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August’s new smart doorbell is wireless and actually looks like a doorbell

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Image: August

August is unveiling a new smart doorbell today, and its biggest feature may be that it actually resembles a doorbell.

The August View is a small rectangular box with a camera at the top and a big button at the bottom to ring the bell. It’s fairly obvious that the device is a doorbell, which is a big change from the first two generations of August doorbells. Past models were square with a large button in the center that didn’t look like a button or like a doorbell. It was a real problem.

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The house is so smart we have to dumb it down

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On top of the redesign, the August View has another big distinction: it’s wireless. You no longer have to worry about having the correct doorbell wiring to buy one. Now, you can just mount the August View outside of your door, and you’re basically good to go. Different styles of doorbell wiring meant that earlier generations of the product may have only been compatible with newer homes.

Being wireless comes with some downsides, though. The new model is powered by a rechargeable battery, which is estimated to last between three to six months on a charge, depending on your usage. August says customers will get “numerous alerts” before the battery dies. The doorbell also requires you to plug a separate chime (included in the box) into an outlet inside your home.

Faceplate options.
Image: August

August is also vastly expanding the number of doorbell styles. Previously, the wired doorbell was only available in silver and black models. The new one ships in black, but its faceplate can be replaced with different metal options, including bronze, brass, and nickel, or various colored plates, including a white and a bright red. Since this is something that goes on the outside of people’s homes, adding style options is a major part of making the doorbell into something people actually want to buy.

While it’s hard to see in the image above, beneath the camera lens is an infrared floodlight, which will invisibly illuminate subjects at night when motion is detected. That’s also present on the wired model, so both cameras are still useful in the dark with IR recording.

There’s one notable step back with this product, but it isn’t due to hardware: it’s all about limitations in the cloud. You’ll be able to stream a live feed from the August View at any time, but if you want to view the clips it records whenever there’s motion, you’ll only be able to see five short seconds of them — and only for 24 hours — unless you agree to pay August on a monthly basis to get more. For its other doorbell cameras, August lets you view the entire video for 24 hours without paying. A premium plan costs $4.99 per month.

The doorbell itself will sell for $230 when it goes on sale on March 28th. That’s $30 more than August’s wired model, which will remain on sale, but it’s the same price as Nest’s wired doorbell camera. Ring, the Amazon-owned company that’s perhaps the best known in the smart doorbell market, offers doorbells as cheap as $99, but you have to spend $249 to get a smaller model that won’t look quite so much like a security box on the outside of your front door.

August, best known for its smart door lock, was purchased by the lock conglomerate Assa Abloy in 2017, making it part of the same family of brands as Yale. This is August’s first product since being acquired, but it wasn’t completely silent until now: August has been bringing its consumer-friendly approach to smart tech to other companies within Assa Abloy. Fortunately, it seems that being part of the larger company doesn’t mean that August’s work on hardware is going to disappear.