Get started with Ring: Everything you need to know about the doorbell king

We help you master the company's devices, app and integrations

Ring essential guide
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After starting life as an invention in 2011 so founder Jamie Siminoff could hear the doorbell when working in his garage, Ring has quickly become the most established name within smart doorbells.

And though doorbells are still the company's bread and butter, it’s been branching out into other areas of smart home security too, 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, it’s hard to see how it doesn’t push on and dominate the field for the foreseeable future – even with competition from Google's Nest.

Video doorbells are fairly straightforward in most cases – essentially acting as your eyes and ears when you’re not home and allowing you to view things on the go – but, like many other areas of the smart home, there’s plenty to get your head around.

So, whether you’ve already got a Ring doorbell screwed outside your front door, or you’re looking to see which device is best for your home, you’re in the right place. Below, we’ve 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 Ring’s doorbells are created equally, and its smart security cameras are also slightly different propositions to their rivals. Let’s explore the highlights from the Ring range.

The doorbells

Get started with Ring: Everything you need to know about the doorbell king

Ring Video Doorbell 2

Buy now: Amazon, | $199,

Ring has more heavyweight options, but in our opinion the Doorbell 2 is currently the company's best smart doorbell. If you’re renting, want to avoid the faff of installation, and hearing the word 'transformer' only brings Autobots to mind, not doorbell bridges, 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 by 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 don’t 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. You’ll 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. If you'd prefer to, you can still wire the Ring 2 into your existing doorbell circuitry.

If you go the battery route, be aware that you’ll still have to screw in and replace your standard doorbell with the Ring 2, but this doesn’t involve the same amount of work as a full wire job.

Get started with Ring: Everything you need to know about the doorbell king

Ring Door View Cam

Buy now: Amazon | $199

Ring's latest doorbell is a little different in that it's designed to sit over the peephole viewer on your door. That makes it a great fit for many apartments and renters, and our experience with the View has been largely positive.

Installation is super easy: 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. But unlike the Ring Video Doorbell 2, this one takes up very little space. It's Ring's most attractive doorbell, hands down.

The Full HD sensor produces a nice clear video stream resolution and the wide-angle 155-degree lens gives you plenty of perspective. Recording at a maximum of 15fps, the footage is a touch jerky at times. Clear enough to see who's stood at your door, though. At nighttime the Ring Door View Cam switches on its IR lights for a black and white view.

But the View's most unique feature is knock detection. There's a button for visitors to press, but many people will miss that and just knock anyway. The knock detection does exactly what you expect, sending you a notification when someone raps on the door. It's pretty reliable too, but there's a sensitivity adjustor should you need to tweak it.

Getting started with Ring: Your missing manual

Ring Video Doorbell Elite

Buy now: Amazon, | $499

You’re serious about doorbells – you love doorbells, you do. And you’ve got your eye on the Ring Video Doorbell Elite, the most complete package among the company’s four options. Who can blame you?

The first thing you need to be aware of here, though, is that you’re 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 you’ll need to do here, and all the bits – like mounting screws, Ethernet cables, etc – 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 we’ll detail below. That means you’re 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.

Getting started with Ring: Your missing manual

Ring Video Doorbell Pro

Buy now: Amazon,| $249

The features packed inside the Elite – 1080p HD video quality, motion detection, human detection, two-way talking and night vision – 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 Elite’s 90-degree eye), but it’s what’s 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 doesn’t. The decision between the two really comes to how much you’re willing to pay for a stronger, more reliable connection.

Getting started with Ring: Your missing manual

Ring Video Doorbell

Buy now: Amazon, | $99.99,

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 isn’t as simple as popping out the pack with the Ring 2 – you'll have to take the whole unit off and re-install. And while those are definite drawbacks, you’ll still get some standard features here – customisable motion detection zones and sensitivity, Live View and 180-degree horizontal field of view.

The security cameras

Get started with Ring: Everything you need to know about the doorbell king

Ring Spotlight Cam

Buy now: Amazon, |$199,

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. You can set customisable motion zones in the same way as you can with the company’s video doorbells, plus you can watch the live action on your phone, tablet or PC and receive and answer alerts. As soon as motion is detected, the camera’s inbuilt spotlights will shine and begin recording video in 1080p HD, recording sound through the in-built microphones too.

Since this will be sitting outside, it’s also weather resistant, can offer night-friendly vision and captures everything in a 140-degree field of view. The app is a breeze to use, motion detection is accurate, and the Spotlight integrates nicely with other Ring devices.

What’s good to be aware of with the Spotlight is that it comes in two variants: one wired, one battery-powered. They’re both the same price, so the choice really comes down to which way you’d prefer to install your device.

Get started with Ring: Everything you need to know about the doorbell king

Ring Stick Up Cam

Buy now: Amazon, | From $179.99

The Ring Stick Up Cam comes in three different variants: a wired cam (powered via MicroUSB or Ethernet), a mountable, battery-powered version, and one that runs with an accompanying solar panel (costs extra). That makes it ideal for those who want a moveable camera that can live in the great outdoors or in the comfort of their home.

Installation is a breeze, with everything for mounting the Cam included in the box. The mounting arm is flexible so you can standing it on a desk, mount it to a wall, or even hang it from a ceiling.

The Stick Up is Full 1080p HD, with a field of view that spans 150 degrees horizontally and 155 degrees diagonally. Translation: it all looks pretty good. It does set to 720p by default, however, so make sure the change the settings in the app. Motion detection is included – and can be snoozed when needed – but it was the camera's night vision that impressed us more. The built-in siren is really loud.

All models are Alexa-compatible, coming in black and white and featuring 1080p HD recording, two-way audio and a remote-activated siren. Google Assistant is supported too, but limited to basic things like switching on motion detection.

Getting started with Ring: Your missing manual

Ring Floodlight Cam

$249, | Amazon

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.

You’ll 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

Get started with Ring: Everything you need to know about the doorbell king

Ring Alarm

Buy now: Amazon,| $199

What was once known as Ring Protect is now Ring Alarm – Ring's security system. 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 come 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.

Alexa integration is improving, and you can now arm and disarm the system using your voice, as well as getting updates on the status of your system ("Alexa, is my front door open?"). Ring's security system is also the only one that integrates with Alexa’s Guard feature, which sets all your Echo devices to listen for the sounds of smoke/CO alarms or glass breaking.

Still no camera integration, though, nor is there geofencing or scheduling. But the Ring Alarm has plenty going for it and it gets the basics of home security right.

The accessories

Getting started with Ring: Your missing manual

Chime and Chime Pro

Buy now: Amazon, |$29/49,

Working with all of Ring’s 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 $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.

Get started with Ring: Everything you need to know about the video doorbell king

Smart lights

Ring is digging its claws into wider aspects of smart home security, and in 2019 it's been ramping up its smart lighting. 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 the 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

Getting started with Ring: Everything you need to know about the doorbell king

If you’re already knee-deep in the quest to smarten up your home, you’ll 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 we’ve talked through above: customise your motion zones, use Live View and view the history of your Rings. You’ll 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, it’s 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, you’ll 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.

TAGGED    smart home

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