Ring Video Doorbell Pro
Ring offers a variety of different doorbell cameras, with options available for those without a doorbell ($200), power-over-Ethernet (PoE) ($500, I imagine for new builds or challenging wireless environments), and the Ring Pro for those with an existing low-voltage setup. The $250 (can be found for $190 occasionally) Ring Pro, is not quite in impulse buy territory. But, if it works well, it would be a cheap way to add interactive video recording at the main entry point(s) to your home.
Unless you need to drill holes, everything you need to install the Ring Pro comes in the box, including a screw driver and a mounting plate (cough), should one be required. I really like that multiple color covers are included, personally I liked the “Venetian” bronze one best.
At 4.5”x2”x1”, the Ring Pro is oversized for a doorbell. Although, considering it has a 1080p camera, IR illuminator, motion sensor, 802.11AC wireless, and the boring doorbell stuff, it is quite understandable.
If you can operate a screwdriver, you should be able to install the Ring Pro. Even those with all thumbs should be able to tackle this guy after watching the useful video walk-through provided in the mobile app. All told, it took me about 30 minutes to wire everything up, with more than half of that spent trying to figure out which circuit my doorbell was on; turns out it was the furnace :).
While I’ve separated this section and the install photos, in practice, they really are not. Ring uses the first-run app experience to walk you through the installation, configuration, and basic setup of the device. In this format, it is perfect. Even though there are some great settings they do not cover, it gets everything up and running in an approachable way.
Using the Ring Pro is all about workflow with the application. Events are triggered from doorbell presses and motion detected by the camera, prompting notifications on your mobile device. If the notification is ignored, it will create a recording for later viewing or download, assuming you have a paid account (or are within the 30 day trial). Even if you do not opt for the $30/year single Ring or $100/year unlimited Rings, you will be able to interact via one-way video and two-way audio with doorbell events.
Motion triggering works really well, with support for multiple zones and configurable sensitivity. The only real complaint I have is that you cannot aim the camera, so if you have a scenario like mine where everything is skewed to one side of the porch, about 20% of the viewing area will be of no interest. Another feature that I really like is that Ring supports multiple user accounts per device, so we do not have to share a single set of credentials.
Recording quality is an adequate 15FPS VBR (2-4Mbps) 1080p AVC/AAC wide-angle video. Performance does fall off markedly at night, but I would still say it is acceptable given the hardware/power constraints of the device. Examples can be viewed below.
I have been thinking about getting some sort of Ring for quite a while, but the high hardware cost, plus the subscription, always held me back. While the subscription is not required to make it functional, it does provide a lot of the value in having a Ring installed. Generally, you have one or the other: low cost of entry, subsidized by a subscription, or, expensive hardware with “free” app support. Had I not been able to grab one for $190, it probably would have stayed in the “maybe someday” category. That said, after using it for a couple weeks, I am thrilled by the overall performance, ease of installation, and user experience. Video quality, especially at night, could be better, but that is a relatively minor complaint and I am quite confident that we will be opting for the $30/year plan.
Ring falls short when it comes to home automation controller (HAC) integration. Suffering from the biggest issue in the home automation market – a poor integration story. It is clear that they are aware that integration matters with Alexa Show and IFTTT support available. Having IFTTT onboard is great, as it should enable roundabout support for more HAC (e.g. Vera support is currently in BETA), but it is still not the same thing as having direct support or a public API. Although, for the programming inclined, there is at least one unofficial method to roll an integration.
- Easy to install
- Easy to use
- Works well
- Individual user accounts
- Motion zones
- High hardware cost + subscription (to get full use)
- Motion detection in the dark is a little sluggish
- Video quality in the dark is poor
- Can’t aim camera
- HAC integration quite limited