First came smart lighting, then came the Wi-Fi enabled security camera’s, smart kettles and intelligent central heating. You could quite happily (almost) never leave your sofa! However there has always been one real struggle* for the modern day, smart home enthusiast: answering the door. If the doorbell rang, you would have to getup and go all that way* to answer the door, having no idea whether you were wasting your time answering to a door-to-door salesperson, or answering the door for the latest and greatest product, courtesy of your local delivery person! Fortunately, the guys over at Ring have a solution – their Wi-Fi enabled, two-way communication, Full HD Ring Video Doorbell Pro ????????.
* Note: Heavy doses of sarcasm implied
- 1080p Full HD video
- Two way communication
- IR night vision
- Motion sensor
- Massive 160° field of view
- Configurable motion detection zones
- Push notifications for motion and doorbell rings
- Four interchangeable faceplates included in the box
- Wi-Fi connected (802.11 b/g/n @ 2.4GHz and 5GHz)
- Slim and sleek design
- Hard-wired power using your existing doorbell wiring, so no reliance on batteries
- Requires professional installation
- Claimed to operate between -20.5°C and +48.5°C
Design & Build Quality
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro has a much sleeker design than the original Ring Video Doorbell or Doorbell 2. At just 4.50″ (h) x 1.85″ (w) x 0.8″ (d) (or 11.43cm x 4.67cm x 2.03cm), the primary reason for this sleek design is Ring’s decision to drop the built in battery pack and rely solely on mains power and whilst this is great because you’re not reliant on a battery pack… it isn’t without its own issues!
In the box, Ring include 4 interchangeable face plates each of which is a different colour. These are provided to ensure you can match up the Ring Video Doorbell Pro with your house’s design aesthetic straight off the bat. The face plates have an almost matte finish and are constructed wholly out of plastic.
Underneath the face plate is the security screw that Ring are so confident in, they offer a free, like-for-like replacement unit in the event your doorbell is stolen, for life. I need to highlight at this point though – be INCREDIBLY careful when tightening this screw as it is the easiest thing to strip. Don’t over-tighten it, otherwise you’ll never get the screw back out!
Moving on, the central area of the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, where the camera, IR LEDs, motion sensor and physical button sit, is made up of a solid shiny plastic. In certain lighting, sections of this plastic area are actually see through, to the point you can see the IR LEDs.
The button itself is surrounded by an LED ring, which remains on and is a static, pale white colour. Once the button is actually pressed, the LED ring turns bright blue and then spins around the button.
Install & Setup
Install is a bit of a tricky subject, as it will differ house by house. The Ring Video Doorbell Pro (from here-on out referred to as “Ring Pro“) is designed to take advantage of existing doorbell wiring and mains power, so if your chime is pushing out 16 – 24V, you should be alright installing the Ring Pro as-is. However, if your chime is pumping out less than 16V (or you don’t have a doorbell!) you have one of two options:
- Install the 16 – 24VAC transformer that Ring include in the Ring Pro Kit (UK)
- Install a chime that outputs at least 16V to the doorbell
Ring actually recommend having a qualified electrician install the doorbell, generally due to its reliance on the transformer being installed and the fact that the doorbell is being hooked up mains power. In my case, my chime unit was only pushing ~6V to the doorbell so I needed to install the kit included transformer.
Because smart doorbells haven’t become a huge thing in the UK still, finding an electrician that knew how to install the doorbell was a bit of a faff. Ring recommended using Local Heroes which is a British Gas initiative, however their quote came through at a ridiculous price (more than the Ring Pro itself), so instead I opted to use Amazon’s “purchase with expert installation” option.
After about an hour, my Ring Pro was installed and I no longer had a chime unit on the wall. Instead, in its place, a rather unattractive 4 module metal box now exists. Unfortunately, my chime had no space to install the transformer within it and the chime was actually wired into my lighting circuit so it wasn’t an option to swap out the “doorbell” transformer in my fuse box. Fortunately, the Ring Pro Kit comes with a Ring Chime in the box, which is essentially a Wi-Fi connected plug-in speaker, designed to provide audio notification of doorbell rings.
Once installed and left alone to complete an initial power up, connecting the Ring Pro to Wi-Fi is a simple affair. Download and install the Ring app on your chosen platform (Android/iOS/Windows/Mac) and follow the step-by-step instructions on the screen. To begin with, I ran into some power issues, however it turned out the wiring had been install the wrong way around so this was an easy fix.
Video & Audio Quality
The Ring Pro streams and records at Full HD (1080p), which is paired up with a wide 160° field of view. This means that pretty much anywhere you install the Ring Pro, you’re going to see pretty much anything in front of and even to the sides of the unit. To take things one step further, Ring allow you to define Motion Detection zones, which restricts the areas in which you’re notified when there is motion.
Integrated, powerful IR LEDs mean that you’re also going to get a decent view (up to 30ft) of your doorbell’s surroundings even when it is pitch black. You will be looking at a black and white video, but this is generally expected (I’ve only seen a few coloured “night vision” products and they were either expensive or used motion sensors to turn on a light). The Ring Pro does a good job of handling sudden lighting changes as well, such as when cars drive past with headlights on whilst it is dark outside.
As the Ring Pro does stream/record at 1080p, it means that your internet connection needs to be up to scratch. The Ring Pro on its own demands between 1 and 2mbps of upload bandwidth, as well as decent Wi-Fi connectivity.
There’s also one set back here though: You have to subscribe to Ring’s Protect Plan, which will cost you at least £25/year ($30/year).
