Nest says Hello with a new doorbell camera

A new doorbell camera named Hello brings the Google-affiliated company into a new product category.

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
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Nest showed off its new Hello Doorbell Camera at an event here in San Francisco Wednesday morning. The company says the camera can recognize both that someone is at your door and, more impressively, their face. 

Among the other features of the new camera, the Hello doorbell has a microphone and a speaker for two-way audio, an LED ring that can provide some front door illumination, a 4:3 HD camera with HDR capability for better image quality and a 160-degree field of view. It will communicate over both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. 

Watch this: Nest Hello doorbell camera can recognize your face

Nest has other camera products, including both indoor and outdoor cameras, including the new Nest Outdoor IQ Cam announced today as well. The Hello doorbell is its first new product category in a while, though. 

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Hello joins a field of smart doorbells that already have some traction with consumers. Ring has released multiple iterations of its successful Wi-Fi Doorbell line. August, Skybell and others also have competing products. None of those has face recognition. 

Other companies have tried to bring face recognition to cameras and doorbells. Netatmo's Welcome indoor security camera might be the most well known, but in our testing we found that its face recognition isn't that accurate. A few companies have promised doorbells with facial recognition technology, but none have yet delivered on the promise.

Person recognition, where a camera can tell the simple difference between a person and a dog or a car, has proven a bit easier. Nest's own IQ product line does a decent enough job of differentiating a person from some other moving object in the frame. If you pay the $10 a month to subscribe to the Nest Aware service, both the IQ line and the Hello doorbell can also recognize faces of individuals in your home, provided you give the device a little training.

Watch this: Nest unveils smart doorbell with HD camera

The Nest Aware subscription also gets you recorded video, like Nest offers with its existing cameras. The doorbell will store 3-hour blocks of still images for free, but for 24/7 video recording, you need to pay up. Other cameras charge a fee for that kind of recording as well. 

One other unique feature in the Hello is its prerecorded audio messages you can play to someone at your door, for when you're not free to have a remote conversation with that person directly. Using the same voice you hear with the Nest Protect smoke detector, you can send a message telling a delivery person to leave a package, for example. Nest also promises an integration between Hello and a co-branded smart lock from Yale, which looks an awful lot like the Yale Linus lock we've heard about for two years or so. 

Nest hasn't announced a price for the Hello, and it will only commit to a release in the first quarter of 2018.