Ring Door View Cam review

Apartment renters, your time has come

Ring Door View Cam

With so many smart doorbells already on the market, and the Ring 2 already a great option, you might wonder if Ring really needs another model in its lineup. But the Ring Door View Cam is a different proposition, one built to replace the existing peephole in your door.

As well as cutting installation times to a matter of minutes, this also means that anyone who can’t drill holes, such as renters or people that live in apartments, or those that don’t have space to fit a traditional doorbell, can still install the View.

As with the other battery-powered products in the range, such as the Ring Video Doorbell 2, the Ring Door View Cam connects to your home network via Wi-Fi, acting as both a security camera by detecting motion and a video intercom system that works whether you’re at home or away. This model has a few extra features compared to its stablemates. Let's get to it.

Ring Door View Cam review

Ring Door View Cam: Design

If there’s one issue with battery-powered doorbells it’s that they're usually quite chunky, in order to house a battery large enough that you won't have to constantly recharge it. As the Ring Door View Cam fits into your existing peephole, it solves this problem on the outside at least, with a slimmer (20mm) exterior component, and the battery tucked away on the inside of your door.

From the outside, the Door View Cam looks more like the wired-in Ring Video Doorbell Pro than the Video Doorbell 2 that it has more in common with. Tucking the battery away inside is also better for security, as someone has to get into your home to get the battery out. It’s also harder to rip the Door View Cam off entirely.

The Door View Cam is available in one colour, and you do miss out on interchangeable faceplates, which ship with the company’s other products. That’s not a huge loss, as the Door View Cam looks nice enough.

Once installed, you can look through the Door View Cam’s peephole to see what’s outside, just as before you installed it. Sometimes the most effective security is the simplest.

Ring Door View Cam review

Ring Door View Cam: Setup and installation

Aside from having to charge the battery via its Micro USB port, installation can be done from start to finish in under five minutes, for real. Ring provides a handy tool in the box that lets you scrape the paint away from your peephole, and acts as a screwdriver for unscrewing it, too.

Once the peephole is out, you slide the doorbell in from the outside, screw in the battery pack mount, clip in the connecting cable and plug in the battery and you’re done. Just in case you break the connecting cable, Ring provides a spare in the box.

Ring claims 6 to 12 months of battery life, although this can be impacted by how often the bell is used and how often motion detection sets off a recording. Based on our usage, we’d expect to charge it four or five times a year. If you don’t want to be without your doorbell during the charging time, extra battery packs are available ($29) so you can just swap one out.

Ring Door View Cam review

Ring Door View Cam review

Once powered, the Ring Door View Cam connects to your home network via its 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. You’ll need to have decent wireless reception by your front door to get the best out of the View, although you can add the $49 Ring Chime Pro, which acts as a wireless repeater.

You’ll most likely want this or the regular Chime ($29.99), as the Ring Door View Cam only sounds a ring chime using its speaker, which as we've discovered, is hard to hear inside your home.

Ring Door View Cam: Everyday use

The Ring Door View Cam works like every other Ring doorbell that we’ve reviewed. When someone comes up and presses the button, the doorbell makes its, by now, familiar ring. The doorbell also sends a ring to any Chimes that you have installed and sends alerts to your smartphones and tablets. You can’t choose the ringtone on the doorbell, but you can adjust the tone for the Chimes and your phone.

More recently, the Ring Skill for Alexa has added broadcast notifications, with your Echo devices announcing that someone’s at the front door. By all these powers combined, it’s very hard to miss that someone has pressed the bell.

As for answering the door, you have two choices. First, you can pull out your phone and answer from there. Annoyingly, Ring requires you to hold your phone in landscape mode rather than portrait, which is strange and sometimes uncomfortable.

Ring Door View Cam review

Secondly, if you have an Amazon Echo Show or Echo Show 5, you can answer your door from there. The action to do this is a little clunky, as you have to say, “Alexa, answer.” The way that the Nest Hello handles it with a Google Nest Hub is much neater: after a bell press, the smart display shows you the live video stream and gives you onscreen controls to answer. Sadly, there’s no Google Assistant support at all.

No matter which device you answer from, the video stream is nice and clear, thanks to the Full HD sensor resolution and wide-angle 155-degree lens. Recording at a maximum of 15fps, the footage is a touch jerky at times, but you can clearly see details of people outside of your door. It’s worth turning on HDR, particularly if the sun is at the front of your house shining on the doorbell, to give you more detail; this option does reduce battery life slightly, though.

Come nighttime the Ring Door View Cam switches on its IR lights, giving you a black and white view of the world. Under IR, the picture gets a little bit softer and details are harder to work out in the distance, but up close you can still clearly see who’s at your front door.

Ring Door View Cam review

The video stream was incredibly reliable in our experience with the View, and we found that we could answer the door on the majority of occasions. The few drop-outs we had were when we were out and had poor mobile reception.

