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SpotCam Video Doorbell 2: A Ring-killer this is not

The doorbell part works fine, but the video part is too slow to make it actually useful.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor
Dale Smith/CNET

The SpotCam is very similar to the Ring, but there are some differences. Overall, it's not quite as good. There are some nice options, but does that make for a recommended purchase? Well...

Like all of the other competitors in the space, the SpotCam sends video to your phone when your doorbell is rung. My colleague Dale Smith over at our sister site, CNET, found that SpotCam notifications sometimes didn't come through

I had better results than Dale with my notifications. That's probably because I immediately turned off the motion notification settings, since we live on a relatively high-traffic street. If I were to get a notification every time a car went by, I'd get nothing done.

This is a good news, bad news kind of product. The good news is that the box includes a ringer that you can plug into any plug in your house. The ringer is not an add-on purchase. The bad news is that the SpotCam has spotty performance as a video doorbell.

Here's an example. I work upstairs. When someone rings the doorbell, I can hear the plug-in chime. But my phone doesn't know there's anyone at the door for about one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand, four-one-thousand, five-one-thousand, six-one-thou... now. That delay is annoying, but not a deal killer, especially since I can hear the downstairs chime.

The big disappointment is the video part of the doorbell, as well as the response back to the person ringing the bell. More often than not, the person ringing the bell would leave before communication was established. It was that slow.

It's not my Wi-Fi. I have a couple of Wi-Fi-based cameras that track almost directly with real-time events (like, I hear a car door being shut and, a blink of the eye later, I see it on the camera). Not so with the SpotCam. The delay makes the video essentially worthless. I'm not alone in this observation. User comments and other reviewers have said the same thing.

The video image itself is reasonable at 1080p. Not great, but not too bad. I do like that it has an SD card that stores recordings, but the SD card is built into the unit itself, so if someone steals the unit, they're also stealing your recordings.

I also like that you can see who's at the door through an Echo Show, if you have one. But... you can't talk to anyone at your door through your Echo Show. It seems like such a missed opportunity.

There is a 7-day cloud service, which is free, so that's nice. And I like that it not only runs off of bell power and battery, but also has a traditional AC adapter. Not all walls have old-school bell power built into them.

But is this worth buying? The gotcha is that it's about the same price as its competitors, and it's not quite as good as its competitors. If it was a lot cheaper, I'd say try it out. But since it's in the same pricing class, I can't give you a really compelling reason to choose the SpotCam 2 over all the other players in this increasingly crowded field.

Are you using a video doorbell? What do you like about it? What model are you using? Talk to us in the comments below.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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