Stellar, if you have a subscription
The best video doorbells let you see and talk to people who come on your porch without having to physically answer the door. In addition to providing extra security for the home, a good video doorbell should have clear video quality during both day and night, exceptional durability and weather resistance, clear two-way audio, and features that promote convenience for the user. The Google Nest Hello video doorbell is one of the more popular options available, and the Google Nest Hello paired with a Nest Aware subscription is supposed to provide a next level home security experience. I tested the Google Nest Hello alongside five other video doorbells to see how it compares.
What We Like
- Feature rich
- Good quality picture
- Package and person detection
- Has accurate smart alerts
- Optional wall power supply available
- Clear two-way audio
What We Don’t Like
- Many features require subscription
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Design: Clean and classic
The Nest Hello has a classic design, with an oblong cylinder shape and black and white color scheme. Not overly large, the Nest Hello is 4.6 inches long, 1.7 inches wide, and 1 inch deep. The main camera is positioned on the top half of the front face, while the physical doorbell button sits on the bottom portion. The doorbell button has an LED status light surrounding its circumference.
The Nest Hello isn’t the flashiest video doorbell out there by any means, but its simplistic design allows it to blend in better with a home’s aesthetic. Overall, it has a clean, unassuming look, but it’s just noticeable enough to say to visitors and potential prowlers, “smile, you’re on camera.”
Setup: Not bad for a wired doorbell
The Nest Hello does not run on battery power, so you can’t just pop in a rechargeable battery pack and install the doorbell. You must have existing doorbell wiring, have wiring installed, or purchase a power adapter for $29 that allows you to plug the device into an indoor outlet. Most wired doorbells can be swapped with the Nest Hello, but some may not fit the power or compatibility requirements (16 V AC to 24 V AC power and a 10VA transformer), so it’s a good idea to check for compatibility before deciding on the Google Nest Hello.
If you already have a basic doorbell, installing the Nest Hello isn’t too bad in most cases. The mounting kit includes a 15-degree wedge, which allows you to mount your doorbell on a slight angle if you prefer. It took me less than an hour to remove my old doorbell, connect and mount the Nest Hello, connect the power adapter to my doorbell chime, and go through the app setup. If you can install a light fixture or socket, you can probably install the Nest Hello.
In addition to the basics, the Nest Hello has a number of more advanced features, but many of them require a Nest Aware subscription.
Features and Performance: A cheaper Nest Aware
Nest Hello is one of the more feature-rich doorbells available. It has the main features we’ve come to expect in a video doorbell like weather resistance (IPX4 rating), two-way audio, motion detection with activity zones, and different settings that allow you to adjust things like video quality. It also has geofencing, or home/away assist as it’s called in the app, which allows the doorbell camera to turn on and off based on your phone’s location.
In addition to the basics, the Nest Hello has a number of more advanced features, but many of them require a Nest Aware subscription. Nest Aware now has more affordable and straightforward pricing, but it still costs $6 per month ($12 for the premium tier). Without the subscription, the doorbell is functional, but you won’t be able to take advantage of the features that make the Nest Hello stand out amongst many of its competitors. This includes features like smart alerts, which can notify you when the doorbell detects a person, sound, or motion. With person detection, Nest Hello can recognize different individuals and announce their arrival on a Google Home device.
Most of the smart alerts are accurate, but the person detection feature takes some time to accurately identify each individual in the home. For about five days, it would detect a face and say, “Your camera saw someone new,” although the camera had already detected that individual as a familiar face previously. With Nest Aware, the doorbell can also let you know when a package arrives on your porch, as well as alert you when someone picks up a package. When I tested the package detection feature, it did a better job of detecting packages that arrived than it did at detecting picked up packages.
In this day and age, security is a major factor I consider when evaluating any type of smart home device with a camera. Thankfully, the Nest Hello has AES 128-bit encryption, and you can also take advantage of two-step authentication to further protect your account.
Video Quality: The specs don’t do it justice
The Nest Hello has a 1/3-inch, 3-megapixel camera that takes HD UXGA 1600 x 1200 video at up to 30 frames per second. The picture quality is clear and vivid during the day, with bright colors and a 160-degree diagonal field of view. The high-resolution image and large field of view allow you to clearly see a pretty substantial portion of your property. I was able to see most of my front yard and porch, and a significant portion of the driveway. The Nest Hello has 850 nm infrared LEDs for clear night vision, with a clean and crisp nighttime image.
The Nest Hello records videos in events. If it detects activity—motion, a person, sound—it creates an event in the log. With the $6 per month ($60 per year) Nest subscription, you get 30-days of event video recording history (cloud recording), so you can go back and look at the past month of activity. With the higher tier $12 per month ($120 per year) subscription, you can check the camera’s 24/7 activity for the past 10-days whether it detected an event or not, plus you can go back 60 days and check the event log. Without any subscription, however, you only have access to the last three hours of event logs, which means you have a very limited history. You usually get a 30-day free trial of Nest Aware when you purchase the Nest Hello though.
App: Fast, easy, and clean
The Nest app has a clean and intuitive interface. On the main screen, there’s a feed that lets you see an image of your property. If you click on the image, it opens up the event logs. You can easily scroll through and check the activity on your camera, and the settings menu is in the upper right corner if you want to customize any settings.
On the main event log page, there’s also a down arrow button that enlarges the screen. This expands the screen and allows you to view a full-screen live feed of your property and speak to whoever is on your porch through the two-way talk feature. The Nest Hello has HD talk and listen with echo and noise cancellation, so you can clearly hear the person on the other end. I was impressed with how well I could communicate with visitors back and forth through the doorbell, as I could hear the person on the porch much more clearly than I could with many other doorbells I’ve tested.
Most of the smart alerts are accurate, but the person detection feature takes some time to accurately identify each individual in the home.
Price: Quality comes at a price
The Nest Hello doorbell retails for $229, but most people will want to account for the Nest Aware subscription cost when calculating the overall price. If you opt for the regular subscription, the first year will cost you close to $300 all in. This isn’t cheap, especially when you consider how easy it is to find a video doorbell for $150 or less these days. And, some of the more affordable options even come with SD card storage so you can store video locally, which is something the Nest Hello lacks. But with the Nest Hello, you’re paying for quality, security, as well as the ability to seamlessly create a smart home ecosystem.
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Google Nest Hello vs. Arlo Video Doorbell
The Arlo Video Doorbell is similar to the Google Nest Hello in a lot of ways. The doorbells have a similar design, although the Google Nest Hello is smaller. Both doorbells have smart alerts and a more advanced AI feature set, and both require a subscription to access the full list of features. But the Arlo Video Doorbell is more affordable than the Nest Hello, and has a built-in siren. This doesn’t mean the Arlo is better—the Arlo has its advantages, but the Google Nest Hello has less of a delay in the video and audio feeds, and the Nest app feels faster overall.
A user-friendly video doorbell that faithfully guards your front porch.
The Nest Hello provides accurate smart alerts, vivid day and night video, and clear two-way audio, but the doorbell simply isn’t worth it unless you purchase the Nest Aware subscription.
- Product Name: Nest Hello
- Product Brand: Google
- Price: $229
- Weight: 4.28 oz.
- Product Dimensions: 4.6 x 1.7 x 1 in.
- Color: Black/white
- Video: HD UXGA 1600 x 1200, up to 30 frames/sec, H.264 encoding, HDR
- Camera: 1/3-inch, 3-megapixel (2K) color sensor, 8x digital zoom
- Field of view: 160 degrees diagonal
- Two-way audio: Yes
- Night vision: 850 nm infrared LEDs