The $28 Million Video Doorbell Ring Tested

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Sep 08, 2015

In 2015, video doorbells are big business. Ring landed $28 million in funding from Richard Branson and others who are betting that this is the next big thing.

However, when Ring's first generation Doorbot hit the market, it was a total failure that left people furious. So we bought a new Ring, installed it (below) and decided to see how well it works.

 

We evaluated:

  • Video quality
  • Sound quality
  • Motion detection
  • Battery life
  • Low-light performance
  • App performance
  • Lock control / integration
  • Install ease / issues
  • Wireless performance
  • **** *** *** *** findings:

    • ***** *******: *** ***** **** occasional ********** *** **********, but ****** *** '***** intercom' ********.
    • ***** *******: ******* **** ****, with ****** *** ******** audio ** *** **** side, *** **** ***** cancelling ** **** ****.
    • ****** *********: **** ***** ****. Ring ****** ***** ** fine-tune ****** ********* ** minimize *****-******.
    • ******* ****: *** ****, *** far ***** ** *** '1-year' ******* ** **** by ** ******. ** our **** **** ****** use, * **** ****** would **** ** - 45 ****.  *******, ********** eliminates **** *****.
    • ***-***** ***********: ********* *** ********.  In **** *****, ***** may *** ** **** to ******** ******* ******* unit ********** **. ** dark *****, ***** **** likely **** ** ***** external ***** ****** ** to *** *** ****** for ***.
    • *** ***********: *** *** ****** well ** **** *** and ******* *********, *** the **** ** *** accessible **** *** ******* or ********.

    ******** ***** *******: ** ***** ** video, **** ******** * 720P ******* (*** ****** FoV) ***/***** ****** ******* up ** *****, *** the **** ******** ** LEDs. *******, ******* *** unit ** *** **** WDR *** ** ********* using ****, **** ***** quality ** ********* **** worse **** *** **** offers.  ***** ***** ******** quality ** ********* *** as ********* ** ************, Ring *** ******* **** grainy **********, ****** ********, video **********, *** ******* frames ** *** *****:

    ** **** ****:**** **** *** *** the **** ** ****** the ****** ** ******. Unlike * *** ****** that ** '****** **', if ** *** *** pushed *** **** ****** or ** *** ****** is *** ********* ******, unit ***** ******* *** inaccessible ** *** ****.

    ****, **** ********: **** **** *** audio ***** *****, **** a ****, ********* ******* and ********** ***** **. Even **** ********** ***** was ****, ****'* ******* 'active ***** ************' ****** well *** **** ********** wind ** ******* ***** did *** ********* ***-*** communication. ****** ***** *********, at ** **** *** the **** ********** ***** audio ******* ** **** or ****.

    *** *********:*** **** *** * user *** ****** ** Ring's ******** ** *** smartphone ***. ** ***** batteries *** **** ** the **** *******/ ********* is **** **** ***** phone, ***** ** ** other *** *** *** owner ** ***** **** activity.

    ** **** *******:**** ** * doorbell *** ****** **** commercial ******** ******** **** not ******* ***** ******* to ******* * ****** or ****** * ********. 'Buzzing' ******* ******* *** door ** *** ********.

    ****** **********: ***** **** ***** triggered ** * ******, the ******* ****** **** can ** ********** ** record ** ****** ** the ***.  **** *********** gives **** ***** ** a ************ ****** **** can ****** ***** ** prowlers ** ***** ****** close ** *** **** opening.

    Other ********

    ******** *******: ******* **** ** **** bigger **** *********** **** switches, ** *** *** fit ** *** ********* nor **** *** ******* locations ** *** ***** spot ** ***** * camera *** ******** *** to ******* ********, ***, or ****. ** **** doorbell ** ******* ** direct ********, ***** ****-****, or ** *** ******** is ******* ** ******* winds ** ******** *************, Ring **** ****** **** video ******* ******.

