About Ring Doorbell
Type the phrase “home security system” into any search engine, and you’ll come up with hundreds of different choices. But here’s the thing: most of the options only monitor the inside of your home, while leaving the exterior largely unprotected.
Enter Ring Doorbell. This easy-to-install video doorbell device features a 180-degree HD camera (with night vision!), along with configurable motion sensors and a built-in microphone for two-way audio. Once Ring is activated, it works seamlessly over your wireless internet and instantly sends mobile alerts to your smartphones and tablets.
This means you’ll be able to see and speak with whoever’s at your front door—even when you’re not home—and with Ring’s Cloud recording, you’ll be able to easily access, rewind, and share the video it records. In a very real way, all these features mean that Ring can provide you with convenience, monitoring, and security, and ensure you’re “always home.”
There’s not doubt Ring’s features are pretty cool. But do you even need a “smart” doorbell in the first place? And even if you do, is Ring necessarily your best option? Are customers happy? There are a lot of factors that go into any buying decision, and we’ll be sure to discuss Ring Doorbell’s most important aspects in this review.
First, we’ll take a look a Ring’s technical details.
Ring Doorbell’s Tech Specs
Each Ring Doorbell is about 5” long, 2.5” high, and 1” thick, and is constructed of an ABS plastic housing that’s outdoor approved for heat, rain, sleet, or snow (operating temperatures for Ring Doorbell are -5 - 120°F).
According to the company, the installation process is as simple as attaching the mounting bracket to a flat surface using the included hardware (for wood, brick, concrete, and stucco surfaces), and placing the device on the bracket. Then, to help prevent theft, you’ll secure it in place with a proprietary security screw.
Inside the Ring Doorbell, you’ll find a 720p HD camera that can detect motion up to 30 feet away, along with a built-in microphone with “perfectly tuned echo cancellation.”
Wondering how you’ll power your Ring? You can either use its rechargeable battery or hardwire it to your existing doorbell. If using Ring’s battery, the manufacturer claims it’ll last about a year, and it will send you an email alert when it’s running low and needs to be recharged (depending on the amperage of your charger, this can take anywhere between 4 and 10 hours).
At the core of Ring’s operation is the free app, which is available for iPhones and iPads, Android phones and tablets, and any Windows 10 computer or tablet, which connect to ring over your wireless internet connection. You can have more than one Ring device in your home (each Doorbell will have its own unique name), and you’ll be able to pair as many smartphones and tablets as you would like to any Ring Doorbell.
In the event of an alert, all users will automatically be notified. However, you can customize your settings, so that (for example) you’d be notified for all alerts, while other household members only receive alerts when the doorbell button is pressed.
Another thing you can customize through the app is Ring’s motion detection sensors, where you’ll be able exclude areas like busy nearby sidewalks and roads, so that you “only get notified when it matters.”
Chime Turns Ring Into a Standard Doorbell
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “What if I don’t have my phone nearby when someone actives my Ring device?” Well, the company makes a complementary device call Chime, which plugs into any standard power outlet and provides an audible tone (much like a traditional doorbell) when someone’s at your door.
Like Ring, Chime connects to your Wi-Fi network, so you can set up as many devices as you want. Need a little peace and quiet? You can disable each Chime and customize volume settings through the Ring app.
Ring’s Stick Up Cam
If you’re looking for all the video features and none of the Doorbell, Ring also makes the standalone Stick Up Cam, which features much of the same motion detection, 2-way audio, night vision, weather resistance, and optional cloud video recording (more about this in a second) as Ring.
Stick Up Cam is wire-free and can be mounted just about anywhere, while the easily adjustable mounting bracket allows you to see, hear, and speak with anyone at the perfect angle.
Do you also own a smart lock from Wink, Kevo, Lockstate, Kisi? If so, the company’s Ring+ technology allows you to connect your Doorbell to these products, adding even more convenience, monitoring, and security (you’ll be able to lock and unlock your door while monitoring activity outside your home!). The process works over 3 steps:
- Download one of Ring’s partner apps for iOS or Android.
- Locate the integration menu within the live event screen in the Ring App.
- Select a partner’s app icon to then open the app and perform an action.
