Even the humble doorbell has been given the smart home treatment. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 upgrades the humble doorbell to include a video intercom system and remote monitoring as well as providing your home with a simple security camera you can monitor. Here's the Lifehacker Australia review of the Ring Video Doorbell 2.
Installation will require some handiness with tools. I installed mine to the bricks adjacent to the front door so you'll need a drill that can handle masonry. The Ring came with a drill bit, and all the screws and lugs you'll nee for the installation. In addition there are backing plates for angling the camera so you can get the wide-angle camera lens to capture the area you want covered by the camera.
There's a metal plate that is secured to the wall and the Ring attaches to that with four small screws. And they are pretty small. Making sure they aren't dropped and lost is important. There are two front covers in the box so you can choose between a black or chrome faceplate.
The software side of the installation is quite easy. There's an app to install that requires you create a user account with Ring. The app prompts you to provide your name, address, phone number and email.
Once all that was done, I hit the set-up button on the front face of the device - that's hidden under the cover plate you click and screw into place during the final those of the hardware installation - and connected directly to the Ring over Wi-Fi. Then, I provided the doorbell with my Wi-Fi settings so it could connect to my network.
Even allowing for my poor skills on the tools, the entire installation took about half an hour.
When someone pressed the button, as well as an audible chime, I received a notification on my phone and smartwatch. I could then see who was at the door and talk to them. The Ring acts as an intercom so if you're indisposed and can't get to the door instantly, you can ask the person to wait a moment or, in my case, ask the courier to leave the parcel by the door.
As the app and Ring work with a cloud service, I can even answer them when I'm not home.
The camera also offers motion sensing so I get a notification when someone is coming to the door. The app lets you define "motion zones" so it only alerts you when motion is detected in particular areas. The app divides the area in front of the camera into six zones and you can set how far the motion detection is active for, up to 10 metres from the Ring.
While viewing the live feed from the Ring, you can zoom in on the 1080p video and there's night vision as well.
If you're home and there's a steady stream of activity by the door, you can snooze motion alerts or only enable them according to a schedule.
The device doesn't have internal memory but there is an optional cloud service that can save up to 60 days of footage as well as provide remote monitoring services.
Smart home integration
As well as the Video Doorbell 2, Ring offers a bunch of other products such as security cameras and Wi-Fi extenders.
Ring provided me with a Chime Pro, to accompany the Video Doorbell 2. This connected to my Wi-Fi network and added a chime so I could clearly hear the bell ring, or receive a motion alert, from the back of the house.
Ring also boasts integration with a number of third parties including several door lock companies and Wemo.
I couldn't test that as I didn't have any compatible door locks.
Ring also works with IFTTT and lets you do things like activate other third-party cameras, blink lights connected to Wemo or Philips Hue, send messages to a Slack channel or send you an email.
Pricing and recommendation
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 retails for $329.
I'm well into my smart home project now and home security is clearly one of the main areas that can benefit from connected devices - as long as they are correctly set up and the makers have an eye on security.
I really like the Ring Video Doorbell 2. I work from home and the front door is a long way from my work area. Being able to see if someone's there and being able to let them know I'm on my way means I miss fewer impatient couriers. And the ability to answer them when I'm not home is really handy.
If your budget doesn't stretch to $329, the entry level $149 Video Doorbell might also do the job if you can live with 720P video.