For a month I’ve been using a Ring Doorbell 2 – a “smart” home security device which doubles as a door bell and security camera – letting you know who comes to your front door.
Here’s my experience using the Doorbell 2.
Inside you find the device along with various brackets, screws and instructions – everything you need to do the physical installation.
It even came with a mini level to help you install the Doorbell 2 nice and level. However the level wasn’t perfectly accurate.
It also came with two faceplates – silver and black – helping you match the look of your house.
Setting up the Doorbell 2 took a couple of attempts – the instructions were unclear and there were issues at almost every step.
- First it wouldn’t scan the QR code on the back of the device.
- Then I had to verify my email address – but the email took several minutes to arrive and no matter how many times I clicked “verify” it wouldn’t verify in the setup wizard. I ended up quitting and starting again three times before it worked!
- Then it instructed me to “plug in your Bridge and wait for it to turn on” without any explanation of what a “Bridge” is (and I still don’t know!)
- After progressing through the setup wizard – it asked me how far movement should be monitored, but it only used feet … even though I had previously said I was in Australia which uses meters.
- After getting through the wizard – the advertisements for the “Ring Protect Plan” begin.
- Many of the support links didn’t work – giving a “oops – the page you were looking for doesn’t exist” error.
It was far from a smooth experience.
The expectation is that you use your mobile phone as the speaker – but that assumes one will always be available and nearby.
Not to worry – you can buy a “Chime” device for an additional $53 (AUD @ Bunnings). Which seems a bit rich for a basic device that comes with any other doorbell.
After setting up the Chime I realised I couldn’t dismiss the “Ring Protect Plan” reminder which annoyingly sits at the bottom of the app – often covering buttons.
OK – so what is the Ring Protect Plan? It’s an additional $4 (AUD) a month you need to pay to be able to use all the “smart” features advertised! Without this the functionality is so limited you may as well put the Doorbell 2 in the bin (see why below).
Unfortunately, this is where things get bad.
After properly setup, the Doorbell 2 accurately detects people – however there’s a 3-5 second delay with the notification. Add to that having unlock your phone, open the app, select the camera and connect to “live view” – you need at least 10 seconds before seeing who’s at the door. Long enough for a delivery to arrive, press the doorbell and leave.
If you miss the visitor AND have a current subscription to the Ring Protect Plan you can review the past footage. Which is why you really MUST have the subscription. BUT it takes a further 3+ minutes for the video to be available to view.
I use a business grade fibre internet connection, quality router and wireless – the delay is NOT in my network. I’ve never had any issues connecting to and using other generic brand IP cameras – only the Ring Doorbell 2.
I suspect some of these delays may be because I’m in Australia and the servers are in America (or some other distant land) – but it’s a MASSIVE delay for a home security device that was not cheap to buy and requires a monthly subscription.
As a side note – the Chime (the indoor speaker device) once disconnected and needed to be turned on and off again. An easy fix, but annoying and again … unreliable.
The camera quality is clear and decent colour balance. The field of vision wide enough to capture my front door and pathway.
The audio through the phone is good – you can hear them almost perfectly however the audio they hear through the Doorbell 2 is pretty bad – like it has a small crackly speaker inside.
There is an occasional signal loss where you don’t hear a full sentence. But if you speak slowly and clearly you get understand enough to have a conversation.
When it’s windy the audio is difficult to understand, but workable.
The Doorbell 2 only supports 2.4G wireless – which is common, but slightly annoying if you want to use the faster 5G wireless which is becoming standard now
The hardware is a pretty decent – however the software is a real problem. The software is buggy and confusing to setup, slow to connect and randomly disconnects from the wi-fi.
Needing to have a subscription to get any real value is a massive drawback. $4 AUD a month is not massively expensive but having alternatives like local storage or connecting to other cloud services like Google Drive or OneDrive is expected when you are spending $299 AUD on a “smart” device.
It also appears to be a very America-centric device – for example, professional monitoring is only available in America, measurements are in feet, no localised website (e.g. .com.au).
I enjoy having the Ring Doorbell 2 – it’s useful to know who visits.But be prepared to miss a lot of visitors – because the time to connect is often longer than people are willing to wait.
I’ll continue to regularly use it and will (unfortunately) pay for the subscription – but when it fails I will look for an alternative which is more reliable and doesn’t require a subscription.