Nest Hello Doorbell Review
Nest is well-known for its smart thermostats, but it’s also made plenty of inroads in the home security market. The Nest Hello is their video doorbell that has plenty of power-packed features.
Update: Nest Secure is no longer sold by Google Nest.
When we talk about video doorbells, the Nest Hello is one we almost never leave out. Launched in 2018 by Google Nest, it’s a sleek-looking, hardwired video doorbell with a compelling and robust set of features. Of course, we took it for a spin, meticulously testing all its features to see how good it really is. If you want to know how well the Nest Hello performed and whether or not it’s the ideal video doorbell for you, keep on reading. We covered everything from the video quality to the security and smart home features, so without much further ado, let’s get right to it!
Nest Hello: The Pros & Cons
To kick things off, here’s a summary of what we thought were the best features of the Nest Hello as well as the things that could be improved.
What We Liked
- Superb video quality: The Nest Hello had a 1600 by 1200 resolution, 160-degree viewing angle, HDR, and infrared night vision, which made for a clear picture day or night.
- Smart platform integrations: Not only did the Nest Hello integrate with Google Assistant and Alexa; it also worked well in conjunction with other Nest cameras and products.
- Artificial intelligence: The Nest Hello was able to distinguish people from moving objects, animals, and vehicles, resulting in necessary notifications only. And with Nest Aware, we could even put a name to familiar faces, which made our notifications even more specific.
- Sleek and stylish design: Although we value functionality over looks, we just loved how stylish the Nest Hello looked on our front door. It had a minimalist, capsule-like design that was nice-looking without calling too much attention to itself.
What We Didn’t Like
- A bit pricey: At $229, the Nest Hello is not one of the most affordable doorbell cameras on the market; however, we think it’s worth it for someone looking for top-notch features.
- Nest Aware is required to access all features: On top of the cost of the device itself, we found ourselves paying a monthly fee to enjoy many of the Nest Hello’s features including event history and facial recognition, although person alert was included.
- No local storage: In order to see our footage after the fact, we had to pay for a Nest Aware subscription, as the video doorbell didn’t have a slot for a micro-SD card.
The Nest Hello In Action
Before we begin with our detailed review, we thought you might want to watch our video review first. Check it out if you want to see the Nest Hello in action, but note that Nest no longer sells Nest Secure, their security system.
How The Nest Hello Improved Our Home Security
The main reason that we tested the Nest Hello was that we wanted to see how much value it could add to our home security, and we weren’t disappointed.
Doorbell Ring Notifications
The very essence of a video doorbell is to tell you when someone rings your doorbell, and that’s exactly what the Nest Hello did for us. It sent us email and phone notifications that included snapshots of the event viewable for up to three hours. We found those snapshots time-saving as they eliminated the need for us to check our Nest Hello’s feed every time we were alerted. And when we got our Nest Aware subscription, those snapshot alerts became video clip alerts. Even better!
Person alerts meant that we were only notified when the Nest Hello saw a person, meaning we didn’t have to be alerted about squirrels, cars, and other moving objects. Rather, we got a snapshot of the person’s face sent straight to our phones. This kind of insight helped us determine which alerts were urgent and which ones could wait. A door-to-door salesman? We’ll pass. A kid selling Girl Scout cookies? Now that requires our immediate attention.
Even More Intelligent Alerts with Nest Aware
Subscribing to Nest Aware unlocked additional smart features: familiar face alerts, package tracking, and activity zones.
Familiar face alerts improved on person alerts by telling us whether the person in question was someone we knew or a stranger. We taught the Nest Hello by naming the faces it already captured, so the next time it saw a person it recognized, the Nest App told us who it was. It was nice to be alerted when our plant sitter came, but on the other hand, we were also glad to know when an unfamiliar face was on our property.
The package tracking feature let us know if the Nest Hello saw a package left or picked up from our stoop. That way, we’d know to respond immediately in case of package theft. Video doorbells have always been known as effective porch pirate deterrents,1 but the package tracking feature made us feel even safer from package thieves.
Finally, activity zones let us limit the detection range of the Nest Hello so that we’d only get alerts if the movement occurred in an area we deemed important. For instance, we drew a zone that covered our front lawn, if you can call the patch of concrete in front of our brownstone that. As a result, we stopped receiving alerts about joggers passing by on the street ahead. But when a kid entered our area to get his basketball, we got an alert.
Tip for Improved Notifications: You can choose which types of notifications you would like to receive, whether it’s doorbell rings, motion alerts, person alerts, familiar face alerts, zone alerts, package alerts or all of the above.
Whenever we received alerts that we deemed important, our initial course of action was to live stream the Nest Hello. The Nest App provided that feature for us while we were away, while our Nest Hub Max and Chromecast served as bigger screens when we were at home. Plus, streaming to our Nest Hub Max was a hands-free experience with Google Assistant, so we could initiate a live stream even while our hands were full.
