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Ring review Part 1: Setting up a $199 connected doorbell

I'd held off on the idea of a connected doorbell as long as I could. That's not to say I didn't think Ring was cool — and that I get paid to be an early adopter is an added bonus — but even I have my limits. Do you really need to have a basic ding-dong contraption hooked into a smartphone?

The answer to that is still, unequivocally, no. If all you want is something to tell you when someone's at your door, you can't beat a basic doorbell.

But if you want to know who's at the door, or who was at the door, or who came close to the door, or snagged your package by the door — then Ring might well be $200 worth spending.

Ring sent us one to test out. So, we're testing it out. First things first: The setup.

Ring in box

Amazon (opens in new tab)   Ring Lowes (opens in new tab) Home Depot (opens in new tab)

This is probably going to be one of those home improvement projects that you can do. And I say "probably" because I don't know what your house looks like. I don't know your wiring situation. And so I have to cover my butt a little bit. But it took me all of 30 minutes to get Ring set up — and most of that had nothing to do with the installation.

Installing a Ring is just some basic home improvement work.

First, locate your current doorbell button. Chances are it's near a door. You'll want to kill power to it before doing anything, so your next stop needs to be the breaker box. If you have any sort of idea what circuit your doorbell's on, congratulations. You're already a step ahead of me. Once you've found it, kill the power.

Then you'll want to remove the old doorbell. Most use just a couple screws. And from there you'll probably find a couple wires attached to it. Undo those — again, after making sure the power's turned off.

Before you do anything else, though, you'll need to set up the Ring unit itself. Just install the app on your phone or tablet (Android 4.0 and up, and iOS 7.1 and up, and a newly launched Windows 10 app), and follow the instructions. It's simple enough, using Wifi Direct to communicate and ultimately hook into your Wifi. That is, it's simple when it works. It took me a few times to get things to take. Not sure if that was a Ring thing, or a Nexus 6P thing, or a Wifi Direct thing.

Either way, follow the quick-start instructions in the box. They're easy to follow and will keep you out of trouble.

Installing the Ring unit to your home should be simple, and most of the tools you'll need are included. There's a back plate that you'll affix to the house, and there's a small level you can affix to make sure things are straight. Mark your holes, drill, and screw. There also are anchors included if you're going into something other than wood. And Ring includes a little screwdriver, which is nice if you don't have something bigger and more comfortable to get the job done.

Set up the app, drill a couple holes, screw and couple screws and you're done.

If you're hardwiring Ring back into things, you'll reattach those wires — but Ring also works fine as a standalone doorbell. The unit itself will charge over microUSB, and Ring says that charge should last about a year. (You'll get email and in-app notifications when it's time to charge again.) I hardwired mine in, though, so it's trickle charging. And by which I mean maybe 5 percent a day. This is low-voltage stuff you're working with, so it's don't expect phone-like charging or anything. One part of my brain says that's a cause for concern. But so far (after a few days of use) it's not been an issue at all.

The only difficult part of this whole process was actually attaching the Ring body to the back plate. It looks simple enough — you stick it on then slide it down — but I had to force it a lot more than I expected to. It's possible I tightened some of the wall screws too tight, I suppose, so the back plate isn't straight. But I got the job done. Once things are in place you'll tighten a couple of security screws at the bottom. (Which you'll have to remove if you ever need to take the body off again.)

And from there, you're golden. All in all, the setup process was as simple as I could have hoped for. Couple of screws. Couple of wires. Good documentation in the box, and just about all the tools you'll need as well. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate this about a 3 for difficulty.

So things are installed. I'm using Ring. And I'll check back in after a few weeks to give word on whether it's really worth shelling out $199.

