Monday, 12 August 2019

dbell review review

I posted a review to dbell's website that went over the problems I had.  No surpise, dbell responded with "Thank you for your detailed review. Few of your points are notable and others we couldn’t simply agree. "

They went on to object to each of my points, and I notice my 2/5 stars review has been removed from their website.  

Here are the points in my review, and their response, and my response back to them.  I sent my thoughts back to them but didn't get anything in response.


1. Motion detection is useless – the motion detection is way too sensitive. On the least sensitive setting (or most sensitive, I tried both), on a day with no wind it would push motion alerts at least once minute to my phone. I’m not exaggerating–at least once a minute. The closest thing that could trigger motion it is my neighbour’s tree, 25ft away. So, this device pretty much needs to point at a wall. Tech support said this was a known thing and there was no fix. So I had to turn off motion detection.
dbell: "If you set motion detection sensitivity to 6, it won’t capture 25ft away, value 6 allows max 10ft but motion detection can be improved, we acknowledge that"
me: I tried min and max sensitivity and all values in between.  no change.  I disagree that value 6 captures max 10ft.  That is not consistent with what I experienced.

2. The button sticks. Over the week that it was installed I had six visitors say they rang the doorbell and nothing happened. I had to push very hard on the button to unstick it, leaning into it with my body, and there would be a loud click. Then it worked properly again for about an hour with barely a touch needed to ring the door. Then it would get sticky again. Tech support offered to send me a new dbell, but because of the other issues I decided to return it.
dbell: " We are sorry to hear this – we shipped out 10k+ units, haven’t had a single complaint on stickup button. So it must be our bad luck – you may have received something like that. I haven’t verified your return unit as it went to damaged pile, hard to find it. We do not resell customers return."
me: Ok, I agree it is bad luck, but it still happened to me.  All I can report on is my n=1 sample size. 

3. It can’t actually save clips to a NAS… unless you press a button in the app, assuming the app doesn’t crash first. If you want to save the clip of what happened, or what’s happening, you need to answer the door or motion event in the app and press the record button. If you don’t answer, there is no saved clip. Tech support recommended inserting an SD card to automatically upload to my NAS, however this records continuously, it doesn’t save just the clips of the event.
dbell: "I am not sure which NAS you have. We have tested with QNAP and it saves file in h264 format which VLC can play, need to configure VLC, we have a help topic on that too."
me: My NAS is irrelevant, I mentioned that writing to the NAS wasn't a problem.  Writing only the clips of motion events was the problem.  You either get a constant stream to the NAS (which VLC can't play) or you have to manually initiate recording from within the app.
  
4. It can’t save clips to the SD card either. With the SD inserted, the video is broken into a continuous stream of files which have no header and tech support couldn’t tell me how to play them. So it seems that technically the claim that it can save footage to a NAS or cloud is true.. you either have to manually initiate the recording, or you get a continuous stream in a format that no one knows how to play.
dbell: "Video is not broken into continuous stream. When SD card is formatted it creates 32 blank stream file. But when the video is recorded, it overwrites one of those blank file as one video – video is never truncated in any chunk. So not sure how you are saying that. you can access the video files from app or from the IE browser or any other major browser interface."
me: So the continuous video stream is broken into files, that's what I said.  But the issue wasn't this it's that it's continuous video.  If I'm away and don't answer the motion detection, how do I find the video for it on my NAS.  I have to go through all the video to find the right time index... but I can't even do that because VLC won't play it.  They claim there's a knowledge base entry to play the files on VLC, but the tech I was interacting with didn't know how.

5. I ordered black and they sent a white interior bell. Tech support offered to send a new one of these, but I declined because of the other issues.

dbell: "Black doorbell is shipped with white indoorbell and black indoorbell, we have both options. Some customers like white and some likes black. This was our error and we were happy to replenish with a white one."
me: the website shows black.  This wasn't presented as an option anywhere in the ordering process. 

6. The app crashes frequently and I couldn’t use it to configure the dbell. The app kept complaining that I wasn’t on the same network as the device. I found the (mostly undocumented) web interface and used that to configure the device. After I answered the door two or three times the app would just crash.
dbell: "Which app did you face that? For Android and iOS we get report when the app crash and we continuously fix it. For Android there are over 10k devices, so we are on constant bug fix. For iOS Apple updates the OS and sometimes breaks the app, again we are always patching/fixing the issues. I use the iOS everyday, it will crash once in a while, may be once in a week. So not sure how frequent was yours. It appears your views are sort of more than regular views, for example, you say you couldn’t even configure using the app due to crash – this one is hard to believe as I do configure around 10-12 units each day. So not sure what’s going on here."
me: Again, my experience.  But during the process of configuring the unit I was using the app heavily.  Crashing once a week probably translated into crashing every 10 minutes while setting things up and trying settings.  Also, it crashes once a week under normal use?  That's once a week too many times.

Review on Amazon:

I bought the next version of this doorbell (the dbell HD x2) directly from dbell .  Ultimately I returned it for a refund.  Some of the claims on the website do not match the capabilities of the device (see below).   If you're looking for a device that can send you a notification when someone is at your door and let you talk with them right away, this will work fine.  If you want to do more complicated stuff like motion detection or saving clips to the cloud/home NAS, I can't recommend this product.

1. Motion detection is useless.  The motion detection is way too sensitive.  On the least sensitive setting (or most sensitive, I tried both, and all values in between), on a day with no wind it would push motion alerts at least once a minute to my phone.  I'm not exaggerating.  The closest thing that could trigger it is my neighbour's tree, 25ft away. 

2. The button would stick.  Over the week that it was installed I had six visitors say they rang the doorbell and nothing happened.  Each time the button was stuck.  Maybe I got a bad unit, but it doesn't change that it happened.

3. It can't actually save clips to a NAS... unless you press a button in the app.   If you want to save the clip of what happened, or what's happening, you need to answer the door or motion event in the app and press the record button.  If you don't answer, there is no saved clip. 

4. It can't save clips to the SD card either.  Tech support recommended inserting an SD to automatically upload to the NAS.  And yes, while this does auto-upload to the NAS, it uploads a constant stream to the SD and the NAS (if configured) broken into files.  There is no option to write just clips of events.  

5. The app crashes frequently.  The dbell would not configure from the app, it either kept crashing or threw an error that I wasn't on the same network as the device (I was).  The dbell also has a web interface, mostly undocumented, but I found it and this is how I configured it.  Every 3rd or so time I answered the door within the app it would crash too.




 

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