Video doorbells are the most important smarthome device you can buy. Smart light bulbs may be flashy, but—when properly integrated—a video doorbell will become something you can’t live without. They’re incredibly reasonable, too, costing just $99 to $199.

If you could only have one smarthome device, you should make it a video doorbell—assuming you can install one. And if you could only have two, it should be a video doorbell and a voice assistant with a display. Here’s why.

Video Doorbells Are a Window to the Outside World

A video doorbell combines a camera, microphone, and speaker set with a straight forward doorbell. Some connect to your existing wiring and some work with your house’s chime, others have options to run off battery power and require a wireless chime. The audio and video your doorbell records are streamed back to your tablet or phone, and how much they record and stream depends on power. Battery operated doorbells can’t stream continuously, for instance; they’ll lose power too quickly.

When someone approaches your door, the video doorbell will notice and notify you. You can start watching the stream at that point. And if they ring the doorbell, you can chat them with them like an intercom.

Thanks to their location, video doorbells act as a bridge to the outside world. With a video doorbell, you can see and interact with the world outside your front door—even while you’re not home.

This works whether you work from home, an office, or abroad. You can see who is at your door, even before they ring the bell. You won’t need to move to the peephole quietly to determine who rang the bell and if you should answer.

If you’re not home, you can still see who’s there and even talk to them. With a smart lock, you can even remotely unlock the door and let your visitors into your house. Some doorbells like Nest Hello and Wisenet Smartcam offer facial recognition, so you’ll know when family or friends arrive.

Have you ever been home all day only to discover somebody left packages on your front porch without ringing the doorbell? Video doorbells solve that problem too, as they notify you when a person is at the door, regardless of whether they ring the doorbell or not. That’s a useful security feature, too.

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