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This HomeKit Secure Video doorbell is the epitome of an Apple smart home device. Let's take a close look at the just-announced Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell.
Revealed during the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Belkin has continued its push into HomeKit-first accessories.
The Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell measures 4.9 inches tall and 1.7 inches wide. Many have questioned how thick the doorbell is, and it is marginally thicker than its closest competitor — the Logitech Circle View Wired Doorbell. The Wemo is 1.4 inches deep, while the Logitech is 1.1 inches. If you use the angled wedge plate, it does extend to 2.1 inches which is on the thick side.
It has a 4MP sensor that captures 1200x1600 video with a 178-degree field of view. It works exclusively with Apple HomeKit and supports HomeKit Secure Video, which means all cloud recordings are stored securely inside of iCloud.
Like most HomeKit doorbells, it connects over Wi-Fi and supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz connections. The doorbell also incorporates infrared enhanced night vision for low-light, motion detection, and two-way communication.
Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell review - Installation
Most people won't have any issues installing the Wemo doorbell. The doorbell only connects with a single pair of wires that shouldn't pose a problem to even the most novice users. That said, if you are hesitant or are buying this as a gift, Belkin does offer a professionally installed version through OnTech — at a $99 fee, of course.
Connecting to your chime takes a little more tinkering, but in all, we knocked out our install in under 15 minutes.
If this is your first smart doorbell, you may need to use the included drill bit to drill pilot holes into your doorframe. The Wemo doorbell is slightly larger than a typical doorbell button and won't fit into existing holes.
With the power off, remove your existing doorbell or video doorbell. We then used a Philips screwdriver to secure the two wires into the mounting plate. With the wires connected, we then screwed the plate onto the wall.
The screws are long, lending towards a more secure install than the half-inch screws common on other devices. Optionally, you can install the wedge mount, which will angle the camera and fits on the left or the right.
Two spring pins are situated on the front of the plate and pressed into two contact points on the back of the doorbell. Slide the doorbell over the pin at the top and tighten the screw at the bottom.
The doorbell is held in place with a Torx screw rather than a Philips, which helps bolster the security. If you don't have Torx drivers handy, there's one included.
After the installation is complete, it's time to turn to the HomeKit setup.
Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell - HomeKit support
A sticker bearing your unique HomeKit pairing code is stuck on the camera's back, which is easy to access but isn't convenient during the setup process. You could plug the camera into a Micro USB cable and pair it before finishing the installation, or you can install it and scan the code on the back pages of the setup manual.
A modal dialog sequence walks you through the basics of adding a new HomeKit accessory. Give your accessory a name, assign it a location in your home, and choose when your camera will record, stream, or be set to private. You're also able to determine who in your home has access to these streams or recordings.
After that, you can toggle facial recognition on or off and set access control.
The last few steps in the setup include choosing your chime preferences and enabling any automations that HomeKit suggests.
At this point, the camera is largely good to go. If you dive into the features a bit, you're able to hone the experience more suitably to your needs.
As an example, HomeKit allows you to set customized activity zones. Without activity zones, any motion will trigger the camera. Any car rambling down the road will send an unnecessary alert to our phone. By setting activity zones limited to our driveway and porch, we only get the notifications we want.
Beyond that, you can set notifications to filter based on activity type. You can filter to allow only notifications of vehicles, people, animals, packages, or any combination of the lot. This ensures you don't get hit with notification fatigue and start ignoring alerts that come in.
Other benefits of HomeKit include rich notifications that can stream a live feed from your door, notifications on your Apple TV, and a chime that will ring on your designated HomePods or HomePod minis.
We have a HomeKit wall switch that controls our porch light for our setup. That allows us to create an automation routine where the porch light turns on whenever the Wemo Smart Video Doorbell detects motion.
Any qualms we have are more with HomeKit than the doorbell itself. Apple's interface for perusing video clips is a bit lackluster, and there is still no way to quickly change a camera's privacy mode with a scene or Siri.
At least firmware updates can be done through the Home app now, with Belkin being the first to take advantage of this.
Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell - Video quality
The video quality captured by the doorbell is almost as important as the deep integration to HomeKit. As mentioned, this camera captures 1200 by 1600 video. This is tailored for viewing on mobile by being taller than it is wide.
The 178-degree field of view is also quite expansive. We can see both the brickwork to the left of our doorbell, as well as our door. We can see the doormat and the top of the doorframe. There's no way someone would be able to approach the door without being spotted.
Belkin does tout HDR deep in its list of specs, but the background was just blown out. Compared to the Arlo doorbell cam, the Belkin Wemo lost some detail and contrast in the sunlit driveway versus our shady porch.
How this works out for you will vary. If you're southern-facing, the sun might be an issue during parts of the day. You may have to fiddle with mounting angles to get it just right.
HomeKit limits the video capture resolution from cameras. With any luck, the maximum resolution will see a boost in future updates to iCloud. We'd need new hardware to support higher resolutions, though.
Should you buy the Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell?
As it stands, if you want the best HomeKit video doorbell, Wemo is what you want. In the market, there are only a handful of video doorbells that currently take full advantage of HomeKit by supporting HomeKit Secure Video.
You can choose between the Logitech Circle View, the Robin ProLine, the Robin ProLine Compact, or the mostly vaporware Yobi B3. If you're ok with just vanilla HomeKit support, you can opt for the Netatmo Secure Video Doorbell or the Arlo Wired Video Doorbell.
Its closest competitor is the Logitech Circle View. Still, Wemo has two benefits in its wider field of view and the ability to perform firmware updates manually in the Home app. So deciding between the two, we have to give it to the Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell.
We appreciate how easy installing the Wemo doorbell was, and its HomeKit support is top-notch. HomeKit remains the largest problem in the doorbell category, and Apple has periodically addressed these in iOS updates.
As it stands, if you want the best smart video doorbell to work with HomeKit today, Wemo has to be your choice. Tomorrow is another story, as the category has yet to fully mature.
Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell pros
Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell cons
HDR is lackluster
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Where to buy
You can preorder the Belkin Wemo Smart Video Doorbell now from Belkin's website for $249. It's expected to begin shipping in February or March.