360 Video Doorbell Review

Note: Please, be aware that this post may contain affiliate links.

This review is for the 360 video doorbell, which is a cheap(ish) video doorbell

Details

An image of the fully boxed 360 video doorbell in its packaging. beside it and recessed in its packaging is the chime kit and also the key to dismount it from the wall
All boxed up, and no-one to serve

I’ll post the official stats for you until I can get around to doing an update. As soon as I’ve used this doorbell for a while, I’ll update this post with more real-life figures.

Camera Resolution

The 360 video doorbell is an HD doorbell, with a resolution of 1536×1376 pixels, I have seen this doorbell billed as a “Full HD” Doorbell. I thought full HD was 1920×1080 but maybe it goes on mega-pixels, please, somebody correct me if I’m wrong.

Night Vision

Night vision is clear and automatically changes from daytime colour to night-time B&W.

Your Storage Options

In illustration of the 2 choices you have for storage. Lebelled number one, is an illustration of a blue cloud with the white outline of a video camera inside. Labelled number 2 and to the right-hand side of the picture is an image of a hand about to insert an S.D. card into the chime unit.

Option 1: 48-hour free cloud storage

One thing that I find intriguing is the 48-hour free cloud storage. Although the doorbell is from a Chinese company, cloud storage is located in the EU.

I’m a big believer in the old adage that if a product is free then you are the product. I looked at the T&Cs and the Privacy Policy before I completed registration, but I couldn’t see any negative conditions/statements.

It would be nice to know how this is being funded, though. Don’t get me wrong: I’m grateful, and for the time being, I will be taking advantage of the generous offer.

Option 2: SD Card storage

One of the things that I like is the ability to store videos/events on an SD-card located inside the chime-pack. This means that should you wish to – you could isolate your doorbell from other entities on your network.

2-way audio

An image of the doorbell attached to a wall with a blue triangle horizontally coming out of the doorbell with a sort of wifi signal, signifying the signal coming out of the unit. Below that is a picture of a hand holding a smart phone, with the doorbell app on the phone on the live view screen and the person at the door is actually showing on the app, and ready for a way conversation

This is not a feature I’ve used yet, but by the time I’ve posted an update, I will know what this is like. I’ll also know how it sounds, and I’ll be able to answer some of the other questions that you all don’t keep bombarding me with about the 360 video doorbell… will you start it already?

Wide-angle Camera

One of the things I really like about the camera/doorbell is the wide-angle of the lens, it is 162°. That means there’s a good cross-section of the view, but without making it look too much like a fish-eye lens. Again, you can look at the images in this post, in order to see what they look like.

Chime kit with WiFi Extender

The door chime kit that comes as part of the kit also acts as a WiFi extender.

It also comes with a variety of electrical socket connections so that it can be used internationally.

The last thing to note about the chime kit is a receptacle for the SD-card.

The chime kit is akin to the doorbell gateway. It communicates with the doorbell and then communicates with your app or the other apps associated with the account.

Vandalism/Removal Alarm

The 360 video doorbell itself comes with an alarm if it’s removed from the fixing

Easy Fixing to Wall

There are 2 options to fix the doorbell to the wall. Option 1 is attachment using 3M tape for flat surfaces. This is ideal for interior walls, such as outside apartments or flats etc.

Option 2 is where the plastic backing that the doorbell fixes onto is held onto the wall with 4 screws. There is a screw template that can be stuck to the wall. This does, however, mean that the doorbell backing/fixing is, in my opinion, extra secure.

Image of the doorbell pictured vertically & at an angle showing its front-left side. Behind it and at the same angle is the plastic bracket with 4 screw holes, 2 left, and 2 right. Behind that is a layer of 3M sticky tape at the same angle of the other 2 items. finally, there is a flat wall ready to have the doorbell fixed to it.
Tape or screws?

Once the fixing is secured to the wall, it’s as easy as just placing the doorbell against the fixing, slide it down and when you hear the click… it’s secure.

