Did you get your video doorbell yet?

This is the question of the week over in our neighborhood. With apps like Next Door and Facebook Groups, we’re all up in each other’s business. This can suck but it is also great! Around the holiday season, as our online orders start getting dropped off daily, the posts about missing packages and unidentified persons start to skyrocket. Someone saw two youths ringing doorbells and looking in windows. Obviously, they are casing the joint. Then there are car break-ins. And then someone posts an image grabbed by their video doorbell. The image depicts a tall, thin, probably male subject with their hoodie over their head and the strings pulled tightly so you can’t see their face. In his hand is something non-descript, but the speculations are flying.

“It’s a garden paver! He’s going to use it to break the window!”

“It’s a box of tools! He’s going to break in!”

When the original poster got back on to share the rest of the story, she explained that when her husband responded to the doorbell from his phone app, the subject in the photo ran away. Police were alerted immediately.

Okay, that’s enough to sell these things to the entire neighborhood. Driving up and down the street you can see them all sticking out from the doorframes like sore, expensive, totally useful thumbs.

Santa brought ours for Christmas. We hooked it up right around New Year’s. It’s been about a month since we installed it and I can’t wait to tell you about what we caught on camera!

By the way, I get nothing for this post. I don’t have an affiliation with Nest or Google and this device is not sold on Amazon so yeah, nada. I have not tried any other video doorbells so I can’t compare either. This is just my story of my experience with the Nest Hello Doorbell and its associated device app.

Okay, before I show you what we caught on camera, I want to tell you what it was like to install this. So, I can figure out just about anything techy, see Internet of Things (IOT). I can connect any device to another, have it run on a schedule and send you a text about it. But this required a little bit more. I mean just a very little bit more, but at the end we felt very accomplished since we had no idea what we were doing. First thing when you open the box the directions tell you to download the app. Easy, done. Next, you watch a video about the installation. Then they suggest you call someone to come and install it for you. No joke! But we just watched the video. So you know we were not calling anyone. Decided. Now, we access the installation guide in the app. It walks you through installation step-by-step. A couple of times we had to answer some questions to bring up the right pages in the guide. This made it feel like what we were doing was very difficult. We had to shut power off. We had to identify how the doorbell is powered… so many ways it could have gone wrong! But really, it was a piece of cake. We found the doorbell and took the cover off. We hooked up the piece that receives the wireless signal from the door and makes the chimes ring. Then we removed the old doorbell and installed the new one. Wires were connected. Wall plates were mounted. Chimes were adjusted. We went through the whole installation ourselves and it works! So from two techy-not-handy people, you can do it. I think this means they did a fabulous job of designing the installation app.

Once we were in business, I dropped the Nest app on both of our phones, the familyish iPad and connected it to our Google Home Hub. At first there was a lot of staring at our neighbor’s house across the street. Then we started cursing all the notifications we were getting. Finally we got the notification that we could try Nest Aware, their premium package, for free for a month or something. Exciting! I quickly set up ZONES in the app. The zones are how the app defines areas of the camera’s view. Granted, it’s two dimensional so it’s not totally precise, but I set up four zones. One each for porch, driveway, street, and everything else. Now I get notifications for a motion on my porch or a person on my driveway. Sweet. So that’s a cool feature of the premium packages. There are a few different package levels, but they’re not really offering anything that I find worth paying for. Besides the zones, the the other features are maybe not as awesome. I don’t really care about recording all the things. And I can’t use the Nest Cam IQ because I live in a state that doesn’t allow it. So until the price gets adjusted (it’s not, I asked) for me since I’m not able to use all the features, uh, I’m not going to try paying for it. Who pays the same for less product as everyone else?

So, is this camera cool? Yes.

Has it improved our lives? Not totally. Although I do feel a little better knowing it’s there. I hate answering the door or sneaking around the house when someone rings the bell so that I don’t have to answer the door. I have written blog posts about it in the past. I hate answering the door. So now I know who is there or what has been dropped off. Amazing. I also know the neighborhood traffic patterns. Not totally great but not a deal breaker.

Is it durable? Ummm… since I knew that you would want to know this, I was happy to test it out in the Great Polar Vortex of Chiberia 2019 and it worked great! Here are some screengrabs from my phone during the time I was working on this post:

Have I caught anything awesome on camera? Yes, but not what you’d think.

I recently went back to work part-time to cover a maternity leave. My mom and my mother-in-law have graciously agreed to watch the girls for me while I am at work. On the first morning that I was away, my oldest walked out onto the front porch to catch the bus. Joey and I both watched the whole thing go down through the Nest app on our phones. You can see what happened below.