Use an Amazon Echo Smart Speaker and Video Doorbell to Greet Visitors Contact-Free
The Amazon Alexa digital assistant can help you limit face-to-face meetings during the pandemic
Among the Centers for Disease Control's advice for preventing the spread of the coronavirus is to stay at least 6 feet apart from others. An easy way to do that at your front door is to hook up a video doorbell to a smart speaker so that you can answer your door completely hands-free from wherever you place the speaker, even if it's on the opposite side of your home.
Smart speakers with screens, or displays (also called smart displays), such as the Amazon Echo Show (shown above), allow you to see your guests and talk with them. You can get a number of different smart speakers that use Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant. Those with a display cost $90 to $280.
“Most video doorbells work with Amazon Alexa, not just models made by the company's Ring division,” says Bernie Deitrick, Consumer Reports' test engineer for video doorbells. Models made by most major manufacturers are compatible, including those from August, Eufy, Google Nest, and Wisenet.
Step 1: Pair Your Video Doorbell and Echo Smart Speaker
Open the Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone and integrate your video doorbell by tapping “Devices” on the bottom menu bar (it's the second icon from the right), then “+,” then “Add Device,” and “Camera.” You should see your doorbell manufacturer’s name. (If you don’t, tap “Other,” then “Skill Store,” and search for the manufacturer.) Once you find the manufacturer, tap the name and follow the prompts to log in to your doorbell app account and link your doorbell to your smart display.
Step 2: Adjust Doorbell Settings in the Alexa App
By adjusting your doorbell’s settings in the Amazon Alexa app, you can use your Alexa smart speaker as a doorbell chime (and even select a custom tune, like “Jingle Bells” during the holidays), have it alert you when the doorbell detects motion, and have it automatically show a live view whenever the doorbell is pressed, so you can speak to the visitor.
To adjust these settings, in the Amazon Alexa app, tap “Devices,” then “Cameras.” From the list, tap on your doorbell’s name to open its settings page.
To have your smart display act as a chime and automatically show a live view, you have to go through a two-step process. First, tap “Announcement Devices” and check off your Amazon Alexa smart display in the list of devices. Second, tap the back button at the top-left of the screen and toggle "Doorbell Press Announcements." (If you’d like your speaker to also alert you whenever the doorbell detects motion, toggle "Motion Announcements," too.) Finally, to change the chime sound, tap "Doorbell Sound" and select the sound you prefer from the list.
Step 3: Answer the Door Using Your Echo Smart Speaker
Once everything is set up, answering your doorbell is as easy as saying, “Alexa, talk to the [doorbell name].” You’ll see a live feed of who’s at your door on the smart display and be able to talk to him or her immediately. If you just want to see who's at the door but not speak, you can say, “Alexa, show me the [doorbell name].”
These two pairs of smart speakers and video doorbells from CR's tests allow you to see live views of who’s at your door and speak with visitors.