‘GMA’ Tries Video Doorbells to See How Well They Work

“GMA” tried video doorbells from Ring and SkyBell.

ByABC News
May 25, 2016, 7:23 AM

— -- Doorbells equipped with video cameras are on homes across the country.

The commercial for Ring says the doorbell allows homeowners to see and speak to whomever is at their front door from their smartphone.

“GMA” Investigates tried two video doorbells –- from Ring and its main competitor, SkyBell -- to see how well they worked.

Both products have motion detectors that trigger a camera to record movement and send an alert –- even if someone doesn’t actually ring the doorbell.

First, “GMA” checked to see how well the doorbells allowed you to communicate with someone. Each doorbell was installed in the same home in Leonia, NJ. "GMA" arranged for two package deliveries for each doorbell.

“GMA” was able to talk to the delivery persons from far away using both Ring and SkyBell’s HD version.

Next, “GMA” checked to see whether the video doorbells could really help to identify a would-be package thief by asking staffers to take the packages. “GMA” also installed traditional surveillance cameras to compare the video.

Ring notified “GMA” both times -– but when the pretend thief moved quickly, only a side view of his face was captured.

SkyBell didn’t send an alert for the first pretend thief, who moved very quickly. There was also no video recording. The second “thief” was slower. An alert was sent, but the recording only captured the side of her face and her back -– making it hard to identify her.

“GMA” showed the video to Glenn Bard, a digital forensics expert who advises law enforcement.

“I would want to have it so it catches her as she’s walking up,” Bard said.

But when it came to night vision, both video doorbells outperformed the traditional security cameras that “GMA” had installed.

"GMA"'s Linzie Janis spoke to both companies about “GMA”’s findings.

“On one occasion we had someone take a package off of the stoop, we didn’t get a good look at their face,” she told inventor Jamie Siminoff, the CEO of Ring, who replied: “Sometimes Wi-Fi and not having a great signal to that area can cause things like slight delays. And so we do work with our customers so we capture great face shots of everyone coming up.”

Andrew Thomas, SkyBell’s co-founder, said: “The software of the SkyBell you tested is actually set to trigger an alert for motion that happens for ten seconds or more.”

SkyBell said it has since changed its alert system so that it works immediately.

Both doorbells cost around $200. "GMA" tested the Ring -- not the Ring Pro which came out earlier this month. The Ring Pro is more expensive and has upgraded features.

Asked whether consumer security products such as video doorbells are worth having, Bard replied: “They are ... Just this itself cannot be the end-all, be-all solution.”

For best results, make sure your Wi-Fi is strong and move your router closer to the door. Bard said users need to continually monitor these devices to get the most benefit from them.