Tech Report: This Wi-Fi doorbell doubles as security camera

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It’s the high-tech doorbell that lets you see who’s at the door through your smartphone, no matter where you are.

A company named Ring is putting a high-tech spin on this classic front-door fixture — combining video and security into one.

Rich’s Notes on Ring:

The doorbell was easy to install, you can just attach it to your home and operate it as a stand alone device, or you can connect it to your existing doorbell wiring. If you connect to your existing wiring, the bell will ring throughout your home as normal and you won’t have to charge the device.

If you decide to install as a stand alone device, you will need to detach it from your home every once in a while to charge it. Ring says the battery can last up to a year between charges, but with the new motion detection feature it will probably be closer to a few months. This all depends on how much activity it is detecting in front of your home.

Ring comes with special screws that allow you to easily remove it from your home to charge it, but tough for someone to just come and rip off. Ring says they’ve only gotten one report of a stolen device, and if it happens, they’ll replace the doorbell for free. Additionally, you will have a video recording of the perpetrator.

Every time someone rings your doorbell a recording of them is made and stored in the cloud. Recordings are stored indefinitely right now, but Ring is expected to determine a fixed period of time for their deletion, it will likely be between 6 months and 1 year. You’ll also eventually need a subscription – pricing for that is also being determined, but it will likely run about $3 a month.

The motion feature isn’t yet active on my test unit, so I wasn’t able to try it out, but from what I was shown it works with thermal imaging, so it can better identify people approaching your door while something like a cat shouldn’t easily set it off. You can also adjust the intensity of the motion sensing. When this feature is turned on, a cloud recording is made of the moving person even if they don’t ring the doorbell.

The device is super useful and you’ll grow to enjoy having a video record of every visitor that comes to your home. There are currently two downsides I experienced:

While the alert on your phone is nearly instantaneous when someone rings the bell, it does take a bit of time to load the live video from your front door to your phone. If you’re trying to see who a visitor is before you walk to the door they could be gone if they’re impatient. Ring says it’s constantly working to cut down on this time.

Second, if you don’t connect Ring to your internal doorbell wiring, you might not hear your doorbell ringing if your phones aren’t in the house or are on silent. You can connect several devices to Ring so it can alert multiple phones at once, but it could be a problem in situations where you have a house sitter or baby sitter in your house.

Also, you can’t just “call up” a video stream from Ring to your phone at any time. It’s not like a Dropcam in that aspect.

Overall, Ring is a neat addition to your front door and well worth the $200. You can’t put a price on peace of mind, and knowing you have a record of anyone who comes near your front door or home is priceless.

Learn more about Ring.

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