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Ring Video Doorbell 2 Review

We've spent some time with the smart Ring Video Doorbell 2 to see if it's worth paying £179 for a doorbell (Spoiler: it is).

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
  • $199
The original Ring Video Doorbell proved extremely popular in the UK, providing consumers with an easy way to see who is at the door – even if they aren’t at home. Following the success, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 was announced in June 2017, boasting improvements including an improved design and 1080p streaming, but is it enough to pay the extra £20?

We’ve spent some time with the Ring Video Doorbell, and here’s what we think.

UK PRICING AND AVAILABILITY
Following a June 2017 announcement, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 is now available to buy in the UK. It’s £20 more expensive than the £159 Ring Video Doorbell at £179 from Ring, along with retailers like Argos for the same price.

It’s also worth mentioning that access to Ring’s cloud services will cost an additional £2.50 per month – an expense that should be noted before buying the Ring 2.

DESIGN AND BUILD
In terms of design, the second-generation Ring doorbell unsurprisingly looks much like its predecessor (it is a doorbell after all!). That’s not to say there’s no difference in the design of the two devices though: the Ring 2 is thicker and taller than the original, but this isn’t apparent at a glance. Thanks to smart design and some magic with curves, the Ring 2 looks sleek and thin despite measuring in at 128.3 x 63.5 x 24.7mm.

While that may not sound amazing, the introduction of swappable faceplates should excite. Why? With the first-generation Ring, you could choose between two colours – silver or grey/black – to better suit its surroundings.

But what happens if you paint the door, or move to a new house? Granted, it’s not an everyday situation but that no longer matters, as the Ring 2 comes with two faceplates (black and silver) and the freedom to switch between them whenever you like. They’re easy to switch and doesn’t force you to make a choice on colour option. It’s not exactly a gamechanger, but it’s a very nice touch from Ring.

Along with the removable faceplates, the Ring 2 offers another big design change: the way you charge it. You had to physically unscrew the first-generation Ring and bring it inside to charge it, which was a lot of effort. However, the Ring 2 comes with a swappable battery just beneath the faceplate, meaning you only need to remove the battery – and not the whole unit – when it needs recharging.

It’s so much quicker and easier, and can be made even simpler if you purchase an additional battery. That way, when one dies, simply switch it with the other! The charging system was one of the biggest complaints of the original Ring, so we, along with other Ring users, welcome this change with open arms.

Another change isn’t with the Ring 2 itself, but the accessories provided with the system. Unlike with the original Ring, the Ring 2 comes with Wedge and Corner install kits, two accessories that allow those with unusual door setups to use the smart doorbell. It means that the Ring doorbell doesn’t have to look straight forward, ideal for those with steps leading to the front door, or those that get unwanted motion alert triggers from nearby roads.

FEATURES AND SPEC
So, what makes the Ring 2 one of the best smart doorbells on the market? First up, the Ring 2 is a smart doorbell that notifies you whenever somebody rings the bell, and provides a livestream so you can see who’s there before opening the door. The accompanying Ring app is available not only for iOS and Android but macOS and Windows 10 too, allowing you to access the doorbell from essentially any device you’re using.

The Ring 2 features 1080p streaming, up from 720p on the original doorbell. Along with 1080p streaming, the it features a 160-degree wide-angle lens, allowing you to see what’s going on above, below and to the sides, as well as directly in front of you. There’s no distortion at the edges either, a sign of a good-quality lens.

And, like many other smart cameras, the Ring 2 features night vision. As the name suggests, it provides you with the ability to see who’s at the door at night, the time of day when security cameras are most valuable.

But what does this mean to potential consumers? You’ll get access to high-quality, vibrant and clear footage of everybody that approaches or rings your doorbell, no matter the time of day. The jump from 720- to 1080p is noticeable at a glance, especially when using the pinch-to-zoom feature of the ring app.
Night vision performs well too, although people tend to lean towards the doorbell when speaking, blowing out the image much like when a bright flash is used to take photos. It’s not something that Ring – or any manufacturer – can fix as it’s the way NV is designed, but it’s worth bearing in mind.

