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Smart Home

Maximus' new video doorbell uses two cameras to watch for packages

A second, downward-facing camera lets you see if there's a package waiting for you at your doorstep.

The Maximus Answer is a video doorbell with a second, downward-facing camera that keeps an eye out for packages at your doorstep.

Maximus

We're expecting to see all sorts of new products that want to wire a camera into your home at CES 2019 here in Las Vegas. Today, a new product from a home security company called Maximus has an idea on how to stand out: Wire two cameras into your home.

I'll spare you the obvious "double down" cliches. I don't always show such restraint.

The product is the Maximus Answer DualCam Video Doorbell, and it'll cost $199 when it arrives in the US in the second quarter of the year. As the name suggests, it's a video doorbell with two motion-sensing, 1080p HDR cameras in it. One faces forward like usual -- the other angles down to give you a fuller view of who's at your door, or to let you see if there's a package waiting for you. Maximus calls it the first smart doorbell to feature a dual-camera design, and unless I'm missing one, I think that's right.

I also think it sounds like a pretty good idea. Fear of package theft is a common motivator for video doorbell sales, and the second, downward-facing camera leans right into that part of the pitch. Beyond that, some people simply have a habit of constantly checking and rechecking to see if a package they're expecting has arrived. With a feed that's viewable on your phone, the Answer's extra camera might help scratch that itch.

Beyond the two cameras, the Maximus Answer includes a built-in, echo-cancelling microphone and speaker for remote, two-way talk with anyone at your door. When they ring the bell, you'll get a notification on your phone that you can open to jump straight to the feed. Maximus calls the doorbell's front-facing speaker "music quality," and says that in addition to talking through it from your phone, you can program it to play a customizable message or greeting when someone rings. That sounds like some potential fun for trick-or-treaters next Halloween.

Maximus was formerly known as Kuna, so you'll control the doorbell from the Kuna app, which also manages other Maximus products. That includes the Maximus Camera Floodlight, which CNET's Megan Wollerton liked when she reviewed the thing last year. Like that product, the Answer video doorbell syncs with Alexa and the Google Assistant, and it also lets you view the previous 2 hours of footage from your cameras for free. If you want to go further back than that, you'll need to pay a service fee that starts at $7.50 per month.

One other note about the app -- it'll let you view the feed from both cameras at the same time. That sounds fine I suppose, but I wonder if it'll lead to laggier performance during playback. For Maximus' part, the company says that the Answer is enabled by Ambarella's quad-core S5L-4K chip, and promises low latency and a fast connection to the Kuna app. You can bet that's something we'll be sure to test out at the CNET Smart Home.

In addition to the new doorbell, Maximus also plans to release a new Camera Porch Light sometime later in 2019. No price for that one yet, but among other tweaks, it'll offer improved camera resolution, an upgraded motion sensor and a wider field of view than previous Maximus smart security lights.

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