Coming up: What it's like to use the Ring doorbell

41 Comments
  • This couldn't have come through at a better time. Just got my dad's Christmas list, and guess what was on it? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it, Phil!
  • I'm liking it a lot more than I thought I would. Still an expensive toy, but ...
  • Is there an option to simulate visits? Because nobody ever visits me. 6 months in the Ring app would probably start suggesting social apps and local events trying to help me out after nobody showed up. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Simulate visits? Sad. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Really sad... Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Just in case you missed it... It was a joke. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You hired someone to come over didn't you ;) Posted via the Android Central App
  • They also support Windows 10 devices.
  • I got mine a few days ago. I'm very pleased with it! Here are some observations:
    1. You need to have strong Wi-Fi at the door for the system to work well.
    2. Android app configuration was troublesome (Nexus 6P). I could not complete the setup process. It worked the first time when I setup via the iPhone app.
    3. Windows 10 app is awesome (I have it running on my Surface Pro 4).
    4. Video quality is really good.
  • I had issues setting up with the 6P as well. Welcome to Nexus, right?
  • After 3 years exclusively with WP, I finally got tired of waiting for apps and switched myself to the Nexus 6P and my wife to the iPhone 6S+. I thought that only Windows Phones had 'issues' - not the case!!!!
  • So did you 6P folks get it working? I assume there is something about the Ring app that does not work on Android 6.x. I have the same problem. It connects to the doorbell wifi network (ring-xxxxx) but then I get a message that setup couldn't complete - pretty disappointing.
  • Yes. Just got it working on my Nexus 6P. The trick is to **turn off** Cellular Data prior to running the setup wizard. Prevents the phone from automatically switching to cellular data for Internet connection once it detects that the Ring-xxx WLAN does not have Internet access.
  • Excellent!! Thank you!! I had almost given up. Had spent almost 2 hours searching the ring.com troubleshooting site to no avail. It connected immediately after I turned off cellular data on my Nexus 6. Many thanks to you!!!!
  • I almost got one of these but a neighbor had one included in her vivinit security package and had horrible luck with it and highly recommended I stay as far away as I could from it. I went with adt and have motion cameras out front out back and inside. I get instant text message whenever any of the cameras are tripped she said sometimes with the ring device it would take 30 seconds to be notified that someone was at the door. I guess if you look at the ring as a toy or a novelty item it's not bad but not something I would depend on for watching the front door of my home. Posted via the Android Central App
  • So you haven't used it? Gotcha.
  • I know this guy who knew this guy who knew a guy who had a Ring, but I forget if he liked it or not.
    Oh well.
  • Are you pissed he spoiled your review or something?
  • Someone who hasn't used something leaves an opinion about the thing that wasn't used online and I'm supposed to worry about it? Not hardly.
  • He's made the critical mistake of assuming that text messages are always *delivered* instantly.
  • If everyone only commented on things that they've personally used then you would have a pretty dead site with barely any content and a worn out keyboard from ctrl-v'ing 'So you haven't used it? Gotcha.' all day long on every article.
  • Most of us are looking for informed opinions, not random bullshit. Posted via the Android Central App
  • By sheer coincidence, I was looking at the Ring last night, and what the poster described appeared in enough reviews that it seems to be an issue for at least some folks. Some people have worked around it by turning motion sensitivity up as high as it will go. It doesn't help with the lag, but, if you're using the cloud storage service, it'll start capturing video earlier, meaning you can see who was at your door if you need to.
  • I haven't bought one no. But she did show me hers and she did have it removed and replaced with a decent product... she had it way before you and this review so she has more experience with it than you do lmao.... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Well it's a good think that Phil hasn't written the review you mention... this is just an installation. I believe he clearly stated that the review would come later.
  • After reading reviews this is definitely not ready for prime time unless you're prepared to be a pre-tester Posted via the Android Central App
  • Not required
  • I am happy to see that it's only $3/month, not like $10/month.
  • My doorbell is off to the side of the door, about waist high, which I think is a pretty common placement. I don't get how the camera will give a decent presentation of whoever is using it.
  • The lens is a fisheye lens so it sees 180 degrees - wall-to-wall on either side. Here's a pick of mine...
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/7616638/Ring20Visibility...
    The bench on the left is against the wall on which the Ring doorbell is mounted.
  • Interesting. Do you have a pic of someone actually standing in front of your door?
  • What is the subscription for? Posted via the Android Central App
  • They have a cloud storage feature that will store the video of anyone who rings the doorbell, or approaches within the (adjustable) motion activation range, so you can access the "video history" of the device.
  • Does anyone know if you can trigger the camera from the app at any time? Or will you only get video if someone actually rings the door bell? It would be pretty cool if aside from a doorbell cam it could also be used just as a camera if you wanted to check it on the app.... Posted via the Android Central App
  • My mom just got one and i see no way of doing this normally, if anyone knows i would love to hear about it Posted via the Android Central App
  • It also has a motion sensor with adjustable sensitivity, so you can set it up to notify you if someone just walks in front of it, even if they don't actually push the button.  With the cloud storage feature, they will even retain these videos for some length of time.
  • I've heard it can be extremely hit-or-miss if it even detected someone at your doorstep or that it'll notify you a few minutes after they've already gone. I think it likely depends on the available light around your doorbell as well as the viewing angle it has.
  • The setup doesn't work with the 6P. I had to use my old N6 and then add the app onto the 6P to use. Other than that, worked flawless. I called ring tech support and they thought it was strange that the setup wouldn't work with the 6P. He thought it may have to do with it being a new phone or something since i was one of the few (according to him) that has called with an issue and actually had a 6P...
  • I don't have a Ring, but attaching the device to an existing doorbell and transformer should provide ample power to recharge the device. Doorbells in the U.S. use 10 volts AC and probably draw a few hundred milliamps when activated. The recharge circuit of the Ring would need to convert 10 volts AC to DC for charging - trivial to do. This is actually a clever idea IMHO. I it's just too expensive for me for a buggy device with limited functions. I've been on the bleeding edge of technology enough - I'll wait a few years before I buy one, or something similar. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Tagging for later......Even though it never shows up when I search for tags Posted via the Android Central App
  • Where is part 2? I'm having an issue. Mic in app doesn't work and the sound from the doorbell comes from the bottom dialer of the Nexus 6P. I noticed a Nexus 6 user has the same problem.