Ring Video Doorbell: What you need to know
The beauty of the Ring Video Doorbell, which still holds it own despite being around since 2013, is its support via the app. This means you can enjoy the latest app features on a now affordable smart doorbell. Someone rings your doorbell, you hear it - and see them - on your phone.
The quality, compared to the newer Ring Video Doorbell 2 and Ring Video Doorbell Pro models, is lower at 720p. However, that is still very good when viewed on a smartphone of someone close to the front door. It's only if you want to use yours as a smart home security camera too, with a view to keep an eye on the street and driveway, that you might want a newer model.
The Ring Video Doorbell comes with both battery and wired installation options to suit everyone. While the former can be less secure it's a far easier option that means there's no need for a professional installation. That said, you can swap your current wired doorbell easily enough and this will even ring your old chime.
So is the Ring Video Doorbell for you? Read on to find out everything you need to know.
Ring Video Doorbell: Features
- 720p video quality
- Motion detection alerts
Camera lens: 140-degrees vertical, 180-degrees horizontal
Night vision: Yes
Recording options: Cloud via subscription
Two-way talk: Yes
WiFi: 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n
The Ring Video Doorbell has a selection of smart features that make it more than just a camera and a bell. You can setup motion detection so as to receive alerts, if you have them on, when movement is detected. Alternatively you can simply have it alert you when the doorbell is pressed.
The camera is a 720p unit that's capable of 15fps video quality but captures at a very wide angle. This is thanks to a 180-degree horizontal and 140-degree vertical field of view. The end result is a fish eye style image that takes in all the edges, even when subjects are up close. The camera is also capable of night vision thanks to a selection of IR LEDs under the lens.
You can use the Ring Video Doorbell as a hardwired solution or battery powered. If you pick the latter it can be easier to install, if you don't already have a wired doorbell to swap it in for. But you will then need to remove it monthly to charge via microUSB.
The ring around the doorbell button is lit with blue LEDs when it is pressed, when it charges or when you're carrying out setup. This is a nice way to feedback to people at the door that it is working, especially if you don't use a chime they could hear and only phone notifications.
Ring Video Doorbell: Design and build
- Wired and battery options
- Compact and attractive
The Ring Video Doorbell is the largest of the options from the company as it was one of the first. This is also thanks to the ability to use it in battery mode. That one month of battery power means there needs to be a large enough battery in there to keep you going, hence the chunky size. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though as these types of doorbells are now known as camera units and can act as a security deterrent.
The bottom half of the unit, which houses the large button for ringing, is metallic with an attractive brushed finish. The top half, which houses the camera, is a shiny black plastic which is able to hide the IR LEDs for a seamless finish. The button itself is surrounded by a blue light ring that appears colourless when not active.
The unit also features a two-way microphone meaning you're able to hear and talk to anyone at the door via your phone. Ideal if you're away and want to give a courier delivery instructions.
The unit itself measures 12.65 x 6.17 x 2.21 cm so you'll immediately notice this as a lot larger than a regular doorbell. This unit is weatherproof with Ring saying it is able to handle, rain, snow, heat and sleat. There isn't an IP rating, so don't drop it into water, but for everything your front door space gets throw at it by nature, this should be able to handle it.
The bottom of the unit has two screws that allow it to be removed from the wall mounting plate. This is what you'll need to remove every time you want to bring the unit in for a charge, if you opt for the wireless battery powered mode. This should be every month or so and is easy enough to do after a bit of practice and the right powered screwdriver.
If you have an existing doorbell, this unit can swap in for it easily enough. The Ring will then use the current chime to make a ring noise in your home. If you don't have a chime in the home then you can buy this separately and hook that up to the Ring Video Doorbell if you like. This is a plug-in device that connects to your Wi-Fi making it super simple to add.
Installation is made as easy as possible by Ring thanks to the inclusion of lots of kit like a screwdriver, masonry drill bit, spirit level, screws and anchors. All you need is a drill and, if you want an extra angled mounting brackets, these are also available from Ring.
Ring Video Doorbell: Performance
- Only 15fps video
- Motion alerts are flakey
- Excellent image quality day and night
Despite this Ring Video Doorbell model topping out at 720p and 15fps video, it still does the job well. While newer models offer 1080p at 30fps, that's not always needed. For the basic job of seeing who's right there at the door, the refresh rate and resolution are enough. The camera's ability to detect lighting and adjust contrast to suit is impressive. Colours are rich enough and the dynamic range is such that everything in shot is clear.
At night the IR LEDs will turn on to illuminate the area in front of the camera in a night vision style shot. This has a colour finish but it generally doesn't give much with a muted finish. Despite this the images are still clear enough to make out faces clearly.
There is a motion detection system which you can setup from the app. This allows you to mark motion detection depth. This gives you the ability to setup how near or far you want detection to reach, between five and 30 feet. The reality is that this is hit-and-miss as the depth reliance isn't so accurate. As such it can often be better to simply get alerts when the doorbell is actually pressed.
Video storage is a bit of an issue with the Ring Video Doorbell as it's all cloud based only, and you need to pay. While you do get the first month of Ring Protect for free, it'll then cost you $2 per month or $20 for the year. It's not a lot but is something you'll need to factor in if you want to keep video, which is essential if you're using the doorbell as a security camera too.
This model is limited to 2.4GHz WiFi but that's not a bad thing since this is the longer range version of WiFi which helps the doorbell connect even over longer distances.
Ring Video Doorbell: Verdict
The Ring Video Doorbell, despite being old now, still offers a complete system that's a brilliant way to use your phone as a video intercom to your front door. The picture quality is clear enough, day or night, with a great field of view. Alerts to your phone, anywhere you are, coupled with a two-way talk function, make this ideal for giving courier instructions when you're out.
While this can also function as a security camera, motion detection isn't perfect which can result in too many alerts. Also, you have to pay for cloud based storage if you want to keep evidence footage.
The smart home compatibility of this doorbell make it appealing for anyone with a smart lock or for use with IFTTT. The fact you can use this wired or with battery power makes it flexible enough for use by anyone in most property situations. The weatherproofing also helps set your mind at ease here. The downside is how easy this is to steal, presuming the thief isn't caught on camera, of course.
This is still a fantastic video doorbell that's now a fraction of its original price, making it a competitor even against the newer smart doorbell competition.