Reviewed by David Savage
With home security being something that is in most people’s consciousness these days, it is being taken much more seriously. There are lots of home security products hitting the market, from security cameras to burglar alarms, smart door sensors to smart alarms, patio door locks to safes.
We have had a spate of opportunistic home and car burglaries in our area recently so have improved our home security with security cameras, door and window sensors and better locks. Whilst all that is well and good to try and deter those up to no good out of plain sight, you never know who is going to be knocking at your front door.
Fortunately, technology has the answer with smart home tech in the form of the Ring Video Doorbell.
The Ring Video Doorbell is a smart wireless doorbell that is connected to your internet router, enabling you to see who is at the door and even converse with them (from your smartphone or tablet) before having to answer the door.
In a security conscious age, being able to speak and see someone at your door is brilliant and not just for the elderly or vulnerable people living on their own. From my desk I can tell delivery people where to leave parcels.
You will need a compatible Android or iOS smartphone or tablet as well as an internet connection with wifi in your home or office. There are a few different versions of the Ring Doorbell and we received the standard Ring in bronze (silver is also available). The bronze version, I feel, looks much better and is in keeping with the dark woodwork of our door.
With the Ring standard, in the box is:
- Main doorbell unit
- Backing plate
- Charging cable (micro USB)
- 5 x screws and rawl plugs
- Double-ended security screwdriver
- Drill bit
- Spirit level
- Diode (for use with wired set up)
- Security stickers
- Instructions / quick start guide
On opening the box, the Ring is bigger that I expected, it measures 4.98 x 2.43 x 0.87 inches (12.65 x 6.17 x 2.21cm). A quite large unit, bigger than a standard doorbell but not so big that that it won’t fit on your door or in the surrounding space. It does however feel really solid and sturdy.
The Ring works from a rechargeable battery. The battery needs recharging every six months or so depending on what options you set up (motion detection on or off) and how much recording it does etc. It needs to be removed from the door to do this (the Ring 2 has a quick release battery). If you do have an existing doorbell, The Ring can also be hardwired to it and take its power from that. We didn’t have an existing doorbell so have gone for the battery option and put it on to charge straight away (takes around 5 hours to fully charge). Whilst waiting for it to charge we decided to fit the mounting outside.
Installation is simple. We didn’t want the Ring on the door itself and the frame of the door wasn’t wide enough to house it so we decided to mount it on the wall next to door (which then also enables us to see up the drive). The mounting plate has 4 pre-drilled holes that you can use to mark the wall for where you need to drill. It even comes with its own tiny spirit level so that you can ensure you get it straight. Once we had decided exactly where to site the Ring (we have a stone wall rather than smooth brick so had to find the best spot to fit flat and see who is at the door) and marked where to drill it was time to start. We were happy to see that Ring have thought of everything and even supply the correct drill bit to do this. We drilled out four holes, inserted the supplied rawl plugs and screwed the mounting plate to the wall.
Once completed, we just had to wait for the Ring to finish charging. When fully charged, the Ring slides down the mounting plate onto the clips either side and then is secured at the bottom by tightening two small security screws (security screwdriver is supplied).
With the Ring mounted securely in place we were now ready to connect it to the wifi and our phones.
Pairing the Ring to the app and phone is simple. Just scan the QR code that is included in the box (it can also be found on the back of the doorbell). The app then takes your through setting it: connecting to wifi, motion detection (180 degrees with infrared heat detection), activity areas (there are five selectable zones and customisable sensitivity scale) and optimising for the area you live in (facing the street, lots of cars going past, quiet road etc.). You can even set schedules for motion detection should you only want that function at a specific time of day (overnight).
When the app is installed and set up, the doorbell is ready to function. When someone presses the bell you will be notified on you phone and can answer it within the app. Once the app is open the image is very good and you can clearly see who is at the door in 720p HD (has a 180 degrees horizontal viewing angle). You can then speak to them and hear what they are saying so you can then decide whether to go and answer the door or not. There is no chime unit supplied with the Ring, but one can be purchased separately for a cost of £29. You can connect the Ring to any Echo smart speakers that you have in the house so that when someone presses the doorbell they will announce that someone is at the door.
I don’t always have my phone with me (I am always leaving it in a different room). On my desk I have an Echo Show and can connect the Ring to that. This means that I can answer the doorbell from that – I can see who is at the door and still have the audio (the Echo dot just gives the audio).
The Ring is just not a doorbell though. As you can use it to view a live stream you can use it a security camera as well. Just tap Go Live in the app and you have a live view of the front of your house.
The quality of the video image is very good (day or night). It records in 720p HD although at certain times of the day ours does look a little overexposed on the image up the driveway (we haven’t sited it in direct sunlight). With the wide-angle view of 180 degrees it can clearly see who is at the door and across our driveway.
The two-way audio is brilliant. It is clear and you can speak to your caller easily, telling them you will be there shortly, to hang on, to leave the parcel on the step or safe place or to go away. It works really well.
Overall, I am very pleased with the Ring Video Doorbell. It adds another level of security to the house and makes answering the door much easier (I can see how it would be excellent for vulnerable people who don’t like answering the door). With the motion detection on, you can even see (and be notified of) anybody approaching the house – even it they don’t press the doorbell.
The Ring Video Doorbell is an excellent device, whether you are just using to see who is at your door, or as part of a full home security system.
Available to buy from Amazon here.