Nest Hello review: Google’s smart facial-recognition video doorbell

Goolge

Google’s new Nest Hello is a video doorbell that aims to be smarter than the rest with constant recording, face and object recognition.

The Hello is a direct replacement for a wired doorbell, working with an existing chime and requiring constant power, making it one of the high-end options for smart doorbells.

That need for power restricts where you can put it, unlike some more flexible options such as the battery-powered Ring Video Doorbell 2, but enables some much more powerful features.

What is it?

The Hello is a simple-looking modern doorbell featuring one large button with a glowing blue ring around it and a camera above it. It’s about twice the size of a traditional doorbell and is screwed directly into the wall.

When someone approaches the door the light ring pulses around the doorbell button, enticing them to push it. The doorbell fires off the connected chime when pushed, but also sends a notification to your phone and can make any of your Google Home smart speakers sound an alert too.

You can then choose to ignore the caller, hit buttons in the app to read out an automated message (options are: “You can leave it”; “We’ll be right there”, and, a little abruptly, “No one can come to the door”) or talk through the doorbell to the caller using your phone.

Installation

If you have a wired doorbell with the correct voltage transformer, then switching it out for the Nest Hello is as simple as unscrewing the old one, disconnecting two wires, drilling two holes in the wall, screwing the backplate in place, reconnecting the wires to the back of the Hello and clipping it in place. It’ll take you about five to 10 minutes to do guided by a setup routine in the Nest app on your Android or iPhone.

That’s the easy way. Unfortunately it turns out that the Hello needs a transformer outputting a voltage between 16 and 24V AC that isn’t commonly used in British homes, which means you’ll probably need a new transformer and an electrician to install it for you.

Then there are the homes with no wired doorbell, like mine, which require not only a transformer to be installed, but a chime and all the wiring too – a process that can take several hours and will need a qualified electrician to do the work.

Google sells the Hello either on its own or with professional installation, but that installation only covers replacing an existing wired doorbell with the Nest Hello and swapping out the transformer, if required. To get an electrician to install all the wiring necessary if you don’t have a wired doorbell already requires organising separately.

Using it

Once the Hello is installed, using it is incredibly simple. Like the Nest Thermostat, if you never really use any of the “smart” functionality, the Hello functions like a really snazzy doorbell. And it isn’t a worse doorbell than the existing wired one it replaces, which isn’t always the case with smart home devices.

When someone hits the button it will fire off the chime and an alert to your phone, plus any Google Assistant smart speakers you might have too. If you’re in the home most of the time you’ll probably just glance at the image of who is there in the notification and simply answer the door in person.

But if you don’t know who it is – someone trying to sell you a new religion or political party – you can talk to them straight through the Nest app on your phone. Tapping the notification takes you to a live feed from the door with a button to answer and talk to the caller, a button to play a selection of pre-recorded messages or the option to ignore the caller.

It works in or outside of the home, as long as you have an internet connection on your phone. You can also access a live stream from the camera at any time through the Nest app or through compatible smart displays such as Amazon’s Echo Show.

Leave a Reply