Top critical review
427 people found this helpful
Updated: Stay away.
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.
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