While live streaming footage, we could see and hear whoever was at our door thanks to the Nest Hello’s speaker and microphone. However, they couldn’t hear us until we pressed the mic button to initiate two-way audio communication. We used the feature all the time to speak to guests at our door when we weren’t home, like that one time a total stranger rang our doorbell. He turned out to be a door-to-door salesman, so we just told him that we were busy. But if he were a thief, we’re confident that simply talking to us would be enough to make him go away.
The police are always warning us about knock-knock burglars,2 burglars who knock or ring the doorbell before breaking in to check if anyone’s home. They usually go away if someone answers, so having the Nest Hello’s two-way audio really boosted our home security.
Pre-Recorded Quick Response
Being the busy people that we are, we didn’t always have the time to answer our door, even using the Nest Hello. In such cases, the Nest App’s pre-recorded quick responses proved useful. We made recordings of what we would normally say to people ringing our Nest Hello, like, “Please leave our packages behind those plants,” or, “Our spare keys are under the mat,” and simply played them whenever appropriate. For instance, we were busy at work when our parents came to visit, so using the recorded response, we let them know where our keys were so they could let themselves in.
About The Nest Hello’s Video Quality
One of the things that stood out while we were testing the Nest Hello was its video quality. There was something about it that made the footage easier on the eyes, and it wasn’t just the resolution. In fact, the impressive video quality of the Nest Hello was a team effort by a number of video-related features.
HD Video Quality
The resolution, a.k.a. the number of pixels present in each frame plays a vital role in the video quality of a camera. The resolution of the Nest Hello was 1600 x 1200; that’s 1600 pixels horizontally and 1200 pixels vertically. Of course, we were more interested in the end result, which happened to be a high-definition video that was crystal clear even when zoomed in up to eight times. Living in New York City, we have a lot to look at, so the clear zoomed-in clips were helpful in identifying people approaching our stoop or looking at our house from the street.
Wide-Angle Field of View
The 160-degree diagonal field of view also contributed to the stellar video quality of the Nest Hello. It covered our entire front stoop and then some, but it didn’t have that distorted fisheye effect that most wide-angle cameras do.
High Dynamic Range
The High Dynamic Range or HDR was another video-related feature that we really appreciated. Basically, the HDR helped the Nest Hello adapt to outdoor lighting, which made its videos seem more life-like. As a result, we saw the faces of our guests clearly even when our outdoor lights were on at night or when the sun was shining directly on our stoop during the day. Otherwise, we’d see a lot of shadows and overexposure, as you typically find in outdoor footage.
Infrared Night Vision
We don’t leave our stoop light on all night, and as soon as we turned it off, the infrared LED lights built into the Nest Hello turned on. The 850nm infrared LED light, which is invisible to the human eye, was more than sufficient to illuminate our front yard area and a part of the street. If someone were to approach our front stoop in the middle of the night, the Nest Hello would’ve recorded them despite it being pitch-black outside.
Smart Platform Integrations
The Nest Hello worked incredibly well on its own but smart platform integrations made it all the more useful.
The Nest Hello primarily worked with other Nest and Google products, including Nest cameras, the Nest Secure security system, and smart speakers with the Google Assistant built-in like the Google Nest Mini. The Google Assistant integration was particularly interesting as it allowed us to ask the Nest Hello to start a live stream on our Nest Hub Max or Chromecast. Our Nest Hub Max also functioned as a chime, playing a sound whenever someone pressed our doorbell and even announcing who was at the door whenever our Nest Hello saw a familiar face.
Although Google and Amazon are tight rivals, the Nest Hello also worked with Alexa. However, it only worked with Alexa devices with a screen, like our Fire TV and Amazon Echo Show. The integration was also limited as we were only able to stream live videos and the latest recorded events by voice commands, so the Nest Hello is clearly better for those in the Google ecosystem over Amazon.
Nest Aware: Cloud Storage For All Nest Cameras
When it came to recording videos, we were a bit disappointed that the Nest Hello didn’t have a local storage option or any free cloud storage, much like all of the Nest cameras. However, we were glad that Nest launched a revamped Nest Aware pricing that is far more affordable and practical as compared to the old pricing. Here are the options:
|Free Plan||Nest Aware Plan||Nest Aware Plus Plan|
|24/7 continuous recording in days||X||0||10|
|Amount of cloud storage in days||0||30||60|
|Create and share clips||X||✓||✓|
|Free Nest Mini||X||With Annual Plan||With Annual Plan|
In case you’re wondering, the new Nest Aware subscription covered all our Nest cameras and Google smart home devices. That’s a huge improvement compared to the old pricing that only covered one device per plan.
Now, between the Nest Aware and the Nest Aware Plus, we preferred the latter as it included a 10-day continuously recorded video history in addition to the 60-day event history. We took comfort in knowing that on the off chance that our Nest Hello failed to notice and record an important event, we would’ve had the continuously recorded history to fall back on. We viewed the 10-day rolling video history via the Nest App’s Timeline feature. Of course, uploading videos to the cloud 24/7 could put a strain on your bandwidth, so if your Internet Service Provider imposes a data cap, the $6 per month Nest Aware might be a better choice. It only records event clips, so it has a lighter bandwidth usage. We discussed Nest’s pricing for the Nest Hello and Nest Aware in detail here, so be sure to check that out as well.
