Soliom Video Doorbell review: This video doorbell is powered by the sun, but fails to shine
The $199 Soliom Video Doorbell (£155 and AU$265, converted) has a couple of things going for it: It's solar- and battery-powered, and it has a microSD card slot for optional local storage (the microSD card is sold separately).
You don't find those features on many smart doorbells. They're clever additions because you can bypass any need to hardwire your buzzer -- or pay for cloud storage. And even if you don't want to buy a microSD card and go the local storage route, Soliom's app can store as many as 20 video clips at a time in the cloud. That isn't many, but it's something.
Unfortunately, I couldn't get this product to work. At all. And I don't recommend that you buy it.
That said, there's a lot of opportunity for the Soliom Video Doorbell to improve over time. It's still in the midst of its Kickstarter campaign, and I technically reviewed a "test production unit." A spokesperson for the startup told me the full production unit "will have a little bit better performance." Here's hoping.
Take a look at how the Soliom compares to the Ring Video Doorbell 2:
Comparing video doorbells
|Soliom Video Doorbell||Ring Video Doorbell 2|
|Color finish||Black||Satin nickel, venetian (both finishes included with purchase)|
|Power source||Solar power and battery||Hardwired or removable, rechargeable battery|
|Resolution||1920x1080p HD||1920x1080p HD|
|Field of view||165 degrees||160 degrees|
|Cloud storage||Yes, 20 recorded video clips for free||Yes, 60-day storage for $3 per month|
|Local storage||Yes, microSD card sold separately||No|
|Mobile app||Android and iPhone||Android and iPhone|
|Dimensions (HxWxD)||8.0 x 3.2 x 2.0 inches||5.1 x 2.5 x 1.1 inches|
|Third-party integrations||None||Alexa; Google Assistant; IFTTT; Wink|
|Operating temperature range||-4 to 176 degrees F (-20 to 80 degrees C)||-5 to 120 degrees F (-20 to 48 degrees C)|
The Soliom app looks decent, and it's easy enough to find what you're looking for. But I had a really difficult time getting the settings to work correctly. For example, when I toggled over to the microSD card option (after inserting a microSD card), the app randomly toggled back over to cloud storage.
Similarly, when I selected "enabled" on the motion sensor option, the app reverted to "disabled." This happened at least a dozen times. And even when it was enabled, the camera never successfully sent me a notification (even though they were enabled) or recorded a cloud motion event. I checked to make sure there weren't any pending software updates or any other obvious issue, but I never got it to work.
The Soliom is a neat concept. I like that it's solar-powered and adds in an SD card slot for folks who prefer local storage. But this doorbell feels like it's still very much in beta mode, and perhaps it is. It also doesn't work with any smart home partners. And while I understand that it needs to be larger to accommodate the built-in solar panel, it's a really big doorbell -- more than 8 inches in height.
Ultimately, I don't recommend this doorbell as it is today. But I'm hopeful that some of its glitches will be worked out in the coming months. If that happens, I'll update this review accordingly. For now, don't buy it.