Ring Video Doorbell Review
There's somebody at the door, there's somebody at the door...
What is the Ring Video Doorbell?Once in a while a product comes along that seems so simple and obvious you wonder why no one had thought of it before. Whether that be something simple like Velcro which still earns over $100M every year or the top down squeeze bottle to save having to shake the tomato sauce like crazy to get any out. In terms of electronics inventions, the Smartphone has changed the lives of everyone that uses them – although whether that's for better or worse is open to interpretation.
An invention that firmly falls in the ‘why didn’t I think of that first’ category is the subject of this review, the Ring Video Doorbell. With seemingly everyone having a Smartphone, plus with every home having Wi-Fi and the wide availability now of 3G and 4G, it’s never been easier to keep an eye on your home via internet connected devices such as cameras and similar home monitor systems.
Available for around £150, the Ring Video Doorbell uses this technology to full effect and gives you a wireless video doorbell that immediately alerts you to any motion, plus if the doorbell is pressed you instantly get a notification, allowing you to connect and talk to the person at the door. Security is clearly the key driver here with the ability to fool a possible intruder that you are at home when you are not or to accept a parcel, when the courier has chosen the five minutes you’ve nipped out, to deliver that parcel you’ve been waiting in all day for. Read on to see how the Ring Video Doorbell fares in our review.
Design and SpecificationsAt £150, the Ring Video Doorbell comes with everything you need to get it up and running within just a few minutes, including all tools and instructions. The unit itself is available in a range of colours from polished brass, antique brass, Venetian bronze and satin nickel. It’s obviously a lot larger than a standard doorbell, so you do have to make sure it will suit your front door or the area you’d like it to go, but it isn’t too large to be unusable coming in at just 127mm x 61mm and 22mm thick.
The Ring has the option to be hard wired or can be used completely wirelessly via the internal battery. The unit includes a USB cable for charging via the USB port on the rear of the unit. The tone of the doorbell can’t currently be configured, but can be extended via the Chime or Chime Pro accessory which we will discuss later in this review.
Ring include free lifetime theft protection when you purchase the Video Doorbell, so for those concerned at having £150 screwed to their front door, if the device is ever stolen Ring will replace it for free when provided with a valid police report.
Is it easy to install and setup?Ring have clearly thought of everything with their video doorbell. In the box you will find everything you need to install it such as a screwdriver, screws, wall plugs, masonry drill bit and even including a small spirit level to ensure you get the unit fitted perfectly level. For those wishing to do a hard-wired install they even provide a small diode for those replacing an existing digital doorbell.
For our installation, we chose the wireless install as we have no existing wired doorbell to replace. Once we had initially charged the unit to 100%, the installation was very simple and only took 5 minutes. To install you simply download the Ring app and run through the very easy in-app setup, then remove your existing doorbell and via the included tools and fittings screw the back plate to the front door or wall depending on where you’d prefer it to go. Then you simply attach the main unit to the backplate and tighten the two security screws via the other end of the included screwdriver bit. That’s it. The unit is installed and ready to use.
For those doing a wired install, the process is obviously slightly more demanding as it involves electrics, but you simply connect the two wires from the existing doorbell to the two screws on the backplate (doesn’t matter which wire goes to which screw), connect the diode if required and then fit the main unit to the backplate. Still an easy and quick process, providing of course the existing doorbell was connected to a transformer with a voltage of 8VAC – 24VAC.
The Ring app itself it well designed with a clear and simple user interface. The app gives you a log of all the events such as motion detection, quick access to the live view, device health to keep an eye on the battery life, plus the motion and live view settings.
Testing and Optional AccessoriesFollowing on from our positive installation and setup experience, the general use of the Ring Video Doorbell continues this theme. It’s a product that just works as it should and without any issues. For example, if the motion detection is just triggered and the doorbell isn’t pressed, you get an instant notification on your Smartphone and even Apple Watch. You can then connect to the app on your Smartphone, click live view and see if anyone is there. It also saves a recording which can be accessed on the App fairly soon after notification.
