Nest’s Hello Video Doorbell is the only security camera worth buying

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Want to order pizza while your significant other is out of the house? Don't fancy saving any of it for when they get back home? Avoid the Nest Hello at all costs. This smart doorbell is a nightmare for anyone with food-sharing issues, and one of the best home security cameras we’ve ever used.

As with all of Nest’s flagship products, the Hello takes an unloved household device and drags it into the Wi-Fi-connected age. Instead of upgrading your smoke alarm or thermostat, the Hello adds a wide-angle HD camera to your doorbell. So you can see exactly who's at your front door, whether you're at home or looking to steal someone else's dinner on your return. Oh, and it's meant to deter unwanted intruders too.

Installation

If there's one thing that'll seriously put you off getting a Nest Hello it's the cost of the thing. A normal doorbell will set you back about £10, but the Hello is £229 and needs hard-wiring into your property with a chunky white chime unit and a heap of new wires around your home. That'll add an extra £100 if you get a professional Nest-approved electrician to do the job, which you probably should.

It’s also a lot of money when the Amazon-owned Ring Video Doorbell 2 costs £179 and works wirelessly via a rechargeable battery pack. So you can install the thing yourself with a drill, screwdriver and a modicum of DIY knowhow.

Surely that's game over for the Nest Hello? Well, not quite. By hard-wiring the Hello to your home it's never going to struggle for internet connectivity, run out of battery at an inopportune moment or deliver stuttering video. It's consistent in a way other video doorbells aren't, and that counts for a lot.

Design

From the Netatmo Welcome to the Nest Cam Indoor, we've used several home security cameras over the past few years. As well as many of them have worked I've never been entirely convinced by the concept. Why? You can have the most advanced camera imaginable installed in your living room, but that's no good to you if a burglar breaks in through your front door to nick the TV in your bedroom.

Aside from covering the most obvious entry point to your home, any video doorbell is going act as an extremely visible deterrent. While the Nest Hello isn’t overly bulky, its cylindrical black and white build is substantial enough to be noticeable to any passer-by. That's not something you can say about a security cam that's tucked away at the top of a bookshelf.

The Hello builds on these foundations with an impressive array of camera-related technologies. Its 3MP sensor captures HD footage with high dynamic range in an ample 4:3 aspect ratio and 160-degree field of view that lets you clearly see anyone who approaches your front door. In my case it also captured a few cars and scooters in the middle-distance, generating some overly cautious notifications.

At night the Hello’s video capture reverts to black and white imagery via infrared but the footage remains perfectly viewable. And in rain? An IPX4 water-resistance rating means the Hello can handle all the British seasons and then some. This camera has even been tested at temperatures of -10C.

You'll need the free Nest app installed on your iPhone or Android handset to be able to review any footage your Nest has captured. That's the same one you'll have already downloaded if you already own any Nest kit. As per the Nest Cam IQ Indoor and Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, you have to pay an extra £4 per month (or £40 per year) and sign up for the Nest Aware subscription service to access its best features, such as facial recognition and 24/7 continuous recording.

With facial recognition enabled, you'll get a neat notification every time a familiar person enters or exits your home. So you don't have to manually check the footage every time a potential intruder is detected. Impressively, it only takes a couple of days to train the Hello to recognise the inhabitants of your home, and the feature even works when you’ve dragged yourself back late at night in a World Cup-induced stupor. As annoying as having to pay extra for Nest Aware is, this almost unerring accuracy makes it worth the money.

At least two-way voice communication is enabled by default. So you can either ignore the courier at your front door, send them a pre-recorded message or personally implore them to chuck your parcel somewhere other than the nearest bush. It’s a neat trick and works well enough, but we can’t see ourselves interrupting our office-bound duties on a regular basis to deal with that sort of scenario. More significantly, the quality of voice communication varies according to your phone with my Huawei P20 producing some shrill feedback and my partner’s iPhone 7 sounding just fine.

Verdict

There’s no denying the Nest Hello is an expensive piece of kit, especially if you’re going to pay extra for its installation and a Nest Aware subscription for its best features. Still, if you’re minded to get a home security camera this should still be your first port of call. By CCTV with what is essentially a souped-up Wi-Fi doorbell, the Hello proves an elegant, hassle-free way to protect your property from miscreants.

As for anyone who wants to thieve your remaining takeaway? Alas, you’ll still have to dissuade them yourself.

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