Home automation is becoming more and more popular in New Zealand (and around the world) as more Internet of Things get invented and produced. The Ring Video Doorbell is one example of this, and is an internet connected doorbell which you can add to your home automation setup. It is easy to use, easy to setup, and most of all, provides an additional security layer to the main entrance of your home.
When Ring sent me their Video Doorbell, I was pleasantly surprised to see how small and compact the Ring Doorbell really was. It fits in the palm of your hand, doesn’t feel “cheap”, but in fact feels pretty durable. Also inside the box contained all the tools and pieces required to install the Doorbell outside your front door. It even includes a teeny weeny level which you attach to the mounting plate to check if it is level or not.
On the box, Ring suggest that the Doorbell can be installed in 5 minutes. For an average DIYer like me, if it wasn’t for me taking a couple of happy snaps along the way, I think I would’ve gotten away with 4 minutes to install on my brick and mortar house. If you happen to have an existing wired doorbell with a voltage between 8 VAC and 24 VAC, you could have the luxury of hard-wiring in your Ring Doorbell without needing to take it off the mount every 6-12 months (according to Ring) to charge it via micro USB. Currently, it’s been a month since I installed it and checking the app, it tells me I have 47% battery left. This is because it has been used frequently to access the live stream which used up a bit more battery.
I also believe that a newer model, Ring Doorbell Pro with a PoE port, has been announced, but there are currently no plans to launch it outside of the US. [Update 12 July 2017: Ring has let me know that they are looking to launch both the Ring Pro and Ring Video Doorbell 2.0 in New Zealand later this year! Good stuff Ring!]
The current generation Ring Video Doorbell has a 720p camera with night vision, motion-activated alerts, a field of view of 180 degrees, as well as the highly anticipated two-way talk feature on the Doorbell. The two-way talk feature means that you could be 500 meters away from the Doorbell, or a couple of hundred kilometers away from it and you could talk to the person at your door from your smartphone, as long as both have an internet connection. A couple of times I was able to speak to a couple of people at the door while I was away from home, as well as tell the courier driver to leave a parcel on the front chair as I was on my way home. It is also weather-resistant, and can operate in temperatures ranging from -20 degrees to 48 degrees Celsius.
The Ring app can be installed on iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices. Yes! Even Windows Phones! It is pretty easy to navigate yourself around the app. From the screenshot above, you can choose to view the videos of all recorded events (providing you have a subcription) as well as view a current live stream of the Doorbell. It will notify you whenever there is movement or the Doorbell is pressed, and lead you straight to the live stream.
The app is also where you can set how sensitive you want the motion sensor to be, how far away you want it to notify you of movement, as well as some basic settings including checking your Ring Doorbell’s battery percentage, as well as setting up WiFi connection for the first time. There is an orange button on the back of the Ring Doorbell which you will need to press during initial setup of the Doorbell. Through the app you can also choose what ringtones you want on both the Ring Video Doorbell and the Chime Pro. Below is a sample clip of a FedEx courier delivering me a parcel, all captured on the Ring Video Doorbell:
The Ring Video Doorbell works best if your internet connection has a minimum upload speed of 1Mbps. This will help prevent a choppy video feed when viewing the live stream from your smartphone or tablet. As Ultra Fast Broadband continues to roll out across NZ, and with VDSL accessible to some people, it will be more than likely that your internet connection should be able to handle a relatively clean video feed. However, if you are on ADSL, you may experience choppy video at times when viewing the live stream. It also won’t help if your modem/router is sitting a fair bit away from the Ring Doorbell too. That is where the Ring Chime Pro comes in to play.
The Ring Chime Pro is pretty much what it says it is, a chime for your Doorbell plus a WiFi Extender for your Ring Doorbell. By connecting up the Ring Chime Pro to your WiFi and also to your Ring account, it can act as an extender for your Doorbell to try and get a better signal to the Doorbell. It will also ‘ring’ when the Doorbell is pressed so you can place it wherever you want to be able to hear the doorbell from. Note that the Ring Chime and Ring Chime Pro are two separate devices. The Ring Chime does not incorporate as a WiFi Extender.
While you may have just purchased a $349 video doorbell, you will also have to purchase an additional Ring Video Recording plan in order to be able to store recorded videos to your Ring cloud storage account (for up to 60 days) as well as review missed doorbell alerts and save and share links to recorded videos. The Basic plan will set you back $45 per year per camera, or will set you back $150 per year for unlimited cameras on the Protect plan. However, if you do not wish to purchase an additional Ring Video Recording subscription, your Free plan will still allow you to view a live stream of what’s happening at your front door, get motion-activated and doorbell press alerts, as well as talk to whoever is at your door.
But no matter what plan you are on, whether you are on the Free plan or the Protect plan, the Ring Doorbell comes with a 1-year warranty on parts, as well as a Lifetime Theft Protection meaning that if anybody steals your Ring Video Doorbell (which is almost impossible without you knowing), Ring will replace it free of charge.
Your Ring recorded videos can also be viewed online on their website through your account. However you cannot view live streams on the website. I did have a minor issue with the site whereby the Events section did not tell me whether this was recorded because of Motion, a Missed Ring, or an Answered Ring. I contacted Ring support and they were very helpful in helping me solve this issue. After a few back and forth emails, we identified the problem and it was fixed promptly. I wanted to mention this because I was impressed with the level of support and urgency they provided in order to solve this problem.
Overall, I have been happy with the Ring Video Doorbell and Chime Pro. It is a great way to be able to monitor what happens around the main entrance of your home, and also be alerted to any movement around that area too. With burglaries and crime on the rise and home automation gaining popularity, it has never been a better time to install one of these for your home!
As mentioned earlier, the Ring Video Doorbell costs $349 and can be purchased from leading retailers around New Zealand. The Ring Chime Pro costs $85, whereas the Ring Chime costs $65. For more information, please visit the Ring website: https://ring.com/