Audio quality on the Ring Pro is also fairly impressive. Thanks to “Noise Cancelling” technology, audio going both ways is clear and I’ve never experienced any audio drops whilst using the feature. Wind noise is cancelled out and road noise is dealt with fairly well. Audio pickup range is decent as well, you can quite easily have a conversation with someone that’s a good 10m away.
You cannot setup audio detection notifications, however if I’m being honest I really don’t know how useful this would be. Maybe Ring will follow the “smart” trend of including “AI” in their future products? “Glass smash detected” anyone??
The one thing I love about the Ring app is that the app is always being updated. Admittedly, it’s mostly UX/UI tweaks, rather that full blown functionality development, but that’s likely because everything you need is already in the app! Some of the key features are:
One of the stand out features of the Ring Video Doorbell Pro is the ability to setup specific, custom motion zones. These zones essentially allow you to fine tune exactly where you’re getting motion detection notifications from at any given time of the day. As you can see in the following GIF, these zones are highly customizable!
My only gripe with this functionality is: Let’s say you setup two motion zones, one for your path way and one for your drive way. You will continue to simply get “Motion Detected” through as a notification, rather than “Motion Detected in ‘Pathway’ zone”, which I was expecting considering I’m giving the zone a name.
The event history is a great feature, allowing you to see all history of notifications as well as all history of interaction with your Ring Pro. For instance, if the doorbell rings and you pickup the notification on your phone, the event history will show “Answered Ring”. Alternatively, let’s say you or your loved one simply check in during the day – you’ll be able to see exactly when that “Live View” took place! Great for those occasions where you noticed something happening that was just out of range.
Unfortunately though, there’s no preview for each event so you have to actually tap into each event to find out why motion was detected/who rang the doorbell. I’m hoping that Ring can take a cue from NETGEAR’s Arlo brand here, as it’s always good to see whether it was just a tree rustling or the postman delivering and avoiding having to sit through 20+ seconds of footage.
Ring give you the ability to fine tune your motion detection notifications, as well as setup both chime and notification snooze hours, which is great in the event you have your Motion Detection settings ramped up to full and no motion zones defined.
Now this may not be exactly what you’re thinking. The Ring Pro runs at 1080p flat – there’s no changing that. What you can change though is the level of motion detection, whether your connected chime is going to ring or not when motion is detected, the volume of the speaker in the Ring Pro, the volume of your chime, the tune your chime or doorbell plays when someone rings the doorbell as well as “Snooze” hours where you quite simply don’t want to be interrupted by motion detection OR doorbell rings.
This is a great little addition that will likely go unused by most, however it’s a great tool primarily during the setup process of your device. Ring displays the Wi-Fi connectivity status of your devices, as well as the Ring Pro’s power input level. Initially during setup we found that this was showing “Average”, at which point we identified a slightly loose connection and managed to get everything up to “Very Good”.
Issues I’ve Had
Finding an electrician in my area that knew how to install the Ring Video Doorbell Pro was a fairly complex task in itself! They’re clearly not popular enough products yet, as even Amazon’s own “Smart Home Installation Experts” admitted that they had never installed a Ring Pro before. The first guy that came out looked at the manuals for around half an hour before deciding I’d need an extra part (the “consumer” unit mentioned below) which ended up costing me an extra £15.
My chime couldn’t output the required voltage and couldn’t be adapted to include the more powerful transformer whilst still operating as a chime. As a result, the electrician ended up ripping out the chime and replacing it with a 4 module metal box (think small fuse box/”consumer unit”) which is incredibly unattractive and hums!
Installing the wiring isn’t all too obvious (no fault of the Ring Pro!). It took us three attempts to get the polarity right before the Ring Pro would boot up, as for some reason the first time despite the wiring being correct – the Ring Pro wouldn’t turn on.
90% of the time, Ring’s notifications of either motion, or doorbell ring are almost immediate. I’m talking sub 1 second between pressing the button and being notified. However, fairly frequently, there’s a noticeable delay between the time someone rings the doorbell and I receive a notification on my phone – at this point I’m talking 5 seconds plus! During this time, I’m on the same Wi-Fi network (plenty of bandwidth) and both my phone and the Ring Pro have “very good” connectivity.
When people have rung the doorbell whilst I’ve been away from home, this issue has actually resulted in me missing the person ringing my doorbell.
Being mains powered, the Ring Pro is reliant on power being continuously delivered over the wire. Unfortunately, there’s no battery backup to cover even limited functionality for a short amount of time, such as a typical power cut.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro is honestly a great device. Whilst by no means is it the most affordable option, the customizable motion detection areas are a great addition and stand out feature, saving you tonnes of worrying and pointless notifications. The build quality is solid; thus far my Ring Video Doorbell Pro has stood up to torrential downpour, extreme temperatures (for the UK at least!) and my pressure washer. Furthermore, the Full HD video with extremely wide-angled lens is spectacular and covers most if-not-all security requirements anyone could have – both during the day and during the night!
Integrating with IFTTT just makes sense, and if you own any smart home equipment then chances are you’re already making full use of IFTTT and can expand your recipes to include a Ring Doorbell. Not only that, but you can actually integrate with Alexa and Google Home – bringing all of your smart devices under voice control!
Installtion is a bit of a pain, especially here in the UK where these types of products are not yet so popular. That being said, install is a one-time job and once installed the Ring Video Doorbell Pro is a great addition to any household and is just waiting to be expanded upon. As long as your doorbell is within decent range of your router, you shouldn’t have any issues in terms of power and connectivity.
I’m hoping that over the course of the next few months, the guys over at Ring will be able to fine-tune/optimize the notifications so that they’re a little more timely. I’m also hoping that for a second generation product we see a slim, backup battery to keep you secure in the event of a power outage.
Ring’s website: https://ring.com