Welcome to the first installment of the fall series, focusing on incredible smart home products that make you want to brave the cooling weather and drill some holes, bang some nails, and chop some wood… or just add some cool tech. to your home.
Before we begin, I wanted to let you know that links in this article may include affiliate links, which provide me with a commission for purchases made through these links. This does not influence my opinions.
First up is the latest in video doorbell technology: Ring Video Doorbell 2. The newest in their video doorbell lineup, Video Doorbell 2 takes the best of the original Ring and includes a modular battery, greatly increases video quality, and even uses the same drill holes from a previous Ring doorbell (if you’ve got one!).
PROS: THE STUFF THAT MAKES YOU WANT IT
Installation: Very quick in nearly every case. Less than 30 minutes in most cases, sometimes longer if you pre-drill holes.
Video Quality: 1080p video with High Dynamic Range (HDR) provides stunningly crisp images of whoever shows up at your door.
Battery Life: You should get at least 3 months between charges, under most circumstances.
Modular Design: Easily swap out batteries without removing the entire Ring!
Cloud Recordings/Saves/DVR: The best value in security camera video storage around. Just $30 per year for 60 days of storage.
CONS: THINGS NEEDING IMPROVEMENT
Motion Settings: More customization is needed. Custom-drawn zones to reduce false motion recordings.
Build Quality: The original Ring was made mostly of metal. Ring 2 switched out metal for plastic, and it feels cheap.
Speaker Volume: It can be hard for the person outside to hear you, especially if you live on a busy street.
Ring has created what I believe to be one of the best, easiest to use, and most fun smart home gadgets so far. The ability to see and speak (two-way) to someone at your door without having to open that door (or when you’re not even home!) is a game changer. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 takes the best of the original Ring and makes it better, while also fixing some of my complaints along the way.
Installation couldn’t be simpler – even if you have to pre-drill holes and insert anchors into a brick exterior. Installing my original Ring took around 30 minutes, including drilling through the brick. The included drill bit ensured drilled holes that are the perfect size for the anchors. Your mileage may vary, but it will almost certainly be an even easier installation process if you don’t need to dust off the power tools. I’m fairly certain that I just handed the baby off to the wife, cracked a beer, and started drilling. If I can do it, you can do it too.
Since I was upgrading from an original Ring and not installing the Ring 2 fresh, I first mounted the adapter plate using my existing holes, then screwed the Ring 2 into the adapter. I slid my fully charged battery into the slot, snapped on the front plate, and secured the security screw. Done. This took less than 15 minutes and I’d expect about the same even with a fresh Ring 2 installation into non-brick or stucco walls.
Setup within Ring’s app is easy. Just quickly connect to the temporary Ring WiFi network, enter your existing WiFi credentials, and then wait a few seconds while Ring connects. It was up and running in just a minute or so and without any problems. I have crazy good WiFi with eero, but you’ll want to make sure yours is in range of your router or an extender (like the Chime Pro).
Motion configuration is up next. I live on a busy street, elevated by stairs from the street level. Since Ring’s motion sensor is angled straight out and down, this is basically a worst-case scenario. My original Ring recorded video of nearly every truck and bus that drove by – around 50 videos every day. This was a huge drain on battery, requiring me to remove and charge my Ring every few weeks.
Ring 2, however, has improved motion sensing that has nearly completely eliminated these false recordings. While it hasn’t stopped them completely, it now only mistakes cement trucks for people. This is a huge improvement for me and Ring’s battery life!
So, battery life. Ring claims that most people charge their batteries every 3-12 months. This was nowhere near my experience with the original Ring which required recharging every 3 weeks. Based on my usage of Ring 2, however, I expect to get around 3 months between charges. I also bought a second battery (something you couldn’t do with the original) to make this process as quick and painless as possible.
Video quality is a place where the Ring Video Doorbell 2 really shines. Resolution goes up to 1080p (from 720p) and includes High Dynamic Range (HDR) – a feature common on smartphones. This means that videos not only look sharper but are less susceptible to sunlight or other light sources blowing out the picture with bright white spots. My Ring videos are clearer than ever and are absolutely share-worthy.
Also new to Ring Video Doorbell 2 is its modular design. Two faceplates come in the box. One is a darker, aged brass, look and the other is a bright silver color. There are only two faceplates right now, but I would not be surprised to see Ring release new colors similar to the original model color choices in the future. This faceplate also allows for quick access to the now-removable battery. Extra batteries can be purchased and kept charged so that battery swaps take seconds instead of requiring hours of charge time and missed recordings. Just remove the security screw and pop off the faceplate to either swap that or the battery. Simple.
If I was disappointed about anything with my upgrade, it was the build quality. The new Ring 2 drops nearly all of the metal that made up the original Ring, replacing it with plastic. This downgrade makes the unboxing experience less than exciting as the light plastic seems to float away from my hands – a sharp contrast to the premium heft the metal in the original Ring had. If this was required as a trade-off for the removable battery and changeable faceplates, however, I’m cool with it.
Finally, the speaker volume is the only disappointment that I have with the Ring Video Doorbell as a whole. Both the original Ring and the Ring 2 sport underpowered speakers that fail to overcome loud background noise from things like busy streets. My Ring recordings where I speak to visitors almost always show them leaning in close so that they can hear me. I do live against a busy street, but this should have been accounted for when choosing to include two-way voice communications.
Overall I am incredibly happy with my new Ring Video Doorbell 2. It is one of the few smart home products that I use that puts a smile on my face every time I use it. Ring is frustration-free, fun, and just plain cool.