Video doorbells are so useful — not only do you get live video and audio, you can respond to visitors from anywhere with an internet connection. If you're considering whether to get one, I would recommend the TP-Link Tapo Video Doorbell Camera Kit. It has everything you need in a video doorbell. And it's relatively cheap at S$125.
- 2K 5MP colour night vision
- Includes hub with chime and local storage support (microSD card)
- IP64 weather and dust resistant
- 160-degree diagonal viewing angle
Live video and two-way audio (along with canned quick responses), motion-triggered notifications, night colour vision, privacy and activity zones, you name it, the Tapo has it. The camera itself can be mounted via the included screws or adhesive tape. I found the latter to be more convenient since it doesn't require any drilling. You can also adjust the viewing angle with a 15-degree mounting wedge. The camera has a 160-degree diagonal viewing angle, and provides a 4:3 live view that lets you see most of a person's body. There's some distortion, but the video quality is good (but capped at 15fps) despite the poor lighting in my corridor. It also has an anti-theft alarm feature to warn you if someone is tampering with the camera.
The bundled hub has a built-in chime. This is great because the doorbell's chime may not be loud enough. I know this because I have a Ring Peephole Cam, and eventually bought a Ring Chime. The hub also has a microSD card slot that can be used to store video clips locally (up to 512GB). Now TP-Link would probably prefer if you subscribe to its Tapo Care service (from S$4.98 a month), which offers extras such as cloud storage (7-day to 30-day video clip history depending on the plan), AI detection (distinguishes between persons pets, and vehicles), and rich notifications (includes a snapshot). But honestly, I can get by with the local storage option, since you still get the basic features. While you have to connect the hub to your home router via Ethernet cable during the initial setup, you can switch to wireless afterwards.
In my testing, notifications came promptly, though the live video feed takes a while to load up on my smartphone using mobile data. The Tapo's battery gauge was at 90% after 11 days. But my doorway faces the lift, which means that the video doorbell was frequently called into action, especially in the mornings and evenings. I could, of course, disable the motion detection feature. Or switch to the power-saving mode, which results in shorter video snippets and lower brightness for the spotlight. This mode automatically turns on when the battery is below 10%. The battery supposedly lasts for up to three months if the doorbell is activated about 20 times a day. I would also recommend getting a spare battery (S$49.90).
At S$125, the TP-Link Tapo Video Doorbell Camera Kit is, like many TP-Link products, priced competitively. Arlo's battery-powered Essential Video Doorbell costs S$259, and lacks some of the Tapo's features like local storage. The same applies for the Ring Peephole Cam. While I like that it uses your door's existing peephole, the 2023 rebooted version isn't widely available in Singapore, and requires a subscription for cloud storage. So if you want to try out a video doorbell, the Tapo makes the most sense based on cost and features. It's exclusive to Challenger (for a month), and available at its Shopee store.
Note: Review unit provided by TP-Link.
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