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Ring Video Doorbell review

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Ring Video Doorbell
  • Ring Video Doorbell
  • Ring Video Doorbell
  • Ring Video Doorbell
  • Ring Video Doorbell
  • Ring Video Doorbell
  • Ring Video Doorbell
  • Ring Video Doorbell
  • Ring Video Doorbell

Summary

Our Score:

7

Pros

  • Smart design
  • Very easy setup
  • Largely intuitive mobile app
  • Decent-quality footage
  • Reliable motion detection
  • Talkback works well

Cons

  • Easy to steal
  • No ring tone options
  • Only one month of cloud storage included

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  • ebay

Key Features

  • 720p video capture
  • Cloud video storage
  • Motion detection
  • Works with existing doorbell
  • Talk and see caller through your phone
  • Manufacturer: Ring
  • Review Price: £159.00

What is the Ring Video Doorbell?

The Ring is a clever twist on more traditional internet-enabled security cameras such as the Netgear Arlo. As well as providing motion-responsive video recording and alerts, it also replaces your doorbell.

This means you can have bell presses show up on your phone, and install multiple extra bells throughout your home, so you’ll never miss a visitor again.

With the ability to talk back to visitors via your phone, you can also leave instructions for couriers or inform friends and family of your whereabouts if they come calling.

The Ring isn’t unique in providing this selection of features, but it is among the most well integrated and easy to use. So should you invest in a digital doorbell?

Ring Video Doorbell – Design and Installation

The Ring makes a good impression by including a full selection of tools and accessories for mounting it. Not only do you get screws and Rawlplugs, but also a mini spirit level, a two-ended screwdriver and even the right size of masonry drill bit. The only extra thing you’ll need to install this device is a drill.

Related: Y-Cam Evo review

Ring Video Doorbell

That little bit of extra effort by Ring makes all the difference for those who may not have a particularly well-stocked tool kit.

The installation process itself is pretty straightforward too. If you’ve got an existing powered doorbell you can simply swap out the old bell button and replace it with the Ring, using the old wiring – assuming it’s connected to a standard 8-24VAC supply.

The alternative is that you either get a doorbell transformer installed or you can simply run the Ring off the battery and charge it every month or so when it runs out - it charges via microUSB.

To recharge the device you have to remove it from its base plate, which involves undoing two screws and sliding it off. It’s a bit of a faff, but once you’ve got the knack it’s a two-minute job.

Ring Video Doorbell

However, this is one of the early potential issues with this device, as it’s all too easy for someone to just steal your Ring, assuming they cover their face, of course. Not to mention that it's easy-to-reach position means it's simply that bit easier to break/steal than a conventional IP camera that would be mounted higher up on a wall. Also it was reported that it’s relatively easy for someone to hack into your Wi-Fi by stealing a Ring loaded with early firmware versions. However, the latest update apparently prevents this.

If your Ring is stolen the company will replace it free of charge if you submit a Police report.

It’s a smart-looking unit. Measuring 12.65 x 6.17 x 2.21cm, it’s larger than a normal doorbell, but it's still nicely compact. The bottom section is covered in a nice sandblasted metal, while the top sees glossy plastic surrounding the camera.

Ring claims its doorbell is weathproof, with rain, snow, heat and sleat resilience, though the company doesn't claim any specific IP rating. It clearly won't survive a dunking but should resist most everyday weather.

The camera shoots at up to 720p at 15fps, which is a little low compared to some security cameras that can manage 1080p at 30fps, but is still sufficient for the up-close surveillance it’s meant for. The Ring Video Doorbell Pro offers 1080p recording.

Ring Video Doorbell

The lens is an ultra-wide angle type with a field of view of 180 degrees horizontal and 140 degrees vertical. It results in footage that has a round fish-eye effect, but that's the price you pay for such a wide-angle shot.

Above the lens is an array of IR LEDs for night vision, while below is the only other external feature, which is the button itself.

Surrounding the button is a ring of blue light that flashes to indicate the Ring's status while setting it up, charging it and when it’s pressed.

When you do press it, either the Ring itself will chime or your existing doorbell will. Alternatively you can buy a separate Chime accessory that plugs into any main socket in your home and connects to the Ring via Wi-Fi. With a Chime installed, that will ring instead of the Ring.

Slide the Ring off its mounting and you can access the Micro USB charging port and orange setup button.

Once you’ve downloaded the Ring app and set the Ring up via its built-in Wi-Fi signal, it’s a doddle to add it to your network and get set up. A quick sign-up to the Ring service with an email address and password and you can get right down to using it – there are very few extra steps before you’re up and running.

Ring Video Doorbell

Ring Video Doorbell – Image Quality and Ease of Use

The Ring really is a doddle to use. The app is clear and simple, and it does a fine job of automating the whole process of adding devices to your network.

The app also links to the Ring’s cloud video recording service so you can play back clips captured via the motion detection or when the bell is rung.

Perhaps most crucially is that it provides notifications whenever the doorbell is pressed or, optionally, when motion is detected, and you can then talk back to the visitor if you so choose. This is possible no matter where you are in the world, assuming you have an internet connection.

Ring Video Doorbell

The footage it provides is plenty good enough for what’s required. The camera does a decent job of judging exposure, shows sufficient detail for close-up subjects and provides a wide field of view.

The motion detection also works well. You can set up a multi-zone system where the camera ignores certain parts of the image either completely or past a certain distance – so you can make it ignore traffic, for instance – but it seemed a bit hit-and-miss. I just ended up setting the system to record whenever anything happened.