    **** ******** ***:*** '******** ******' ***** performance ** *** ** large **** ** *********** of *** ********* **** network. ** *** ****, the **** *** **** ~20 **** **** **** the ****** ******* * brick ******** **** *** we ********** *** ******* frames *** ****.  ****'* FAQ **** *** ***** an ********** ***** *** WiFi, *** **** ***************** ********** ** ******** near *** ****** * ******* ********. For **** *****, **** is ************* *** ********** an ********** *******.

    **** ************ ******** ****: **** **** *** automatically *** ** *** app **** *** ******** button ** ****** ** motion ** ********; ** sends ** ***** ******* to ****** ***** ** the *****. **** ***** the **** **** ******* unlock *** ***** *** swipe *** ******* ****** video **** **. ***** undoubtedly ******** ** * privacy *********, *** ******* takes ****, *** *** person ******* *** **** may **** **** ** the ********. **** **** not ******* *** ******** to ****** **** ** the *** (**: ***** App ** ****** ****) so *** *** ****** is *********** ** **** cases.

    Product ********

    *** ***** ***** ****** a ***** ******** ** the ****'* ************, ******, and **** ******** ** a *********** ********:


    *** **** ******** ***** 3"X5"X1" ***** ** ************ bigger **** ****** **** switches. *******, *** **** uses *** **** *** wire ********** *** * - ** *** ***** typically ******* *** *** doorbells ** **** *****. The **** ****** ****** to * ******** ******* secured ** ***** ** masonry ***** ** **** screws.  ******** *** ******* and ****** ** **** wires ** *** ********* and ****** ****** ** even ****** ******.**** ********** *** ******* ******* and ***** ******** **** connections.

    ***** *** ******** ***** keeps *** **** *******, but **** **** *** existing ***** *** **** the ****, ** **** the ****** ** ******* the **** ** *****. However, *** **** **** can ** ******* ** work ** * ********** unit ******* ********** ** existing *****. *** ********** ***** become ******:

    • ******** ****: **** ***** **** connected***-** ***** *** ~$****** ***** **** * wall ****** *** ****** users ** **** **** the ******** ** ****.  Without **** ****, ****** a **** *** ********** to ***** ************* **** may *** ******* ******* is ******* *** ********.
    • ******* ****: ******* ********* *****, Ring ****** ** **'* internal ******* ********* ****** ** **** for ** ** * year******* ******* ** ****** use.  *** ******* ***** 'normal ***' ***** ***** about **% *** ****, so ******* ******* *** more *********. ******** ** done *** * ****-*** port *** ******** *****, and ******** ************ **** for * - ** hours ***** ******* **, leaving *** ******** ******* a ******** ****** **** time.

    ***** ********** *********** **** been ********* ** **** engineers *** *** *********** above. *******, ** ***** want ** ******* **** completely, ********** **** ** the **** *** ** eliminate *** ******.

    Operation ****

    ** **** *****, ** embedded * ******** **** from *** **** ** use:


    ****** *** ***** ****** after *** **** *** rung, *** ****** *** app ******** *** ***** an ******** *******. ****** about **** ******** *** normal *** **** *********, and ********* ******* *** leave ****** *** **** connects *** *** ** answered, **** ** *** normal **** ** ***** to **** * ***** out ** * ******.

    Nighttime ***********

    **** ******** * ********** IR *** ****** *** has * ****** ** covert (*** **********) ** LEDs ****** ** *** front *******.  ******* ********* performance ** *** ****, **** ****** 10 **** ** *** unit, *** ************ ***** quickly ***** ***.  *********** the ****** ** *** image ***** ** ********* or *** ******** ** IR **** *****.

    *** **** ******** *********, turning ** * ***** 'porch *****' ***** ******* much ****** ***** *******.

    Optional ***** *******

    ** *** ***** ** recording *****, **** ***** * ***** service ******* $* *** ***** or $** *** **** that ******* ****** **** the ******** ** ****/ ~100 ****** - ********* ***** *****.  While **** ****** ***** to ******** ** **** time **** *** ****** whenever ** ** ********* by **** ****** ** motion *** ****, ********* video ***** ***** *** is *********.

