Editors' note (April 26, 2019): August has recalled its View Doorbell Camera due to performance issues. Find out more.
The $230 View Doorbell Camera deviates from August's previous smart buzzers. In addition to its revamped rectangular design, this model also uses rechargeable batteries.
Unlike August's first attempt at the category, you can immediately tell that the rectangular View is a doorbell. August's other doorbell is square -- yes, the square Doorbell Cam Pro will continue to be sold. While unique-looking, it isn't always clear that the square Doorbell Cam Pro, in fact, a doorbell. It doesn't easily fit on a standard door frame either.
That's all changed with the August View.
The View works with Alexa and Google Assistant -- and comes with its own plug-in chime, since this model won't connect to your existing mechanical or digital chime. Its camera streams crisp HD video and has clear two-way audio. You can use the View in conjunction with August smart locks, too.
Bonus: August's "Basic Plan" gives you 24 hours of 5-second video clips for free, although there's also an optional fee for video storage plans.
I unfortunately experienced some significant lag time -- usually about 15 seconds -- between clicking on the feed and actually seeing the live video. The motion alerts weren't the fastest, either. These two issues make it difficult to view motion activity or talk with someone in real time.
August's View Doorbell Camera is a good buzzer that best suits folks who don't have -- or don't want to deal with -- electrical wiring, but lag time makes it a bit harder to recommend than its main competitor, the Ring Video Doorbell 2. (Neither product is widely available outside of the US.)
A new August buzzer
The August app did a great job guiding me through the set up and installation of the View and the included Chime accessory. Select "Set up a new device," then pick the product type -- and then the specific product to get started.
Since the View isn't a hardwired device, the installation is simple, too. You need to make sure the included rechargeable battery is charged and you might have to drill new holes for mounting the doorbell, but it's otherwise very easy.
I haven't conducted a long-term battery test on this doorbell (yet), but it's supposed to last about three months. I've been using it for a few days and the battery is still full, which is a promising start. The battery may take 2 to 4 hours to charge, depending on your adapter.
Here's a look at how August's View compares to other smart buzzers:
Comparing smart doorbells
|August View Doorbell Camera||Ring Video Doorbell 2||Ring Video Doorbell Pro||Nest Hello Video Doorbell|
|Color finish||Black, red, white, blue, brass, satin nickel, midnight gray, bronze||Satin nickel, venetian (both finishes included with purchase)||Satin nickel, venetian, satin black, pearl white||White and black|
|Power source||Removable, rechargeable battery||Hardwired or removable, rechargeable battery||Hardwired||Hardwired|
|Resolution||1,920x1,440 pixels||1,920x1,080 pixels||1,920x1,080 pixels||1,600x1,200 pixels|
|Field of view||No information||160 degrees||160 degrees||160 degrees|
|Cloud storage||Yes, free basic plan, plus 15-day storage for $3 per month and 30-day storage for $5 per month||Yes, 60-day storage for $3 per month||Yes, 60-day storage for $3 per month||Yes, free 3-hour image history; continuous recording starting at $5 per month|
|Mobile app||Android and iPhone||Android and iPhone||Android and iPhone||Android and iPhone|
|Alerts||Motion||Motion||Motion||Motion, person, facial recognition (with Nest Aware)|
|Activity zones||No||Yes||Yes||Yes (with Nest Aware)|
|Dimensions (HxWxD)||5.2 x 1.8 x 1.3 inches||5.1 x 2.5 x 1.1 inches||4.5 x 1.9 x 0.8 inches||4.6 x 1.7 x 1.0 inches|
|Third-party integrations||Alexa; Google Assistant; Nest||Alexa; IFTTT; Wink||Alexa; IFTTT; Wink||Alexa; Google Assistant; Nest|
|Operating temperature range||-4 to 122 degrees F||-5 to 120 degrees F||-5 to 120 degrees F||14 to 104 degrees F|
The View is priced the same as the Nest Hello, but is a very different product. The View is battery-powered compared to the Hello's hardwired installation. The View also offers free 24-hour access to saved video clips, whereas Nest requires a subscription to its Nest Aware cloud service for that functionality.
The View has a wide variety of swappable face plates, too, if you want to mix up the color finish of your doorbell.
August's doorbell is most similar to the Ring Video Doorbell 2 since that model is also battery-powered. The Ring model, however, can be hardwired -- or powered via battery. While the Ring doorbell is less expensive up front, you have to pay $3 per month for access to Ring's cloud storage service to view any saved video clips.
The View will work with Alexa and Google Assistant at launch, but it did not work for me while using the beta app for testing. Once online, you'll be able to get announcements that someone's at the door on your Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled smart speaker.
Overall, the View performed pretty well. The live feed was clear and the two-way audio was easy to hear, although I could hear my voice echo through my phone on a delay after talking to CNET video producer Chris Monroe on the other end.
There was one main issue. An awkward message that appeared when I clicked on the "watch live" button in the app. It read: "Connecting to your August View, please be patient, this takes about 15 seconds."
The message didn't pop up every time, but even so, I typically experienced at least a 10-second wait between selecting "watch live" and actually seeing the feed. Because of this, I regularly missed the motion activity that made me click on the live feed in the first place.
I didn't experience similar lag issues with the other buzzers I've tested, including the battery-powered Ring Video Doorbell 2.
August's $230 View Doorbell Camera is a big improvement over the August's Doorbell Cam Pro. Its rectangular shape makes it look more like a doorbell and makes it easier to fit on a standard doorframe. Factor in the rechargeable battery, and you have a decent doorbell that looks nice and is easy to install and use.
The live feed's prolonged boot-up period makes it harder to recommend, though. Yes, the delay is there to help preserve battery life, but it's frustrating to get a motion alert and then experience a long wait time to actually see the live feed. The free 24-hour video clips save the View from its annoying lag time (slightly), since you can still review things even if you missed them in action.
Even so, waiting so long to view a live feed is a significant drawback. The August View is still worth considering if you're in the market for a decent battery-powered buzzer. But also take a look at the Ring Video Doorbell 2; it didn't have the same lag time, but you have to pay for cloud storage to access any saved footage.