A problem with smart doorbells is that it’s easy to miss someone who decides to knock rather than using the doorbell. This isn’t an issue with the Ring Door View Cam, which has an impact sensor that detects when someone is knocking.

The knock detection sensitivity is adjustable but reliable, although it caused a slight problem where, every time we closed our front door, the door knocker bounced and set off an alert. If you find yourself having too many issues, you can disable this feature.

Ring Door View Cam review

As well as responding to bell presses, the Ring Door View Cam can act as a security camera thanks to its PIR motion sensor. Once motion is detected, the doorbell wakes up and starts to record the action. You can’t set activity zones to monitor for motion, but Ring provides a decent array of controls to reduce the number of alerts that you get.

The motion sensitivity control has been overhauled from previous products, and now shows a screenshot from the doorbell with an expanding blue circle to show the range of motion detection. You can also set the frequency to reduce how many notifications are sent to your phone, and you can set a schedule for when you want motion alerts.

You can even snooze alerts for a set period, which is handy if you’re, say, unloading the car and don’t want to be bothered by your doorbell while you’re doing it.

Ring Door View Cam
Ring Door View Cam

There’s only so far that you can adjust a motion sensor, however, and if you live close to a road or live in an apartment and have a lot of people walk past your front door, you may want to disable motion detection completely.

With our setup, we found that we could stop the Ring Door View Cam from going off when people or cars went past our house, but anyone walking up the neighbour’s path would trigger an alert. Nicely, the Ring Door View Cam has Privacy Areas, which lets you black out part of the picture that you don’t want to record, such as neighbour’s garden. These areas are processed locally, so no information is sent to the cloud that you don’t want.

Ring Door View Cam review

These blacked-out areas work well, but can lead to some odd results: the Door View Cam still picks up motion in the Privacy Zone and records a video, but you can’t see what’s going on. It would be nice if some kind of cloud processing could analyse the video and reject clips where motion can’t be seen. You also need to be careful where you place these Privacy Zones, as you don’t want to obscure any detail of people at your front door.

Due to the way that motion detection works the other oddity with this product is that opening your door moves the camera and triggers a recording. So, answer the door and you’ll find that you have a clip of the side of your head as you talk to the person there. A traditional smart doorbell always faces outwards and doesn’t move, so captures more of the person at your door, which is slightly better in our opinion.

Video footage is recorded to the cloud provided you have a Ring Protect Plan. Ring Protect Basic gives you 30 days of video storage and costs $3 a month or $30 per year. If you have four or more Ring devices, the Protect Plus Plan is $10 a month or $100 a year and gives you 30-days of video storage for an unlimited number of devices. Without a subscription, you get alerts and can answer rings but no footage is recorded.

Video recorded to the cloud can be viewed in the app in two ways. From the live view screen, you can use the timeline to slide back one event at a time, which is a bit laborious. You can speed things up a little by skipping to a specific date and filtering by event type (motion, ring or recording triggered by using live view). There’s also the 'Event History' view, which gives you a big list of events that you can filter by type; a few thumbnails would make both views easier to use and make it quicker to find the recording that you want.

Once you’ve found the recording you're after, you can download the clip to your smartphone (or computer if you’re using the web interface), preserving evidence for later use.

Ring Door View Cam review

Ring Door View Cam: The competition

In a market that was once entirely Ring’s, there’s now heated competition. Yet, for all that, the Ring Door View Cam still has its niche. If you have a peephole and can’t install a traditional smart doorbell for any reason, this is the best doorbell for you. Its ease of installation and powerful app make it a winner, and we’ve not seen another peephole doorbell that works as well as this model.

If you can install a doorbell on the outside of your home, we’d suggest doing so, as the field of view is fixed, so you always capture what’s going outside of your home. With the Door View Cam you can’t monitor what’s happening outside when your front door is opened.

The main competition comes from Ring’s own products. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is an excellent choice if you don’t have power to your front door and want a battery-powered model. If you do have power, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro is the best choice, giving you proper activity zones, cutting down on the number of motion alerts you get. Ring's products are also the best choice if you use Amazon Echo speakers.

If you’re a Google Assistant user and have a Google Nest Hub, the Nest Hello is a better product for you. This wired doorbell has facial recognition and continuous recording, too.


Ring Door View Cam
You get all of the features and reliability that we’ve come to expect from Ring, in a package that can be installed in a matter of minutes. For those that can’t fit a regular doorbell or that aren’t allowed to drill holes, there’s nothing that works this well. There are a few minor issues, including recordings that just show a blanked out privacy zone and the fact that the doorbell moves with your door, giving some odd footage and preventing the outside from being monitored while the door is open. For these reasons, we’d go with a fixed doorbell where possible. That all said, if you need the flexibility that this doorbell offers, there’s nothing better.
PROS
  • Fast and easy installation
  • Fast response and clear audio
  • Detailed Full HD video
CONS
  • No Google Assistant support
  • Privacy zones don’t prevent recordings
  • Camera moves with door

TAGGED   amazon   smart home

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