For the doorbell side of things, with motion detection enabled you are likely to receive a notification of motion first, but once the doorbell is pressed you then get an instant notification that someone is at your front door. You click the notification in your Smartphone and are presented with a live view. Similar to answering a call you can either press the green phone symbol to connect and talk to the person at the front door, press red to disconnect or simply do nothing and just watch them.
The video quality, albeit just 720P is good enough to make out faces and details and the camera has a field of view of 180°. The doorbell itself is responsive and only requires a quick light press of the button to work. As for battery life, in 9 days we dropped from 100% to 78%, so if that continues we can expect around 40+ days of life, which is good but significantly less than the 6 months to 1 year that the battery is quoted to last for.
As mentioned above, one shortcoming we immediately noticed with the Ring Video Doorbell was that you can’t currently alter the ring tone or the volume. We imagine this may appear in the future but in the meantime, you can purchase the Chime at £25 or the Chime Pro for around £42. Both of these will act as a secondary notification location, so if you are at home and not near your phone or the front door you can still hear it ring.
Both the Chime and Chime Pro allow you to set different alert tones to both a doorbell activation and to motion detection. The Chime Pro also includes a Wi-Fi extender to extend the range of the Ring Network signal around the home, though it only works for Ring devices, it won’t extend Wi-Fi for anything else. Along with the Video Doorbell provided for review we were also sent the Chime Pro and similarly to the Video Doorbell installation the Chime Pro was easy and quick to install. Via the same app you can easily choose the tone you want and volume for both doorbell rings and motion detection.
The ringtone options even include one with a load of dogs barking which if used means every time someone is detected or presses the doorbell they hear dogs barking. A great deterrent to the would-be intruder! It’s a shame the main unit doesn’t include ringtone changing but for a small additional outlay with the Chime or Chime Pro you can greatly increase the notification features.
Review Update - September 2017To update this review as this unit has now been on long term test for almost 2 months. We had previously commented that the battery life was much shorter than quoted, but in actual fact the battery has stabilised and after 2 months usage it is now at 36%. So where we had initially seen a drop of 22% in just 9 days, this updated usage should see the battery last at least another month. So still not near the 6 month quoted life, but a big improvement from our initial concerns and we have it on a high motion detection setting too which will shorten the battery life.
Also, there were some initial comments made about the delays in receiving notifications, we have found when playing about with our wireless networks that the Ring requires an excellent WiFi signal. It will work with a poorer signal but you will suffer with delays in receiving notifications for example. So it is essential that this has a strong network connection to get the best out of it.
When you do get a notification and look at the live view, if it is just the postman for example, then he will most likely be gone when you open the app, but if you wait a minute or so, you can watch back the recording and we found unless someone quickly ran to the door, shoved an item through the letterbox and ran off, it will be able to record them in time. So to sum up this update, we have found no significant negative points after 2 months usage.
- Easy to install
- Works perfectly
- Video recording features require paid subscription
- Doorbell ringtones can't be adjusted
Ring Video Doorbell ReviewWhilst £159 for a doorbell may sound like a lot of money, but the Ring Video Doorbell is so much more than just a doorbell. If you are concerned about your home security and who calls at your door when not at home (or are at home and just want to vet callers) this device will solve that problem. It also will help those with a disability who may not be able to get to the door quickly or at all.
The Video Doorbell was very easy and quick to install, the app is well laid out and simple to use and has the features you would expect and more such as the motion recording settings, live view and event log. The video quality, whilst only 720P is good enough for the Video Doorbell’s purpose. The doorbell worked perfectly with all our testing and did everything it was supposed to do, when it was supposed to do it. You can’t ask any more than that. This is clearly a device that has been well designed and implemented.
The Ring Video Doorbell isn’t of course the first device of its kind and there are many alternatives. One similarly priced is the SkyBell 2.0 Video Doorbell which offers some of the similar features, but only has a wired installation option as does the slightly cheaper VueBell Video Doorbell at under £100. Despite this and based upon our experiences, we are happy to award the Ring Video Doorbell an AVForums Highly Recommended badge, it is a superb product and one worthy of serious consideration.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £159.00
Value for Money8
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