Google's new Nest Doorbell is brilliant

I've just started using it, and it's looking good so far

Nest Doorbell
(Image credit: Google)

Google sent me the battery-powered version of its new Nest Doorbell while I was out. This wouldn’t have been a problem if I already had the Nest Doorbell, because I could have told the courier to leave the package in a safe place. Bit of a Catch 22 I guess, but now I’ve installed the thing I certainly can tell people to leave packages, and there’s an option for the camera to detect if they have a package under their arm for me too. 

I've had some bad experiences with smart home devices in the past, and Google sometimes gets things badly wrong. But here, things are looking good. 

I’ll be reviewing the Nest Doorbell in detail soon, but for now I wanted to talk about why it’s won me over in these early days. 

Firstly, while Google does want to upsell you to a cloud subscription, as far as I can tell it’s entirely optional. That package detection I mentioned, that’s a feature of Nest Aware, but recording to the cloud allows a generous three hours of footage in the free package. What I like about that is the fact that it’s not a time period limit, where other products will keep footage free for 24 hours, or perhaps longer Nest just keeps three hours. Presumably, if you don’t use more than that for ages, you can continue to access the video until you go over the limit. 

I also enjoy the fact that the Nest Doorbell produces video similar to that of a smartphone shooting vertically. At first I was a bit concerned, thinking I’d rather see more of the surroundings, but it quickly becomes clear that seeing an entire person is actually more useful. I’ve also come to like the little ring that illuminates when it detects someone walking up, that’s a particularly cool little touch. 

So far the downsides are that it only rings on Google Nest Hubs. That’s fine, I have a couple and you can get the speakers dirt cheap if you shop at the right time - hint, Black Friday - and of course, it will notify your phone. I tend to have mine on silent though, so it’s not always obvious. That said, Google Nest hubs announce when someone rings the bell and the connection seems quick. It’s also quite a low-latency experience, which I wasn’t expecting. 

It’s always nice to enjoy a product, there’s lots more to test before my review but so far so good. If you’re thinking about a smart doorbell, this should be on your list. 

Ian has been involved in technology journalism since 2007, originally writing about AV hardware back when LCDs and plasma TVs were just gaining popularity. Nearly 15 years on, he remains as excited about how tech can make your life better.