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August View review: August smart doorbell has an easy-breezy install

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The Good The $230 August View Doorbell Camera has an improved, rectangular design and a simple installation with a removable, rechargeable battery (rather than wires).

The Bad The video feed takes a long time to boot up in the app, ensuring you'll miss motion activity in real time.

The Bottom Line August's smart doorbell is a decent battery-powered buzzer, but significant lag times slow it down.

7.1 Overall
  • Features 8
  • Usability 7
  • Design 7
  • Performance 6

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. 

It's easy to set up a new product in the August app.

Screenshots by CNET

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. 

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