As part of my transition to HomeKit, I snatched my Nest Hello ringtone last week. The replacement? $ 200 Circle View ringtone from Logitech with HomeKit Secure Video (HSV) support. Not only was this the easiest connected device I've ever installed in my smart home, it works great, delivers high quality videos both during the day and at night, and ensures the safety of my video feeds.
While there may be fewer connected device options that support HomeKit, you can see the benefits when you find one that you want. I've been using smart devices for a decade and I can't underestimate this enough: the simplicity of adding a device to your home is unmatched.
Of course there is the standard that refers to wires for such a ringtone, which does not change with the Circle View ringtone. For me, it was an easy process, because I already had a Hello Nest in front of my door.
To replace it, I removed the Nest, attached the two wires of the bell to the included Logitech angle console, and attached the Circle View bell to the stand. Finished. However, I want the angle bracket to offer more than 20 degrees of tilt.
I must point out that there was a key step before all this, which made everything else much easier.
After disconnecting the Circle View ringtone, I was instructed to connect a micro-USB cable for power. Then I placed my iPhone 12 on the front of the ringer, where the NFC radio inside my iPhone "found" the ringtone.
This usually starts the usually frustrating setup process of adding the ringtone to my home and connecting it to my Wi-Fi network in the device manufacturer's app. Only this time, there was no third party application. The Circle View ringtone only works with the native Apple Home application.
I didn't have to enter wireless network credentials or even choose a network: all of this information is available for ringing the phone. So it was just a matter of choosing the name of the bell and the location of the room.
Keep in mind that I had only one hiccup here: the ringtone connected to my 5 GHz Wi-Fi network, but it needs 2.4 GHz at first to be configured correctly. Yes, I had to disable 5 GHz on the Eero 6 Pro to fix it, just like I did with the Meross HomeKit Dual smart plug last month.
Aside from a quick firmware update that took place automatically, that was it. And that's why I could simply change the Nest with Logitech: Once connected to my ringtone wiring, the ringtone just worked.
How well does it work? Very good, though, like any video ringtone, you need to change your settings or risk receiving notifications every time a shadow or blade of grass moves within the camera's range.
We've set up a custom activity area to reduce false positive notifications. I also set up the camera to record videos of people and animals, but it doesn't record or let me know when it sees vehicles. Again, all this is done in the Apple Home application, where the camera settings are integrated.
This can also be a disadvantage: Some advanced customization options were not available in earlier versions of the Apple Home app. I'm running the latest iOS 14 beta and I've had a few device options that others don't. Simply put: you depend directly on Apple and Logitech indirectly to integrate new features.
After a series of tests, I couldn't fool the camera, which also has a motion sensor; you can turn off the move if you just want a standard video ringtone, but I like to shake my head before someone gets on my porch. And you can use that motion sensor to set up automations, such as turning on a connected porch light.
My wife and I have all the notifications set up to ping our iPhones and Apple Watches. I haven't missed a notification yet. When the bell rings, our devices notify us and we can use either the phone or the watch to see who is there or to have a two-way conversation. Audio quality is about average, but it works. Oh, and our mini HomePod also acts as a bell (as does the original HomePod).
Logitech includes a bell connector that you can connect to the bell of your existing bell. There are a handful of wires you need to connect for this, just like the Nest Hello connector I used earlier.
We set it up in about 10 minutes and it works, but we decided to take it out. We can settle for the HomePod phone, watch and mini-notifications, which don't seem to unleash our dog when the old bell rings. This is just a personal choice, but it solves a problem for us: No more crazy dog when someone comes to the front door.
The camera quality on this bell is pretty good. Logitech has opted for a wide view, which can show a person from head to toe in most cases.
With HDR support, the daytime output looks rich and clear, while the night vision mode brings color support, similar to the latest Wyze outdoor camera we reviewed in October. There is a 300 lux white LED bar to help you with night vision that you can turn off if you want, but it helps when it is on.
For privacy-conscious people, the Logitech Circle View keeps all videos in the cloud. But it uses HomeKit Secure Video (HSV), which is completely encrypted by Apple.
You need at least a 200 GB iCloud account to use HSV, which costs $ 2.99 per month. I share that storage space with my family of four iPhone users, so I don't mind the requirement.
Besides, I was already paying $ 0.99 each for two 50 GB plans the children used. For an additional amount, we received HSV support and another 100 GB of storage space, the total being now distributed among four people.
Even better, HSV storage doesn't matter to your account.
Clips are stored for up to 10 days, which is a long time for most people. The downside: a single HSV camera is included in the 200 GB plan. If you have two to five HSV cameras, you need to prepare for the 2 TB plan at $ 9.99 per month.
Overall, if you're in the HomeKit ecosystem and want a secure video ringtone, Logitech Circle View is a great choice.
Of course, I haven't tested any competing HomeKit ringtones yet. But that works so well that I almost don't want to.
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