit: To be honest, I'm not sure if they've improved this, since things pretty much still look the same on my Skybell, and they still haven't released the angle adapters they said they were making months before.)

- Build:
The tiny securing screw thing and the tiny tiny "special" tool were ridiculously difficult to work with, and after finally securing it, there's a small gap at the top between the body of the bell and the frame part that is secured to the wall (because, duh, only the bottom of this is secured to the frame, with a tiny little screw no less, so there is nothing to really hold it to the frame/wall except that), that means there's risk of weather damage to the circuit board and other components that lay open and exposed inside the false sense of protection provided by the not-sealed, cup-like plastic outer shell.

- Connectivity:
I personally didn't have any difficulties with syncing it to my WiFi. I have both iOS and Android devices, and I used the iOS app to do the setup, not sure if that helped or not (if you are having trouble syncing and can get a hold of an iPhone/iPad, perhaps you can give that a try?). There was some connectivity issue where the SkyBell showed a solid red ring (disconnected from wifi) a couple days after I successfully setup the device, and I had to pull the circuit breaker to reset the bell. I don't think it ever happened again after that. (SkyBell said they have released a firmware update that has fixed this.) But then again, I can't tell if it ever temporarily disconnected during this time, since there is no status indication in the apps. Performance with the iOS app has been fairly stable so far. But, I experienced trouble answering SkyBell with my Android devices after their Feb Android app updates (which was fixed after their May update). More on that below.

- Apps:
June 5th edit: Both the iOS and Android apps are still basically bare-bone apps, even after all these updates. The apps are getting improved, but mostly on the iOS. The iOS app is always a step ahead of the Android one, and their Android app just generally feels buggy and awkward. The current version of the iOS app now has on-demand video access, finally, after 6 months of delay. But it still feels very rudimentary, because it takes a rather long time (around 10-15 seconds?) to connect on-demand. Android users have to wait a bit longer. They now also have an iPad version of the iOS app as well.

I experienced some problems with the Android app that is now resolved: Both my iOS and Android devices were working with SkyBell, but after one of their Android app updates, the Android app stopped working correctly on both of my Android devices (when I press the Skybell notification to answer a doorbell press, it just disappears without bringing up the app). I tried everything possible to troubleshoot it but nothing worked, and nothing has changed on those Android devices aside from updating the SkyBell app. Customer service was less than helpful with it. If anything, they added to the frustration (see details in the next section below). This problem was resolved once they updated their Android app (sometime in May I believe), so try updating if you are having similar issues.

- Customer Service:
I find their customer service to be... friendly but clueless, and not helpful at all. When I had the problem with the Android app stopped being able to answer bell rings on my Android devices even though the iOS app still worked fine (see the note in the Apps section above), I emailed them with detailed notes on what the issue was, all of the steps short of re-syncing the device that I've tried to troubleshoot it (there was no customer service phone number, just an email address). They responded quickly, told me they are working on a new firmware and asked me to wait and see if that helps. It then went downhill from there. A different CS rep checked back with me a week later, asking me to try and see if it was working now since they released a new firmware. When I tested and told them it's still not working. A yet another CS rep sent me a useless generic email with links to their troubleshooting pages, regardless of the information I had already provided them previously showing that those troubleshooting steps did not apply to my situation. I had to reply and re-explain my situation and reiterate that I've already tried all applicable troubleshooting steps. Their answer was basically, "then it must be something wrong with your Android device" and that was that, even though I mentioned it worked fine before their last couple updates so something must have changed on their side that somehow cause the functionality to break on not one but both of my Android devices. The CS rep also insisted that a new Android app was released a week ago before (this was on March 24th), when the last update in the Play Store at the time was from over a month ago and a post on SkyBell's Facebook page, March 21st, said the Android app update is still in final testing, and would be released soon. Can't they at least get their own status facts straight? *sighs* I basically had to give up trying to get them to help with figuring out and resolving this Android-only issue I'm experiencing. It seems their default solution is to lay the blame completely on the customer's mobile devices for their poorly programmed Android app not working properly. And as I predicted, once they updated their app a month or so later, the issue was "magically" resolved. So much for claiming it to be a problem with my phone.

In conclusion. Is it worth it? At this stage, I would have to say it depends. They are improving, albeit very slowly. The product is still far from being "complete" even half a year after launch. And if you need help troubleshooting issues, don't expect much help from their customer support. But if you need a product like this right now, you can give it a go now that at least the majority of the features promised at launch are finally available (for iOS at least). If you can wait, I would recommend waiting a bit longer until they refine their product some more.
76 helpful votes
77 helpful votes
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on February 11, 2014
I was very excited to see this product come to market. I've been looking for something like this for a while.
Sadly this doorbell is not ready for the real world.
The connection wires were brittle and easily broke off the circuit board. I re-soldered the wire I broke off and install the device.

