My wife and I both work and have extremely busy schedules, which means it’s completely hit or miss—mostly miss—when we have to sign for a delivery or someone is swinging by our house to drop off a borrowed movie. So, I was pretty excited when I came across the Ring Video Doorbell at ISC West, and eager to test its functionality and capabilities. I ran into a few frustrating design issues, but overall Ring succeeds in providing an affordable and accessible video peephole that makes receiving packages or answering your door easy, even when you’re not home.
*Writer’s note: This article focuses solely on our experience using the Ring Video Doorbell 720p. In April, Ring released an updated 1080p version. Read our review for the new model here.
How much does Ring cost?
Cloud Video Service
Ring gives you a 30-day free trial for its cloud video recording service and after that it’s $3 per month. If you sign up for the annual service, you can get a discounted price at $30 per year. These are extremely low prices for a security cloud service. However, if you choose not to subscribe there’s no other option to save your video footage. According to Ring’s FAQ page, you’ll still receive motion alerts and real-time calls, but your videos will not be saved and any previously-saved videos will be erased.
Although the cloud storage is super affordable, I’m a little disappointed that there’s no alternative to save your footage. Since Ring operates on your home Wi-Fi network, it would be nice if you could record your footage on a personal storage device or if Ring offered local storage for a limited amount of space and loop recording like many dash cams.
- Great price
- Easy DIY installation
- Affordable cloud storage
- Adjustable motion detection
- Doesn’t need hardwiring
- Rechargeable battery
- Smartphone alerts
- Bulky size
- Spotty Wi-fi connection
- Only 720p video
- Battery powered options need Ring Chime add-on to chime in the house
- No live feed unless hardwired
- No alternative storage method
What’s different about Ring 720p?
The Ring doorbell camera stands out because you don’t need to pair it with monitored security system like Vivint’s doorbell cam or Frontpoint’s Skybell. The 720p iteration is also one of the most affordable doorbell cameras available, with maybe the biggest knock on it being that the battery-powered option doesn’t offer live video look-ins. Which means, unless someone is on your front step (because it is motion activated) and actually rings the bell, you can’t check on your home in real-time. If you want the ability to see live footage, you’ll need to hardwire Ring 720p to your existing doorbell.
What’s in the box?
Ring includes all the tools you need for installation, making installation quick and easy.
- Ring Video Doorbell
- Micro USB charging cable
- Screwdriver bit and drill bit
- Mounting bracket
- Screws and anchors
- Mini level
What I like most about Ring’s motion detection is the ability to customize the areas you want it to focus on or ignore through selecting “zones.” Motion detection ranges between 5 and 30 feet. You can also select the frequency in which you receive motion activity alerts, so you don’t get bombarded with notifications every time kids ride by on their bikes.
But there seems to be one major problem. Although I like the customization, Ring takes too long to register motion. Every motion alert I received was a recording of someone walking away from my door, meaning the motion sensor didn’t trigger a recording until several seconds after someone arrived, and by then whoever approached my house already decided to leave.
This is not the same when someone actually rings the doorbell. In those instances, I received notification and video footage right away. However, when someone approached my door and knocked instead of ringing the bell, the motion detection didn’t kick in until it was too late. Unfortunately, tweaking the motion sensitivity didn’t help, either.
Two Way Audio
The audio quality on Ring is surprisingly clear. I was able to hear, understand, and give instructions to an Amazon delivery man when he came by to drop off an important package. Without this ability to communicate from my smartphone to my doorbell, I would have missed another delivery. Ring exceeds expectations for two-way communication with this device.
- Resolution: 720p HD
- Field of view: 180 degree fisheye lens
- Size: 4.98 in. x 2.43 in. x .87 in.
- Battery: 5200 mAh 6–12 months of battery life
- Operating temperature: -5º F to 120º F
- Night vision: Infrared LEDs
- Warranty: One-year parts; lifetime purchase protection
Ring has a super easy setup process, although there are quite a few more steps than many of the wireless DIY security cameras I’ve tested. Here’s a step-by-step slideshow with some helpful tips on how to set up your Ring video doorbell.
The Ring doorbell camera 720p is huge. At 4.98 x 2.43 x .87 inches, it’s slightly larger than an old Nokia brick phone. Unfortunately, this was a major downer for me because it was too wide to install on my front door frame to replace my existing doorbell. Upgrading to the Ring Video Doorbell Pro would solve the size issue because it shaves off about a half inch in width, but it’s $50 more and has to be hardwired.
Battery vs. hardwired
The first thing I asked a Ring representative at ISC West was, “Does Ring work as an actual doorbell?”, meaning does it ring in the house so I can hear that someone is at the door. The answer depends on how you install your Ring device.
You can install the Ring 720p Doorbell using your existing doorbell hardwiring. This will both power your Ring device and allow it to chime throughout the house using your existing doorbell chime. Hardwired Ring Doorbells also allow you to access live video footage from your smartphone. The device was too big to fit on my doorframe where my doorbell is installed so I tested the Ring 720p using the battery install option.
If you aren’t connecting your Ring 720p directly to your doorbell, you can use the battery powered option. Although convenient if you don’t have a hardwired doorbell or can’t get it to fit (like me), the battery-powered option comes with a few caveats. Battery-powered Ring doorbells do not yet allow for live video look-ins. You’ll also need a $30 add-on called Ring Chime to be heard throughout the house, since you’re not connecting it directly to your existing doorbell.
The Ring Chime
Ring Chime connects through a similar setup process as the video doorbell and can be managed through the same smartphone app. It plugs into a standard AC outlet and chimes throughout your house when someone rings the doorbell. My spotty Wi-Fi created a problem for both my smartphone notifications and the Ring Chime signal. While I can’t blame Ring for my Wi-Fi strength (or lack thereof), it’s worth noting for battery installs that the device won’t work without a solid Wi-Fi connection.
Ring User reviews
There’s a lot of positive feedback out there for the Ring Video Doorbell. Although some have expressed the same concerns about motion detection and hearing the doorbell chime throughout the house, most users appear to be genuinely happy with the convenience and security of Ring.
We have been using the ring video doorbell for several weeks now and love it! Now, we can interact with people at the door regardless if we are in the bathroom, backyard, or not home at! It gives us the security we were looking for, without the overkill appearance of a security camera at the front door.
I have motion alerts and ring alerts enabled on my iPhone, and ring notification only on my wife’s iPhone. We were both able to answer rings, and both able to communicate with the visitors from different locations over cellular connection at the same time. The visitors really have no idea if you are home or not.
Our unit is hard wired, and rings the existing 50+ year old doorbell perfectly. Also when the unit is hard wired, the button has a nice soft glow making it very obvious where to press.
Fine tuning the motion settings so that only areas in view of the camera seem to be key to making the motion capture exactly what you want it to. The customer service was very helpful and thorough with helping me fine tune this! Would highly recommend! -Happy Customer, Amazon Reviews, May 6, 2016
My family and I are so in love with the Ring doorbell! It has made getting packages easier and the best part is we get an alert on our phone instead of the doorbell ringing…which means the dogs aren’t going crazy when a package is left at the door. -GeekyNerdDad, Amazon Reviews, August 29, 2015
Cars trigger it from 100′ away but people 5′ away don’t. I really really really wanted to like this doorbell but it is still a work in progress. I have adjusted the sensitivity all the way to 5′ but passing cars driving by on the road 100′ feet away and now it doesn’t show me any people coming to the door…
When someone actually rings the bell and i click on the app to view it the screen is basically just snow. If I click on “accept” then I can finally see who it is but if I try to talk to them they fade in and out…
Now top this off with the fact that after the initial 30 day free trial I have to pay 30 bucks a year to see a recording that just happened 2 mins ago.
This is the final straw but the return policy for Amazon is 30 days from purchase and I’m stuck with it and 4 holes in my stucco…. Save your money and your time and wait for a better product! – Nick Srogus, Amazon Reviews, December 4, 2015
Do we recommend Ring 720p?
Despite my frustration with its size, Ring Video Doorbell makes a strong case for the best DIY doorbell camera available, even at only 720p video quality. The security and convenience that Ring provides outweigh its drawbacks. I’d still rather have an imperfect Ring than continue to deal with missing packages and an unsecure porch. I’d recommend it for anyone who doesn’t already have access to an integrated video doorbell like Vivint’s, Frontpoint’s, or any of our top rated video doorbell cameras.