SwannBuddy video doorbell
RRP $ 150.00
“It’s not perfect, but a few software patches could make the SwannBuddy Video Doorbell a far better option.”
High definition streaming with color night vision
Including doorbell with six melodies
Great for apartments
The app needs to be reloaded every time you open it
Live view loads too slowly to capture visitors
Requires a screwdriver to set up
The SwannBuddy Video Doorbell is an impressive piece of technology with high definition streams, a range of sensors, and a budget friendly price. It serves as a strong entry point into the world of smart home security, especially now at the beginning of the Christmas season.
It competes with other products that are similarly new to the market, such as the Blink Video Doorbell. The SwannBuddy is making a name for itself as a great option for people who live in apartments (or just those who are not that savvy with tools) as it doesn’t have to be hardwired. It can run on batteries alone while offering performance comparable to much higher quality video doorbells.
However, the SwannBuddy is not perfect. While I’ve found it easy to set up and use, there are several places I think the video doorbell could be improved upon.
Installation and setup
The SwannBuddy Video Doorbell isn’t difficult to set up, but the instructions that come with it are a bit confusing. If you can’t hardwire the doorbell to something, such as For example, if you live in an apartment or your doorbell doesn’t have a C-cable, don’t worry – you can attach it directly to your door with the adhesive provided.
You need to charge the battery first, which can take up to six hours. An included USB charger means all you have to do is plug in the SwannBuddy, and a light on the front of the camera tells you when it’s fully charged. The battery life is pretty impressive; after a week of frequent use with almost hourly triggers, the SwannBuddy was still 75%.
You can also use screws to attach the bracket to your door. However, regardless of how you mount the doorbell, you will need a screwdriver. A tamper-evident screw is inserted through the bottom of the bracket into the video doorbell itself.
Although the hardware to hardwire the doorbell is included, there are no instructions that show how to perform this particular task. Of course, a short YouTube video could solve this problem too.
In addition to the SwannBuddy, you will find a carillon in the box. This device runs on two AA batteries and automatically connects to your doorbell. As soon as someone rings the doorbell, the gong sounds – quite loud the first time if you have not already adjusted the volume in the settings.
Pairing your new SwannBuddy doorbell with the app is as easy as scanning the QR code and following the on-screen instructions. There’s nothing to it, especially if you’ve already set up a smart device.
Software and performance
If someone rings your doorbell and you’re not home, check your phone to see who it is. To the right? The main problem I had with the SwannBuddy is the loading time. It takes up to 15 seconds or more to load the camera into the app.
In nine out of ten cases, I look at the history in the app to see who has come to the door. It doesn’t load fast enough to catch them while they’re still at the door, especially if it’s a delivery driver or someone in a rush. The SwannBuddy only notifies you when movement is detected. It doesn’t actually warn you if someone rings the doorbell unless you’ve already configured this setting, but it seems like it should be on by default.
Even in minimal light, the camera is powerful enough to see finer details.
These two issues baffled me during my doorbell use, but both feel that software updates could easily fix them. A couple of patches could all but resolve my main complaints about this device. With these issues aside, the rest of the Swann app is intuitive. There are three modes to choose from: Home, Night and Away. You can configure the modes to have different levels of motion detection and whether you want to receive push notifications or not.
The Activity tab shows an overview of all warnings for the day, divided into two categories: Movement and System. Motion alerts appear whenever something happens on the doorbell, but system alerts only appear when you change modes. As far as I could tell, the SwannBuddy doesn’t use geofencing, so there are no automatic mode changes when you leave the house.
On the Live View tab, you can check any Swann camera you have activated, whether it’s a security camera or just the doorbell. It’s an easy way to see all of your video feeds in one place, but again, it can take a few seconds for the video to load.
The Device Settings menu is where you can select your doorbell and change its settings, but this is another area where I think the performance is not optimal. Every time I loaded SwannBuddy, I got the warning “Some of the device information is out of date”. This would go away after a few seconds, but during that time I couldn’t access any of the settings. I could only wait for the app to finish loading.
This menu allows you to change the name of the device, its time zone, the connected Wi-Fi network, and view the Wi-Fi strength and battery level. You can also adjust things like the camera’s date format, whether or not color night vision is used, and the speaker and microphone volume.
The Swann app gives you access to most of the essentials you need, but I wish there were more options – like the ability to change the gong. It is currently playing a Christmas jingle that lasts for twenty seconds. I would love to change it to a simple doorbell from the app. Instead, changing the melody requires pressing a physical button on the bell unit itself. Yes, there are six options to choose from, but most of them just feel redundant.
One area in which the SwannBuddy excels is motion detection. The doorbell uses True Detect technology and can record movement and heat for more reliable alarms. It can also differentiate between humans and animals.
With two-way conversations, you can speak to visitors or leave instructions for delivery staff (provided the app loads fast enough to chat with them) while viewing both your door and the floor in front of you through a 180-degree perspective can see of it. At this time of year it means that you can keep an eye on all the packages that are being delivered to your home.
The SwannBuddy contains a 32 GB SD card with which you can store footage locally on the device. Clips are also stored in the cloud for easy access. The SwannBuddy can also be integrated with the Google Assistant and Alexa. You can view the feed on any of these devices by asking the Smart Assistant to show you the screen.
If your veranda light is switched off at night, the SwannBuddy can see up to 5 meters with infrared vision. Even in minimal light, the camera is powerful enough to see finer details about anyone who passes by your door.
Finally, the SwannBuddy has an IP56 rating. It can withstand almost all weather conditions. You don’t have to worry that direct sunlight or a rain shower will damage the device.
The SwannBuddy Video Doorbell is a great device that is tarnished by a few small but extremely annoying issues. At $ 150, it’s so cheap that I can easily overlook these issues in order to do anything that gets it right. The potential of the doorbell could easily be exploited with a few software patches. If I already had a full setup of Swann cameras, adding the SwannBuddy to the repertoire would be a breeze.
All in all, it’s not a bad doorbell, but it’s also not the best I’ve ever seen. Its ability to run on either batteries or hardwired and its impressive specifications save it from being just another video doorbell in the smart home blitzkrieg.
Are there alternatives?
If you’re looking for the top-of-the-line, you can’t go wrong with the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2. It’s an expensive piece of hardware (priced at $ 250), but it gives you access to all of Ring’s impressive technology, like bird’s eye view and Alexa auto-responses.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Blink Video Doorbell costs just $ 35 but sacrifices features in the name of savings. It still streams and records in 1080p, but the connection to the device is a little less streamlined and requires the sync module 2 or membership with the Blink subscription.
How long it will take?
The SwannBuddy Video Doorbell is made of a fairly sturdy material. It feels good and heavy in the hand and is bulky enough to give the impression of quality. With proper care, it should last for years. If something happens, Swann offers a one-year guarantee from the date of purchase.
Should you buy it?
Yes sir. Despite its problems, the SwannBuddy Video Doorbell does well. I hope Swann releases updates that fix the issues I was having with it.