The humble doorbell has been transformed in recent years. Not content with a simple audio chime, we want to see and talk to the person at the door.
Enter the video doorbell, which lets you screen visitors remotely, thanks to a camera, two-way audio functionality, Wi-Fi connectivity and a host of motion and infrared night-vision sensors.
Add our growing addiction to home delivery services for food and groceries, and it is no wonder that video doorbells have attracted tech giants such as Amazon, which paid US$1 billion (S$1.36 billion) last year for Ring, the market leader in the United States.
I recently tested its current Ring Video Doorbell 2, which records at a sharper 1080p video resolution, up from the previous model’s 720p.
It is also easier to remove the battery for charging via a single screw at the bottom of the doorbell. Ring says that the battery lasts up to 6 months on average, depending on usage and settings.
I reckon it will last around two months for me. With the High Dynamic Range (HDR) option turned on – which results in clearer videos with higher contrast but uses more power – the Ring’s battery decreased by 2 per cent a day.
Videos generally look sharp, though the sides are slightly curved due to lens distortion. It can see up to a few metres in the dark, though Ring does not state the exact distance in the specifications.
Audio is clear and there is minimal lag while using the doorbell to communicate with visitors in real time.
It comes with a generous bundle of accessories. There are two faceplates (black and silver) to alter the look of the doorbell and two wedges to change the angle of the doorbell for a better camera view.
For those upgrading from the previous Ring doorbell, an included mounting adapter lets you re-use existing mounting holes with the new version, so you don’t have to drill new holes.
– Crisp and clear video
– Generous accessories
– Polished user interface
– Pricey compared to other brands
– Cloud storage requires subscription
Video resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 pixels with night vision
Field of view: 160 degrees
Platforms: iOS or Android
Value for money: 3.5/5
Not included is a separate door chime, though I found the doorbell’s built-in chime to be audible enough even when I was in the bedroom. Besides, you’d probably get a motion-triggered alert on your smartphone before the visitor even presses the doorbell.
It also does not come with the prerequisite doorbell transformer (AC, 16V to 24V) for those who prefer a wired installation. Alternatively, if your home’s entrance receives direct sunlight, Ring sells a solar charger mounting bracket ($79) that powers the doorbell.
Like most DIY smart home devices, the Ring doorbell is configured with a smartphone app (available for iOS and Android). A free Ring account is required and more importantly, this account can be secured with two-factor authentication (via SMS to a mobile phone number).
There is much to like about the Ring mobile app, which lets you control multiple Ring devices from one place. Instructions are clear and illustrated with graphics and videos while settings such as the sensitivity of the motion detection and the areas to monitor are prominent and not hidden under submenus.
The app also automatically checks for software updates, though I wish there was an option to log in with my fingerprint.
It does not support memory cards. Instead, recorded videos are stored in the cloud if you subscribe to its Basic plan (US$3 a month or US$30 annually). These videos are available online for 60 days and can be shared or downloaded.
If you choose not to subscribe, you can still use the Live view option to see what is happening in real time when someone is at the door.
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