There was a pretty blatant loophole in our smart home setup: a doorbell camera. That’s because I’ve been waiting for three boxes to be ticked and the Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell to tick all of them.
First, HomeKit compatibility. For me this is next to non-negotiable when it comes to a smart home kit. The benefits of having everything controlled by an app or by Siri are convincing enough that I’d rather wait than have something that requires me to use a separate app …
If it’s a device me Really I want to, and I’m not willing to wait, then I’ll accept something that’s Siri Shortcuts compatible as an alternative – but in general I’m not interested if HomeKit doesn’t support it.
Second, subscription-free. Many smart cameras are tied to a cloud service from the camera company, so you have to pay a monthly fee to access recordings. I am already paying for two cloud services – iCloud and Dropbox – and am not ready to pay for a third single-application service. Netatmo achieves this through local storage and support for Dropbox and FTP servers In use – access to records Section below.
HomeKit Secure Video is not yet supported, but Netatmo promises that there will be an update for existing doorbells in the future.
Third, mains operated (hard-wired). Our existing bell was a main bell, so I wanted to use this rather than something that would have to replace the batteries. The Netatmo is designed as a straight exchange for a cable bell.
The device measures approximately 5 cm high, 2 cm wide and 1 cm deep. When your bell is mounted on your door, it works as it is. However, many wired bells are on one side – including ours. That means the camera needs to be angled towards the door and the kit includes an angled mounting plate that adds some depth.
It’s a reasonably classy looking unit divided into thirds. The upper area has an obvious camera, a blue status light, and a small infrared emitter port for nighttime use. There is a relatively small Netatmo logo under the camera.
The middle area is the speaker: the device supports two-way audio. Finally, in the lower area, there is the silver push-button bell with a small bell symbol.
Overall, it looks modern and a bit technical, but is still very pleasing to the eye.
The camera is a 2 megapixel camera with 1080p and HDR and infrared for night vision. I cannot comment on the latter as we live in an apartment. So the camera looks into a hallway that is lit around the clock. Likewise, the IP67 seal, since our camera is located indoors.
The field of view is 140 degrees diagonal and the camera is properly oriented in portrait format. You get a 3/4 view of someone actually pressing the doorbell and a full-length view if they even step back half a step.
Wi-Fi is only 2.4 GHz (802.11b / g / n), but that’s true for many of our smart home kits. So we have a second SSID for 2.4 GHz, and our router is set to merge the two, which is not a problem for us.
You get two-way audio, motion detection, people detection (but not yet detection), and custom alarm zones.
The memory is located on an embedded SD card (supplied). Currently, you can also record on a Dropbox account or any FTP server. iCloud support will follow.
Installation and setup
The Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell is compatible with most wired doorbell configurations and accepts both mains power and low voltage bells in the 8V to 24V range. As far as I can tell, this is the vast majority of hardwired doorbells.
Netatmo claims the device is suitable for DIY installation, but the reality may depend on your existing doorbell setup. In our case, the wiring runs through the inside of a wall, and it wasn’t trivial to release enough wire to make the connection. So the company sent one of their pro installers.
This wasn’t a notable success, partly because the installer was struggling with some cabling issues, and partly because the setup turned out to be incompatible with iOS 14.3. To fix this, a different installer was required and it was using an old iPad that was running an older version of iOS. For another problem, the Netatmo Security app had to be removed and reinstalled.
Hopefully these are just teething problems! To be fair to Netatmo, it seemed mostly due to one installer: if the second had done the job and we had known that an older version of iOS was needed, this would have been a lot easier.
In use – doorbell and motion sensor
After the setup was complete, however, everything was fine: the doorbell camera immediately appeared in the Home app, and all of our HomePods acted as chime repeaters. This is excessive in a house the size of a central London apartment, but could be useful in a large house.
When the doorbell rings, the main tone and HomePods will ring, and all iOS devices will receive a pop-up warning. You can tap the alert to see a live view of who’s at the door and, if you want, talk to them using an intercom feature.
When you are not at home, you still get full functionality. In this case, the intercom is the most useful: you can talk to the person at the door and make the necessary arrangements. Since our Smart Lock also works remotely, you can also let a friend into the apartment while we are out. The combination is pretty powerful.
In addition to doorbell alarms, you also have the option of receiving motion and personal alarms. Currently the system is intelligent enough to recognize people but not to identify them. This happens when HomeKit Secure Video support is enabled.
In our apartment, the person notifications are not very useful. There are five apartments on our floor, and the person notifications are triggered whenever someone comes out of one of the two elevators or one of our neighbors leaves the house. So I decided to turn this off, but it would be useful for anyone whose front door only or mostly overlooks their property. The app supports custom zones so you can hide any view of the street, neighboring properties, etc.
In use – access to records
The Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell saves video recordings on an included 8 GB SD card that is embedded in the device itself. You can then access these recordings via WiFi via the app, either for viewing or downloading.
Local recordings, of course, have one potential disadvantage: an intruder could steal the doorbell himself and thus take the recording away. In reality, that’s probably not too much of a risk. First, because if a bad guy can even detect a doorbell camera, he’ll likely stay free. If they know anything about them, they know that most of the footage is uploaded to the cloud, so there’s no point stealing the doorbell.
Second, Netatmo uses a security screw that requires a tool provided to open it to remove the device from the wall. Sure, a bad guy could physically rip it off the wall, but that wouldn’t be easy, so here we’re in the territory, easier to rob the guy next door. Most security measures work on this basis: They don’t make anything impossible, they just make yourself one more challenging target than the next.
However, if you also want cloud storage, you can configure the app to use one of your existing accounts. So I set mine to copy the records to Dropbox. Although no person notifications are activated in the app, every person seen triggers a recording. File names are date, time, reason for recording and an ID.
The doorbell itself automatically overwrites the oldest recording as soon as the card is full. However, if you automatically download to your own cloud account, you will need to manage this to avoid consuming a lot of space on the video of your delivered post.
For Dropbox, recordings are made in Apps / Netatmo /
As mentioned in the introduction, Netatmo also promises to support HomeKit Secure Video. I will update as soon as this happens.
Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell: Prices and Conclusions
In the US, the system costs $ 300. This puts it at $ 200, well above the Logitech Circle.
The main advantage of Netatmo is local storage. That means you don’t have to use cloud storage if you don’t want to. As long as you have at least a 200GB iCloud subscription, cloud storage for HomeKit Secure Video is free for a single camera – a side benefit of your subscription that doesn’t count towards your storage quota.
If you have more than one camera, don’t have a 200 GB iCloud subscription or prefer Dropbox, the Netatmo comes into its own. You do not do that to have to use a cloud service if you don’t want to. You can still access recordings via WiFi with the iPhone app. However, you can connect it to Dropbox or even your own FTP server if you want.
Apart from the setup and installation issues, it works fine. I tend to get lots of deliveries at best, but even more so during the pandemic lockdown so it’s handy to see who’s at the door. However, it will be most useful when we can resume our normal lives and the ability to speak to callers remotely and tell them where to leave a package, for example, will indeed come in very handy. It’s especially powerful when combined with a smart lock that allows you to talk to someone and then let them in from your iPhone.
A secondary benefit, of course, is security – records of people who have come near your home without ringing the doorbell. All in all, I’d say a doorbell camera is a handy piece of smart home technology, and the Netatmo Smart Video doorbell justifies the premium over the Logitech for some users.
The Netatmo Smart Video Doorbell is available directly from the company’s website for $ 299.99.
FTC: We Use Income Earning Auto Affiliate Links. More.
For more Apple news, check out 9to5Mac on YouTube: