One of the most important things to consider during the holidays is the security of your home. This time of year, the bad guys demonstrate an increased amount of activity due to the massive rate of shipments that pick up during the last two months of the year. Not to mention, they are fascinated with what might be under that tree inside. One of the easiest ways of enhancing your security to help protect you from these unwanted visitors, is of course throwing up a camera here or there so that you can be one step ahead of them, and have something to provide to the authorities in case (god forbid) something were to happen.
Your options are endless on where you can position cameras around your home, but today we are going to focus on just one: the doorbell. Thanks to the company Ring, smart doorbells have really flourished over the last few years as technology keeps improving what these cameras are capable. Not only are you getting a nice camera with motion detection, but a smart doorbell as well (a win win)–which is a great place to start. One of these doorbells is Ring’s Video Doorbell Pro, which features a 1080p camera, support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless networks, and easily replaces your existing doorbell.
The Pro is their 2nd best WiFi video doorbell in their collection, only to be bested by their “Elite” model, which also supports Power over Ethernet (PoE)–and it usually what it is purchased for. The Pro however is focused on WiFi and supports both of the common network ranges and is much more affordable (and worth every penny).
We got our hands on one of these recently and put it through the test to compare how it performs against some of the smart doorbells we have tested this year. While products like the Zmodo Ding mostly failed to make a stable connection, the Ring Pro nailed it every time. This put a smile on our face as it helps tor renew our faith in these products. We have worked with Ring Doorbells (ie, the original model) in the past, which have also worked quite well, but this one takes the prize among all of them.
To begin, we have to point out how easy the install was. As long as you have a basic understanding of electricity and related safety precautions that go with it, you shouldn’t have a single problem with this. We brought the unit to one of the homes where one of our editors has been seeing a lot of reports of package thefts by people following around delivery trucks, as well as unmarked Amazon delivery vehicles. We flipped the breaker running to the doorbell system off, and double checked to make sure the low-voltage transformer was at least 16 volts (AC) or greater–which it was (the doorbell is usually riding on one of these transformers, which can typically be found in the garage or near your breaker panel).
We then went inside and tapped the doorbell chime power kit (a module with wires that comes with the Ring Doorbell) in with the wires running to the doorbell chime (the instructions show you exactly how to do it, however the module itself is well labeled). If you feel the instructions aren’t wordy enough, you can find the video on their website (as well as below this paragraph). Everything came together just fine.
After that we went back outside to the door and pulled the original doorbell from the wall (popped right out once we cracked the paint/stucco seal around it), which revealed two wires. We disconnected the wires from the doorbell and set that the side. We used the included leveling plate that allows you to mark your screw points. We then attached the wires to the back (the order of the two wires doesn’t matter as it is bi-directional) of the Ring Doorbell Pro, and and mounted the Ring Doorbell to the wall. After that, we chose the color faceplate that worked best and popped it on, tightened one of the security/set screws via the bottom of the unit, and flipped the power back on. We were done with the hard install!
Once you return power to the doorbell, it will boot up and eventually you will see the LED light show that it is ready to set up via the app (the app tells you what to look for as well). It might take a quick minute, but it will get there and the app will walk you through registering an account and adding the doorbell to the network.
This camera adds to an already existing network of cameras and security features this house has in place. Sadly it doesn’t not work with the system already in place (hub, app, etc), as it is proprietary to its own app and cloud service. However, it functions quite nicely on its own and compliments the rest of the system quite well as an alternative source of video and communication. Since Ring’s app is in-house, it does at least allow them fine-tune it to their products with a focus on quality and performance.
Image quality is wonderful with the 1080p camera, enough to make out faces perfectly as well as vehicles descriptions and more. At times you might even be able to see license plates depending on light, angle, distance and so forth. You also have a 160 degree lens that captures a very large area. The speaker for communication is also pretty loud, and as long as you have a good connection on both sides, quite clear as well. There is also IR night vision to help see at night.
You have the option of enabling two forms of alerts that can be pushed to the app within just a few seconds.
- One of these is of course when someone rings the doorbell. It will immediately notify you via your phone that someone has, allowing you to answer it like a phone call if you wish. You can simply look at a like feed, or you can enable two-way audio so that you can talk to whomever is at the door. There is about a 2-3 second delay between what either party says and the other hears (as the information travels back and forth between the camera, your network and the internet), but it ends up working just fine.
- The second, is for motion. This is disabled by default as it will result in a lot more notifications on your phone than someone ringing the doorbell. It can easily be enabled within the app, and you can also set a schedule for it to be turned on or off, as well as define active zones within the camera’s view so that it doesn’t trigger when things like a vehicle drives by or a tree is waiving around. You can also define the sensitivity by adjusting a slider between “humans” and “everything it senses”, to help even further with minimizing false positives. This notification will also give you the option to be taken straight to the camera like a ring of the doorbell would.
