Most everyone has a doorbell on the front of their house, apartment or townhouse. It’s kind of a staple of all dwellings. Even apartment buildings usually have a buzzer or intercom system to communicate with visitors. Now take that same doorbell and connect it to your home’s WiFi then to your smartphone, voilà, instant HD video of the person at your front door. This is the Ring Video Doorbell review.
Specs and Info
- Low voltage Wi-Fi PCB that operates on internal rechargeable lithium polymer battery that lasts for over a year.
- Infrared LEDs provides clear visuals at any time of day.
- Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
- Sync an unlimited number of smartphones and tablets.
- Cloud Recording allows for footage to be accessed through a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
- Motion sensors detect movement and trigger instant mobile alerts.
- Dimensions: 4.98 in. x 2.43 in. x 0.87 in.
- Outdoor approved for heat, rain, sleet, or snow.
- Speakers and microphone with active noise cancellation.
- ABS plastic housing.
- Proprietary screws for secure mounting.
- Connects to existing doorbell wires for both power charging and ringing of the bell.
- Tool kit included for easy and quick installation.
- 1-year limited hardware warranty.
- Compatible with wired, mechanical doorbell chimes.
Setting up the Ring doorbell is fairly painless, even non-technical souls should find this pretty straight forward. The first review unit sent to us by Ring had a hardware issue with its WiFi connect button but Ring responded promptly, first troubleshooting over the phone then by sending us a new unit, so big plus for customer service. Once we had a working unit the first thing I did was plug the Ring (via included USB) in to make sure it was fully charged. While the unit charged to full I downloaded the app from the App Store (also available in the Google Play Store). It didn’t take long for the battery to charge and I sat down with the instructions in hand.
After downloading the app you’re ready to connect your Ring to your home network, simply push the orange button on the back of the unit and your Ring will transmit letting the app locate it. Once the app has located the unit and paired with it the unit will ask you for your WiFi password via the app. Once you input the WiFi password it takes a minute or two for the Ring to pair to your WiFi. Once it’s paired with the network you can pretty much test the Ring right then and there, it is now a working unit. The only other step left is to mount the Ring to where you want to mount it.
Depending on where you live and the materials you’re working with mounting will be different for everyone. I mounted my Ring over where my existing doorbell had been which is wood trim. I used the wood screws supplied, but Ring also supplies other types of mounting hardware for various other materials. There is a built in level on the mount which helps to keep things in line. Once you have the mounting bracket attached with whatever screws you need you have a few options. You could just mount the Ring on the mount and call it a day or you can hardwire the Ring mount for power and mechanical doorbell functionality (please read instructions carefully for power mounting).
I opted to wire in my existing doorbell to the Ring just in case my smartphones or my wife’s smartphone weren’t in ear shot of the notification from the app. Wiring it in for power is a great option if you never want to unmount the Ring to charge it. By the way, the battery lasts for a year and only takes 2 hours to charge to full for another year of use. Once you have whatever option you want to pursue completed you’re ready to slide the Ring into place. Simply slide the Ring on the mount and then secure the bottom security screws with the proprietary screw driver supplied (don’t lose this thing). The security screws are meant to keep people from trying to unscrew your Ring and steal it. Ring says if the doorbell is ever stolen they will replace it for free. Once you have the security screws in place that’s it, you’re setup and the install is done! It was super easy and just about anyone should be able to do this.
The one issue I would say you have to be aware of is sliding the Ring unit onto the plastic holding tabs of the mount. It took me several tries to snap and slide it down into place. I was a bit afraid of busting the plastic tabs on the mount itself. So extra care has to be taken when mounting. I also think the unit could have been made a little slimmer, I was able to mount mine where my exisiting doorbell was but it was a very snug fit, the mount barely fit in the space that I had.
Function and Performance
Before we move on to the function and performance of the Ring we should mention that Ring released a similar product awhile back named Doorbot. I’ve no experience with that product whatsoever but it didn’t seem to get the best reviews with some media outlets dinging it for bad video and inconsistency. We’re not reviewing Ring based on any information or data from Doorbot as this is our first experience with the company and this is a whole new product, thought I would get that out of the way. You can read Ring’s blog post about the history of Ring and Doorbot.
Ring works by using your home WiFi network to communicate with your Android or iOS device. Once you have the app all set up you can start using Ring right away. When someone comes to your door and rings the bell you will get a notification on your device which you can accept or reject. Accepting the notification brings up live video on your device of what is outside. In all the testing I’ve done with Ring there has been at most 2-3 seconds of lag between the time the doorbell is pushed to when the notification comes to your device. That’s pretty easy to gauge while sitting in the house, I couldn’t tell you how long between ringing the doorbell and getting the notification when away from the house.
Once you have video of the person at the front door you can talk to them via two way comm, video is one way only. You can also choose to mute the audio so that the person at the door can’t hear you. Ring also keeps a history of answered and missed calls in the Ring app itself. You can even play back accepted Ring’s and share them to friends and family. Ring also let’s you authorize other users to answer your door. Simply go into the app and authorize a new user with a different email address, they then download the Ring app and they have access to your bell.
Ring is also rolling out motion detection soon. Motion detection will allow you to set just the areas you want to see, so if you install the Ring close to a wall you might be seeing some of the wall itself. You can set the unit to not scan that part of its line of site saving battery. As of this writing the feature has not gone live but the company is promising it will soon.
Overall after using the Ring for several weeks I had very little performance problems with it. There were the occasional dropped or disconnected rings that were kind of annoying but that could very well be my own WiFi network, AT&T is on its way out at my house. I watched a report that CNET did and they reported longer lag times than what I experienced. As I said earlier, the lag time was no more than 3 seconds. Video on the other hand, video was a little bit choppy from time to time, again, this might be entirely an issue with WiFi connection. But to say video was choppy from time to time doesn’t mean the video was bad. It was acceptable and did the job it was supposed to do. I could see the FedEx and UPS drivers faces just fine when they rang the doorbell and communication between them and I was clear.
Ring does what it advertises, with the exception of motion detection, until that finally rolls out and it does it pretty darn well. Function and performance of this product is outstanding and we might revisit it after a year of use to see how it holds up.
Overall Ring is a pretty nifty gadget that really didn’t disappoint. Admittedly there are a few streaming issues here and there but my AT&T network has always been flaky, I drop WiFi on my devices a lot. Ring worked every time it was activated and the time it took to get notifications was 3 seconds or less. The nice thing is you can answer Ring even when you’re not at home. You can also save the videos that Ring takes and if Ring is stolen they will replace it for free. With a $199 price tag Ring certainly isn’t cheap but it does add another layer of security to your home which might be invaluable to some homeowners. The design could stand to be a little smaller to accommodate some home designs better and I think a lower price point might attract more buyers but overall, Ring is a nice device to consider.
*We were sent a demo unit of the Ring Video Doorbell for the purposes of this review.
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