Installing a Smart Doorbell

Tue 1 Jun 2021

It has been forever. We've been waiting for months for the Ubiquiti G4 to come in stock. A week ago it finally gave us push notifications that EU was selling G4's. A friend and me directly ordered one, in fact, I used his credit card to buy mine.

I do have a few fair points of critique on the product and process as a whole. Ubiquiti should really take this to heart and change their product for the better. Don't get me wrong. The product itself is great after you get it up and running.

Let's talk about unboxing

The unboxing is really spot on. It is very minimal and premium. There is not much in the packaging and it all feels solid. No complaints there. However. As good as the unboxing is, as bad is the guiding part after you've unboxed this premium product.

There is a QR code that you can scan that results in downloading a guide. The guide is not really all that clear and makes the assumption that everybody has a chime. In the EU most people have a normal doorbell with a small hammer. That results in a weaker transformer, luckily they pack the new one inside the package, able to handle the doorbell and optionally a chime or doorbell.

My point being is that the guide is heavily illustrated and only shows the path of installing this product on a chime. Now, I've done some electrical engineering in school. Installing the doorbell and hardware was not hard at all but that would've been different were it not for that.

That said, it would be nice to get some more technical information in the guide and about the device. I always like to check things twice and the material provided does not allow for that. By this I also mean some EU specs as opposed to assuming US only.

The app and older versions of Android

Setting up the doorbell was actually unsuccessful on my own phone. I run a BlackShark 2 and the app was unable to detect the doorbell. I had to use a OnePlus device to add the doorbell to protect. Both devices that I've tried to register had the Unify app installed and logged in beforehand.

To make matters worse, the UDMP we have to run all the equipment did have remote management disabled after the leak earlier this year. I've disabled this after getting myself knowledgeable about the leak and made my decision based on Ubiquiti not being fully honest and transparent about the issue. It happens so that you will have a hard time enabling this again when you have disabled this feature.

It took a "magic" day and/or some reboots before it showed online in Unify. This made the push notifications possible. It took another day before it triggered the Protect app on my phone and it logged in on opening the app. This made it able for me to use the phone app without any problems from that point on.

As it stands now, only unify.ui.com recognizes the UDMP. protect.ui.com does not register my UDM as online. This process is very broken and lacks details on the handshakes that happen in between. They can definitely fix this.

To get back to the actual product, as a second suggestion I would like the registering process to allow for a second path like many other wireless IoT device vendors have like for example Sonos or Google.

Google allows for almost all devices to be completely managed and setup from within the app unguided or guided via a wizard. This makes it easy for prosumers to manage and getting started quickly. Sonos for example has the Playbar, authenticating via sound or alternatively you can press the button on the side. The latter I see as a perfect path to authenticate the device we are setting up.

That said, notification are working, we can access the device and use it as intended. It did however took way to much effort. The process of registering this device does not have the same premium feel as the unboxing. I am aware that this is just my own personal experience. Some people might not experience this at all. They might have a flawless experience. Good for them and I hope many people do. It is still a great product that I'd still easily recommend to others.

Requirements to get started

Let's talk requirements. I made the assumption that the doorbell might function without a fully equiped NVR(Network Video Recorder). I think this is fair as this product could function as a video security device or just could function as a doorbell. I mean, the UDMP has 16GB on-board flash storage or 4GB of memory. Now, either one of those could provide, a videofeed without storing the actual footage on the app when somebody is at the door. In other words, I understand that consumers are not to expect all features but it would be nice If the G4 could operate without a HDD in the bay.

That said, let's make a summary of what you need. For the G4 Doorbell to work you will need:

  • A NVR like UDMP, UNVR or an Cloud Key Plus + HDD
  • Wireless access where the doorbell will be installed
  • Room in your transformer housing
  • A phone with a modern android version

To conclude

After all this the doorbell is working. It is nice and I'm going to chime with my Sonos which currently tells us via TTS that someone is at the door in addition to the push notifications to our phones. I'm not going to even bother with a physical chime.

I did expect the UDMP to work a little more friendly to being re-enabled to remote. I also expected the app to actually work and not magically login after another device went through the same process. The current guide leaves a lot to be desired.

Lastly, I would like their remote management system to work the other way around. Make and secure the UDMP with Api Keys and 2-factor authentication and then making it able to phone home. This would make it easy to revoke or give access to the unify or protect.ui.com. Currently my protect.ui.com is stuck without me being able to discover what is going on.

That said, would I recommend this? Absolutely. It is still an amazing product that allows you to setup a doorbell with a camera and still be in control over where the files go.