I recently invested in a Ring Video Doorbell as a means of monitoring activity at our front door. Opting for the entry level version, the 720p video camera cost under £80. The premise is quite simple the Ring bell and video camera features a re-chargable battery with the camera being activated by either movement or by someone pressing the door bell button.
Both movement (within a set range) and pressing the button trigger an alert to your phone and the Ring App allows you to connect to the device remotely. A video feed at 720p is displayed on your phone and there is the ability to interact with whoever is at your door over audio.
The installation process is remarkably straightforward. It took less than ten minutes to unpack and connect my Ring doorbell to my wifi and newly set up ring account. Installation on the wall at the front door was also straightforward. Fortunately my original doorbell was wired to the mains via a transformer so I was able to use the same wiring to charge the Ring while on the wall. If you don’t have a wired doorbell fear not, the Ring will run for months between charges and if you don’t have an internal bell then Ring offer a chime device that also works over wifi.
The whole process was really quite straightforward with the one exception… the security screws. The Ring Door bell has two torx 6 screws that lock the devices to the mounting bracket. The kit also comes with a little mini torx screwdriver that isn’t quite the same as a professional tool. On installation I managed to strip both screws and a quick google search found I wasn’t alone.
Fortunately, the Ring customer service team came to the rescue. Over the first twenty four hours of ownership I spoke to the team a number of times and the service was nothing short of excellent. If you buy a Ring doorbell my advice would be to use a proper torx 6 driver and to be careful with the security screws, they have to be all the way in but they don’t have to be locked tight.
Desktop App & Stupidity
This is a confession of stupidity and a word of warning. On the evening of installation I spent over an hour dealing with the customer service team. I found that when the button was pressed my doorbell was locking out for 20 minutes. The team explored every option and after an hour of frustration it was concluded the device may be faulty.
On hanging up and heading back to my computer I discovered my ultimate stupidity. Earlier that day I had installed the Ring desktop app for Mac and to my horror the computer was auto-answering the doorbell on each depress. This meant a connection was held until it eventually it timed out. To my shame I contacted the Ring team to admit to my stupidity and cancel the replacement bell that had been offered. My advice is just stick to the mobile app.
The Ring app is really simple to use but there are a few really nice features for customisation. You can obviously adjust the ring volume and ring tone but my favourite feature is the ability to adjust the motion zones. The customisation isn’t as advanced as other Ring models but it is more than enough for my application.
The app offers all the customisation you could ask for and the real positive for the design of the software is that once the system is set up you rarely need to address any of the options again.
The Hidden Cost
The Ring Doorbell will trigger a connection to your phone and allow interaction over audio but if you want to store, review or share the video interactions you need to have a Ring Protect subscription. At the point of purchase the basic subscription cost £25 per annum for 60 day storage for a single Ring device. One nice feature is the ability to star videos you want to remain in your account beyond the 60 day limit. The company do offer 30 days free with each device which is more than enough time to get you hooked.
Ring is as much about security as it is convenience. The ability to monitor and record activity at your front door is a reassuring deterrent to the casual visitor. The bright ring-light around the button highlights the camera instantly to visitors, especially in the hours of darkness.
The Ring Video Doorbell offers a simple, value for money solution that allows you to appear at home even when you aren’t. Installation is simple and the fully featured mobile app is reliable and easy to use. If you are concerned that your phone is going to go mad every time someone passes your doorbell fear not. You can turn off alerts at particularly times of the day and on different days. For example if everyone is arriving back from work between 5pm and 7pm although the videos will still be recorded you won’t receive an alert.
The Ring doorbell would have been even better if it offered Homekit support, I am not sure if this a possible add on in the future, I suspect if it comes it will be higher up the product range. The system does offer IFTTT support so are still some automation options available.
Video quality is fair at 720p and I have interacted with visitors over at my door over 4G while being twenty miles away and have been genuinely impressed. I suspect it would be difficult to clearly identify strangers with the 720p footage so if that is a concern I would recommend opting for a 1080p version.
Ring offer a range of different doorbells from version 2 to Pro to Elite but I have to say the basic version one device is remarkably impressive and excellent value for money.