This doorbell lets you see who's at your front door, even when you're not home

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Tech Guide

This doorbell lets you see who's at your front door, even when you're not home

A new smart doorbell installed!
Todd Haselton | CNBC
A new smart doorbell installed!
  • The August Doorbell Cam Pro is a really great way to keep an eye on your front stoop
  • It replaces your existing doorbell and requires some wiring
  • It works really well with August's Smart Locks, too.

The August Doorbell Cam Pro is a "smart doorbell" that replaces your existing one and lets you see who's at your door, even if you're not home.

I spent the past few days installing and testing the Cam Pro and, while I had a few setup issues that were my fault, I've walked away really impressed with the experience. I also think it's the smart doorbell most people should buy, since it works so well with August's smart locks. We'll dive into that later.

Here's a bit more on the August Doorbell Cam Pro.

What is a smart doorbell, anyway?

The August Doorbell Cam Pro
Todd Haselton | CNBC
The August Doorbell Cam Pro

Th August Doorbell Cam Pro is a small metal square with built-in cameras and a floodlight for brightening up your doorway if someone rings the doorbell at night. If a visitor presses the center button, the doorbell in your house will ring and you'll get an alert on your phone that lets you see who's at the door. You can talk to whoever's there.

Installation

My quaint old doorbell sure looks friendlier, but it's time to go
Todd Haselton | CNBC
My quaint old doorbell sure looks friendlier, but it's time to go

Unlike the Ring Video Doorbell 2, which CNBC recently reviewed, the August Doorbell Cam Pro takes a bit of know-how to get going. If you're scared of electrical work, you might want to hire a professional to do the install (which costs about $150). If you can deal with removing your own doorbell and connecting two wires, then you're in good shape.

Removing my old doorbell
Todd Haselton | CNBC
Removing my old doorbell

First, I connected the August Doorbell Cam Pro to my Wi-Fi and proceeded through the setup steps inside the August app. This part was easy.

Then I had to remove my old doorbell.

Installation is easier than it looks!
Todd Haselton | CNBC
Installation is easier than it looks!

Not knowing much about electrical work. I turned off the entire circuit breaker to my old house. You're supposed to just flip off the circuit for a specific room or set of appliances, but I messed that part up. Doing so broke it -- I live in a house built in 1927 -- and I had to pay an electrician $250 to get everything back up and running. Aside from that hiccup, the rest of the installation was easy.

A new smart doorbell installed!
Todd Haselton | CNBC
A new smart doorbell installed!

Eventually, I connected two wires and a small included bumper plate that helps the camera angle properly toward a potential visitor. After popping the main August component on, I was finished.

What's good about it?

August vs. Ring
Todd Haselton | CNBC
August vs. Ring

I like that the August Doorbell Cam Pro is hardwired and that I don't need to worry about recharging a battery, which I had to do with the Ring Video Doorbell 2 because of its location (it can also be hard wired.) I also like its premium metal design, though it certainly looks a lot more intimidating than my old quaint doorbell did.

I can see a live view of my door whenever I want, even at work
Todd Haselton | CNBC
I can see a live view of my door whenever I want, even at work

It's particularly useful if you also have an August Smart Lock, which I installed in place of my traditional lock on my front door using little more than a screw driver. You can use the same app to see who's at the door and let them in.

This is convenient if you're upstairs and a family member comes by. Just open the app and unlock the door. It even works if you're not home, like if a dog walker can't get in the house.

I can monitor and unlock my door from anywhere
Todd Haselton | CNBC
I can monitor and unlock my door from anywhere

Finally, while it doesn't have night vision support, the doorbell does have a bright built-in floodlight. It's really bright and works well, but could be a bit of a turn-off if a friend or family member happens to be coming by at night. Do you really want to blast them with a floodlight?

What's bad?

I love that the doorbell has a constant source of power, but that meant I needed to place it pretty much exactly where my old doorbell was (unless I wanted to do some of my own construction). The Ring Doorbell 2, on the other hand, can be stuck anywhere.

This also meant that the August doorbell had to be placed within a small vestibule of my front door, instead of outside where I'd prefer to have placed it. I supposed I could have worked to rewire it completely to the outside, but that would require a lot more work.

I also found that there was a bit of a delay, about 10-20 seconds or so, while connecting to the camera when I wasn't home. This isn't a huge deal, but I wish it were faster. Thankfully, it takes a snapshot whenever someone rings the doorbell, or if it sees motion, so you won't miss any action if you can't jump in soon enough.

Should you buy it?

The August Doorbell Cam Pro in its box
Todd Haselton | CNBC
The August Doorbell Cam Pro in its box

I'm really into smart doorbells right now and I like the August Doorbell Cam Pro over the Ring Video Doorbell 2, which was also pretty good. That's primarily because it's capable of syncing with the August smart lock, which makes it extra useful. It's the same price as the Ring Video Doorbell 2, $199.

If you're at all interested in seeing who's at your door -- or maybe who's swiping packages from your front stoop -- and you think you might want to get a smart lock, too, then go with the August Doorbell Cam Pro.