As part of my transition to HomeKit, I ripped out my Nest Hello doorbell last week. The replacement? Logitech’s $200 Circle View Doorbell with HomeKit Secure Video (HSV) support. Not only was this the easiest connected device I’ve ever installed in my smart home, it works great, offers high-quality video both during day and night time, and ensures that my video feeds are secure.
While there may be fewer connected device choices that support HomeKit, I can see the benefits when you find one that you want. I’ve been using smart devices for a decade and I can’t understate this enough: The simplicity of adding a device to your home is unmatched.
Sure there’s the standard dealing with wires for a doorbell like this That doesn’t change with the Circle View Doorbell. For me, it was an easy process since I already had a Nest Hello outside my front door.
To replace it, I removed the Nest, attached the two doorbell wires to the included angle bracket of the Logitech, and snapped the Circle View Doorbell to the bracket. Done. I do wish the angle bracket provided more than the 20-degrees of tilt though.
I have to stress there was a key step prior to all of that which made everything else so much simpler.
After unboxing the Circle View Doorbell, I was instructed to plug in a micro-USB cord for power. Then, I placed my iPhone 12 on top of the doorbell’s front face, where the NFC radio inside my iPhone “found” the doorbell.
That usually begins the typically frustrating setup process of adding the doorbell to my home and connecting it to my Wi-Fi network in the device maker’s app. Only this time, there was no third-party app. The Circle View Doorbell only works with the native Apple Home app.
I didn’t have to enter wireless network credentials or even pick a network: All of that information is available to the doorbell through my phone. So it was just a matter of choosing the doorbell name and room location.
Note that I did have one hiccup here: The doorbell connected to my 5 GHz Wi-Fi network but it needs 2.4 GHz at first to be properly setup. Yes, I had to disable 5 GHz on my Eero 6 Pro to resolve it, just like I did with the Meross HomeKit Dual smart plug last month.
Aside from a quick firmware update that automatically happened, that was it. And that’s why I could simply swap out the Nest with the Logitech: Once connected to my doorbell wiring, the doorbell just worked.
How well does it work? Really well, although like any video doorbell you need to tweak your settings or run the risk of getting notifications each time a shadow or blade of grass moves within range of the camera.
I set up a custom activity zone to cut down on false positive notifications. I also configured the camera to record clips of people and animals but no record or notify me when it sees vehicles. Again, all of this is done in the Apple Home app where the camera settings are integrated.
This can also be a downside though: Some advanced customization options weren’t available in early versions of the Apple Home app. I’m running the latest iOS 14 beta and had some device options that others don’t. Simply put: You’re depending on Apple directly, and Logitech indirectly, to integrate new features.
After a barrage of tests, I couldn’t fool the camera which also has a motion sensor; you can disable motion if you just want a standard video doorbell but I like the head’s up before someone gets to my front porch. And you can use that motion sensor to setup automations, such as turn on a connected front porch light.
My wife and I have all notifications set up to ping our iPhones and our Apple Watches. We haven’t missed a notification yet. When the doorbell rings, our devices let us know and we can use either the phone or the watch to see who’s there or have a two-way conversation. Audio quality is about average but it works. Oh and our HomePod mini acts as a doorbell chime too (so does the original HomePod).
Logitech includes a chime connector that you can wire to your existing doorbell chime. There are a handful of wires you need to connect for this, just like the Nest Hello connector we previously used.
I set it up in about 10 minutes and it does work but we decided to pull it out. We can make do with the phone, watch and HomePod mini notifications, which don’t seem to set our dog off when the old doorbell chime rings. That’s just a personal choice but it solves a problem for us: No more crazy dog when someone comes to the front door.
Camera quality on this doorbell is quite good. Logitech opted for wide view optics that can show a person from head to toe in most cases.
With HDR support, daytime output looks rich and clear while the night-vision mode brings color support, similar to the latest outdoor Wyze Cam I reviewed in October. There is a 300 lux white LED bar to assist with night vision that you can turn off if you want, but it does help when on.
For the privacy-focused folks out there, the Logitech Circle View camera does keep all video clips in the cloud. But it uses HomeKit Secure Video (HSV), which is fully encrypted by Apple.
Besides, I was already paying $0.99 each for two 50 GB plans that the kids used. For an extra buck, we got HSV support and another 100 GB of storage, with the total now shared between four people.
Even better, the HSV storage doesn’t count against your account.
Clips are stored for up to 10 days, which is plenty of time for most people. On the downside: Only one HSV camera is included with the 200 GB plan. If you have two to five HSV cameras, you need to pony up for the 2 TB plan at $9.99 a month.
Overall, if you’re in the HomeKit ecosystem and want a secure video doorbell, the Logitech Circle View is a great choice.
Granted, I haven’t yet tested any competing HomeKit doorbells. But this works so well, I almost don’t want to.