Along with notifying you and recording a video whenever the doorbell is pressed, the Ring 2 comes with motion detection up to 30ft. It’s ideal for those with large gardens as it’ll notify you if it detects someone skulking around where they shouldn’t be, but you’ll find it’s triggered often if your house faces a busy road. You can customise the motion zones and sensitivity via the Ring app, although we found it’d still be triggered by people walking past even when at the lowest settings.

The Ring 2 also features two-way audio with noise cancellation, meaning you can quickly tell the delivery driver to leave your parcel in a safe place when you’re out, or communicate with anybody you’re unsure of without having to open the door. If nothing else, it brings peace of mind to the more vulnerable amongst us that are concerned about opening the door to strangers.

You can also access a live stream of the Ring 2 whenever you want via the app, much like you’d be able to with a standard security camera. It’s not the main use for the Ring 2, but it’s handy if you’d like to check in on the outside of your house for whatever reason. If you’re interested in buying a smart security camera.

There’s no built-in storage with the Ring 2, and it relies completely on the cloud for the recording and storage of video clips. While this means that your footage is essentially safe as soon as it’s recorded, it also means you’ve got to pay out a monthly fee (from £2.50pcm per camera) if you want to gain access to features like the ability to view previous motion events/rings.

If you don’t want to pay the monthly subscription, you’ll be limited to being able to answer the door and view the livestream with no access to previous events.

The Ring 2 can be wired into the mains for power, but many decide to use the built-in battery as it simplifies the installation process. According to Ring, the Ring 2 can last for 6-12 months on a single charge, although it’ll depend on use. It’ll apparently last around 1,000 notification events – rings and motion detection – on a single charge, so those that live on city streets may see reduced battery life.

We’ve been using the Ring 2 for around 3 weeks and it has barely lost any battery life, so while we can’t give a precise number on battery life at the moment, it should last for a while. Besides, it’s much easier to swap out the battery now, so that should negate battery issues somewhat.

APP
The app can be the make-or-break for any smart home accessory, but in the case of Ring there’s not much to worry about. The app is well designed, fast and responsive, and provides a range of customisation options both in terms of motion zones and how your doorbell performs. Options include adjusting the sound of the chime that the Ring 2 plays when pressed to the frequency of notifications and battery optimisation (speed vs battery life).

The app is most useful when subscribed to the Ring Video Recording service, as you can tap to view any motion activity/missed rings in the past 60 days from the app to see what you’ve missed. You can export and share these videos if necessary, too.

However, the app experience isn’t perfect. There were several occasions where we replayed a motion alert, only to find that the camera was ‘frozen’ for the first 10-15 seconds of the video. Granted, it didn’t happen very often, but it could potentially miss out on video footage of burglars and other wrong-doers at your front door.

We’ve also noticed a slight delay in notification delivery (on iOS, at least). When the doorbell is pressed, it can take up to 10 seconds for the notification to pop up. It’s not a long delay, but it’s long enough for the Amazon delivery driver to decide you’re not home and leave with the package you’ve been waiting at home all day for.

It’s not something we noticed with the Chime Pro however, which we come to in more detail below.

CHIME PRO
The Chime Pro is the upgrade of the Chime, and brings with it an extremely handy feature. As with the original, the £49 Chime Pro (Ring/Amazon) is an optional accessory for the Ring 2 (and other Ring products) that plays a chime whenever the doorbell is activated, or when motion is detected.

It’s incredibly loud, and functions much in the way that a standard door chime would, with a range of melodies available in the Ring app.

So, what makes the Chime Pro such a ‘pro’? It has a built-in Wi-Fi extender for Ring devices, perfect for those that use Ring products in areas of poor Wi-Fi. It’s easy to set up via the Ring app and takes around 2 minutes to connect to your home Wi-Fi. From there, you can place it half-way between your home router and your Ring product to improve the Wi-Fi coverage.

Of course, the Ring 2 doesn’t automatically know to connect to the Chime Pro, but the in-app setup doesn’t take too long, and can really make the difference to the performance of the doorbell. If you find your Ring products slow and unresponsive, the Chime Pro could be the key.

It’s not perfect, though. Those looking to generally improve home Wi-Fi should look elsewhere, as even though the Chime Pro is a Wi-Fi extender, it’s exclusive to Ring devices. Searching for the Wi-Fi network on any other device will be unsuccessful. 

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