-They use cheap aluminum connection wires. These cheap wires will easily snap off the circuit board.
- Image is poor. Light behind the visitor at the door turns them into a silhouette.
- Audio is poor. It's fine on the phone side, but at the door it sounds like a bad fast food drive-thru speaker - unintelligible.
- Android app weak - I could only ever get one phone working at a time. It would not ring "all" my phones.
- Still some missing features like motion detection...

Too bad - I was really hoping this would work out. If reviews improve in the next few months, I will try it again, but for now I am returning mine.
18 helpful votes
19 helpful votes
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on November 4, 2014
This was a bit of a pain to set up. Apparently they were having some sort of server problem when I was installing it, though. The first two days I had it, the camera would only work sporadically when using on-demand, and I couldn't receive notifications on either my phone or my wife's.

I had to go into my router and set up port forwarding of UDP 50000-52000 to the IP address it latched on to, then tell the router to reserve that IP for that device by MAC address (the unique ID for the device on the card that comes with it is the same as the MAC address, just with - instead of :, so that was handy). I'm not sure, though, if that's what fixed it, or if it was just them fixing the problem on their server that did so. It may be that had I just sat around and waited a couple of days it would have worked anyway.

Now, it notifies me when the doorbell rings even if I'm away from home. I was able to tell it to disable the physical doorbell, so my dog no longer goes bonkers every time UPS drops off a package. But the motion sensor feature doesn't work very well. I was getting about 2-3 false notifications per day (which is a lot considering they say the motion sensor only has about a 1.5 foot range), so I disabled it.

It's a real pity the thing doesn't send a snapshot of whoever's ringing the doorbell with its notification. Seems like a no-brainer to me. The image is so low resolution that it shouldn't take long to upload. Pretty lousy quality, too. But enough to identify a person at the door, for the most part. Attaching a shot with no one at the door, since I haven't bothered snapping a capture with anyone actually at the door yet.

The on-demand view of the porch at night works fine since it's pretty well-lit. I haven't tried having someone ring the doorbell so I could test how well it works with someone up close (the light is mostly on the outer edges of the porch so someone standing at the door would be backlit), so I can't vouch for that. Maybe I'll update once I've tried that. :)

Oh - and the size is nice. It's almost the same size as the 80+ year old doorbell button I replaced. Maybe 1mm larger around. I was worried it would end up being too large, but it was fine.
review image
14 helpful votes
15 helpful votes
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11 comment|Report abuse
on February 10, 2014
Fundamental problem: Camera adjustment
- You can't angle point the camera high enough to see the person at the door

Other issues:
- I worry the product is not weather proof. The board/mechanics of the doorbell is exposed in the back. The mounting plate is made of plastic. If the product is not mounted on a flush wall like stucco/brick I'm guessing moisture might ruin the doorbell. Perhaps a 2nd generation product will have a rubberized mounting plate to weatherproof the installation (a workaround suggestion for now is use caulk)
- The android app has bugs. On two of my S3's I couldn't even log in. There is a field that asks you to enter your email address and no matter what email I entered it says it was an invalid address. WTF?! Bad execution

When it was working....
- Well it wasn't too bad. The doorbell notification was fast and video and audio was acceptable.

But....
- $199 is pretty expensive for a product that doesn't fully deliver... Maybe the second generation release of this product will be worth purchasing...

Other thoughts...
- I was interested in the doorbot (a competitor) because
- wider camera angle
- if product is stolen, they offer free replacement (requires police report)
- BUT... only supports 802.11B (WTF?! seriously? at least support 802.11G)
- The doorbot is big and ugly
- Looks like I'll be waiting for either skybell or doorbot's second generation products... or perhaps another company will produce a similar device with better execution
7 helpful votes
8 helpful votes
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11 comment|Report abuse
on January 25, 2014
First off, I was a little dissappointed that half the features simply do not exist yet. They have been advertising most of the features for the product, and before implied the product was feature complete. This is far from the case as only basic functionality currently exists.

[...]

- 1 Star removed for lack of features at launch.
- 1 Star removed for the horrible "special tool" debacle.
- 1 Star removed for the unmovable camera.

Con's:
- Only basic functionality exists currently
- Special Tool is a very tiny hex which is flimsy and difficult to work with.
- Camera does not move via the pinhole at all. You must take the unit off and adjust it from the inside where you can get something stronger with more leverage.
- Do Not Disturb did not function for me. I assume this is the "Silent Mode" listed under their roadmap so it simply isn't implemented yet if that is the case.
- Case is soft plastic (I assume for weather proofing).

Pro's:
- Setup was fairly easy once skybell was installed.
- Great for responding to guests when away
- Doorbell still works.
- Camera works reasonably well. Slight delay in streaming, similar to what was seen in the video's.
- Mic/Speaker to communicate with door work well.

I must say, this does generally work, and my network setup was quick and easy. So I wouldn't necessarily recommend staying away from this product, but be aware of the issues mentioned above as the advertising for the product at this point is somewhat misleading. You can see in the link above what their roadmap is for completing the features they have promised. It may be worth waiting until the product is more complete, but the basics do currently function, it's the extra features that have a lot of problems.

