Skybell HD vs. Ring 2: Does Free Cloud Storage Make It A No-Brainer?
After a month of testing, I determined Ring 2 is the best video doorbell for most people because it’s easy to set up and provides a solid calling experience. Skybell HD could have been an excellent budget option because of its free cloud recordings, but it’s not reliable.
I’ll explain how I reached my conclusion by comparing and contrasting these two video doorbells (Skybell HD vs. Ring 2) while evaluating six categories: setup, reliability, smarts, hardware, video quality, and price.
- Setup: It's the easiest of the two models to set up because it’s wireless and the app walks you through each step.
- Reliability: Calling works great, but motion detection is shaky, especially in dim light.
- App & Smarts: The interface now has a scrollable timeline. It's compatible with most smart home platforms.
- Hardware: It’s poorly made and feels like a toy.
- Video Quality: The quality is nowhere near Skybell’s, but it’s good enough. Night vision, however, is terrible.
- Price: Ring 1 is $100. Ring 2 is $200. Cloud video storage is $30/year.
Best for you if...
You want a battery-powered video doorbell. Ring 2 has poor motion detection and is expensive, but calling and live views work well. If accurate motion detection is important to you, look at Ring Pro or Nest Hello (read more).
- Setup: You need a wired connection and reliable, fast WiFi. The installation video is fairly easy to follow.
- Reliability: Motion detection is solid but there are long stretches when nothing works.
- App & Smarts: The app interface is great, and it’s compatible with Kevo, but sometimes it can’t connect.
- Hardware: It's poorly made and doesn’t look like a traditional doorbell.
- Video Quality: It's consistently sharp at 30 FPS in 1080p with a 16:9 aspect ratio with a 180° FoV.
- Price: SkyBell HD is $150. You can store all your motion clips for FREE.
Best for you if...
You’re not bothered if it stops working for a few days at a time. SkyBell HD should be a fantastic budget product because they offer FREE seven-day recordings and the video quality is excellent, but there are too many bugs.
- Ring 1 and Ring 2 are battery-powered, making it the easiest to set up because you don’t need existing doorbell wires.
- The battery should last a couple of months based on my real life testing. Ring claims a battery life of 1,000 notifications or six months, but that’s not realistic. You can buy an extra battery for $29 to eliminate dead time, while your battery is charging.
- Before installing, you need to charge the battery via a micro USB, then sync it to the app. Then, it shows you a walkthrough video on how to install it outside.
- It’s waterproof and works from –5°F to 120°F temperatures.
- If you have doorbell wires already, you can run Ring 2 off those wires, rather than power it via battery. This should remove any charging frustration, but if you have wires, I suggest going with one of the premium options with better motion tracking, like Nest Hello or Ring Pro (read more).
- The WiFi range is great, and I had no issues keeping it on the network.
- Ring 2 missed two package deliveries during testing period. Considering package monitoring is main purpose video doorbells, I wasn’t impressed.
- The motion detection doesn’t work well when your house is facing a street. Even with the sensitivity on the lowest setting (five feet) and my house 40 feet from the road, Ring 2 had tons of false alerts per day.
- If it doesn’t miss the motion in front of the door, it’s usually delayed and you only see the last few seconds of action.
- Ring 2 does well with calls, with a couple of minor hiccups.
App & Smarts (C+):
- Ring’s interface didn’t have thumbnails of the clips, since its inception. In January 2019, they released a much needed update that has a timeline interface that can be scrubbed through to see what motion was detected. It’s a great update!
- Ring has a “Neighbor’s Feed” community feature where you can report events to the community or see what’s going on in your neighborhood.
- There is a desktop app and a web interface.
- You can create a schedule for when you want Ring to record motion or not record. This helps eliminate false alerts while you’re home.
- When your Ring goes offline, or the battery runs out, there’s no alert or way to see when it happened.
- You can do integrations with IFTTT.
- Ring works with Kevo, Lockitron, Kisi, ADT Pulse, LockState, Smartlink, WeMo smart switches. and Wink smart hubs.
- Ring 2 is bulky (5.05″ x 2.5″ x 1.08″).
- It’s made of cheap materials and feels more like a toy than a $200 premium gadget.
- It comes with black and silver faceplates that are interchangeable. It would’ve been nice to have the faceplate built on, however.
- If you’re buying Ring 2, you probably don’t have doorbell wires set up with a traditional chime. To combat this, there’s an addon, Ring Chime, that rings when someone presses the button on your Ring 2 without any wiring needed.
- I found Ring’s default chime noise and volume (from outside) to be insufferable. You should turn the volume way down.
Video Quality (D):
- It has 160-degrees horizontal and 90-degree vertical fields of view.
