Ring review: the smartest doorbell you can own

There are many ways to spruce up your home to make it smarter. Adding small accessories like Amazon’s Echo or investing in Samsung’s SmartThings can help automate and voice-activate some of the interior actions of your house, but you also have to worry about the exterior of the house. Adding a camera and two-way microphone is a great way to monitor what’s going on right outside of your door. Introducing Ring, the smart doorbell that lets you monitor what’s outside your home from anywhere.

What does the Ring do?

Now you may think the Ring is a huge investment physically and financially for your house, but it’s a really easy way to add some smarts to the exterior of your home. The Ring is a smart video doorbell, with a two-way microphone and a motion tracking system that alerts you on movements, day or night. You can also record your interactions, save them in the cloud, watch outside in live time, and even look at previous events, all through the connected app on your phone or computer.

Installation

When I received my Ring, I was worried that I’d need some special tools or someone to help install it, even though I’ve seen all over that there’s easy installation. All you’ll need is a screwdriver and relatively flat surface for your doorbell. My house didn’t have the optimal siding for the Ring setup, but I was still able to make it work with mighty fine finagling (if you look closely at my Ring, it’s not flat on the surface). It stays up by being screwed into your siding material and connecting to your doorbell wires for power and sound (although you can use it on homes that don’t have pre-existing doorbells since it can also be battery powered).



Once up, you’ll have a rather nice looking doorbell — the size of a large phone — on the side of your door with an LED-lit ring around the button. It might look a little out of place up close on some homes, but it’ll start to make a difference with how you interact with your visitors. After it’s connected, you can start using your phone or a computer to interact with the Ring. You’ll start to get notifications about motion or people ringing the doorbell, and the setup process is actually very easy in itself — I set mine up before I installed it because I was impatient. You’ll power on the Ring, wait until the LED ring flashes, and connect to it with your phone to get it set on the home Wifi. Then you’ll go the initial settings for motion detected zones, accounts settings, and adding any other devices.

The Ring has stayed on my siding and functioned perfectly through heavy rains and wind, and a range of sweating and freezing temperatures. I can still talk back and forth clearly with guests, see them, and make sure the mailman isn’t running off with my packages. The video is clear enough for me to make out what’s going on and who’s there, but I probably couldn’t make out a name tag from any notable amount of distance away. The audio, however, is super crisp. All this is done through the clean and often updated app or website.

The app

Once you first open the app, you get a header of any devices you own and then a list of recent events. If you have any particular active neighborhood or a massive zone of motion (you can control how far it will notify you of motion, up to 30ft) then many of your alerts will be of motion. A nice thing is that you can either check all notifications, just rings, or just motion in the tabs below the device list. Another tab allows you to get a live feed of what’s going on outside, which wasn’t available when I first got the Ring, but I’m glad it’s there now. Tapping on a device allows you to see the available options there are for that particular product — a doorbell has many more options than a normal chime.

Applications

Far and beyond has the Ring proved its worth to me time and time again. As someone who gets a lot of packages, this is just one step in improving their security as well as general security around my home. I’ve been able to talk to delivery drivers from all places, stop creepy guys from being creepy in person, and yell at USPS when they say my package has been delivered when it hasn’t (shame on you)! It also allows me to communicate with friends and family before I’m able to reach the door. You can also use it in conjunction with other smart home tech such as Hue lights, Nest products, and August smart locks, just to name a few.

Before I go on, the Chime that I also have is most useful in two scenarios: homes that don’t have a doorbell and for being in places where the doorbell sound is weak. You can have it set to chime when the door rings or for a motion event, although I could never do it for motion. All settings are available in the app.

Is the price worth it?

Most importantly, though, the Ring comes to us with a price tag of $200 for the normal one (this model) and $250 for the Pro. The Pro is sleeker than this one and has an improved camera, and honestly, if you’re going to spend $200, I’d advise going the extra $50 for the Pro. Improved video will probably be worth it alone. Yet, the Ring isn’t for everyone, at least not when you’re first starting out on your smart home. If you get a lot of business in your front yard, want to keep a keen eye on your surroundings, or are just improving the IQ of your home then I’d say you are a prime candidate for the Ring. Otherwise, I’d wait for a price drop.

Ring also has other products besides doorbells, namely the Stick Up Cam (a security camera), the Chime/Chime Pro, and a Solar Powered Security Sign. The doorbells and camera, at least, can be used in conjunction with other smart home tech, if that helps with the pitch.

Summary

All in all, I love my Ring. It’s been super useful, easy to setup, and a good addition to my smart home. I never miss packages anymore or leave them unattended for hours, and know what’s always going on outside my front door. I would just love to have that super sleek Ring Pro, though.

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