Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Ring Video Doorbell review: The gadget that makes crooks think you never leave home

Jon Phillips | Aug. 4, 2015
My house has never had a doorbell. This alone makes me a good candidate for the Ring Video Doorbell ($200), which uses home Wi-Fi to transmit the sound of a doorbell chime directly to smartphones, as well as to Ring's wall-mounted Chime accessory, which is about to begin shipping for a sale price of $20.

Just like with Wi-Fi, the Ring platform is at the mercy of smartphone conventions it can't control. I can't tell you whether the video screen delays are due to poor coding in Ring's app, performance problems with my LG G4 smartphone, or hiccups in my phone's Wi-Fi or 4G connectivity. But the bottomline is that simply getting to the video chat screen can be a long, frustrating experience. In a perfect world, I'd be able to launch the video chat display directly from the notification shade--and do so quickly. But Ring doesn't have actionable notifications access.

On the plus side, the new Chime accessory mitigates some of Ring's app friction. Even if your phone is in another room, or if you've turned its volume down, you can still hear that someone's pressed your doorbell button. From there you can just go straight to your front door, and talk to your visitor in person. Just like they did in I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show.

To this extent, Chime makes Ring a solid (albeit expensive) wireless doorbell.  

Motion detection

My connectivity issues notwithstanding, I've come to appreciate Ring's motion alert feature, which sends the sound of a wind chime to your phone when someone approaches your door. Once you hear the chime, you can open a video window to talk with the visitor if you're so inclined. Alternately, you can just let Ring's cloud-based recording feature ($3 monthly or $30 annually) pick up the video of your visitor, and watch it later.

Throughout testing, I liked how I could verify the comings and goings of our dog walker simply by listening for the sound of the chime. The motion alert feature is ultra-sensitive, so I had to decrease its range to reduce false positives. I also found that it doesn't begin recording video until someone has been at the door for a few moments. For example, the doorbell recorded a video of a delivery person leaving my door step, but I didn't get video of him approaching and leaving my package.

Unfortunately, there's no video-on-demand (VOD) feature that lets you view the outside world whenever you want. Instead, you have to wait for someone to approach the door. VOD appears to be on many users' wish lists, and Ring says it's working on adding that feature. With VOD built-in, the doorbell would instantaneously turn into a full-featured security camera, so let's hope we see this addition soon.

Video capture is limited to 720p, but the image quality is perfectly acceptable. The camera has a 180-degree field of view, which is essential for my doorstep, as I had to mount Ring at a right angle to my security gate. And Ring's night-vision feature works great, clearly capturing visitors after the sun's gone down.

 

Previous Page  1  2  3  4  5  Next Page 

Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.