I was not really excited about the RCA Smart Doorbell when I first saw it as I am a very happy Ring Video Doorbell user. I have to say that I was a bit put off by the RCA brand name and did not expect much because of it. Well I am glad I installed in in my test environment because I was pleasantly surprised by it. Let’s talk about what I found.
When I opened the package up it was very nice to see that they include four different colored faceplates making to match your home. The RCA Smart Doorbell is also small, which is never a bad thing. In its small size however is a 1080P camera with night vision and 180-degree field of view. As with other video doorbells the RCA Smart Doorbell includes two-way audio allowing you to communicate with the visitor at your door. Inside the RCA Smart Doorbell is also 16gb of storage for video and this can be expanded via a microSD card slot. These are both things that you do not really see in a video doorbell, everything is done in the cloud. I am not really sure how I feel about local storage on a device like this but I am not excited except for the fact that this local storage allows integration with popular camera software Blue Iris.
The RCA Smart Doorbell needs to be hardwired to a wired doorbell system. I tested the RCA Smart Doorbell using a 16v doorbell transformer and had no power issues (nor would I expect any) If you do not have an existing wired doorbell system you will need to either have one installed or go with a battery powered device like the Ring Video Doorbell 2.
With the RCA Smart Doorbell installed I easily got the RCA Security App and got an account set up in minutes. The app itself is simple and easy to use and has a decent layout but you can tell that not a lot of development resources really went into it as it just seems to be lacking polish. When you first launch the app after setup you are brought to a screen showing a small thumbnail of the image your camera is seeing. This thumbnail is not a static image but rather a live view which is nice. You can then click into this and get to your full playback options, this is also where you would have the ability to view the camera in full screen if only they had given you some information on how to do that. Well after some playing around I found that if you simply rotate your phone into landscape the video rotates and scales to full screen. With that aside the RCA Security App is simple and nice, even a bit refreshing to be able to quickly get into videos. What I do not like about the RCA Security App (at least in Android) is the persistent notification when motion is detected or someone rings the bell. You can not dismiss this notification from the Android notification bar and is very annoying.
Now let’s talk about the actual performance. The picture being 1080P is perfectly crisp and clear although night vision is a little dark for my liking. The RCA Smart Doorbell picks up motion very well even at night and have a very good field of view, I was able to trip the motion sensor in the dark walking up to it from the side fairly easily. I was impressed by the video performance but very underwhelmed by the audio performance. First when someone rings the RCA Smart Doorbell they get in response a very low, barley noticeable tone from it. Why even have it make a sound if you can barely hear it. Also, when using the two-way audio functionality people could barely hear me. I will point out however that the two-way audio in the other direction worked very well. I could easily hear what they were saying, and the audio was clear. This needs to go both ways. I was thinking there must be a volume control in the app for this, but I would not find one anywhere.
In the end the RCA Smart Doorbell is a decent offering and at the price point of $150 should certainly be considered. Yes, there are some audio issues that I was not that impressed with but I think that can be overcome.
Is anyone using the RCA Smart Doorbell? Let me know in the comments below.
I am passionate about the IoT and connected devices. Using connectivity to automate our lives will empower civilization to achieve greatness.