BOT Home Automation Doorbot review: This smart doorbell sends signals straight to your phone

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7

The Good BOT Home Automation's Doorbot is a doorbell, camera, and intercom hybrid. Use the related Doorbot app to see live video of whoever just buzzed your front door and chat with them via two-way talk.

The Bad The video quality is lacking and the app's "hold to talk" button is inconsistent at best.

The Bottom Line Doorbot is an excellent idea poorly executed -- hold off for now and hope that this glitchy device improves with time.

5.6 Overall
  • Features 6
  • Usability 5
  • Design 7
  • Performance 4

BOT Home Automation's $200 (available internationally for about £120, AU$215) Doorbot is an all-in-one security and convenience device -- with companion app -- that gives you front door visibility and communication capabilities whether you're home or away. Replace your current doorbell with Doorbot, connect it to your home Wi-Fi, download the Android or iOS app, and receive alerts whenever someone buzzes your front door. Thanks to Doorbot's built-in video camera and speaker-and-mic combo, you can also see live footage of visitors and chat with them without opening your door.

In contrast to these promising features, I experienced poor video quality and found the two-way talk feature completely unusable. While a Doorbot-style product definitely has a place in the smart home market, I'd skip this model and look for future iterations with improved performance.

Doorbot is an 8.1-ounce (230g) outdoor-rated device that measures 1.30 inches deep by 2.4 inches wide by 5.7 inches tall (3.3cm by 6cm by 14.5cm). It has a silver finish and a solid build. You have two installation options -- hardwire it directly to your existing doorbell cables to avoid any low-battery concerns, or rely on the built-in battery for power and recharge it roughly once a year with the included USB charger.

The setup process, including installation, took about 20 minutes. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

I downloaded the Doorbot app on my iPhone 5 to start the setup process. Doorbot is compatible with iOS 6.1 or later and version 2.3 or later on Android devices, and can operate on 3G, 4G, LTE, and Wi-Fi (both home and away). That means that you should be able to see who's at your front door whether you're sitting on the couch at home or on vacation thousands of miles away.

Next, I created an account, named my Doorbot, provided my time zone information, removed my old doorbell, and mounted the new one. I installed my review unit at home and simply used some strong two-sided tape to mount it to the door frame. You'll definitely want to mount it properly for a more permanent install, but this worked well for testing. Since my old doorbell wasn't wired in, I didn't have to deal with hardwiring at all.

The app then instructs you to press the doorbell button, causing the LED ring around it to flash blue. Select the Doorbot Wi-Fi network in your settings, wait for the app to prompt you to enter your home Wi-Fi information, and let it connect. Now you're ready to use Doorbot.

Blue LEDs illuminate when you ring the doorbell. Colin West McDonald/CNET