Saturday, 19 August 2017
Reviews

Tech review: Ring video doorbells and cameras can give you peace of mind


We all want a safer home, and it’s a good thing technology is stepping up to help us.

I’ve been a vocal supporter of the Ring Video Doorbell for several years. After seeing my Ring installed and in use, my parents decided to get one for their home.

After a good while with the original Ring, I was asked to review the Ring Pro ($249, www.ring.com), a smaller version with a higher-resolution video camera.

It’s turned out to be a good move for me so far.

The Ring Pro and the original Ring function the same.

You’ll have to connect the Ring to your home’s Wi-Fi network using the free app for iOS or Android.

When someone rings your doorbell, the Ring initiates a video call to your smartphone or tablet. When you answer the Ring’s call, you are connected to the person standing on your front door.

You can see them and talk to them, but they can only hear your voice coming out of a little speaker on the doorbell.

You can talk to them as long as you like. The conversation quality is the same whether you are in the house or on vacation in Europe.

The Rings also have a motion sensor that can alert you and record a minute-long video clip whenever motion is detected within a certain distance of your door. The distance is user-definable from 5 feet to as much as 30 feet.

The doorbell-initiated calls are also recorded whether you answer or not.

To see the recordings, you’ll need to subscribe to Ring’s cloud storage service, which is a very affordable $30 per year for one Ring.

All the Ring doorbells offer night vision that works really well.

The doorbells also offer a live view, which you initiate through the app.

The differences

The original Ring ($179) can run off of the power provided by your existing low-voltage doorbell wiring or it can run off a built-in battery.

The battery makes the original Ring a good choice for renters and people who live in apartments who may not have a wired doorbell.

The original Ring measures 4.98-by-2.43-by-0.87 inches and its video camera captures 720p video.

The battery will last for several months, and the app will tell you when its time to recharge. You’ll have to remove the Ring from your door by loosening two screws before taking it inside to charge for a few hours.

If you hard-wire the original Ring to your existing bell wiring, the low voltage is enough to keep the battery topped off and working continuously.

There is a newer version of the original Ring called the Ring Video Doorbell 2 that has a higher-resolution 1080p camera and a battery that’s removable for recharging so you don’t have to bring the entire housing inside to charge.

Ring Pro

The Ring Pro looks like a smaller version of the original Ring because it doesn’t have a battery. The Pro can only be used on doors that have an existing 16- to 24-volt transformer.

Its smaller design means it will fit on narrower door jambs.

Installation was not difficult at all. I did have to find my doorbell’s transformer and install a small power kit inside the doorbell transformer housing. This installation required turning off the power at the breaker box and installing a small wiring connector inside to make sure the transformer is providing enough power.

The power kit install took about 5 minutes, and it all fit inside the housing.

The Pro can be set to ring the existing house doorbell along with initiating the video call.

Ring also sells wireless chimes that plug into outlets anywhere in your home, so if you’d like a chime way in the back of your house, you’ll be able to hear the bell there when someone’s at the door.

There is also a Ring Chime with a built-in Wi-Fi repeater if your network needs a boost, because your Ring needs sufficient Wi-Fi signal to connect to the internet and not everyone’s Wi-Fi router is close enough to the front door.

The Pro ships with four different color face plates to match the decor of your entryway.

Functionally, the original Ring, Ring 2 and Ring Pro offer the same video doorbell experience when you’re answering your door.

The voice quality is clear and loud on both ends, and the video quality is very good.

A few more things

Ring also has a video doorbell called the Elite ($499) that requires power over Ethernet wiring and a flush mount, so you will need professional installation with a small junction box next to your door. The Elite is the smallest and thinnest doorbell, but functionally it works the same.

Ring also sells two standalone security cameras, the Stick Up Cam ($179), which sort of looks like the original Ring without the doorbell button, and the Floodlight Cam ($249), which is a Ring cam mounted between two floodlights with a siren alarm to provide lighting and protection for your outdoor areas.

With the Ring app, you can flash the lights, sound the alarm and zoom in to focus on the action.

I said it last time, but I think everyone needs a Ring doorbell. Since my last review, there are now four versions available and you’ll need to find the one that best fits your situation.

You can’t beat the peace of mind that comes with knowing your front door is being watched and any action is being recorded. It can’t keep your packages from getting stolen, but it will give you a good image to give to the police.

I’m glad I have mine every single day.



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