The Ring Door View Cam is new to Canada and looks to solve a problem that many renters and condo owners have: the inability to have a smart doorbell. If you live in an apartment or condo building, you often don’t even have a doorbell in the first place. This may be just the solution to that problem. As long as you have a peephole in your door, the Ring Door View Cam takes its place, adds a fully functioning doorbell, and brings with it a lot of other options, too. Best of all, if you are a renter, there’s no drilling, screwing, hammering, or invasive installation required.
I had the opportunity to test the Ring Door View Cam at home and review it while comparing it to having a smart doorbell running alongside. I’ll speak of the cam itself and then talk about the advantages and disadvantages of this vs. a smart doorbell throughout this review.
Unboxing the Ring Door View Cam
The Ring Door View Cam is a pretty simple unboxing. Here’s what’s included inside the box:
- Ring Door View Cam Inner and Outer Chambers
- A centering Adapter Piece for larger peepholes
- A Micro USB-enabled Rechargeable Battery
- A Micro USB Cable
- The Ring View “Key” — A Peephole Loosening and Tightening Tool
You don’t need screwdrivers, drills, or anything of the like. All tools are included inside the box. All you will need is a smartphone or tablet to use the Ring App. Since Ring is owned by Amazon, it means that you get full Amazon Echo/Alexa functionality too. If you have an Echo or Echo Dot, all you have to do is use a phrase like “Hey Alexa, please show me my Ring Door View Camera,” and you’ll see a live view of your door.
Installing the Ring Door View Cam
The Ring Door View Cam is ridiculously easy to install. The most painful part of installation is removing the existing peephole. The last time I installed a peephole replacement camera, it didn’t come with any tools to remove it. Ring includes a little metal tool that helps you loosen the inner chamber (as well as help loosen any paint around it) to get started. Once you’ve got the peephole loosened, just keep loosening it until both pieces separate.
From here, installation is simple. You simply slide the outside piece inward, and then connect the inner housing. Instructions are included both on a paper manual as well as within the Ring App if you choose to use that to guide your install instead. Installation should take you maybe 5 minutes tops if you know what you’re doing, and 10 if you don’t. The video for this review shows you the basic install from start to finish.
One thing you’ll need to do is sign up for a Ring account if you don’t have one. If you do, you can just log into your app and select the new device for install. Since this is essentially a doorbell, select that, give it a location, and then follow the onscreen instructions (made even easier by just scanning the QR Code included in the box). You’ll hook up to a localized Wi-Fi signal from the Ring View Door Cam and then connect to your own Wi-Fi. A firmware update might be required, and then you’re pretty well set. Start to finish, you’re looking at maybe 15 minutes.
What Features are Included with the Ring Door View Cam?
There are a lot of features included with the Ring Door View Cam. The first and simplest one is that you still have a manual/real peephole you can look through. Why is that important? It’s because it isn’t something on all peephole replacement cameras. The Yale one, for example, didn’t have this in its early models (in favour of straight video).
You also have a very wide-angle camera that films in HD and can be enhanced with HDR. If you live in an apartment or condo complex and want to focus on just your door, you can set one or two privacy zones in the app which will immediately black out the area of your choosing from all recordings.
Other features include integration with Ring Chime, Knock Detection (where it will still alert you that someone is at the door if they choose to knock), live feed views (a typical staple of these cameras), and varied sensitivity settings. You can also enable multiple users to access the camera. All of this can be scaled up and down in the app. The app itself is easy to use. Be sure that you turn on notifications so you can get an alert every time your doorbell rings.
The video quality output by the Ring Door View Cam is pretty crystal clear and very colourful. I’d say that the video quality output is much clearer and much brighter than my existing smart doorbell. There are other benefits that this has over a smart doorbell too, which I’ll talk about a little later.
One small setback you may encounter is very occasional hissy/raspy audio in the 2-way calls, especially if there’s some background noise like rain. This is something that I’ve heard before with the actual Ring Doorbell my mom has, but it’s really not that bad. I have included an audio sample on the night vision part of the video review if you’d like to listen.
I’ve also seen some online reviews complain about the quality of the housing, and that it doesn’t look professional grade. To be honest with you, I find that very few smart home products out there blend seamlessly with their install points, so it never crosses my mind. I’m always interested in functionality over aesthetics anyway.
What Advantages does the Ring Door View Cam have over a Smart Doorbell?
There are definitely a couple of really interesting little benefits you get by having the Ring Door View Cam over a smart doorbell. The first and most important one is that your power generation is completely controlled by battery. With most smart doorbells, they’re hard wired into your home’s power system. With many older homes (20+ years), the existing wiring scheme may have trouble generating enough consistent power to the doorbell itself for proper video recording and real-time feeds.
Another setback is that if you don’t get enough power, the doorbells have been known to either not ring properly (or engage your chime permanently, generating a low buzzing noise that doesn’t stop). The cost to fix this is often more expensive than the doorbell itself.
Another big benefit is the angle in which it captures footage. Since it’s flush to your front door, it captures everything directly in front of you, which means that you’re always (virtually) face to face with whomever is at your door. Smart doorbells either film the area they’re directly installed facing (which could be beside the door where you’re partially capturing bushes or nothing,) or angled toward (if the doorbell comes with an extra wedge, like the August one does.)
The last benefit, of course, is ease of installation. With no need to rush to the breaker box (and no need to mess with wires), this is an easy solution that anybody can install.
What are the Disadvantages in Having the Ring Door View Cam over Having a Smart Doorbell?
Don’t get me wrong—I really like the Ring Door View Cam. But you should know that there are disadvantages too. A battery can be a disadvantage since it isn’t just continuous power. Thankfully, the Ring App will tell you how much battery life is remaining and alert you to charge it up. You can slide the battery out pretty well anytime and charge it with a micro USB connection.
Battery life can be weeks or months (depending on which features you have turned on or off). Tweaking your sensitivity settings and your live view settings will affect battery life, so I can’t really give you a good estimate of how long you’ll get with one charge. It’ll be long enough that charging won’t be a bother though.
Another disadvantage is one that exists with smart doorbells too. Since the Ring Door View Cam’s recording capabilities are based on the strength of your internet connection, you need to ensure that you have a really strong connection by your door. This might require you to buy a range extender or some sort of mesh wi-fi system to boost signal strength so you can take advantage of the HD recording and broadcast features. If you don’t have a strong enough signal, you’ll still get a good picture here and there, but it might be choppy.
The last disadvantage is the one you’ll perpetually run into with these devices: Recording and backup of recording is a paid service. You do get a small trial of Ring’s cloud service recording with this purchase, but you’ll have to pay for recording in the long run.
Thankfully, Ring offers one of the cheaper services out there, so you’ll only be on the hook for around $50-60 a year (unless you have multiple Ring devices, in which case there’s an extended service so you only pay one fee for all of them).
What if I Already have a Smart Doorbell?
If you’re like me and you already have a smart doorbell, you’re probably going to be at a crossroad as to whether you need this type of peephole replacement. I’d honestly say that as long as your smart doorbell draws enough power, records properly, and has no intermittent tech issues with it, you’re good.
However, if you’re one of the people I’ve described throughout this blog that could benefit from the Ring Door View Cam, this is definitely the one to get. It’s so easy to install, so easy to use, and so hands off (for the most part) that you’ll hardly believe that something this simple can be so “smart”. With numerous additional features, including Alexa Skill capability, privacy zones, and flexible sensitivity settings, it’s a real easy choice for a home that needs a little something extra at the front door.
The new Ring View Door Cam is now available at Best Buy and online at BestBuy.ca