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i-Bell Lets You Know Who’s Ringing Your Doorbell From Afar

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Meet i-Bell, a new wi-fi connected doorbell contending for your crowdfunding cash so you can spy on callers to your home from the comfort of your smartphone.

We’ve seen a few of these devices before — notably DoorBot and SkyBell last year (as well as attempts to repurpose old smartphones as connected caller displays) — but the UK startup behind i-Bell reckons it’s building a better connected doorbell than earlier movers in this space.

So what’s different exactly? i-Bell co-founder Graham Kershberg argues that the design of its connectivity platform is more stable — it’s being built on a Linux Arm 11/Debian platform — noting specifically that DoorBot has fielded some criticism over its ability to stably deliver video.

While, compared to SkyBell, he says the i-Bell is more fully featured — with a dual power option, either mains power or via a rechargeable lithium battery, instead of being required to connect via an existing low voltage wired doorbell chime.

Other i-Bell features include motion sensor and remote video activation, which, coupled with it cloud storage for images means the user can record images of anyone calling at their home — if they want to get all Big Brother about their home security.

The system also includes a concierge service and voicemail facility — so callers can leave messages if you’re out.

The on-board HD camera, which lets users see who’s at their door via the corresponding i-Bell app, also includes a wide angle night vision to unmask callers who arrive after dark.

i-Bell’s makers are running a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise £30,000 to fund production of the device — and have already raised more than £20,000 with 22 days left of their campaign to run. Their estimated shipping date to backers is this November.

So how much does i-Bell cost? All the cheapest pledges have been snapped up, so it now starts at £145/$250 for one unit — making it a little more expensive than DoorBot ($199) and SkyBell ($199).

Circa $200 for any doorbell is rather expensive, however smart. So while all these gizmos have some neat features, a better consumer proposition would bundle a connected doorbell feature with an entire smart lock system — so you could both see who’s calling from afar, and potentially also let them in.

DoorBot can integrate with Lockitron’s smart lock — but you still need to buy both devices to get all that up and running, which means your connected door may be very smart but those smarts won’t come cheap.