    ** *** **** **** below, ** **** ** pushed *** ***** ** recorded ******* ** ******:

    ** *** *****, ****** video ** ************ ** .mp4 ****** *** *** or *** ****** *** is ****/**** *******.

    Fine ****** ****** *********

    ** *********** ******* ** Ring's ******* ** ******** motion ********* *********** ****** a ******* ***** ** turn ** *** ** a ******** **** **** the **** **** ****** the ***:

    **** ****** ****** * different ***** ** ** turned **/*** ** ****** motion, ** ******* ******** like *********** ****** ** the **** *** ******* by *** ****** ** ** will *** **** ******.

    ** ********, * ****** bar ******* ***** ** adjust *** ***** ** detection ** ***** ****** 5 **** ** *** unit, *** ** ** feet ** ****.  ** our ****, * ***** of ***** * - 9 **** *** ***** for ********* ****** ** or *********** *** **** but ******** ******* ** movement ** ******** ** the ******** ****.

    ** *** *****, ****** detection ****** ********, ********** detecting *** ********* '****' events *** ********* ***** 10% '***** *****' ********* due ** *********** ******* events **** **** ** shadows.

    Key *********

    *** **** **********, ****** a **** ******** ******** in *** *********** ***: it ***** *** ******** you *** **** **** if *** *** ***.

    ***** **** ***** **** to ******** *** ***** from *** ******, *** unit ***** *** *** ability ** ***** **** whomever *** ****** *** button - **** ** you *** ***** ****.  If ******* '**** *** bell' ***** ** ******* you *** *** ****, but **** **** ***** clearly *********** *** *** aware ** **** ***** onsite, **** *** ***** to **** ***** *******.

    ****** ****, ***** *** better *** **** ****** surveillance ******* ** *** market, *** *** * multi-purpose *** ********* **** Ring **** ******* **** enough *** **** *****.

    Biggest ********

    *******, **** ** *** without ********* ******.  *** inability ** **** *** camera **-****** ** * big *********** **** ****** its *** ** * surveillance ******. ***********, *** dependence ** * ***** app *** *** (** web ******) ***** ** a *********** *** ***** unwilling ** ****** ** carry * ********** **********.

    ***** ******* *** ******* could **** ** * big *******, ********* ** the ******* ** *** underlying **** *******. ** our ****, ** *** problems **** ****** ** ideal *****. *** ***** with ****-****-***** **** ********, Ring *********** ***** ** a *** *******.

Comments (23)

Brian's iPhone pw is 0000

Just for this test. Because OPSEC.

I bought this when it was on shark tank under the dorbot name, never again will I buy somthing from this network of companies. Completely useless out of the box. Took over 8 months for anyone to respond to me from dorbot, by that time i had lost the thing and wasted $250 bucks. The thing did abosloutly nothing just blinked.

I halfway expected the Ring to crash and burn in a similar way that Doorbot did.

However, the engineering group seems to have firmed things up. It's not without troubles (like we noted in the review) especially with choppy video, but for the residential market it is solid for the $199 price especially considering that commercal options like the hardwired Axis Video Intercom are a 5X increase.

Re: support - I emailed support once and they responded within a half hour. Not to say support isn't/will not be an issue for all, but it wasn't during our test.

Hi Brian/all,

What alternatives are there on the market, you mentioned the Axis Video Intercom and I'm familiar with Mobotix's T25 Doorstation (both too pricey for all but some applilcations)?

I have residential customer asking for a video doorbell type solution, but I think it needs to be in the $200-$300 range. I haven't had a chance to research much yet, but I thought I would ask. I agree that the lack of on-demand viewing is a big negative for the Ring. Any other recommendations?

Alternatives in the residental category are still fairly new as well, and I think most of the others have their fair share of complaints across the board.

The $199 SkyBell is often compared as 'the' alternative to Ring, and allows 'live viewing' on-demand, but also comes with pretty miserable ratings - 33% are two star or below. We didn't test it, but proceeding with caution with it might be prudent.

Before Doorbot became Ring and Lockitron became Bolt wasn't there supposed to be some integration between the two?

Is that still planned or?

They do tout app integration with certain lock products:

DOES THE RING™ VIDEO DOORBELL WORK WITH ELECTRICAL LOCKS?

