After much experimenting and consternation I finally decided to jump in for a Ring Video Doorbell Pro.
I had experimented with Raspberry Pi’s, storing video to a local NAS and the results were just ‘meh’ at best and required a lot of personal babysitting and tweaking and was turning as expensive as retail solutions with limited quality.
I attempted to use a Zmodo per a previous post, but it’s video quality and capture weren’t quite what I hoped, it’s low light capability wasn’t good and the storage was rather expensive for the recurring services with less than high end quality hardware.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro version was aesthetically pleasing with it’s lower profile than it’s other Ring counterparts. And they come with 5 different color faceplates so your not stuck with one color. The sticker price of $250 made me a bit reluctant.
I had seen the Ring products all over the place, but was sold when I finally did the research to uncover how much the video storage is in their ‘cloud’. At the time I write this, it’s $30.00 annually for a single Ring branded device and $100.00 a year for unlimited devices. That provides video retention for 60 days.
It wasn’t until I had installed the Ring Video Doorbell Pro that I learned they provide a full feature functioning trial period of thirty days beginning the day you register your device. That was a pleasant surprise. That’s plenty of time for me to get a total feel for the functions and features.
Installation wasn’t difficult.
Instructions were straight forward if you have some basic electrical tools and aren’t intimidated. At a high level, I needed to confirm that my mechanical doorbell system operated at the right AC low voltage range and was able to do so with a decent multi-meter. Next I dropped the power on my existing doorbell system, wired everything per the instructions and we were done. By far the longest thing to get done was locating the right breaker doing laps to kill power to the doorbell transformer from the garage to the attic. The last thing to do was setting up an app on my phone and we were done.
I was very impressed from the start. You use an app on a phone or tablet to interact with the Ring Doorbell and the video quality was really sharp and clear in the dark and even better in daylight. The lens is a fisheye which captures all of the entryway area, but amazingly provides clarity out to the street.
The app has functions for capturing video for ‘Rings’, ‘Motion’, ‘Live View’ and ‘Starred’ and a final list option called All, which lists everything. It captures video in snippets depending on the function.
‘Motion’ – based on sensitivity and the area to detect motion this is where video snippets are stored related to movement. I had to experiment with the settings and am very happy. I opted to be a bit sensitive and probably get more alerts than needed. On rare occasions it senses a large vehicle like dump truck or bus in the street or in one instance a small dachshund that decided to check out our doorway.
‘Rings’ – whenever someone presses the doorbell, it captures video on the approach to the doorbell and during the time you watch them. From your app, you can answer the door through the built in speaker and microphone. This has taken some getting used to. It seems to give me a bit of a problem with bluetooth headsets.
‘Live View’ – If you check the options with the device you’ll find a ‘live view’ button. This allows you to watch things on demand. This might be useful if your checking the weather I guess. And while you view ‘Live View’ it’s capturing that video.
Of course ‘All’, lists all the snippets captured from every category.
The app also includes the option of sharing with others. This allows you to give others access to the Ring device too, so more than one person can view the storage que. Or you can set it up on multiple devices like tablets in addition to your cell phone.
I’ve been using the Ring DoorBell Pro for a couple months and signed up for the single device option and figure this is a good time for my review. This requires some explanation.
Storage: Pro or Con – You decide
Ring devices are “alert based” devices.This is my terminology. What I mean is the Ring device (across the product line) have a continuous buffer (or storage loop) and only store footage a few seconds before and after a ‘trigger’ event like motion or the doorbell ringing. Other systems (Nest for example) are continuous footage storage systems. Why does this matter?
Here’s an example: At first Ring was a unique experience and I enjoyed being able to see what was going by. But with the neighborhood being overrun with delivery trucks during the holiday season and receiving alerts nearly every five minutes, I reduced the sensitivity so I wasn’t getting alerts for every single car, stray animal or pedestrian that went by in the field of vision. Then someone let their dog poop directly in the line of sight of the Ring without picking it up, but beyond the sensitivity for the alerts to capture that footage. So, who ever it was didn’t get caught by my Ring DoorBell storage.
In comparison, a friend of mine shared his ‘Nest’ storage experience, which is a ‘continuous storage’ system. His system has an alert based function with adjustable sensitivity. So he gets alerts as I do whenever motion is sensitivity thresholds are triggered. But he can also go online and view all the camera footage. With that type of storage option I would have caught the dog pooper perpetrator.
My viewpoint: If I had ‘continuous storage’ then I would have shared the pooper footage publicly to shame them.
However, I see the Ring Doorbell as a complimentary function to a full coverage camera solution for the hours. Considering the function of the Ring DoorBell and it’s purpose as being focused on the front door and entry way, I have no regrets.