Ring Video Doorbell Review

Ring Video DoorbellA common problem for those looking to monitor the outside of the house is finding a feature rich camera that can overcome the weather elements and power challenges.  The Ring Video Doorbell has a lot of that figured out.  The Ring Video Doorbell replaces your current doorbell or can be added as a brand new doorbell to homes that do not have a traditional doorbell connection.

This is the first generation of video doorbell from Ring.  Unlike the second generation, only the first generation supports battery power.  The newer generation requires a hardwire.

Software

You can access the Ring Video Doorbell with your Apple iOS or Android smartphone.  Ring does not offer a web portal.  Sorry Microsoft fans.

Cloud storage is available with a $30 annual subscription fee.  As cloud subscriptions go, this isn’t a bad price as I’ve seen some that exceed $100 yearly.  The subscription allows you to go back up to six months.

The Ring Video Doorbell iOS or Android app is used to setup the camera.  It’s reasonably easy.  It’s a typical setup where you press the button on the device, connect to the SSID that it’s transmitting and set it up with the app.

There is a motion detection function which has a lot of adjustment options within the app.  You can adjust the distance of motion detection from 5 to 30 feet and select zones of where you would like to pickup motion.  That’s useful in that you may only want to monitor events that occur near the front  door versus somewhere out on the street.  Depending upon how close the Ring Video Doorbell is located to the street, you may get a lot of false motion alerts every time a car passes by so this feature can save you from a lot of problems.

The Ring Video Doorbell is a uniquely purposed camera in that it doubles as a real doorbell.  You can use the motion detection feature to trigger an event or, not surprisingly, someone ringing the doorbell.  Think of the doorbell ringing as an on/off switch.  The app allows you to be notified when someone rings the doorbell or when it detects motion.  There are separate settings for both of these events meaning one isn’t dependent on the other.

The software also has a battery strength indicator which is vital to ensure you stay ahead of the potential of the device running out of juice.

Connectivity

The Ring Video Doorbell connects via typical wireless protocols 802.11 b/g/n.  The camera supports a single 2.4 frequency.  Dual-band support, while a nice feature to have, may not work well for this device.  The 5 GHz frequency works best close to the wireless router.  There’s a good chance that a wireless device outside the home isn’t going to connect well to a 5 GHz router so I don’t view this as a show stopper.

Hardware

Power for an outdoor camera is always a challenge.  The Ring Video Doorbell can connect to the power that your current doorbell uses.  That’s a fairly interesting point.  I would not have thought that would be powerful enough to run the camera, but it is.

What about those homes that do not have a traditional doorbell, hence, no power?  Not a problem.  The Ring Video Doorbell has a dual power source and includes a 5200 mAh rechargeable battery.  You have to remove the device from the wall and recharge it via a USB cable.  it takes about ten hours to do this.  The manufacturer states that you will get between 6-12 months of use between charges but your mileage is going to vary depending upon a lot of factors including frequency of use.

When someone rings the bell, you receive a loud alert on your phone.  That’s great as long as your phone is nearby.  If not, Ring offers an accessory called the Ring Chime which plugs into an AC outlet and rings when the doorbell is pressed.  This seems like a good addition that should be included in the initial purchase as you aren’t always going to have your phone with you.  Sadly, it’s something that isn’t included in the initial purchase.  We wrote a detailed article to help make the decision as to if the Chime accessory is necessary.

The Ring Video Doorbell has a built-in speaker and microphone that will scare the heck out of the person that is ringing the doorbell.  It’s almost worth getting this camera just to record the reaction of the person ringing the bell.

There isn’t any on-board storage.  You will need to use the cloud plan if there’s a need to go back and review some activity.  For the cloud storage to work effectively, you need to have a good strong connection to your wireless router or be prepared for choppy incomplete recording.

The image is clear when within site of the camera.  It records video at 720p resolution which for purposes of using this as a doorbell camera is adequate.  There is a 180 degree line of site which is about as wide as it gets.  Unfortunately this will result in a fish eye effect, which quite frankly isn’t surprising to me.  Infrared LEDs provide night vision.

These cameras are small.  They measure 4.98″ high x 2.43″ wide x .87″ deep.  The doorbell can naturally be used outdoors and has an operating range of -5 to +120 degrees Fahrenheit.  That should cover most of the extremes throughout the globe.

Mounts

It’s a doorbell and that’s where this mounts.  The Ring Video Doorbell comes with a mounting plate that attaches to any flat surface.  The device is attached using screws and a special screwdriver they provide.  There’s also a drill bit in case new holes need to be drilled.

Fun and Different

Ring has an interesting warranty clause where they will provide a replacement if your Ring Video Doorbell is stolen.  They have these uniquely shaped anti-theft screws and I guess have enough faith in their theft deterrent design to make this type of warranty.

Summary

The Ring Video Doorbell allows you to talk to someone through your doorbell regardless of where you are located.  You can see who’s at the door via your smartphone even if they don’t ring the bell.  For those wanting a solution to monitor the front door, this is a good solution.  The Ring Video Doorbell is not a fully blown home security camera though.  It’s not made to give complete surveillance of a large area.  If a fuller surveillance area than a breezeway or foyer is needed, this isn’t for you.  Look at something similar to the Nest Cam with a good outdoor enclosure.

Quick Specs:

Video QualityField of ViewCloud SupportSD SupportNight VisionMobile/Web AppAlertsOutdoor
1280x720180 DegreesYes, $30/yearNoYesYes/NoYesYes

Manufacturer Link:  Ring

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