- Ring is quick to switch to infrared lighting, even when the sun is still up, and it’s not necessary. This makes the night records look terrible and hard to see.
- The motion detection has more issues than normal when it’s dark outside.
- You can’t see the button on Ring when it’s night because it doesn’t illuminate.
- The motion detection during the day is OK, but it still missed package deliveries, as stated above, but it performs better when there’s light.
- Ring 1 is $100, and Ring 2 is $200. They are similar devices. What accounts for the $100 difference? The video quality has improved, and the batteries are easier to change.
- Ring Protect plan is $30/year and needed to store your clips for 60 days. If you don’t subscribe, you can still use the doorbell to video chat, live view, and get alerted when there’s motion (you can’t view the motion because it’d not recorded without the plan).
- If motion detection is a priority, you want a premium video doorbell, like Nest Hello or Ring Pro. Ring 2 should be used for live video calls and live check-ins only; the subscription plan isn’t necessary.
- You’ll need wired power from your previous doorbell.
- It only runs on the 2.4GHz WiFi band, which means it can run from long distances, but has a slower connection than the 5GHz band. In most cases, this shouldn’t be an issue, but it provides less flexibility.
- A strong WiFi connection is more important with SkyBell than any of the Ring products.
- Unreliability is SkyBell’s most significant flaw. There are days where all of the calls go smoothly, and events are detected and recorded, then there are days where nothing works. If SkyBell were consistent, it’d be a fantastic budget option. The instability could be due to SkyBell’s cloud servers. Based on my research, other people have had similar issues.
- I encountered countless errors. For example, I’d get notifications on my phone instantly, but when I tapped them, I’d often get a message saying “SkyBell cannot establish a connection.”
- I would also get an error message saying “You have the maximum callers for this call, please try again later.” I have no idea what that means.
- At one point, Skybell appeared to be working fine with a green status light. It notified me of motion, but wasn’t actually recording the footage in the activity history. This appears to be a common issue because there’s a page on the company site to help fix it. I had to do a do a system reset.
- Overall, during the day, the motion detection is solid if you have a short range set. It may miss a clip here and here if the motion isn’t obvious and it’ll only provide a few false alerts per day on average, even if you’re near traffic. The biggest problem is that it may not record the action it’s detecting.
- Once the call ends or the motion is finished, SkyBell needs at least 30 seconds to reset.
- While the night time recording looks good, it doesn’t detect motion well. There were times at night, where I’d be a couple of feet in front of it, and it didn’t detect me. Ideally, you could change the sensitivity levels for day and night, but you can’t.
App & Smarts (C):
- SkyBell’s app “Activity” interface is amazing. You receive huge thumbnail views of what’s happening. All you have to do is tap to play the video.
- You have to hold the talk button to communicate with the person on the other end, and while you do it, the other person can’t talk. It makes real-time communication almost impossible.
- SkyBell can be configured with other smart home devices through configurations with IFTTT and Kevo Smart Lock.
- Snapping a screenshot of live footage is easy.
- There’s no web-based or desktop app. Your only access is through iOS or Android.
- While the app interface is great, it doesn’t work well and is hardly ever updated. This is typically a sign that a company is on the verge of extinction or they just don’t care. There are several bugs.
- The videos from the recent activity are regularly deleted and go missing on the day of the recording for no reason.
- It’s 2.8″ x 2.8″ x 0.9″, making it the widest model.
- It looks poorly-constructed and is made of cheap plastic.
- It doesn’t look anything like a traditional doorbell. Will non-techies will know what to do with it? Not in my experience.
- While SkyBell HD doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing, but it can handle temperatures between -40°F and 150°F and it’s waterproof with an IPX4 rating.
- There’s a green status light and white LED light on top, which acts as a nightlight.
Video Quality (A+):
- SkyBell has the best video quality of all of the video doorbells I tested. The video is consistently the sharpest at 30 FPS in 1080p.
- The video has a 16:9 aspect ratio.
- It has a 180-degree horizontal field of view. The vertical field of view isn’t listed, but it’s shorter than most, which means you might not be able to see where your package was dropped.
- It’s the only video doorbell that has full color during night recordings. Instead of relying on infrared light, SkyBell shines white LED lights. It looks great!
- The list price is $200, but you’ll find it on Amazon for $150.
- SkyBell’s cloud storage is free with no subscriptions. It will record all events and calls and store them for seven days. Once the seven days are up, the videos are automatically deleted, but you have the option of saving them to your phone.
- Free cloud storage is SkyBell’s biggest advantage, but unfortunately the bugginess of the overall device doesn’t make it a good purchase.