I would also like to suggest to skybell that they seriously rethink their special tooling and locking mechanism as that was the worst part of the whole experience. I think there are better options that could be considered that would be significantly more user friendly. My special tool is now all bent and tweaked (though still functional) because it is just way too weak for how they suggest it be used.

One more issue I have is that my doorbell is maybe a foot from the edge of the door (further away than normal, but nothing ridiculous). I found in my testing that the camera has a hard time reaching over to view people properly at the door. I haven't officially had someone use it yet so I'm not sure how much of the person it will catch, but if your doorbell is located away from the door frame at all be prepared to maybe only get partial views or at the very least you will likely need to fully adjust the camera angle to try and capture visitors.
76 helpful votes
77 helpful votes
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33 comments|Report abuse
on May 6, 2017
I have 2 of these in different locations. They were the first product to have some limited motion sensing. Since that time they are in their third model. They no longer support the other two. I have had to replace 3 times in 3 years. Only last a year or so maximum and sometimes not even that. Other new products have better features and lower price. What started out as a great idea failed in product support and longtivity. I've spent almost $900 in just over 3 years on 2 doorbells. You so the math. Their last offer was a $99 discount on latest model selling it to me for $100 but only issuing a coupon for refund after sending old unit back. Still having to initially shell out another $200 for a replacement. Time to end this nightmare and cut my losses. Amazon should ban their product until they can prove to be worthy of their customers. DO NOT BUY this product. You'll be sorry. I am.
1 helpful vote
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on March 28, 2014
I really wanted the Skybell wireless doorbell to work like advertised but it did not. I was originally advertised to have many more features than what it can with, that was my first disappointment. After hooking it up I had only a small issue with it connecting to my network but it eventually did. Pressing the doorbell button on the Skybell caused my doorbell to ring and then after a short while my IPhone notified me of the call. The problem was that there was not enough time to answer the call before the option disappeared. After multiple tests ringing the doorbell I had various results with my IPhone ringing anywhere from 20 seconds to a minuet after the doorbell was pressed. This was way to long and when my UPS and FedEx drivers pressed it over the next few days by the time I answered they were gone! The other major issue I had with this product is that it caused my door bell in my home to buzz. From reading the Skybell forums it seem that the unit is allowing some voltage to get passed it and to the doorbell in the home causing the doorbell to buzz. The product is said to work with all analog doorbells with a wide range of transformer voltages. So there should not have been a problem as my transformer falls within this range. Skybell recommends you replace your transformer and or the doorbell with one they have tested it with. Not quite the compatibility they state on their site.

Having followed their website for sometime I have noticed they are not very customer service focused and there are many customers who are unhappy with the product and how Skybell handles themselves. I have noticed they have made many claims and promises that they have not kept and then retracted and deleted them from their website so to make themselves look like everything is on track and going great. This revisionary methodology is dishonest to say the least.

My hope is that they will iron out the bugs with this product and work on managing the company with a focus on honesty, superior customer service and a product that not only meets their claims but surpasses them, unfortunately none of these things are true of Skybell at this time.
5 helpful votes
6 helpful votes
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on May 9, 2016
I got the SkyBell in January 2014 i was very excited when i received it. But it has only been 2yrs and 4 months and the skybell is definitely not working. It never worked that well it only worked for about 6 months and from there on it worked on and off and i had to be reinstalling the bell until it just stopped working. I called skybell Customer service to ask them if they could help me reinstalled it or fix it they said that what i was telling them it seems that there is a problem with the function of your SkyBell. But that fortunately it only had one year warranty so I no longer qualified for a replacement nor they could fix it. The only thing they offer me was that they could maybe give me a $60 off promo code for my next purchase . This bell is not worth to buy at all it's too expensive for only to last you two years. Plus the hassle of reinstalling every month was not fun.
2 helpful votes
3 helpful votes
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on January 27, 2015
I purchased the Version 1.0 in April 2014 (not even 1 yr. ago). It worked for several months then it stopped communicating with my phone (using the iPhone App). I called SkyBell customer service and was told that at the time my bell stopped communicating, they had several system changes that effected some Version 1 SkyBells. They walked me through various ways to reset the device and also my router and even had me delete and download the App again. After all suggestions failed, they said they would send a new one to me. Instead, I got a form asking for proof of purchase and other information, which I provided. I was then denied by SkyBell and was told to go back to Amazon. At this time my purchase is well beyond the Amazon return date so they graciously offered to contact SkyBell on my behalf. This whole situation is aggrevating because I really liked the product and everything was fine until they changed something on their side to essentially make my device obsolete. Imagine if Apple made every iPhone, except their newest version, not work and then they told everyone who did not buy their product directly from Apple to go back to where they bought it?
While the product was a good one, with this type of customer support, I would strongly recommend staying far away from this company and their products.
3 helpful votes
4 helpful votes
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