Not everyone has a concierge, and if you’re looking for a way to keep eyes on the home, the Ring Video Doorbell 4 offers a way for home owners and renters alike.
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What is the Ring Video Doorbell 4?
The most recent generation of Ring’s door security system, the Video Doorbell 4 is the model of smart doorbell several generations on from something Ring practically started: a doorbell with a camera, microphone, and speaker system that renters could actually use.
Available both for install into a home’s electricity by a sparky or for use with a battery ideal for renters and home owners who don’t want to pay for an electrician, the hardware delivers a system with alerts and notifications allowing you to see who’s at the door whether they push the bell or just happen to wander in front of the camera.
Both a security system and a doorbell, it’s a logical way to ensure the front of home is protected, at least by a monitoring system that can send alerts to your phones.
What does it do?
Install the Ring and you’ll find the screws are hidden by the cover element, so you basically just need to grab a drill, a spirit level to keep it all balanced and straight, and set the Ring on the wall or door frame.
It’s about as easy as installs get, and frankly, you can actually skip the install if you so choose and just get some 3M strips if you want to be even lazier. We did that when we reviewed the original Ring, and kept it like that for a good time while we rented.
Installed and set up, the Ring watches, and it watches well.
Using its Full HD camera, you’ll get a 160 degree view of the world in both home and away modes, providing colour in daylight and monochrome at night, though you can also trigger a colour night vision mode if you so choose.
At night, the colour night vision isn’t crystal clear colour like in daylight, but more of a subdued colour in monochrome. For us, it meant the green of leaves were a light green over the regular black and white of night vision. Think of it as subdued colour as opposed to true colour night vision, but it definitely helps, even if it cuts back on the battery life.
Regardless of the colour mode you choose, the main point of the Ring Doorbell 4 is to watch over your home, and that it definitely does.
Set it up and you’ll largely be able to use the Ring 4 in a “set and forget” mode of working. As in you can set the doorbell up in home or away modes, or even set it up in a schedule to trigger on at different times.
When the camera is on, it’ll record movement and alert you, and when someone presses the doorbell, it’ll record that as well while simultaneously alerting you that you can talk to the person through it.
Does it do the job?
When you’re not home, talking to someone through the doorbell is still just genuinely one of the better reasons to consider a video doorbell in the first place.
You can, of course, set up automatic replies if you want and get someone to leave a message, effectively giving you a concierge of sorts. We found it more useful to just pick up the message when we could and talk to people through the camera, microphone, and speaker, all of which are found in the doorbell and have been part of Ring’s design since the concept first appeared back in 2016.
The battery is still handy, particularly since using an electrician for a doorbell is going to cost you real money, so sticking with the battery option makes a lot of sense. Ring makes better doorbells with more features for folks who plan to wire in the hardware, such as the model with sonar tracking, but going on battery alone means popping out the battery and charging the device up every few months. It’s so easy.
There are improvements that make the Ring Video Doorbell 4 just a treat, especially as far as upgrades go, such as built-in pre-roll, which is basically recording ahead of time (or all the time), and when the doorbell picks up on something it needs to pay attention to, includes the first four seconds of what happened in the video.
Security pre-roll is a handy way to see what happened entirely before something happened, and when you’re talking about the importance of your front door, it makes a serious difference.
The hardware seems durable enough, though as you’ll see from our pictures, our Ring 4 managed to pick up quite a few scratches over the months we’ve been using it. We’re not sure why. Could be little fingers, but the good news is it hasn’t seemed to impact the quality of the camera whatsoever.
All up, the Ring Video Doorbell 4 delivers peace of mind security for one of the most important parts of your home.
What does it need?
You won’t get the sonar concept in this model, though, which is a bit of a shame, and you still can’t seem to change the basic doorbell chime the Ring speaker makes. That’s not a major issue — doorbells typically just need to sound like a doorbell — and you can change the sound from within your home with an optional extra, the Chime Pro units, which are basically chime extensions.
And as much as we love being able to pop out the battery and recharge the whole thing by just plugged it into a cable, we’re surprised that the cable is microUSB when the whole world has moved onto Type C USB.
Maybe that’ll be a change in the Ring Video Doorbell 5. Frankly, we just want Ring to release a new compatible battery with a USB-C port, so we don’t have to change the whole thing. Just the battery, please.
We’d also dig support for more than just Amazon’s Alexa smart service, because you know, there is Google and Siri out there. And hey, we get it, Amazon owns Ring, so it makes sense for Amazon to natively support Amazon Alexa on Echo speakers, but there’s more than just one platform around, and it would be nice to see Amazon play nicely with everything else.
Ring also needs a free plan for its Ring Protect service, because like all services lately, you’re forced into spending more money for the sake of simply owning a device you decided to spend money on in the first place.
Lately, the need to spend more money on everything is a pain in the proverbial, and just adds more to the cost of living. It’s not bad enough that groceries, insurance, living in a home, and streaming services cost more, but now the very gadgets you buy cost more to actually use.
Unfortunately, the Ring Video Doorbell 4 is firmly placed in this category, giving you a free trial of its Ring Protect service, but then offering you one of two plans — Basic or Plus — if you want to keep using services like person alerts, clearer notifications with a preview from outside the app, video history for up to 180 days, and video saving.
Opt to not pay beyond the trial and video storage is largely hit and miss, plus you miss out on the rich notifications.
The minimum cost for service for one doorbell is about $5 per month or $50 per year, and the more premium “Plus” service costs more, but covers more Ring devices. If you’re going to buy a few Ring devices, such as the floodlight or indoor cameras, we can see the logic, but we wish it didn’t feel forced.
Is it worth your money?
Despite the feeling you’ll need to pay for the service at times — and you don’t really need to; we don’t — the $249 cost of the Ring Doorbell 4 isn’t bad at all.
It’s a little over where we’d like, but not overpriced as such. Rather, it just seems like the cost of a security system that also happens to have a doorbell inside.
Yay or nay?
As long as you know going in that there’s a likely service cost, the Ring Video Doorbell still makes a lot of sense, though buyer beware, there are a few options.
Ring’s most recent model, the Video Doorbell Plus, lacks the number and seems very much like a similar unit, save for a taller viewing angle, giving you more vertical viewing when you peek through its viewfinder. It’s a simple difference, but one that could help you work out what you want more, particularly if there’s money to be saved. Money that could be used to pay for the Ring service later on.
For folks keen on protecting their front door, the Ring Video Doorbell 4 delivers peace of mind security with no fuss. It’s ideal for renters and home owners, and makes so much sense. Recommended.