The humble doorbell has been transformed in recent years. Not content with a simple audio chime, we want to see and talk to the person at the door.
Enter the video doorbell, which lets you screen visitors remotely thanks to a camera, two-way audio, Wi-Fi connectivity and motion and infrared night-vision sensors.
Add our growing addiction to home delivery services for food and groceries and it is no wonder video doorbells have attracted technology giants such as Amazon, which paid US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion) last year for Ring, the market leader in the United States.
I recently tested the Ring Video Doorbell 2, which records at a sharper 1,080p video resolution, up from the previous model's 720p.
It is easy to remove the battery for charging via a single screw at the bottom of the doorbell. Ring says the battery lasts up to six months on average, depending on use and settings. I reckon it will last me about two months. With the High Dynamic Range option turned on - which results in clearer videos with higher contrast, but uses more power - battery decreased by 2 per cent a day.
Videos look sharp, though the sides are slightly curved from lens distortion. You can see up to a few metres in the dark, but Ring does not state the exact distance.
Audio is clear and there is minimal lag while using the doorbell to communicate with visitors.
• Crisp and clear video
• Generous accessories
• Polished user interface
• Cloud storage requires subscription
VIDEO RESOLUTION: 1,920 x 1,080 pixels with night vision
FIELD OF VIEW: 160 degrees
PLATFORMS: iOS or Android
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5
It comes with a generous bundle of accessories. There are two faceplates (black and silver) to alter the look of the doorbell and two wedges to change the angle of the doorbell for a better view.
For those upgrading from the previous Ring doorbell, an included mounting adapter lets you reuse existing mounting holes with the new version, so you do not have to drill new holes.
Not included is a separate door chime, though I found the built-in one to be audible even from the bedroom. Besides, you would probably get a motion-triggered alert on your smartphone before your visitor presses the doorbell.
The Ring does not come with the prerequisite doorbell transformer (AC, 16V to 24V) for those who prefer a wired installation. Alternatively, if your home's entrance receives direct sunlight, Ring sells a solar charger mounting bracket ($79) that powers the doorbell.
Like most do-it-yourself smart home devices, the doorbell is configured with a smartphone app (for iOS and Android). A free account is required and it can be secured with two-factor authentication (via SMS to a mobile phone number), though I wish there was an option to log in via fingerprint.
There is much to like about the app, which lets users control multiple Ring devices from one place. Instructions are clear and illustrated with graphics and videos, while settings such as sensitivity of motion detection and areas to monitor are prominent and not hidden in sub-menus. The app also automatically checks for software updates.
The Ring doorbell does not support memory cards. Instead, recorded videos are stored in the cloud if you subscribe to its Basic plan (US$3 a month or US$30 annually). These videos are available online for 60 days and can be shared or downloaded. If you choose not to subscribe, you can use the Live view option to see what is happening when someone is at the door.