After starting back in 2011 as a way for founder Jamie Siminoff to hear the doorbell when working in his garage, Ring has quickly become the most established name within smart doorbellsâŚ albeit with some recent controversy.
And though doorbells are still the company's bread and butter, itâs also beginning to branch out into other areas of smart home security, with a range of cameras available and a security system. Its success has been hard to ignore, and after Amazon splashed out a whopping $1 billion back in February 2018 to buy the company, itâs hard to see how it doesnât push on and dominate the field for the foreseeable future â even with competition from Google's Nest.
Interview: We speak to Ring CEO Jamie Siminoff
Video doorbells are fairly straightforward in most cases â essentially acting as your eyes and ears when youâre not home and allowing you to view things on the go â but, like many other areas of the smart home, thereâs plenty to get your head around.
So, whether youâve already got a Ring doorbell screwed outside your front door, or youâre looking to see which device is best for your home, youâre in the right place. Below, weâve provided a rundown on all the essential details surrounding Ring, including the devices currently available, the app which helps run the show, the subscription plans at your disposal and the smart integrations in place and coming soon.
Ring: Smart home devices
What began as a single Wi-Fi-enabled doorbell has now developed into a stable of video-enabled devices that double up as intercoms to help give you more security and control over your front door. But not all of Ringâs doorbells are created equally, and its smart security cameras are also slightly different propositions to their rivals. Letâs explore the highlights from the Ring range.
Ring Video Doorbell Elite
Youâre serious about doorbells â you love doorbells, you do. And youâve got your eye on the Ring Video Doorbell Elite, the most complete package among the companyâs four options. Who could blame you?
The first thing you need to be aware of here, though, is that youâre going to need to install it manually, and that does involve plenty of steps. Thankfully, Ring does do a pretty decent job of explaining what youâll need to do here, and all the bits â like mounting screws, Ethernet cables, etc â are included in the package.
Ethernet connection, you say? Yes. The fact that this doorbell works through the Ring Elite Power Kit, instead of just straight-up hardwiring, is the key difference between the Elite and the Pro, which weâll detail below. That means youâre getting a much more secure and fast connection, but it does require a professional setup. Other than that, what you get here is 1080p HD video quality, customisable motion detection zones, human detection, two-way talking, night vision and interchangeable faceplates.
Ring Video Doorbell Pro
The features packed inside the Elite â 1080p HD video quality, motion detection, human detection, two-way talking and night vision â also make their way to the Pro.
From a design perspective, the Pro is much slimmer and offers a slightly better field of view (100-degrees, as opposed to the Eliteâs 90-degree eye), but itâs whatâs going on behind the doorbell that's the reason it costs half as much as the flagship model.
While the Video Doorbell Elite is powered by Ethernet, therefore making the setup through transformers optional, the Pro needs a compatible 16 to 24 VAC in order to work and will use Wi-Fi. Essentially, it needs the power provided by the wiring in your current doorbell, while the Elite doesnât. The decision between the two really comes to how much youâre willing to pay for a stronger, more reliable connection.
The two options above are Ringâs heavyweight options, but theyâre not right for everyone. If youâre renting, want to avoid the faff of installation and think of a robot when you hear the word 'transformer', rather than a bridge between smart and dumb doorbells, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 is likely your best bet.
Like many other smart doorbells, the 5.05 x 2.5 x 1.08-inch Ring 2 is powered through a rechargeable battery, which the company says will last you roughly 6 to 12 months depending on usage. For example, using Live View will have you charging it up every few months, but this is made simpler by the fact that you donât have to take the whole unit off your house in order to charge it up.
And, really, this is the main difference between the Ring 2 and its siblings. Youâll still get five selectable motion detection zones and you can still customise the sensitivity scale, plus the camera is able to capture video 160-degrees horizontally and 90-degrees vertically at 1080p HD.
Be aware that youâll still have to screw in and replace your standard doorbell with the Ring 2, but this doesnât involve the same amount of steps as the two options above.
Ring Video Doorbell
A slightly more svelte option than its successor, the original Ring Doorbell is still a solid option for those looking to get in on the ground floor of smart doorbells.
There are differences to be aware of, mind. The camera quality drops to 720p HD, battery life is weaker and recharging isnât as simple as popping out the pack with the Ring 2 â you'll have to take the whole unit off and re-install. And while those are definite drawbacks, youâll still get some standard features here â customisable motion detection zones and sensitivity, Live View and 180-degree horizontal field of view.
Coming Soon: Ring Door View Cam
Ring unleashed a handful of new devices at CES 2019, with its new smart doorbell, the Ring Door View Cam, grabbing most of the attention.
The Door View Cam is designed to live on the door and replace your existing peephole, so you can still look through and see who's there. Ring also promises super-easy installation with no wiring: just take off your existing door viewer, install the View Cam on either side of the door, put in the battery, attach the removable faceplate and you're good to go.
The Ring Door View Cam will be available later this year for $199.
Ring Spotlight Cam
A plug-and-play HD security camera with built-in spotlights, the, er, Spotlight brings two-way talk and a siren alarm to the outside of your home. Youâll be able to set customisable motion zones in the same vein as you can with the companyâs video doorbells, and you can watch the live action on your phone, tablet or PC and receive and answer alerts. As soon as motion is detected, the cameraâs in-built spotlights will shine and begin recording video in 1080p HD and recording sound through the in-built microphones, too.