Both events (when enabled) also save in the cloud, as long as you are subscribing to Ring’s cloud service. A paid subscription is not required to use the Ring Doorbell, however without it, you lose the ability to view past videos and save anything. You would be limited to live video and communication only. Thankfully, they were smart and only charge $3/month per Ring camera, or $10/month for unlimited cameras. If you only have the doorbell unit, then $3/month should be a breeze for what it offers. This was an excellent move on Ring’s part as it is a reasonable compromise.
It does take a few minutes for events to save so that you can go back and view them (generally up to 1-2 minutes it seems in worse case scenario). Once you can go back and view them, you can also download the videos to your mobile device via the app easily, or share them with others via text, email and a number of social networks like Facebook and NextDoor.com. When you do share a video, people will only have access to that one video (it’s like a YouTube link/embed in a way).
What is really cool is that Ring has their own neighborhood watch program for Ring owners. You can easily join it from the app and will be able to see everyone else as dots on the map to get an idea of how active your local neighborhood is. You can also narrow the map down using a selection screen similar to setting motion zones in your camera, so that you can be in control of what you want to be included in. You can then share videos and alerts within that as well, and see what others around you have posted. This way, if there are reports of vehicle or home break-ins nearby (or package/property thefts), you will be alerted about it immediately.
Thief Caught on Camera!
A perfect example on how these cameras can improve your home’s security, was actually witnessed within a week of installing the camera. Although there had been recent reports in the neighborhood of certain happenings, and this property has also experienced one or two things in the past, the timing of this was amazing.
The owner was just checking the video of a delivery that just dropped off at the door. During the playback of the video the Ring interrupted with a live event. Another driver had backed into the driveway and approached the door. They very covertly eyeballed the package lying on the ground and pretending to not both with it. They appeared to maybe have tested the door handle for whatever reason and then promptly left (either deterred by both the camera in the window as well as the Ring camera, or possibly felt the package didn’t look interesting enough).
Upon attempting to drive away, a nearby neighbor that the suspect had just stolen a package from before this, was hot on their trail and blocked their exit trying to put a stop to their crime spree. The suspect did get away nearly running the neighbor over, who then chased after the suspect. All of this was caught on camera, including the Ring Doorbell, which was the quickest at reporting everything. Once the home owner got over the shock of what he was watching live, he immediately took to the video that was already ready to go and shared it to the Ring neighborhood, NextDoor.com, Facebook and more, and then shared the link via text with a few family members who might have a quicker chance at reaching authorities since the homeowner was at work.
Local authorities responded thanks to the nearby neighbors and it took minutes for the police to arrive for statements. Within this short time window, these neighbors had already received the notification of the video shared and were able to show it to officers right on the spot. Within less than a half hour, that video received over 500 views, showing how quick something like that gets out to the public. All of these viewers having a perfect look at the suspects face and vehicle, as well as the brave neighbor who took action.
What could have been a horrible experience turned into an exciting number of events that led to a massive exposure of a criminal’s identity, the ability to provide this information quickly to the authorities, a tighter relationship with neighbors and hopefully a conviction that takes that person off the streets and away from hurting other people. How could we love this product anymore?
What could be better?
Ring has addressed so many things with their products, leading to a great reputation that shows they care about their customers and the quality of their products. Thanks to this, there isn’t much more you can ask for. Their products work well and their cloud service does as well.
This leaves us with the smaller things to pick at. Like the MP4 file you get when choosing the option to download a video to your device should be of higher quality. It isn’t horrible, but it does show the compression visually vs the live view on the camera. A lossless compression would be better, or an option to pick between the two in case you do want the smaller file instead.
Integration with third party hubs would make this camera a solid 10/10, filling in what appears to be the only missing gap. This way, hubs like Smartthings, Vera, Zigbee or more can integrate the camera with the rest of your smart home devices, allowing them to easily interact with each other (like being able to pull the live feed alongside all of your other cameras, trigger lights and more).
Thankfully, the Ring Doorbells do work a little with IFTTT.com, which does allow you to control simple things like lights and logging notification text to a calendar or spreadsheet. It isn’t perfect, but may allow you an external link with the rest of your devices in the future as things grow.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro is an amazing smart home solution for both security and communication with visitors when you are not home. The camera quality is wonderful and so is their cloud service. Thanks to the perfect price they have chosen for it, it is absolutely worth the monthly cost, especially as they work to further improve it in the future. Thanks to our own experience with the doorbell, we can’t do much more than brag about how user-friendly and useful it is to have. We have even had a few others in the office buy one in the last 24 hours because of it all. This leads us to offering a tip of the hat to Ring. We look forward to talking to them at CES next month about what’s to come in the future.
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*Average price is based on the time this article was published
802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi connection @ 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz
Requires a minimum upload speed of 1Mbps, but 2Mbps is recommended for optimal performance.
Two-way audio with noise cancellation
Custom Motion Zones
4.50 in. x 1.85 in. x .80 in.
(11.43cm x 4.67cm x 2.03cm)
Field of View
1 year on parts, lifetime purchase protection
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