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

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 doorbells… albeit with some recent controversy.

And though doorbells are still the company's bread and butter, it’s 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, 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.

Interview: We speak to Ring CEO Jamie Siminoff

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

Getting started with Ring: Your missing manual

Ring Video Doorbell Elite

£449, | Amazon

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 could 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

£239, | Amazon

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 2

£149, | Amazon

The two options above are Ring’s heavyweight options, but they’re not right for everyone. If you’re 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 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.

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 steps as the two options above.

Getting started with Ring: Your missing manual

Ring Video Doorbell

£89, | Amazon

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.

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.

The security cameras

Getting started with Ring: Your missing manual

Ring Spotlight Cam

£169, | Amazon

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’ll be able to set customisable motion zones in the same vein as you can with the company’s 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 camera’s 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, it’s also weather resistant, can offer night-friendly vision and captures everything in a 140-degree field of view.

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.

Ring Stick Up Cam

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

From $179.99, | Amazon

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 – stay tuned for the wider release.

Getting started with Ring: Your missing manual

Ring Floodlight Cam

£199, | 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

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

Ring Alarm

$199, | Amazon

What was once known as Ring Protect is now Ring Alarm – 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.

The accessories

Getting started with Ring: Your missing manual

Chime and Chime Pro

£29/49, | Amazon

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 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.

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 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.

You can register your interest with Amazon or Ring directly for all of these right now. They will begin shipping in March.

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 £2.50 a month. If you want to go big, Ring Protect Plus is there to cover you instead. With this £8 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.

Ring: Third-party integrations

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

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 waiting…

TAGGED   smart home

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