Everywhere you look, new smart home technology seems to be popping up. Security cameras that can tell friend from foe and UPS delivery man from the neighbor’s dog, door locks that only need a smartphone to unlock them and thermostats that can adjust themselves to keep you comfortable all day and night are just a few of the most popular offerings in this segment, but there’s another piece of tech that’s gaining in popularity: the video doorbell.

But what good is a video doorbell when you can peek out through the front blinds, really?

Video Doorbells Are More Than Just a Ding Dong

Forget everything you know about doorbells and prepare to be amazed. Well, at least, prepare to be informed and maybe you can remember a few things you knew about doorbells and we’ll just keep that between us. A video doorbell does do all the things that an old-fashioned doorbell does, but it goes well beyond just giving guests a convenient way to ring your bells to announce their arrival.

In fact, you can configure your video doorbell to not ring at all. This is especially helpful if you have small children or especially anxious dogs, both of which will begin their own alarming at the sound of the old door chime. With a video doorbell, your smartphone can be the chime box, buzzing, beeping or lighting up when someone arrives and presses the button. But beyond this point is where it gets very un-doorbell-like.

Video doorbells combine the concepts of doorbell, intercom and security camera. So, when someone does buzz your smartphone, you can have a two-way conversation with them, even if you’re not home. Delivery guy show up early? Just tell him to leave the box on the porch and you’ll be there soon. Neighbor kids running around ringing doorbells after dark? You’ve got ‘em on video, now you can help the Neighborhood Watch figure out which parents to confront.

3 Reasons You Need This Tech

Anyone who’s dipping a toe into the world of smart homes needs to look into a video doorbell early into their adventure. Unlike, say, a smart light bulb, it’s a one-and-done piece of tech that is immediately useful and it’s a pretty simple install, giving you a huge confidence boost if you’re going to DIY it. There are lots of reasons to go for the video doorbell, here are a few of our top picks:

1. You’ll always know who’s coming and going. Anyone with kids, especially tweens and teens, knows the pain of having people running in and out of the house constantly. It’s bad enough when you’re home, but who’s coming and going when you’re not home? Sure, your daughter said that she was studying with Jessica tonight while you’re working late, but did she really invite Tommy over instead? Now you’ll know, and have a video record, of who’s been knocking at the door.

2. No more running to the door for false alarms. Whether you have overly-enthusiastic pets or are simply waiting for party guests while grilling on your back deck, running back and forth to the front door is exhausting. Stop doing that. A video doorbell lets you relax in the knowledge that your actual, real guests will chime in when they’ve arrived, so you can tell them to come around back or that you’re coming and will be at the door soon. You can give Fido the night off, if he’ll take it.

3. Less stress in those “just in case” moments. Everybody’s had one of those days when they’re running a bit late to meet someone at home, be it a salesperson, a friend or a family member. They’re left standing on the porch, wondering what to do next while you’re driving frantically in the hopes you’ll reach home before they leave. Save yourself and the other drivers on the road — the video doorbell will give you a way to let your visitor (or child who forgot their keys again) know that you’re on your way and will be there very soon. Remember, safety first.