I won’t beat around the bush; I’ve been trying to get the Ring Video Doorbell in for review for some months. They’ve even gone and released a second generation of the product before I get to review the first. Not to worry, there’s a reason I wanted this in for review and now I have it, I can’t wait to see what it’s about. Here’s my experience with and review of the Ring Video Doorbell
Here’s the specific use case I have for this device and one of the main reasons I wanted to get this in for review, despite the recent launch of the Ring Doorbell 2. My Wife often works out of our converted annexe. The main doorbell unit was housed within the main house which is a separate building from the annexe. Whilst we’ve used a wireless doorbell unit with plugin chimes to allow her to know when somebody is at the door whilst in the annexe, it doesn’t stop her having to get up, come over to the main house and open the door, stopping what she’s doing, just to see a double glazing sales person standing there.
Here’s where the Ring Video Doorbell comes into its own; it helps you be lazy! God I love technology!
Seriously though, what this enables her, and us, to do is see, live, whether it’s the UPS guy, the neighbour, or anybody else that visits the front of the house, and make a decision as to whether it demands we answer it. My Wife can be in the middle of a video, Facebook Live stream or just delivering a workshop or class and shouldn’t be disturbed. Ring allows her to make that choice, discreetly, without disrupting what she’s doing. Equally, it allows us to converse directly with the myriad of couriers that deliver goodies to us and ask them to not just throw the packages over the gate, but instead stash it in a safe place. It’s already worth its weight in Gold on that score alone!
Unboxing & Setup – Ring Video Doorbell
Let’s explore the package, and there’s quite a lot to see here. Essentially you get everything you need, barring a Drill, to mount, connect and use the Ring Video Doorbell. There’s a mini spirit level to avoid the most obvious mounting faux pas. There’s an interchangeable drill bit-cum-screwdriver which fits into the delightfully orange tool, and can be used to tighten the screws to finish the fixings.
- Dimensions – 4.98″ x 2.43″ x 0.87″
- 720p resolution Camera
- 180 degree field of view
- Two way audio with echo cancellation
- Bank grade encryption
- Night vision IR LEDs
- -5°F to 120°F operating temperature
- 1 year warranty
The Ring doorbell itself is a largely metallic, fully enclosed unit, with the camera at the top centre of the device, with a large LED circled doorbell beneath it. There are multiple colours available, but we opted for the standard Satin Nickel option. Brushed Brass, Venetian Bronze and Antique Brass are the other exotically named colour options.
The unit is split into two main parts; the mounting plate, and the main unit. The mounting plate is, as you can guess, for mounting to the wall. The main unit then slips on top and clicks into position and is tightened up with two bottom facing screws. The first thing that struck me here is that this didn’t feel very safe. It’s secure enough – it’s not going to fall off. If you wanted to steal the expensive part of the device however all you’d need to do is unscrew two Torx screws at the bottom of the unit and walk away. That’s regardless of how you choose to mount it.
I’ll clarify something off the bat; I didn’t drill any holes. Yes, it makes the unit less secure on the front of the house, but a) I’m not the best at DIY in the world by any means and b) I didn’t want to fix this unit permanently. If you are buying this for your own uses you should go ahead and use the included screws and plugs and fix this securely to your brickwork.
Nevertheless, the mounting of this unit would be incredibly simple for those taking my advice. Drill a couple of holes, screen i the mounting plate, connect the included diode if you are replacing a wired doorbell system to allow it to utilise the chimes or skip this step, and then connect the Ring unit and tighten with the bottom fixings. Job well and truly done.
Performance & Use – Ring Video Doorbell
There are two versions of the original Ring Doorbell; a 720p and a Doorbell Pro 1080p version. We’re looking at the cheaper 720p version, and given the choice I’d have grabbed the 1080p just to give it some longevity. Starting with the optics, as that’s what this is all about, it does leave a little to be desired in fairness. 720p resolution is very much a legacy resolution for devices now (monitors, video content, etc) and the optics within the original Ring doorbell are showing their age. That said, it delivers more than good enough imagery to discern who is approach your house which is just what you need.
