Gadget Review: Eufy Video Doorbell


Two years ago, I got a DophiGo DV-200 WiFi Doorbell. It's been OK, but I was hankering for an upgrade. Something with a more reliable app and better video / audio quality.

About a year ago, I got a Eufy Security Camera System. It has been excellent. The main advantage is that it comes with its own hub. That gives it a dedicated wireless channel and it stores my videos locally!

It turns out there's a Eufy Doorbell addon which pairs with the base station. So I got that for £129.

Cool features

  • Local storage. I don't want Amazon - or anyone else - scrolling through my videos.
  • Alexa integration. OK, I'm a hypocrite! When someone rings the doorbell, my Alexas say "There's somebody at the door."
  • Battery, wired, or USB. It should last 6 months on its internal battery. It can be recharged via micro-USB - or it can be permanently wired in with a standard doorbell connection.
  • Mobile alerting - on multiple phones. My phone and my wife's phone both pop up an alert when someone rings the doorbell. We get a thumbnail of who is there and can answer the call.
  • Two-way comms. When I answer the alert, I can speak to whoever is at the door and they can speak to me.
  • Night vision. Bunch of IR LEDs to give a lovely black-and-white image.
  • Standard doorbell fitting. It came with some rawlplugs and screws. The mounting holes are the same distance as any standard doorbell or knocker.
  • 2048x1536 resolution - about 2MB per minute of video using H256. Mono AAC 16kHz audio.

eufy doorbell using an echo as a chime.

Downsides

There are a few things that I think could be improved.

  • Too easy to remove. The backing plate attaches to the door with a couple of screws. But the video unit simply clips into it! To remove, insert a paperclip in the hole at the bottom. I'd have preferred another screw. In truth, I'm not sure there's much of a market for stolen video doorbells. And the motion sensor means I'll have a video of whoever has nicked it.
  • Phone battery drain. The Eufy app is generally pretty good - although a bit complex. But it sits in the background listening for an alert from the home base. This is a problem with any app like this.
  • Alert latency. There can be a slight delay in receiving the alert on the phone. I haven't tried this in anger yet - I wonder how well it would work if I was in another country on a 3G network?
  • Video frame rate is only about 14fps. That's good enough - but I was expecting a bit more. Still, I guess it makes it quicker to stream.

Social Issues

This is the big one. Does your courier or postie want to be recorded? What about your neighbours?

I can't angle my doorbell away from the public highway, but I can set a "detection zone". So it only stores a clip if someone is literally halfway up my driveway.

Most of my neighbours seem to have video doorbells, so I guess they can't really complain if mine picks them up.

I could argue that there's some protection for couriers - my camera will see if someone else stole my parcel.

As an individual, I'm not a data controller. So I don't think I have a legal duty to inform people they're being recorded and get their consent. But what about a moral duty? The camera has a fairly obvious lens and a LED ring - so most people will know what it is. It doesn't constantly record the whole street - it only activates if someone is close enough, or presses the button. Perhaps I need a EULA printed to stick next to it?

I've written before about sousveillance - the idea that individuals can take advantage of technology to engage in the surveillance of those who have power over them. I want to protect myself against abuse, theft, and corruption. There is a risk that someone could spot my undesirable behaviour.

This is the world we appear to be in now. I'm reasonably confident that no one has access to my doorbell's videos other than me - which is some comfort.

Ultimately, if you have a piece of technology, it can be used for you or against you.

But, if you're in the market for something to watch over your front door, the Eufy cam probably strikes the right balance between features, convenience, and personal privacy.

Discount!

The Eufy 2k is around £130. There's a £40 discount when you use my referral link.


5 thoughts on “Gadget Review: Eufy Video Doorbell

  1. Neil says:

    As an individual, I'm not a data controller.

    Not necessarily (although, based on your analysis, your risk seems pretty low).

    I've written some thoughts up here: https://neilzone.co.uk/2021/11/cctv-or-ip-cameras-outside-your-home-and-the-uk-gdpr

    (The Fairhurst v Woodard judgment, above, was one of the triggers for this. The judge did not regard the Ring doorbell as a problem (i.e. its use was justified) in that case, but then the case did not consider the so-called "domestic purposes" exemption anyway.)

  2. Pavel says:

    Do you have any thoughts on storing this data on a server you control that's not the homebase? The documentation speaks a little bit about NAS-storage (which is not supported by the doorbell, apparently) but I don't know if I can pull the files off of the SD card in the Homebase without physically pulling it out and reading it with another device - I don't suppose it supports SSH access or something like that?

    1. @edent says:

      I haven't done a deep dive into it. But you can pull the videos off using the app, and download them onto your phone. So there is an official API for getting videos.

      1. pavel says:

        Awesome, thank you! If I figure a more automated solution, I'll try to remember to pop back by here.

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