Playback Clips Like A Pro: When viewing recorded videos with a Nest Aware Plus subscription, we found it a lot easier to check the list of recorded events rather than sift through the Timeline. The Timeline is best used to watch continuous recordings.
The Nest App: One App To Control Them All
We used the Nest App to control and access our Nest Hello. It has a stellar 4.7 stars rating on the Apple App store and 4.3 stars rating on the Google Play store. That wasn’t surprising, considering how easy it was to use the app and the number of features and customizations it offered.
The app provided a way for us to check our video doorbell, receive notifications, customize the settings, review recorded clips and rolling videos, and more. It also worked in the background to improve our experience. For instance, the Home/Away Assist feature triggered our Nest Hello to arm and disarm its motion sensor based on our phones’ GPS location. It turned off the sensor whenever we were home and turned it on as soon as we left the premises.
Overall, we liked the app’s user interface. It could be a tad confusing for new users because it offers so many features, but with enough practice, it’s actually pretty easy to use.
Was The Nest Hello Easy To Install?
Compared to outdoor wireless security cameras and battery-powered video doorbells, hardwired video doorbells like the Nest Hello are typically harder to install. Installing the Nest Hello involved electrical wiring and drilling. On top of that, the Nest Hello requires a specific doorbell setup that can provide 16 to 24 volts of alternating current (VAC) with at least 10 volt-ampere (VA) of power. Luckily for us, we had the right doorbell setup.
The entire installation process was guided by the Nest App. After initiating the set-up, we scanned the QR code on the Nest Hello. That told the app what type of device we’re trying to install. Next came the challenging part: wiring the video doorbell. From a list of doorbell wiring diagrams, we selected the one similar to ours. The app then showed us how to properly connect the Nest Hello and the chime connector that came with it to our existing wiring. The diagrams were clear, so we had no trouble following it. Once that’s done, we installed the Nest Hello by securing its mount on the wall. And yes, that meant drilling. Finally, we turned the video doorbell on and finished up in the Nest App.
The Nest Hello was a bit challenging to install because of the involvement of electrical wirings, but with the right tools handy, we managed to do it in less than 30 minutes.
Pro Tip: If you’d rather have a pro install the Nest Hello for you, Nest partnered with OnTech for professional installation, which will cost $99.99.
Is The Nest Hello The Right Video Doorbell For You?
That’s quite a lot to take in, so we prepared a list of things to consider if you’re looking into getting a Nest Hello.
The Nest Hello might be the right video doorbell for you if you want these features:
- Hardwired video doorbell
- Sleek and stylish design
- Rich notifications
- Smart features (person alerts, activity zones, package detection, and familiar face alerts)
- Continuously recorded rolling videos for up to 10 days with Nest Aware
- Reliable mobile app
- Google Assistant and Alexa integrations
Consider other options if these things are deal-breakers to you:
- A monthly subscription to access familiar face alerts and package detection
- $229 equipment cost
- Hardwired setup that involves wiring and drilling
Overall, we think the Nest Hello is a truly high-end video doorbell. The hardware itself was impressive, with its superb camera and stylish design. On top of that, it offered a compelling set of smart features, like person alerts, facial recognition, and activity zones. And with the new Nest Aware subscription, it’s now a lot more practical to add cloud storage to the Nest Hello and other Nest cameras. Sure, the Nest Hello is one of the more expensive video doorbells you can buy, plus it requires a monthly fee if you want access to its full features, but in our expert opinion, the Nest Hello is well worth it.
Nest Hello Doorbell FAQs
Is there a monthly fee for the Nest Hello?
There’s no required monthly fee for Nest Hello; you’ll be able to access your recorded footage for three hours on the house, as well as livestream footage and control your device remotely through the Nest app. However, you can pay separate fees for storage or professional monitoring. 30 days of cloud storage costs $6 a month or $60 a year, while 60 days costs $12 a month or $120 a year. Professional monitoring and cellular backup cost either $29 a month if you sign up for a monthly contract, or $19 a month if you sign up for a yearly contract.
Is Ring better than Nest?
In terms of doorbells, Nest is better than Ring in terms of video and artificial intelligence capabilities.
Does the Nest doorbell have a battery?
The Nest Hello video doorbell doesn’t have a battery. Rather, it’ll be hardwired into your home and requires a wired doorbell, chime and a 16-24VAC.
KXLH. (2019). How to defeat the porch pirates. kxlh.com/news/national/hot-to-defeat-the-porch-pirates
ABC7. (2017). Officers across US warn communities about ‘knock-knock burglars;' 2 arrested in Park Ridge. abc7chicago.com/knock-knock-burglaries-texas-houston/1804014/