Hands-on test: Ring Video Doorbell 2
See who’s at the door and talk to them from wherever you are in the world, with this Internet of Things smart doorbell.
Waiting for the Ring Video Doorbell 2 was an ironic exercise in the exact reason why I need a smart doorbell. Unusually poor service from a courier company, combined with a couple of snow days, meant that it had allegedly come out for delivery four times, but I’d been ‘carded’ just once. My handwritten note urging them to leave it with one of my lovely neighbours had been completely disregarded. What I really needed in order to receive my smart doorbell was a smart doorbell.
Fifth time lucky! I opened it quick-smart and set the battery on to charge immediately. Unboxing is a premium experience with all mod cons. It even comes with all the tools and fittings you could need. Charge the battery first, then download the app, then pair using Wi-Fi.
The app walks you through the entire setup process pretty well and there’s a helpline if you struggle. I had a few hiccups at first, where the app hung at the Wi-Fi stage, but ultimately the app’s built-in help videos helped me figure out how to navigate around the problem.
I used the Ring with the supplied rechargeable battery, but if you have existing wiring to power a doorbell then you can attach to this instead.
Once bell and phone are wirelessly connected, you’re almost in business. Press the bell and a LOUD alert is pushed to your phone. You can add other users, too, so the alert goes to multiple phones. Also, buy a lower-tech wireless chime for belt and braces: if your phone’s on the fritz, or the children are home alone, whoever is in the house will know that the bell’s been rung.
Next comes physical installation by the front door. This just requires four screws plus a security screw to hold the cover in place, reducing the risk of theft or tampering. The Ring even comes with its own reversible screwdriver: crosshead at one end, tiny Torx bit at the other end for the security screw.
You get every fitting you could possibly need, including not just all the various screws and wall plugs, but also wedges to angle the doorbell sideways or downwards: this is most useful if you are planning to also use it as a security camera.
I also set up a Chime Pro accessory, which plugs into the mains and, again, is paired via the app. Once connected, you have full control of everything via app, including the ring tone and volume, plus whether it alerts you to motion or just bell pushes.
All set up, what happens when someone rings the bell? You get a push notification to your phone that’s nice and loud. Click on it and you get connected almost immediately to a live video feed from your doorbell. Video is one-way only (from them to you), but you can tap a button for a two-way audio link to say hello to a friend or tell a delivery person where to leave your package.
You can answer the door when you’re out, from anywhere in the world where you have a data connection, or from the garden, or when you’re in the bath.
The video is very clear (1080HD) with a wide, fisheye lens that gives an excellent virtual doorstep view. Sound is clear, too, although the few seconds delay in you getting the notification and responding is too slow for some time-poor couriers. I found that friends would wait patiently on my doorstep, but delivery people were often already turning on their heels to return to the van.
If you have a Chime Pro set up, this also rings when the doorbell is pushed so it works like a regular wireless doorbell. It’s nice and loud (you can control the volume) and you can choose, via app, from 20 ring tones. You also decide whether it makes a (different) sound to alert you to movement outside.
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is more than just a smart doorbell. It’s also a security camera with built-in motion sensing. You set whether motion sensing is on or not, how sensitive it is and even which directions you’d like the sensor to monitor.
I found the motion sensor interesting, but living on a moderately busy road it turned into a bus detector unless sensitivity was dialled way back. For my setup it wasn’t especially helpful for security, but it did mean I knew when the postie had been and it did let me surprise a houseguest as he was letting himself in – the motion alert was quick enough that I could freak him out by saying “Hi!” to him over the intercom when I wasn’t home.
The doorbell also acts as a Wi-Fi security camera, which can store 60 days of footage in the cloud if you pay a monthly fee for a Ring Protection Plan subscription. This really comes into its own if you buy into Ring and get other security cameras from them, as they can all be monitored with a single subscription.
As someone who gets a lot of deliveries but is in and out of the house all the time, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 was really helpful. Couriers could speak to me in person to discuss where to leave packages or when to redeliver. I could imagine teaming it with a smart lock or safe box to make life even easier.
Coming soon from Google-owned Nest, Hello boasts facial recognition and work with Nest’s suite of security cameras and smart home kits.
Price TBC nest.com/uk
Move quickly and you’ll find some retailers chopping out the original Ring Wi-Fi doorbell at little over half price. Features are similar but just 720HD video and the battery isn’t quick release.
From £89 ring.com
A budget alternative with 720HD video and motion sensing, but no rechargeable battery.
From £70 amazon.co.uk