Have you ever had a package stolen off your doorstep? Live in a not so safe neighborhood? Or do you just like to spy on your neighbors? Well, I’ve got the review for you … the Ring Video Doorbell 2.
Video doorbells seem to be flooding the market recently. You have the Nest Hello Doorbell, the Blink video doorbell, the August doorbell, the Skybell HD, and about a dozen other knockoffs that you can find on Amazon.
The real benefit of a video doorbell is being able to see who’s at your door whether you’re home or away. Many of these doorbells even let you speak to the person through a built in speaker from your smartphone. Add to that the ability to link many of these doorbells into your smart home systems with IFTTT, Smartthings, Amazon, and you can have a nice home security set up.
Out of the box the first thing I noticed is that the build quality felt a little cheap. It’s all plastic, which makes sense for weather proofing, but it doesn’t feel as solid as I would have liked. The plastic also can scratch easily, I have a bunch of minor scratches on the shiny camera area already, but it’s only superficial scratches and won’t impact the performance.
As for the design of the product, I’d give Ring much higher marks here. The look of the doorbell is pretty nice. It definitely looks like a doorbell, which is more than can be said for some of the competition, like the August Doorbell.
Seriously, look at that. When someone sees this next to your door, they should immediately know what to do … not puzzle it out.
The Ring doorbell comes with two covers: a silver and bronzey brown, so it should blend and look good with a pretty wide variety of homes.
The unboxing experience nice. Well written installation instructions and all of the hardware you need to install the doorbell. They even include a couple of mounting plate options that allow you to angle the doorbell for wedge and corner mounting.
If you have an existing wired doorbell, you might be able to use the existing wiring to power the doorbell, which means you’ll never have to recharge the battery manually. There are some wrinkles with that though, because it only works with transformers between 8 and 24 volts AC. It won’t work with DC transformers. In my case, I didn’t have any wiring at all, so I’m completely reliant on the battery.
The battery life when I first set up the doorbell was awful. It only lasted about two weeks, which I knew wasn’t correct, so I contacted Ring customer support. There were several back and forth conversations I had with them .. the best I can say about their support … it needs some improvement. I never got a satisfactory answer. I got conflicting recommendations with one support rep basically telling me that I may have to return my whole doorbell, will another rep said it was a bad battery, with a third telling me to reset the device back to factory default and set it up again. The third option ended up being the winner, so there must have been an software glitch that was causing my doorbell to drain the battery too fast. Since that fix, the battery has lasted about 4-5 months per charge. Much better.
One recommendation I have for users on the battery, make sure the on demand viewing option is turned off. Leaving this on will cause the battery to drain much faster, not too mention is a feature that isn’t really needed … you won’t miss it. Unless you really enjoy watching your plants sway in he breeze.
You can configure the motion trigger zones to fine tune the recordings so you don’t get random people driving by or walking on the sidewalk. It took some experimentation before I got this one dialed in and was able to stop getting recordings of every car that drove by. This is one area where your milage will vary because it depends on your homes view of the street and neighborhood.
When someone rings the doorbell, it rings on my phone and tablet within a few seconds, so there is a slight delay there. The video quality is passable. The resolution is high enough to be able to identify people, but there’s a softness to the video … not to mention the extreme fish eye effect that you’ll see.
Subscription fees are definitely something to keep in mind with these devices. Usually, companies charge by the device, but offer discounts when you bundle more devices with their service. Ring offers a free subscription, but you’ll only get live video when someone is at the door. No recordings are maintained. The Basic Plan is $3/month or $30/year per Ring device, every video is kept for a 60 day rolling window. And a Protect Plus Plan is available for $10/month or $100/year, where you get professional alarm monitoring, a 60 day rolling window of videos, and unlimited Ring devices on your account. So if you have 3 or fewer Ring devices, it’s best to pay for the Basic Plan to get the most bang for your dollar … unless you really want the professional monitoring service.
Earlier in the year, Amazon bought Ring and has be integrating it into it’s Amazon services. So if you have an Amazon Echo Show or a Fire TV, you can ask Alexa to show you who’s at your door and talk to them. Interesting, if somewhat still limited at the moment.
If you use IFTTT, you can link your doorbell to many other automated services. You can have lights in your living room flash if the doorbell rings. Send a text message, or trigger other security cameras, like Arlo cameras, to record for 30 seconds if there’s movement detected or there’s a ring on your doorbell. I have a trigger that will turn on my porch lights if motion is detected after sunset.
Another nice add-on is the Ring Chime for $30, which is a small speaker device that plugs into any outlet. After setting up the Chime, it will make an audible ring inside the house just like a regular doorbell. If you have a wired Ring setup, then you won’t need this since the Ring will use your built in chimes, but for people without a wired setup, this is kind of a must.
A video doorbell is definitely not for everyone, so I wouldn’t say this is a must buy. But we’ve found it extremely useful for knowing when a package we’ve been waiting for has been delivered or for knowing that our dog walker has stopped by. Combine those conveniences with the added sense of security it offers, we’ve been very satisfied with performance, price, and features.