Kangaroo Doorbell Camera review: This super-cheap front-door security solution fails to impress

When the Kangaroo Doorbell camera was first announced the price seemed like a typo: $20. After reviewing it for a week, I can confirm that you definitely get what you pay for. The company nailed it on the ease of use and industrial design; unfortunately, the image quality is just bad.

That’s ironic because the company says it started off the design process by “obsessing over what are the essential security and notification features that you need (and what’s extraneous).”

I’d say the ability to see what’s going on at your door is perhaps the most essential feature but it’s the one that is most compromised in this doorbell.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best video doorbells, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.

kangaroo doorbell camera in hand Martyn Williams / IDG

The Kangaroo Doorbell Camera is the least-expensive product of its kind, but that doesn’t make it a great value.

To cut costs and hit the $20 price point, the camera snaps photographs—it doesn’t stream or capture video. When it detects movement, it takes a series of images and stiches them together to make a video file. Video is nothing but a string of images, so the theory is solid, but Kangaroo’s execution is lacking. The resulting file is just two seconds of jumpy five-frame-per-second video.

To make matters worse, the camera doesn’t deal well with bright sunlight (even with the sunlight mode switched on), it has poor color reproduction, and the frame stitching is done so poorly that it looks like glitchy video.

Here’s a video of me getting out of my car (you’ll probably need to hit the replay button a few times to get a sense of what’s been captured).

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And here’s a video of me walking to my car.

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The video files are 480 x 640 pixels in resolution, which is a vertically oriented standard-definition image. That’s already a much lower resolution than many competing cameras, but it’s made worse by the poor exposure control, the poor color reproduction, and the glitches.