SkyBell – Six Weeks Later
We have been using our SkyBell now for about six weeks and now that the initial excitement has worn off, I thought it would be useful to write a short review.
The installation was ok. The instructions and online resources are very clear. For me, the hardest part was not installing the unit itself, it was figuring out how to mount it on the stucco.
Taking out the regular doorbell was easy. First, you turn off the power to your doorbell. Then you unscrew the old bell and disconnect the two wires. To install the SkyBell, connect the two wires then mount it in the old doorbell’s place. Both wires are the same. Make sure you follow their directions and don’t touch the high voltage wire.
Once installed, the bell rings inside the house the normal way. You can set it up to ring or not using the Do Not Disturb feature on the SkyBell app. I accidentally turned this on at first and we spent a few days wondering why the bell didn’t ring.
Setting up the app
The directions are very clear for setting up the app. I set it up on our iPad, my iPhone, and my wife’s, as well as our family android tablet. All of them ring when someone rings the bell. All the apps are basically identical. The UI is ok but not great, they all seem a bit too complicated. All of the users need to login to one account, for instance my wife has to login with my user credentials. This is ok but it would be better if there could be multiple users.
The SkyBell in action
When someone rings the bell, you get a notification that someone is ringing the bell on your device(s). And this is where the experience breaks down. By the time you see the alert, unlock the phone, and open the app, the person has left. It simply takes too long from notification to seeing and talking to the person. The other issue is that I have is that I have to push a button to talk. When I launch the app, I should just be able to see and talk to the person without pressing the button. This is not a walkie talkie.
Construction of the device
The device is plastic, it looks like cheap, seems like it should be metal or at least a nicer grade plastic. The camera is also terrible, it reminds me of a 20 year old web cam. It does the job, however, I can see the people clearly at the door.
SkyBell is a great concept and our guests are impressed with the device when they visit. We have had several people ask what it is and where they can get one. I feel that the app should be easier to access and the camera needs to be improved. I am looking forward to SkyBell adding the additional features they have promised, such as being able to look and listen without ringing the bell. It would also be nice if it just emailed or texted a photo automatically when the bell rings. Maybe then I could see what the UPS driver really looks like.