The Ring Video Doorbell has been available direct from the USA for a while now but last month saw its official launch in the UK.
The smart doorbell connects to your homes WiFi and lets you see and talk to callers at you door using your mobile phone, wether you’re in the back garden or the other side of the world.
The box really does included almost everything you need to install it, (the drill bit is even there). The setup procedure has obviously been honed to near perfection over time and there are great setup videos to walk you through every aspect of it if you are unsure.
You install the unit the same way you do with many similar WiFi products these days, pressing the setup button on the back of the unit turns on it’s hot spot mode, you join its network and the app continues, passing the login details for your home wireless network to the Ring. It’s availabe in 4 different colours, Satin Nickel, Antique Brass, Polished Brass and Venetian Bronze.
We mounted the Ring at our back door as that’s where the vast majority of our visitors call. But you can have one on both doors if you like. You’ll need decent WiFi signal where you site the Ring and luckily we do. If you don’t you may need to plugin one of these WiFi extenders to a socket inside, near your door.
You can connect the Ring to an existing mechanical or electronic doorbell chime that operates between 8VAC and 24VAC, or use it completely wirelessly powered from it’s own built in battery, which is the option we chose.
Going this route means you’ll have to remove your doorbell several times over the course of a year to charge it (using micro USB). This takes between 4 and 10 hours and you’ll have no doorbell during that time. Battery life is quoted as 6-12 months but can apparently be more like 2 months per charge if you enable the motion detection feature. If you let the battery running completely flat you’ll have to go through the setup procedure again.
The attention to details shows during this part of the setup too as there’s even a little spirit level that clips into the mounting bracket to ensure Ring is properly vertical before you mark and drill your holes.
The Ring snaps onto the bracket and this takes a bit of force. We were too gentle with it at the start and took a while to work out how hard to press. Then there are just 2 screws that need tightened at the bottom with the special included screwdriver. Ring tell us the unit has been built and outdoor approved for heat, rain, sleet and snow.
While the notification to your smartphone that there’s someone at your door is pretty fast in arriving, 1 or 2 seconds. The delay in setting up the video link to your phone is highly dependant on the up bandwidth available on your home broadband connection.
Ours is pretty terrible (just 0.3 mb/s) and this shows. In testing, turning our smartphone’s WiFi off, setting up the video link takes several seconds – anything from around 3 to 10.
Once the link is established you can see who’s at your door and choose whether to talk to them or not. You can also set Ring to trigger security alerts to your phone based purely on motion. Here’s a video that shows the Motion Detection feature.
If you didn’t catch your caller live, or you want to review a video after the event then there’s an optional subscription package for Cloud Video Recording. It costs £2.50 per month or you can save a fiver with a £24.99 annual sub. Videos are stored online for 6 months and there’s no other way to save your recordings – you cannot send them to your own NAS over a local network for example.
You may want to log into your Ring camera just to see what the weather is like at home or if your partners car is in the drive etc, but you cannot currently view the camera without it first being triggered by the motion detection or the bell push. Ring’s optional camera (see below) does have a ‘Live View’ mode and after talking to Ring this may be set to come to the Doorbell in the future too…
Unfortunately at this moment in time you can only access the camera when somebody is detected via the motion sensor or physically presses the doorbell button. However this may be something Ring look into with future software updates.
We definitely recommend you get the optional £25 chime module. It’s a unit that you can plug in the wall in your hall and means you’ll hear someone at the door if you don’t have your phone on you. You can setup up multiple chimes around your home and they are added to your Ring system the same way as the doorbell using the app.
You can setup the Chime to sound on either a push of the doorbell button, motion detection, or both. Weirdly the chime module installs upside-down once you put on the UK mains plug. [Update] Ring tell us this has been rectified and all new modules are the right way up as pictured below.
Ring also produce a wireless battery powered IP CCTV Camera ‘Stick Up Cam‘. As we’ve mentioned you can add another Ring Doorbell to cover a second door if you like too. Ring have released a more expensive ‘Pro’ version of the doorbell in the US but they’ve told us that it’s not set to be released in the UK yet.
We asked Ring if their free replacement service for stolen doorbells applies to the UK and they told us…
If you contact Ring directly informing them your doorbell has been stolen they’ll replace it for free and yes this does apply to the UK. There is a proprietary screw used for extra security on installation.
The Ring+ feature adds the ability to link your doorbell with a variety of other smart home products.
Ring Plus works with KeVo and WeMo smart locks and hubs for example, which can be linked to help with monitoring and security.
The Ring is an impressive collection of technologies in one extremely easy to install retro-fit friendly package.
Having the built-in battery means it’s a truly wireless solution if you need it.
Providing you have good WiFi signal outside your door, decent up-bandwidth (and preferably a mains powered doorbell already) then you should be pleased with the results, especially at the price.
+ Easy Install & Setup
+ Fully Wireless
+ Audio & Video Link
+ Chime Add-on Useful Addition
– Subscription Required to Save Recordings
– Cannot Access Camera Arbitrarily