Since this will be sitting outside, itâs also weather resistant, can offer night-friendly vision and captures everything in a 140-degree field of view.
Whatâs good to be aware of with the Spotlight is that it comes in two variants: one wired, one battery-powered. Theyâre both the same price, so the choice really comes down to which way youâd prefer to install your device.
Ring Stick Up Cam
The newest addition to the Ring line is the Stick Up Cam, coming in three different variants. Handy for those who want a moveable camera that can live in the great outdoors or in the comfort of their home, the Stick Up trio consists of a wired cam (powered via MicroUSB or Ethernet); a mountable, battery-powered version; and one that runs with an accompanying solar panel (costs extra).
All are Alexa-compatible, coming in black and white and featuring 1080p HD recording, motion detection, two-way audio and a remote-activated siren. Unfortunately, though, they're only available in the US at the moment â stay tuned for the wider release.
Ring Floodlight Cam
The only outdoor camera on the market to offer motion-activated floodlights, a siren alarm and two-way audio all in one package, the Floodlight Cam is essentially a ramped up version of the Spotlight.
Youâll get a whopping 270-degree field of view, with regard to motion detection, a 110-decibel alarm which can be remotely sounded, and it can naturally survive the elements. This is a wired operation, which means setup is different to the Spotlight, but thankfully it can replace your current floodlight unit and connect to standard junction boxes.
The security system
What was once known as Ring Protect is now Ring Alarm â Ring's security system, which is currently available in the US (though not the UK just yet). The system is made of several parts: a base station, a keypad, a motion detector, a motion sensor and a range extender, all of which comes to $199, with the option to buy more sensors for the home if you need them.
Best of all, it's a system you should have no problem installing yourself. Ring offers a pro membership for $10 a month, which bags you LTE backup and unlimited video storage, but right now (despite the company now being owned by Amazon) there's no integration with Amazon's own Cloud Cam. But you'll be able to use it with all your other Ring devices, even the First Alert Z-Wave smoke alarm.
Chime and Chime Pro
Working with all of Ringâs doorbells and cameras, the Chime and Chime Pro are essentially extenders to help boost your alerts. That means you and your smartphone can be on the other side of the house to your doorbell and you'll still be able to hear what's going on and get a reasonable connection.
The difference between the two? Well, the Pro doubles up as a Wi-Fi extender, giving you better connection between your Ring devices and your network, and the volume has been greatly improved.
Sensors and alarms
Ring also has a bunch of additional sensors for your home, including the Alarm Smoke and CO2 Listener. This $35 sensor can be placed near any of your existing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and will send alerts if their alarms sound.
There's also a new $30 version of the Dome Siren, which works with the Ring Alarm Security Kit and can be placed around the house for increased awareness. Finally, there are new Flood and Freeze sensors, which costs $35 a piece and will keep a watch for water and low temperatures.
Ring is digging its claws into wider aspects of smart home security, and that's set to ramp up throughout 2019. Announced at CES, Ring is getting into the smart lighting game.
The Ring Floodlight is a motion-activated wired light for the outside that blasts 2,000 lumens for $70. There's also a 600 lumens battery-powered alternative in Ring Floodlight Battery, for $50.
There's also a stairway light, a path light, and a spotlight. Or there's the Ring Motion Sensor, which doesn't have a light but can be used to activate the others.
If you have a lot of landscape lighting already and don't fancy replacing it all, there's the Ring Transformer, which will make your older, dumb, lights smart.
Ring: The app and subscription plans
If youâre already knee-deep in the quest to smarten up your home, youâll know that ecosystems' companion apps are essential to the wider control of the experience.
Available on iOS and Android for your smartphone or tablet, as well as on Mac or Windows desktops, the Ring app allows you to do much of what weâve talked through above: customise your motion zones, use Live View and view the history of your Rings. Youâll also get access to some of the more standard basics, such as device health, battery, settings, tones and the ability to link your Chimes.
However, to get the most out of the Ring experience, itâs also worth exploring a subscription plan. Ring Protect comes in two variations, and it really depends on how many Ring devices you have as to which is more cost-effective and useful to you.
Ring Protect Basic covers one camera at a time, giving users cloud storage from the last 90 days, video reviews from missed alerts and the ability to share videos with friends, family or law enforcement for $3 a month. If you want to go big, Ring Protect Plus is there to cover you instead. With this $10 option, youâll get these same features across an unlimited amount of cameras, lifetime warranty in case of accidental damage or burglary and a 10% discount on purchases through Ring.
Ring: Third-party integrations
With Amazon acquiring Ring last year, the conversation regarding integrations has become a lot more interesting. You could already link up your Ring devices with Alexa and get a live feed, for example, if you have an Amazon Echo Show - and now you can answer the door and get two-way audio too. And it's not just Echo Show users that should get excited. Any Alexa device will play nicely, with Alexa Announcements. Check out our guide to using Ring and Alexa.
However, this naturally puts the other major players, Apple and Google, in relative limbo. You can get around the lack of integration with Google Assistant through IFTTT, but whether this remains in place is currently unknown.
As for HomeKit integration, we're still waitingâŚ