Cloud Video Recording
All of the video recorded by Ring Doorbell or Stick Up Cam can be sent to an optional Ring Cloud Video Recording account, where you’ll be able to “view and download up to six months of previous events, share clips with friends, neighbors and local law enforcement, and delete events that aren't important pr keep ones that are.” We’ll come back around to this in the final section.
Whew! That’s a big list of features! But will it cost you an arm and a leg?
Will Ring’s Price Resonate?
Ring Doorbell is priced at $199, with faceplates available in Satin Nickel, Antique Brass, Polished Brass, or Venetian Bronze. All Ring Doorbell purchases come with 30 days of free Cloud Video Recording. After that, you’ll pay $3 per month or $30 per year.
The Stick Up Cam will also cost you $199, and Chime is priced at $29.95.
Shipping is free for Ring Doorbell, but Chime (without also purchasing a Ring) comes with a $4.95 S&H fee
All Ring Doorbells come with a 30-day return policy, less S&H charges, as well as a 1-year limited warranty against defective parts or workmanship. Ring’s Lifetime Purchase Protection will even replace your Ring Doorbell if it’s stolen (you’ll have to file a police report, and this is only good one time).
In order to request a refund, process a warranty claim, or anything else, Ring’s customer service department can be reached at (800) 656-1918.
Given Ring Doorbell’s relatively reasonable price, along with its strong warranty and refund policy, are customers pleased with its performance?
Is Ring Doorbell a Hit With Customers?
As you might imagine, with such cool technology at an achievable price point, the Ring Doorbell has received a ton of attention from industry giants and customers alike.
Tech Hive also called Ring a “clever, well-designed gadget,” but noted that it “didn’t always deliver on its promises.” Specifically, lag was often long between the time the device’s button was pressed and when the notification was received on a phone (several times, it didn’t work at all), although they felt this was due to their Wi-Fi connection more than anything else (more about this in a moment). Also, the author noted that going through all the steps to access the video chat screen inside Ring’s app can be a “long, frustrating experience.” Ultimately, they concluded that if Ring was “hardwired to my home network, and not at the mercy of Wi-Fi and smartphone connections,” many of these core problems would be addressed.
PC Mag also discussed many of these same things, but added that their battery only lasted 2.5 months (although it was during February), and mentioned that the audio quality is “hit or miss.”
From a customer perspective, Ring Doorbell had an average rating of 4.1 stars based on a whopping 6,700+ reviews on Amazon. There, most compliments seemed to reference ease of installation and solid performance.
On the other hand, most complaints seemed plagued with software issues—specifically, that the device doesn’t automatically reconnect to your network (if the power goes down, for example), and that the camera only recorded as people were walking away.
What about the company behind Ring Doorbell? The device is manufactured by Bot Home Automation, Inc. based out of Santa Monica, CA. This is the same company who produced DoorBot (aka Ring version 1.0), which didn’t seem to get very good reviews from HighYa readers, with a 1.1-star average ratings based on complaints about failure to work and difficulty getting help from customer service. However, based on customer feedback, it seems that these issues were largely addressed with Ring.
Let’s go ahead and bring everything together.
Should You Splurge On Ring Doorbell?
So, who might Ring Doorbell work best for? In our opinion, the device’s target market is consumers who want to add some front door security, without all the hassle of setting up higher-end home automation cameras. Simply install it in a few minutes, download the app, link the device to your Wi-Fi signal, and you’re good to go.
But here’s the catch: This ease of use also creates two of Ring Doorbell’s biggest drawbacks (at least according to customer feedback): 1) Overall functionality is based on the strength of your Wi-Fi signal, and 2) you won’t be able to store any of the video Ring records on your own equipment.
This first concern could be addressed by maximizing signal strength at your front door, either by relocating your router or purchasing a wireless signal repeater. In fact, Ring’s manufacturer specifically recommends this option. Obviously, this means you’ll have to increase your budget to accommodate the extra hardware.
Speaking of which, by requiring you to store all your video on Ring’s Cloud (which costs $30 per year), you’ll have some long-term costs to factor into your budget.
Admittedly, both of these concerns could probably be addressed by allowing their customers to use Ring Doorbell within their own network. Will the company listen and change the device accordingly? Only time will tell.
In the mean time, unless you’re a hardcore home automation enthusiast who’s only interested in customization, Ring Doorbell might work for just about everyone else.
What’d you experience with Ring? Tell us about it by writing a review below!