SkyBell Video Doorbell review: The second-gen SkyBell is one stealthy door buzzer

SkyBell has a tutorial video showing how to do this, but this house had an intercom rather than a single dedicated chime, and its wiring was considerably more complex than what was outlined in the tutorial. As it turns out, the Digital Doorbell Adapter won't work with any intercom setup. So, not only are non-wired doorbell homes out of luck, homes with intercoms are too -- and non-intercom digital doorbell homes will have to install both the SkyBell and the adapter. Complicated.

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Inside the SkyBell app. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

From there, I tracked down a house with a basic mechanical rig and tried my luck there. Once installed, I didn't experience any of the frustrating, continuous bell-ringing that happened at the digital doorbell house. I configured it and the SkyBell began to work right away.

Physically ringing the bell and enabling the motion sensor feature all resulted in swift push alerts that linked directly to the 130-degree live feed. The quality wasn't spectacular, but it was consistent throughout testing and much better overall than Ring's laggy and streaky 720p. I also spent some time trying out the on-demand live streaming feature; this worked similarly well. Press the button once, and the app will connect to a live feed.

Even though the live streaming button is a nice addition, I really wish it had an accompanying activity log with access to saved clips. Right now, you can only take a snapshot of the video feed. Since it isn't automated, you have to be at the ready to press that camera button whenever you want to capture activity.

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SkyBell's live feed. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

And while you can add multiple people to a single SkyBell account, only one person can view the live feed at a time. So if two family members receive the same motion-triggered push notification, only the first person to open the feed will be able to see it. The first time this happened, I though the video feed had stopped working, but, alas, it's just limited to one person.

Unfortunately, the audio quality was pretty poor. Most of the time, it sounded like a bad phone connection, with only every few words coming through. That was very disappointing, since you're supposed to be able to see and chat with whoever's at your door. Still, it's better than Ring's hit-or-miss video feed, the most essential feature to the whole smart doorbell operation.

SkyBell's newest 2.0 model next to its older 2.0 model. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

I noticed something interesting during testing. When we first acquired a second-gen SkyBell unit in December 2014, its motion sensor was located below the camera (pictured above, right). Interestingly, we saw some photos of a slightly different-looking SkyBell unit that wasn't version 1.0 or the 2.0 model we were testing (pictured above, left). As it turns out, SkyBell made a quick sensor update after its early 2.0's had already been released, so your 2.0 could look like either of these models. SkyBell claims that there's no "material difference" between the two, but we decided to focus on the newest 2.0, which has above-the-camera sensors.

SkyBell doesn't have an IFTTT channel or work with any third-party devices or hubs. The company is an Apple HomeKit partner, but this particular product doesn't allow for any Siri-related home automation integration.

SkyBell is a definite step up from its competition, once you've confirmed that it will work with your existing doorbell configuration. After that, you'll get alerts whenever someone rings the bell or triggers the motion sensor -- and you can check in whenever you want via the on-demand video button. That's nice, but the low audio quality and lack of clip storage gives this app a bit of an unfinished feel. It might be the finest smart doorbell offering we've seen yet, but that just shows that this budding market has some work to do.