The Ring Video Doorbell first came to my attention through their advertisements on a number of US-based podcasts I listen to. Shortly after I first heard about Ring, I headed to their website and at the time was disappointed this IoT device wasn’t available in Australia. Now that’s all changed with the Australian release of the product and service.
Traditional doorbells have had their day and now they’re going high-tech. The Ring Video Doorbell connects to your home WiFi network (compatible with wireless routers running 802.11 B, G, or N on 2.4 GHz) so when someone pushes the button, magic starts to happen. Here’s the fun part, you get to choose how you consume the ring in a variety of ways. Ring sends a push notification to your phone and you can answer and even speak to the person at the door.
The doorbell we had for review was the Satin Nickel colour and the silver/black combination is definitely my pick of the bunch. It also comes in polished brass, venetian bronze and antique brass, but seriously, buy the Satin Nickel. The doorbell is 12.65 cm x 6.17 cm. x 2.21 cm in size which may be large compared your current doorbell, but not much bigger than your phone.
The face of the device is what’s seen by your visitors so its great the design in minimalist and incredibly stylish. The front features a wide-angled HD (720p) video camera with a 180 degree field of view, an adjustable motion detector (range and angles) a noise cancelling microphone, and at the bottom lives two configurable speakers.
The main interaction comes via the button, but the button on the Ring doorbell is surrounded by an LED Ring which produces a series of patterns and colours that communicate to you connection status, error messages and more.
The device itself can be installed using either wired power (if available) or battery powered. Whichever power method you choose, everything you need to install the Ring Video Doorbell is included in the pack, minus a drill. Included is the mounting bracket, a drill bit, screws, fasteners, screw driver and even a mini spirit level. Once you’ve nailed the installation of the bracket, charged and setup the ring doorbell through the mobile app, you simply clip the doorbell into place and tighten the two screws in the bottom of the device.
While these screws do a great job of securing your doorbell, it is conceivable someone may be determined enough to steal it. Thankfully Ring provide a lifetime replacement guarentee if this ever occurs.
Before we get too far into this review, I wanted to show you a couple of events that were captured with the Ring Video Doorbell during the review period. The first is when a delivery guy from TNT pressed the doorbell when I was away from the house. My phone vibrated and I seen the notification from the Ring app. I answered the call and then was able to see the live stream from the camera on the doorbell, as well as interact with the delivery guy via voice. A quick discussion confirmed the delivery required a signature and was a large box, so it wasn’t appropriate to leave the delivery. I love how casually this guy converses with me through the doorbell, he didn’t seem taken back or concerned at all of the voice coming from the doorbell.
The next is another delivery, however this time I missed it and only watching back later discovered a very different experience. It appears to me that this delivery guy receives no answer and then with the package he was delivering tucked under his arm, proceeds to check under our doormat for a key. Of course we don’t have a one and he leaves. This immediately makes me wonder what would have happened had there been a key there.
Of course even the best connected system still needs to facilitate traditional operations and for this, Ring offers a Chime that simply plugs into an AC outlet in your home. This is an additional cost but the great thing is, if you live in a big house, you can add additional Chimes to ensure you hear the ring wherever you are.
One of the best features of Ring is that they support IFTTT. There are 2 triggers, one for when a ring is detected and one for motion detected. Both of these can then be connected to the litany of other connected devices to create connected experiences. When part of the goal of owning a Ring is security, you could turn on LIFX or Hue light bulbs when motion is detected by the doorbell to simulate someone being home.
The camera also supports night vision, which is incredibly vital given wanted and unwanted visitors may arrive at any time during the 24 hour clock cycle.
Ring does a pretty good job of platform support with apps for Android, iOS, Windows 10 and the Mac, which means almost everywhere you commonly are, you can answer a call from the doorbell and interact via voice with the person at the door. You can also access recordings and motion detected events, as well as share a link to other members of your home that can interact with the Ring Video Doorbell.
Personally I tested Ring on Android with the Galaxy S7 and on Windows 10, with push notifications on the phone, as well as Action Center on the desktop providing great access to the device. Unfortunately you can’t yet access a live feed at anytime, but that is reported to be on the way.
One of the best features for those who are running off the rechargeable internal lithium-polymer battery is to remotely check the charge amount remaining. For the week I’ve had the Ring, the battery has only dropped 1% and depending on your usage, it should last up to a year on a single charge. This means if you don’t own your own place, the Ring may still be an option for you.
The Ring Video Doorbell excels at its goal of capturing critical detail about who moves around the entry to your home. While reviewing the device, I did notice one issue, in the middle of the day, the image was overexposed. When people approached the front door, the camera adjusted accordingly and the necessary detail was there. This means the overexposure won’t be an issue if you’re trying to track down who visited your front door, but I would like to see some user-adjustment on exposure, especially when the motion detection can pickup people in the distance that can’t be seen.
The only other minor issue of inconvenience, a total first world problem, is that an adjustment to the motion detection radius or distance required confirmation by physically pressing the doorbell button. After initially configuring the motion settings and leaving home, I was being pinged everytime a drove car passed, to adjust this, I had to wait till I returned home.
Price & Availability
The Ring Video Doorbell is available now from Ring.com, JB HiFi, Harvey Norman and selected Bunnings stores and costs A$299.00, once you add shipping, you’ll have it to your door for around $303.95. While you’ll get a 30-day free trial of cloud recording, Ring’s Cloud Video Recording service is pretty affordable at just $4 per month or $40 for the whole year. It is optional, but will let you review, save and share up to six months of recorded events.
If you’re serious about securing your property, you’ll want remote storage of video from the Doorbell, so if the criminals attempt to steal it, they’ll be captured in the video and you can log into the website or access the app to retrieve and show the police.
If you do decide to go with the Chime, you’ll be up for an additional A$59.00.
After hearing about Ring, encouraged by reports of investment into the company by the likes of Richard Branson, before using it I thought there must be something special, something like the SONOS effect happening here. It turns out I was right, the device is one you can easily fall in love with. As someone who had their mailbox damaged a few months back, I’m conscious that crime is a real issue now in my neighborhood and the ability to access video footage of any future incidents, gives me confidence.
I’m also regularly receiving packages via couriers and can’t always be home to receive them. The experience in the video above where I was able to remotely interact with a deliver guy, determine the size of a package and if it was appropriate to ask him to leave it or not, worked amazingly well. The only problem is, I now need to work on an IoT device that allows me to remotely open the garage door to allow deliveries to be left while I’m away from home, but Ring is the first key to finally solving the delivery ticket problem we all face.