Burglars typically start these capers by ringing the doorbell to determine if anyone’s home. The Ring Video Doorbell, thanks to its built-in video camera with two-way communication, directly addresses this nefarious use case by making the bad guys think you’re always at home. There’s also a motion alert feature that let’s you see who’s come to the door, even if they never press the doorbell button.
I have had a very disappointing experience with my Ring Video Doorbell Pro. When it was installed, I had some customer service issues which were fixed quickly. Then after a few days, the unit continually dropped it's signal and didn't work. I would reboot it, as instructed and repeatedly within 24 hours I would lose the signal again. Finally, the unit lost power completely. Every time I called their customer service, they ran me through the same circus of reboots, despite the fact I told them the battery was drained and although the unit was connected to power, it was not working. I've made 5 calls to their customer service department with long waits on hold and the same scripted 'fix' that has not worked. At this point, I will be returning the doorbell & stick up cam to Amazon for a refund of a defective product that Ring does seem to want to support.
Ring's major features include customizable motion zones, so that you'll only get an alert when a person enters a specific part of the frame. This can be helpful if the doorbell is aimed at a busy street, and you don't want to get an alert every time a car drives by. Ring also has a Neighborhood Alert feature, where you can view incidents from other Ring users in your area. Neither feature requires you to subscribe to a plan.
In fact, just this week I had the power go out at my home, which is also where my office is. I had deadlines to meet, so I decided to go to a coffee shop where I could work and fill up on caffeine. It wasn't until I walked into my garage that I remembered I had to manually open the garage door, disconnecting the door from the chain drive. My particular garage door opener wouldn't let me reconnect the door and the chain drive, locking it in place, so I was stuck with a garage door that anyone could lift open with ease.
All the components in the Ring Alarm system use Z-Wave Plus radios and support Z-Wave’s S2 security framework, but Harris told me there’s also a ZigBee radio onboard as well as some other surprises that aren’t discussed in the user manual. “You’ve got Wi-Fi, you’ve got LTE, you’ve got Z-Wave, you’ve got ZigBee….” Harris said. “I’m sure people will open it up and see there’s another radio in there that’s not turned on yet. There’s an awful lot going on in there.”
I blame spotty home Wi-Fi for this particular performance problem. It’s not necessarily Ring’s fault that my Wi-Fi network is a weak link in its communication chain, but this is a product that relies on home Wi-Fi to work in the first place. The problems I suffered reveal an intrinsic, inescapable weakness in Ring’s workflow, and should remind us that all Internet-connected home appliances are only as strong as the weakest link in their networks.
Given the plethora of user-friendly and accessible security systems out there, there’s no shortage of good options. One of our favorite systems comes from Ring, a global home security company owned by Amazon. While its offerings may not be as flashy as those from Nest, which was acquired by Google’s parent company Alphabet in 2014, Ring is a relatively simple and affordable home security option. Wi-Fi-enabled, it easily mounts on walls or flat surfaces and can be set up in less than an hour. Pair this with the company’s diverse product line and excellent customer service, and you have a system that will work hard for your home (without you having to work too hard yourself).
The other thing of note is its lack of smart home partners. Despite being owned by Amazon, Ring's system doesn't work with Alexa or any other major smart home platforms. If you want to arm and otherwise get the status of your home security system via voice commands, the Ring Alarm Security Kit isn't the right option for you. Ring does specify in its support section that it's working on these integrations for a future release.
Our favorite security system for do-it-yourself monitoring and home automation is the $280 Abode Essentials Starter Kit, because not only does it add professional monitoring to your home, but it also works as a smart hub for third-party devices and helps facilitate home automation. But if you're looking for something a little more affordable and dead-simple to set up, Ring Alarm is worth  a look.
I mentioned a cat sitter. It was kind of awesome to be able to see that she came by every day. In fact, the first day she didn’t come by until 11:00pm and I worriedly texted her to see if she was going to come. Every other day I took solace in knowing that she had already stopped by without having to text her or fear her shed forget. I was able to see when the lawn service came by and did their thing. I was able to see when packages were delivered and when my mom brought the nephews up to use the pool. I also got to scare the crap out of our friend as they were leaving our empty house and I wished them goodnight. That was worth some money right there. I even caught a few people using my driveway to turn around.
The Ring Pro captures video at 1080p and has a 160-degree field of view. It uses three infrared LEDs to provide up to 30 feet of night vision and has a built-in motion sensor, a microphone, a speaker, and an interior chime. The camera uses 802.11n circuitry (2.4GHz and 5GHz) to connect to your home Wi-Fi, and requires a two-wire 16-24 volt power source (the same power source used for traditional doorbells). In addition to the camera, there's a doorbell button on the face of the device surrounded by an LED ring that glows blue when the button is pressed. There are two terminals on the back, and a setup button on the right side that you can get to by removing the faceplate.
So this Ring Video Doorbell worked for about 4 months. I came home one day and the door bell button was stuck in the down position and the unit burned out. I contacted Ring and customer service was receptive and sent me a replacement unit. Unfortunately the replacement unit had trouble connecting to my solid wi-fi and I was directed to reboot the unit by holding down the orange button for 20 seconds. After the unit was rebooted it connected to wi-fi but would not charge or ring my mechanical door chime. My unit was hardwired to my doorbell using a 16 volt transformer and mechanical door bell and the first unit worked fine until it burned out. I spent some time on chat with customer service going through all the troubleshooting when they eventually agreed to send another replacement unit.
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