Reviewed by David Savage
We have had a small spate of break-ins and opportunist car crimes where we live, so home security is becoming a bigger issue for our family. We have recently installed a security camera in the back garden, but one thing that remains a concern is unsolicited individuals knocking on the door. There have been a number of ‘Nottingham Knocker’ reports in the area, and this coupled with the later door knocks that we get as Amazon regularly deliver up to 9pm means that it’s more important than ever to know who is on your doorstep before you answer.
Our front door is partly glass, so having a peep hole installed to see who’s calling before opening the door isn’t really an option so up to now, we’ve relied on craning our necks out of an upstairs window to check for a delivery van if there’s an evening knock on the door. This isn’t ideal for obvious reasons, so the Ring Video Doorbell seemed like an ideal solution. For those who don’t know, the Ring Video Doorbell is a smart doorbell that is mounted to your front door area like any other doorbell, but which has Wi-Fi connectivity. This connectivity allows Ring to alert your smart device to the doorbell ring, and from the Ring app, you can see who is at the door and even have a conversation with them without ever needing to open the door.
For obvious reasons, you will need a compatible iOS or Android device as well as a Wi-Fi connection in the house in order to use the doorbell. There are a number of different versions of the Ring available to buy, but we were sent the standard Ring to try out – this is available in either silver or bronze and we got the bronze one which is perfect for the dark wood and stone of the outside of the house. Our Ring was ordered from AO.com, and it arrived the next working day after ordering. I have to say that I was really impressed with the whole process, including the text on the morning of delivery to confirm the delivery and with a narrow 1-hour delivery timeslot.
Once our Ring had been delivered, I had a good look at the device and the rest of the contents of the box. The Ring itself is slightly larger than I had expected but is still small enough to fit most front door areas and it feels very sturdy and solid. I was really happy with the colour choice too and thought the dark colours made the doorbell look really classy and certainly not out of place even on an older style house exterior. Contained in the box is:
- Main doorbell unit
- Backing plate
- Charging cable (micro USB)
- 5 x screws and rawl plugs
- Double-ended security screwdriver
- Drill bit
- Spirit level
- Diode (for use with wired set up)
- Security stickers
- Instructions / quick start guide
The Ring can be set up to either work from battery power (rechargeable every six months or so), or via hardwiring to an existing traditional doorbell set up. We don’t have a doorbell installed so went for the battery powered option. The first thing we did after reading the instruction was to pop the doorbell on to charge. This takes around five hours but the single charge can see you through up to six months of usage. Once the Ring was charged, we went outside and looked at getting it installed on the outside of the house.
The installation should be pretty simple for most homes. We installed ours on the wall to the side of the door as our door frame isn’t wide enough to mount it on. Installation consisted of using the backplate to mark where the four screw holes would need to be drilled. Once that was done, we drilled the holes and tapped the rawl plugs into place before using them to screw the backplate of the Ring to the wall. This done, the main Ring unit clips on top and is secured with two small hidden security screws (special screwdriver is included in the box) and the installation is complete.
Installing the Ring onto my mobile phone was just as easy and the specific Ring is paired to your Ring account via a QR code that is included in the box and stuck to the back of the doorbell itself. The app will talk you through setting up motion detection areas and setting the Ring up so it’s optimised for the area you live in (facing street, lots of cars going past, quiet road etc.) as well as setting motion zones or even a motion schedule, should you only want motion detecting at specific times of the day.
Of course, the main reason you’re going to want one of these is for when someone rings the bell, not just to use as a security camera on the house. When a caller rings the doorbell, you are alerted via a notification on the app on your phone. This set doesn’t contain the chime (available separately for £29), so it’s important to know that there isn’t an audible notification of the doorbell ringing. Some people will have their phones with them all the time, some won’t – I know that when I’m in the house, I don’t always have my phone with me so relying on a phone to tell me that someone has rung the bell just wouldn’t work. So instead, I have linked our Ring to the Amazon Echo Dots and Echo Shows that we have in the house. This means that when someone rings the doorbell, the Echos will make a ‘ding dong’ sound and announce that there is someone at the door. This works perfectly for us as we have Echos in most of the rooms in the house, and you can even ‘answer’ the doorbell verbally with Alexa and talk to the person on the doorstep. This might be really handy if you’re just that bit too busy to answer the door and might want to ask the delivery man to leave something in the shed, or to invite an expected guest to let themselves in.
The Echo Show also integrates really well with Ring, and because mine is sat on my desk, it means I can see who’s at the door whilst I’m working without even leaving the office! The app is fantastic and allows you to adjust the settings of your Ring really easily and allow you to answer your doorbell wherever in the world you are, as long as you have an internet connection. We found that the notifications to both the app and the Alexa devices were virtually instant and we’ve had no problem with missed rings at all.
The quality of the video is really good, both during the day and when it’s dark. Sometimes the image does appear a little washed out and overexposed, but I think that is because of where we’ve had to site it and I don’t think it’s indicative of the general quality of the recording. The camera has a 180° wide angle lens which means we have got a great view of the whole drive and approach to the house. We have turned the motion detection off to preserve battery, but if you did want it enabled, it would allow you to see as soon as someone entered the field of vision. This camera has 720p HD, which is perfectly fine in my opinion for this kind of product. The newer versions of the Ring have full 1080p recording but we found this one perfectly capable of the job!
The 2-way communication is really handy too. I’ve lost count of the number of parcels that we have missed because there seems to be nowhere obvious for the delivery man to use as a safe place. With this, we can tell him where we’d like him to leave the parcel, meaning it’ll always be left somewhere safe and watertight. The sound quality is absolutely fine for its general purpose – you couldn’t have a long conversation on it, but that’s not what it’s there for and it’s a lot better than most of the intercom systems I have used in the past.
Overall, I am really pleased with the doorbell. I think it adds another valuable level of security to the house and to our belongings. I know that my partner doesn’t like answering the door if she’s on her own in the house on an evening, and this will give her a lot of peace of mind that she can always see who’s at the door before she answers it. You can always see if someone has approached the front door, and because they would have to get so close to the Ring to get near the door, you will always get a good view of their faces. The build quality is great, as is the interface for the app and I love that it works so well with the Amazon devices we have in the house – we are so impressed with the whole thing and I only wish I’d got one earlier!
For more information or to buy, visit ao.com.