Once the unit is mounted, head over to your favourite app store and grab the official Ring app (iOS and Android apps are available). As I have an Android phone, to the Play Store I headed. With a slightly worrying 3.6/5 rating I was a little worried this would quickly turn south. Thankfully I needn’t have worried. Whilst I did have some issues getting the app to push through my Wireless network settings to the unit, all went well after some quick Google-Fu. It turned out that a Wireless network on a channel north of 10 on Netgear access points can cause the Ring unit some issues. Swapping for channel 6 got things up and running well. Once over that hurdle the setup process was a “next, next, next” process.
Once in the app, there are a number of areas you can fiddle with from motion detection, alerting, recording options, and live view. My favourite feature is motion detection as this has a real world practical application. By setting specific zones and sensitivity, an approaching individual will trigger the motion detection, whether it be day or night, and the app will spring in to life and let you know there is motion. You then have a couple of choices. Ignore it and see whether somebody presses the doorbell. That’s how I use the app. Obviously if a few seconds pass and there is no doorbell alert on the app, you might want to use Live View to see what’s going on. If you do find some undesirable sneaking around your front door, simply enable the audio and shout at them. Seriously – it works! You can also wait until the postman comes to your door and bark down the speaker to him if you want too – oh let the japes ensue!
As device access can be shared with multiple people, each person connecting to the same device can have per app settings. For example, my Wife has no motion detection on, however I do. Brilliant!
It’s a bit of a shame that you only get a 30 day trial of the Cloud-based recording storage. The Cloud feature uploads any recording taken with the device (doorbell ring, motion activated recording, etc) to your Ring.com account for review at a later date. There are a couple of subscription options once your free trial ends. The Basic subscription offers Cloud storage of your recordings for a rolling 60 days per camera as well as a 1 year warranty against damage or theft. The Protect subscription option offers all the same items as with Basic, but with a lifetime warranty against theft and damage and also covers all cameras you might have on your account. If you own a few properties and deploy Ring to those, it might be worth considering the Protect option. If the unit gets stolen, Ring will simply replace it free of charge once they have the police incident number. That’s a nice touch.
You might be thinking that a wireless kit has one fatal flaw; battery life. Well you’re not wrong, and that probably explains a little as to why the unit is so easy to detach from the mounting plate as you will need to recharge the battery in the unit semi-regularly. However whilst your mileage will vary, I have noticed around 2% drop in battery life per week, so it will last quite a while in between charges. That obvious depends on how many packages you have delivered, how often you use live view to scare people and how many dodgy characters you have stalking your property.
Conclusion – Ring Video Doorbell
Would I recommend this unit? Hell yes! Would I change anything about this unit? Hell yes. Let me clarify. I think I’d want to test the 1080p version before stating exactly what I’d change in detail, but the resolution would be a bit of an issue for me long-term I think. With the 1080p version running £229 I think the £159 is good value.
I’d probably also want to see the main unit actually directly attached to the wall (via screw) rather than attached to a mounting plate. As I mentioned previously it could be quite easy to steal this item, a bit more of a deterrent would be nice, despite the theft protection options Ring offer.
The overall package is a brilliant piece of smart home gadgetry though. Not only does it stand alone as a viable option for those wanting to see who is coming to their door without connecting wires up, but there is also a number of accessories available for the unit. I also had a Ring Chime Pro unit that connects to the same Ring network you create and extends the functionality of the device. There’s also solar panel option to allow continuous battery charging of the unit to negate the need to have to take it down and charge it periodically.
The Ring platform is likely to continue to grow with the recent release of the Ring Doorbell 2 and no doubt more accessories to come. The Ring Doorbell 2 has already had a detachable battery pack accessory to address some of the concerns of consumers so here’s to the future.
Simply put, if you want to have a slightly more 21st century solution to answering your door the Ring platform is one you should consider. Whether it’s the Ring Video Doorbell 720p option completely depends on how many spondoolies you have to spend. If you have the cash, grab the latest offering. However for £159 I think this is a very well priced unit to elevate your smart home above your next door neighbour who still has a door knocker!