Unboxing

Setting It Up

The App

Step 1: Read the T&Cs and the Privacy Policy

Image a man with his hand in the air, and level with his face. He is sat down with his back against a wall, and is laughing.
Come on now, stop laughing!

Yes, you heard me right: I want you to read the T&Cs and the Privacy Policy… OK, at least skim them, at the very least.

Why these documents are important for the doorbell

The 360 video doorbell has the ability to recognise faces, that means that if you value your privacy, and the privacy of your family and the people at your door, you owe it to them to know what you are getting everybody into.

What do they say to a layperson?

I am just a layperson, with no legal background, and can only go with common sense with decisions like these. I suggest that you, at the very least do the same – even consult a legal professional if you’re in doubt.

As far as I can see, there is nothing bad in these documents. It sets out that you can delete the data that is uploaded just by asking, it does mention third parties, but it doesn’t mention anything about advertising or marketing.

Please, make sure that you read these documents yourself. There is an alternative to this. Once your account is set up and you are into the app. Isolate the doorbell, and make sure that no data is transmitted over the internet.

Step 2: Register

In order to set this doorbell, and chime kit up. You will need to register for an account to access the server. Registration is easy, but I did run into a few problems.

Password Strength

I prefer a password that is secure and hard to figure out (preferably 100 characters of all types and stored in the Lastpass Password Manager), but the registration process advises you NOT to use special characters as they may cause issues.

I must admit, that this doesn’t fill me with confidence with regards to the company, and a problem, that will lead me to do a little background digging.

Security

I must admit, that I have little experience with penetration testing (hacking), but one thing I will try to do is hack into this system, to see how strong it is, and how likely it is to dish out the video feed to anybody that want to view it.

My initial results are good, I couldn’t even find a way to get the feed showing from my CCTV software already on the network. There aren’t any open ports available from the system and I can’t find an RTSP feed or the sign of an ONVIF camera. I will keep trying though, as one thing I want to do it tie this doorbell, it’s video feed and actions/events into Home Assistant.

If I have success, then that’s partly good as I can get it working in Home Assistant within my local network, and it means I then know what to try and fix before the security leak gets out of my local network.

Conversely, if I don’t find a way into the system, this is also partly good. It means that I can’t get into the system and it’s secure with my limited ability, but it also means that I am unable to add it to Home Assistant.

Step 3: Pairing the Doorbell

Pairing the doorbell is easy, and the app walks you through the entire setup process, step by step. Instead of taking you through each step, the below image gallery should outline the procedure. I think all of the images are in the correct order, but I can’t promise.

Live-view

Access Recordings

You can easily access the recording on both the SD card and from the cloud. I have included both of them below

Daily Use

In daily use, you basically need to sit and wait for the doorbell to ring. Once you know the doorbell works ok, and you have it set up in the optimum position, you literally just sit and wait for the thing to go off.

Depending on your circumstances, and the sensitivity you have your doorbell set to will depend on how fast (or slowly) your doorbells battery drains.

Battery Life

I made the mistake of not turning off motion detection when I was setting up the doorbell, so by the time I had it on the wall, there was about 50% of the battery gone. That meant that it didn’t last as long as it could have done.

Therefore I haven’t based the battery life on the initial charge. Instead, I waited until it ran down and I gave it a full charge overnight. That means that I can get a real-life working timeline for the battery. I have a pavement running adjacent to the house about 2m away from the front door, so it’s set to “near”

Surprisingly, after fitting the fully-charged doorbell at 07:00 on Monday, it is now 23:12 on Wednesday, and the battery is down to 71%. I do feel that I am going to have to restart the exercise though, as I discovered tonight, that the doorbell for some reason has been offline since just after 02:30 this morning. I had to unplug and plug in the chime kit for it to work again.

With the above in mind, I am aware of a bug with many (at least) video doorbells, in that they have trouble reconnecting if the router restarts for some reason. That may have something to do with it or not. I will have to keep an eye on the situation.