Our Ring App is compatible with smart lock systems from LockState, Kisi, or Lockitron. When you receive a "Ding" or call from your Ring, you will have the option to launch the smart lock app from the Ring App and remotely unlock the door for your guest.

The 'integration' is more like a macro that starts someone else's app. For background, we covered (the newer) Lockitron and LockState locks here.

I mentioned to a manager at Ring they should join IPVM. We shall see. I haven't received mine yet, but I have high hopes and low expectations :). As with any manufacturer a 28 million dollar cash infusion does help.

Are they worth sending an invite to?

We have used with success a product called SkyBell Wifi Doorbell. You should test head to head with RING.

It seems most door bell systems dont have WDR capabilities that we have tried, hardwired or wifi, puts the price point way too high

That's interesting Rob. Thanks. Do you have experience with SkyBell? It hit the market almost the same time as Doorbot 1.0.

We have installed two supplied by the client. They have worked, the clients have been happy, but I have been underwhelmed at the quality. We have also used Comlit which cost 3 times more and it stil had WDR problems, but the client was happy with the product too. it all about managing expectations!

Thanks for the feedback, Rob. How are you dealing with the lack of WDR? Is it a problem you're able to work around?

We tell the client that at certain times of day or year there will be a problem making out the person and we show them footage from one of our installs to set the expectations. This depends on where the camera is facing etc. People are willing to live with it instead of having nothing at all

As a general observation, I suspect the WDR issue will be solved in the next 2 to 3 years. True WDR imagers are becoming increasingly commonplace and they are moving down market (i.e., lower cost), so future versions of video doorbells will likely incorporate those imagers.

So mine showed up and it wasn't working reliably. I found the list of ports that had to be open and went the lazy way and placed that device in the DMZ. Now it's reliable and we shall see how it goes from here. Although distorted, I really like the wide FOV where it's installed.

I picked up two Ring units at ISC East last week. I have them setup but not installed yet. I plan to install tomorrow morning before the annual Thanksgiving guests arrive. Should make a nice test with the added door traffic tomorrow. I have doorbell power already installed so hopefully battery life won't be an issue.

Ill post back later.

Ring announced a companion security camera named "Stick Up Cam" for $199.

The camera uses the same web portal/app and cloud storage setup as the doorbell unit.

On the pro side, Ring is taking advantage of their existing video management interface and expanding it. Cloud service is only $30 per year about 30 days of events.

On the cons side, this cam is only 'weather resistant', not explicitly water proof, is battery powered, and looks pretty terrible.

Unlike the doorbell which can be hardwired, the cam only uses a battery which the company claims is good for 6-12 months, but will likely be much shorter in actual units if they match similar performance of the doorbell.

The camera itself looks like the doorbell unit with the doorbell button removed.

The camera itself looks like the doorbell unit with the doorbell button removed...

Can you just buy two doorbells then, so you can plug them both in?

Undisclosed 2 - the Ring unit does have a doorbell button built in it. I took my two and just changed them out where I had regular doorbell buttons before. They use the power that powered the standard doorbells. When I originally installed then I received a low natter notice which was odd but a firmware update fixed that. They aren't perfect but I would recommend them for what they do.

[UPDATE:] We ordered and received an 2nd-generation Ring Pro. Our full test, comparison, and results are coming soon.

I received notice of Live Video added to the first generation Ring today.

Like several mentioned, right now the feature is only supported on hardwired units. Here are a few screenshots from the app:

Main dashboard, note 'Live View' button:

Buffering is a bit slower than normal, bringing up Live View vs. Recordings:

Also Live View resolution appears lower than typical 720p. Framerate looks normal, but image is overall lower quality than normal:

Overall, for a lacking feature that was a big gap, Ring has successfully filled it with "Live View".

The image is not great, even a simple dedicated surveillance system will not have difficulty outperforming it, but in a combo intercom/doorbell and using an app that users already have downloaded and are using, this is a nice feature.

On a related note, we will contrast the 1st gen Ring with the 2nd gen Ring Pro in our upcoming test. Live view performance will be a part of that test.

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