Ring Video DoorbellThe Ring also has IR LEDs for night vision

This brings us to the big problem with the Ring: you only get one month of cloud video recording for free, and there’s no option to record to a local device such as a PC either, although you can trigger other IFTTT services. After that it’s £2.50 a month or £24.99 annually. Neither are particularly extortionate prices, but I’d have liked to have got at least six months for free before you have to start subscribing.

Alternatively, an option similar to Netgear’s Arlo system would be good. It has various paid-for tiers or you can opt for a free rolling one-week recording service – any footage older than a week is deleted.

Ring Video Doorbell

Should I buy the Ring Video Doorbell?

The Ring is a great one-stop solution to boosting your home’s security. It provides good motion-detecting video surveillance and lets you see who’s calling at the door. It also allows larger households to easily extend the range of the doorbell, making it very useful indeed.

Priced at £159, it’s pretty much on the money for a fully integrated solution with a dedicated app and cloud service too. You can get cheaper conventional IP cameras, but you’ll need separate software to get them working.

However, the ease with which you can steal the camera and the fact that you only get one month of free video recording means it comes up short of excellence.

Related: Best Wi-Fi Extenders

Verdict

Technically a great home security solution, but the required subscription service dents its value.

Overall Score

7

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  • ebay

Adrian Sco

September 27, 2016, 9:55 am

I am a Ring owner and think some of the criticisms here are unfair. Regarding theft, it uses security screws. I am sure a thief could acquire the right tool very easily but not sure these are the kind of devices that thieves would plan a heist for. More importantly, when I bought mine there was a guarantee to replace it if stolen - is this not still the case? I have had it for 18 months so far and thankfully not needed to call on the guarantee, but it does eliminate the concern you have flagged and perhaps it should boost the review score to four stars? I also found the battery lasted 3 months under fairly intensive use so not sure why you would be recharging weekly? I have since wired mine in as it is a bit of a hassle to have to unscrew (with the security screw driver provided) as you say. It really is a well thought through product and pretty reliable as far as smart home equipment goes. It has IFTT integration too.

Ed

September 27, 2016, 12:01 pm

Hi Adrian. My mistake. Every month or so, not week or so. However, regards the screws, they're not anything rare - they're just torx screws, and they're not held in firm enough or difficult enough to reach that a pair of pliers couldn't be used to loosen them. You're correct regards the replacement, though. Not sure how I forgot to mention that. It doesn't affect my score, though, as the footage quality is definitely below similarly priced IP cameras and the fact you have to pay straightaway, with no local storage option, leaves a real sour taste.

Adrian Sco

September 27, 2016, 3:34 pm

Yes the restrictions on cloud storage are really frustrating, but this seems to be the way most of these services are operating at the moment. It is not extortionate in and of itself, but when you consider that if you buy a Nest Cam you have to pay them for cloud storage, if you have an iPhone you have to pay for icloud, etc. It all starts to add up. It would be better if you paid slightly more for the device but had the freedom to store the footage from all your streaming devices on one cloud storage provider. I would love a Nest cam to complement this but will never buy one whilst they force you to use their expensive cloud storage.

Ed

September 27, 2016, 3:47 pm

Yeah, the Nest Cam at least has a 3-hour free service, which is better than nothing but again I'd hope for that to be 24-hours or a couple of days minimum, with a download option included. It's simply unacceptable that you're paying so much for these devices and having them not function without a subscription.

James Scottland

September 27, 2016, 4:19 pm

I agree with Adrian, that these criticisms seem to be unfair. Ask yourself who steals a doorbell? A burglar is more likely to steal a bike perched up outside the house which the video doorbell would pick up via the motion detection. This product also is very weather resistant from my experience. I first heard about the product from my uncle in Seattle, USA and they have more rain there than the rainy UK. It has a water tight seal around the unit and unless you decide to submerge it in your toilet the doorbell will be fine!

You do also get Ringtone options, one for doorbell and the other for motion on your property.

Lastly I just got a pair of pliers and had no luck trying to get the unit off the bracket, so good luck to a burglar (one with a brain) who wouldn't even think of this! The company replace any stolen doorbell for free and the burglar will be on video anyway.

Great product, nice review...just a little inaccurate which is unlike trusted reviews.

Matthew wright

September 27, 2016, 8:24 pm

I did loads of research on this product before buying it three months ago. Firstly battery still going strong. Secondly, I now have a log of all activity motion and rings to my house which you can download and share the videos if needed or requested - don't think for less than half the price of a pint a month is expensive for cloud storage. Lastly agree with James and Adrian harsh review - I mean would a thief really cover their face and lever the thing off? they'd need the back plate as well, and even then i think it can be remotely diasbaled/linked to an account.

toboev

September 28, 2016, 6:26 am

Sometimes you have to stop and do a reality check. Paying a subscription - for your doorbell! Where will it end? Toothbrushes?

Sillypollas

September 28, 2016, 11:21 am

I have been looking at this line of product recently. Please could you compare the Ring with Skybell HD and Doorbird?

I think these gadgets need a little more time and revision before I will go all out and pay for one. As other people have commented, the cloud storage is very mean and in other forums people have complained about the time lag from the time someone pushes the button to the time it rings on your phone. Each company's phone app badly need updating too according to some.

Prestwick

October 27, 2016, 11:43 am

Thats a bit disingenuous. You're not paying a subscription for the doorbell, you're paying a subscription for the *camera* that sits just above the doorbell!

At the end of the day you're not buying a doorbell here but actually a security camera that just happens to have a doorbell feature built in!

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