In our continuing quest to bring you details about the ever-expanding Internet of Things, Apple World Today is bringing you a review of the Ring Video Doorbell ($199, affiliate link), an app-connected doorbell that shows you who's at the door and warns you when there's motion detected, wherever you may be.
The Ring Video Doorbell is 5 inches high by 2.4 inches wide by 0.9 inches thick, with a large button with an LED-illuminated ring around it and a wide-angle HD video camera with night vision just above the button. The unit is quite nice-looking, available in Satin Nickel, Antique Brass, Polished Brass, or Venetian Bronze to match your existing door hardware.
When the doorbell button is pushed, your internal doorbell chime rings and you're also notified through the app that someone is at the door. The app acts as an intercom of sorts, so you can tell the person at the door you'll be there in a moment or just ask what they want.
The app is very well laid out and easy to use. It's not only used for monitoring the doorbell(s) you have set up, but also for installing the device. Through a step-by-step setup process and clear videos, you're walked through the process. Despite my failings as a handyman, I was able to uninstall my old doorbell switch and install the Ring with a minimum of cursing and without electrocuting myself. If I can install it, anyone can.
Before you install the Ring, it's suggested that you give it a full charge using the provided USB to micro-USB cable, then use the app to connect the device to your network. It's compatible with any 802.11 b/g/n 2.4 Ghz network, which meant that the 2.4Ghz channel from my Apple AirPort Extreme worked fine. Setup took no time at all.
Installation also went quite fast; the device can either be powered with a built-in rechargeable battery or through your wired doorbell. I chose to do the latter, so I had to shut off the power to the doorbell first. Once that was done, I removed the old doorbell switch, mounted the Ring bracket following the instructions, connected the wiring on both ends of the circuit, and then mounted the doorbell onto the bracket and screwed it into place with two locking screws. Ring is quite sure that your doorbell won't be stolen, offering a lifetime replacement if someone does take it.
By the way, if you don't have tools at hand, that's not a problem. The Ring comes with a complete set of tools and a drill bit if you need to install it on brick or concrete, as well as a tiny level that can be temporarily installed in the bracket for proper alignment. The device is packaged with clear and complete instructions, although as I mentioned you won't need to read them as the app will guide you through installation.
Since I connected the Ring to my existing doorbell wiring, I already had a chime in place. If you don't have a chime or would like an additional one for extra sound coverage, Ring also sells a $29.99 accessory chime (affiliate link) that plugs into any electrical outlet and connects to your network.
Once the device is connected, the magic begins. Fortunately, I knew I was getting a package delivery from UPS today, and shortly after the Ring was connected, the doorbell rang. Although I went directly to the door to sign for the package and didn't get to talk to the UPS guy through the app, Ring captured the entire scene for future playback. Here's the video:
While it doesn't make for Academy Award-winning video, it's good enough for me to see the face of the UPS delivery man, listen to his voice and the sound of him writing something on the box, and then greeting me when I open the door. If someone was to come to my door, I have no doubt that I'd be able to see and chat with them. The image does suffer somewhat from the setup of our home entry, which has a long covered walk to the front of the house. That shades the front porch, and makes everything in the background look washed out.
I like the wide angle lens used in the Ring, as it provides a very wide field of view. Note that you can zoom in and out of the live (not captured) video to capture more detail. The microphone is equally sensitive, picking up a surprising amount of detail. When someone rings the doorbell, the app provides a notification and you can answer. This is what the screen looks like:
The talk button allows you to chat with whoever is on the other end of the doorbell. For example, let's say that I was expecting a visitor and was late getting home from an appointment. When that person rings the doorbell, I could tell them to wait a few minutes.
One feature I really like with the motion detector is the ability to set sensitivity in a number of zones. The motion detector works on infrared, so cars or people walking past can set it off. Ring has six different zones that it "looks" at, and users can turn those zones off and adjust the range for each zone as well. For my situation with that front door and porch, I turned off the zones to the left that are blocked by a brick wall and then set the sensitivity of the device to about 15 feet -- about the end of the front walkway.
Ring has an IFTTT channel, which I think is a must for any home automation product. Once connected to your Ring account, IFTTT can do an amazing number of things like turn lights on or off when motion is detected or even log whenever someone comes to the front door. Outside of IFTTT, Ring is working to make connections with other home security devices. Soon, the Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock ($181.85 via Amazon affiliate link) will soon gain the ability to let you enter the Kevo app from a live video event in the Ring app so that you can unlock the door remotely for a person you're talking to. Can you imagine how useful that would be in a situation where you're having work done on your home and can't be there for the contractor? You'd verify through the Ring app that it's the contractor, then unlock the door for him or her.
One other cool thing for those of you who own an Apple Watch: without installing another app on your Watch, you'll get notifications when there's motion at your door (see image at right above).
The Ring Video Doorbell completely surpassed my expectations, both in terms of ease of installation and how it works. For anyone with an iOS device (it also works with Android and Windows 10 devices) who would like to enhance their home security, the Ring Video Doorbell is well worth the money. Me? I can't wait to be lounging on my back patio this summer, get a notification from Ring that someone's at my front door, and then be able to tell them through the app that we don't accept solicitations from political groups...