Top Tips

  • While the doorbell is being set up I advise you to turn off motion detection, otherwise, the rest of the setup process, that involves moving the doorbell and being around it will mean that every time it detects you – it will trigger the recording process, take up storage (although that doesn’t really matter), but more importantly, it will drain the battery.
  • It can be tempting to keep the doorbell feed on, especially if you’re quite new to CCTV and video doorbells, or set the detection zone to “far”, or 3 meters, so that you get a good look at what sort of thing sets it off and whether the tree does make a noise when nobody is in the forest.
  • Go into the “Me” section of the 360 app, and go into the settings. Then go to “Message Notification”, and finally into “System Notifications”. Once in there, just disable “Safe guard Message Service Resident”. This will stop you having a permanent announcement in your notification tray (on Android – I don’t know about Apple devices)

Conclusion

So what are my thoughts on the doorbell? Well, I actually like it – here are the pros and cons of the 360 video doorbell.

Cons / Disadvantages

Translations

The app is obviously written by a person who speaks English as an additional language or the text is taken straight from translation software.
Most of the time, the words make it obvious what the function does.

There are times however when the translation just doesn’t make sense, sometimes leading to confusion.

It’s like when it’s saying one thing, but you know what its meant to be saying somehow… most of the time, anyway!

Privacy

I, personally do not like facial recognition: it has the potential to be a fantastic tool if used correctly, but I don’t think having it on a doorbell is the best use of this particular technology. I’m a strong believer in a users privacy, indeed, it was the reason I switched from Google Analytics to Matomo. I don’t want the biometric data of everyone who passes in front of the house captured because of this.

No RTSP/API/ONVIF facility

You may not understand the above terms, but they all boil down to one thing. It is very difficult to obtain the video feed without going into the app. I would ideally like to tie this doorbell into Home Assistant, but that is currently not possible.

At least there should be an authenticated endpoint that’s accessible over the local network that can be used to see when the doorbell rings. Websocket would be ideal for this.

Instead, there is no way to determine if the doorbell is ringing, obtain the video feed or anything else via Home Assistant or any third-party software.

Pros / Advantages

OK: I’ve had a bit of a rant, but there are quite a few things that I like about the 360 video doorbell.

Quality

Let’s start with the video quality: I think that the 162° 1536 x 1376px video is just right for a video doorbell. I haven’t reviewed any others, but I suspect that any bigger would be a bit of overkill. Remember that this video stream is being sent over your WiFi connection. There’s no point in using bandwidth that you may not need and may be used better on other data.

Similarly, the build quality is sturdy enough for its use case. The inclusion of 3M tape as a fixing medium for flat walls is a welcome addition.

Theft Guarantee

While looking through the questions and comments section of the 360 Video Doorbell, I noticed a question, which I later confirmed with 360. It said that if the doorbell was stolen in the first 12 months, they would send you a replacement free of charge. You would, however, need a police report.

Easy to Fit

If I lived in a flat or somewhere that had a solid flat wall then I would have been even more impressed with this doorbell than I was. As it is, I have a brick wall outside my front door, and so I had to put the doorbell on that. The screws were sturdy enough and did not snap as soon as pressure was applied.

Dismounting and re-mounting the 360 video doorbell is a breeze, you simply put the provided key into the top of the doorbell, slide it up and it comes off. You can then recharge the battery overnight. The procedure to put it back on is even easier as all you do is align it to the backplate and slide it down.

Want one for yourself

Just click on the image/link below, Dude!

Credits

Stop laughing photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

’til debt tear us apart photo by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

Grandadevans

I am a disabled veteran of 3 tours of Iraq and a tour of Afghanistan as part of the British Army. No longer able to work as I have to lay down on a sofa-bed in my living room 20-ish hours a day. I'm hoping to be able to make a living blogging about my Home Automation /Smart Home journey and maybe regain some dignity in life.

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