However, in this modern era of technology and convenience, just having a regular lock and key is not enough to ensure the safety of your home, which is why it is great to have technology-powered products that can give you an edge over anti-social elements looking to breach the security of your home. The Ring Doorbell is one such product that aims to give you vital reaction time when recognizing potential threats to your person while also featuring a safe and secure way of interacting with temporary visitors without being physically present. In its fourth iteration, the Ring Doorbell takes this function to the next level, with lots of new and exciting features that we will explore in detail right now, along with the few limitations that still mar the system's overall value.
Design & Build Quality
In order to ensure compatibility with existing mounting spaces and third-party accessories, the Ring Doorbell 4 features the exact same dimensions as the Ring Doorbell 3, with a slim and rectangular design that hosts the camera on top and the battery on the bottom. The whole setup fits in the following dimensions - 5.1 in. x 2.4 in x 1.1 in – while weighing barely 450 grams. You can easily mount it on any wall or doorsill with a special mounting bracket that is provided by the company, along with the necessary security screws to affix the doorbell itself, without damaging the components within. The company even provides a special screwdriver with the package so you can have a simple and safe installation process.
The design of the Ring Doorbell itself is pretty understated, with a flat top and bottom panel and rounded edges on the sides. The battery, speakers and other wiring are hidden beneath the silver satin face plate, which also features the physical button that guests can press to activate the general doorbell function. The button is surrounded by a blue highlighter ring, which features built-in LED lights so visitors can see the button easily, even in the dark. The camera enclosure is painted black to give it a nice two-tone finish and hosts the ambient light sensor and the motion sensing system alongside the wide-angle lens.
Everything is built from sturdy plastic and features ample insulation to withstand the elements of nature while protecting the electronics within. There are even two special screws in the back, which can be removed to make space for wires, just in case you don't want to worry about recharging the battery and simply wish to hardware the bell to a constant (8-24 VAC, 40VA max, 50/60Hz) power connection.
Once you have the Ring doorbell mounting and powered up, you can easily pair it with your smartphone using the Ring app. You simply have to click the add device button and scan the QR code pasted on the product, which automatically pairs it to your smartphone. During this one-time pairing process, you can assign a special name to the doorbell, give it access to the home Wi-Fi connection, and sync it with all the other smart security devices you have installed on your property.
Once everything is set up, you can use the app to control all sorts of functions, including but not limited to toggling push notifications, motion detection and doorbell alerts, as well as quick automated replies for times when you are not at home. The doorbell will be represented by a separate section on the home page, which will feature a recent snapshot of the camera. You can specify the frequency at which the camera updates this snapshot, from every other hour to as soon as 15 minutes. Once you click on the snapshot, you will be taken to the live view of the doorbell camera, which also features a full scrollable timeline of all the past recordings. You can view the full HD recordings on your smartphone or even download specific clips to send to other people or the police.
The video recordings are initiated automatically as soon as the camera detects any motion in its designated scanning area or someone presses the doorbell. You can specify it to send alerts to your system only when a human being comes in proximity of your home since the motion sensor is also sensitive enough to pick up animals and cars. You can even use the app to designate a specific portion of your driveway as the scanning area, just in case the camera also covers the road near your home. That way, you won't get any unnecessary notifications.
The camera can cover a wide swath of area in front of your home, thanks to a wide-angle lens, with a 160° horizontal and 84° vertical field of view. While this is great for covering your front porch and the area around it, it also limits the view of the ground right next to the door itself, so you have to think carefully about where and how you mount it to get the best view possible.
Once someone enters the camera's field of view and triggers the motion sensor, the security system starts recording the interaction that follows until the person leaves and the field of view goes empty. Thanks to a new update, you not only get the entire clip of the interaction with the person in focus but also a few seconds of pre-roll footage to give you an idea of what happened leading up to the person reaching your doorstep. During the daytime, this footage is captured in full colour with the option of HDR recording, while at night, it automatically switches to night vision using the IR sensor. Sadly, there is no option to turn off the night vision even if you have a dedicated outdoor light, so you have to make do with black-and-white night vision footage.
As soon as the recording begins, you will get a security alert through your Ring app in less than 10 seconds. You can then open the app to view the live feed of the doorbell to see if the person present is safe to interact with. If so, then you can simply click on the two-way talk function to start talking with the guest or play one of the pre-recorded quick replies to give them instructions on what to do in case you are not at home. Even quick replies can be put on a timer so that the system automatically initiates the message even without your personal intervention. This also allows the guest to record a message for you to view later.
These video clips and recorded messages can be accessed through the video timeline, which colour codes the clips based on whether they were passing motion alerts or actual interactions with the doorbell. You can view each separate video on your smartphone or download it to your system. The only limitation is that as long as the pre-roll is turned on, the downloaded footage will be capped at 7fps, so it might not look as smooth as it did within the app itself.
While this makes for a robust security system that can give you round-the-clock protection against potential intruders, it also raises some privacy concerns about having a remote access video surveillance system at your home. Especially since Ring and its parent company Amazon, are known to corporate with local police departments if and when they demand access to security footage in your area in the name of public safety. On the one hand, this makes it easier for the police to capture any offenders that come to your place, but at the same time, it removes a layer of privacy from your surroundings, which can be breached at any given time. These are concerns that you will have to think of before you go about installing such a system at your home.
Even with all these concerns, this system is still one of the best and most affordable round-the-clock motion-sensing surveillance systems that you can get for your home. The Ring Doorbell 4 itself will cost you around $219.99 for a single unit, while you will need an extra security subscription of $3 per month to get access to the pre-roll footage and other advanced features. One thing to keep in mind is that this subscription only covers a single doorbell, so if you have multiple units, you might as well get the $10 subscription that offers the same services but for multiple devices at the same time. We feel this is a worthwhile investment for the safety of your home and family.