April 17, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
April 17, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ring in the New Year, Part Two

Last time, we began the review of the Ring Smart Doorbell. We discussed installation, placement and the potential lock-in to the Amazon smart home ecosystem (or should I say “EchoSystem”). We also discussed the Ring Neighborhood App that allows user to share alerts and video with each other as well as with law enforcement.

Before you add the Ring Doorbell to your online shopping cart, it will be important for you to understand the different features in the array of models available. The Ring Doorbell has four primary versions: The Ring at $99, the Ring 2 at $199, the Ring Pro at $249 and the Ring Elite at $499. Each version has the two-way talk feature we previously discussed, as well as night vision, but there are many nuanced differences between these doorbells such as image quality, faceplates and the physical size of the device.

I will focus on the most important technical differences––power and motion detection. The Ring and Ring 2 models of the Doorbell are battery powered, although there is still a hard-wire option. If you don’t currently have a wired doorbell then the only options you have are the built-in battery powered Ring that requires you to remove the device to replace the batteries or the Ring 2 which allows you to remove the battery pack alone. Even though the Ring and Ring 2 have the hard-wire option, I strongly recommend you do not buy these models unless you do not have wires and specifically require the battery. The reason is that the battery-operated version limits the features possible. The battery-operated versions will use an adjustable motion detection, while the wired only versions (Pro and Elite) feature customizable motion detection. The differences between these features applies when controlling motion sensing and I suspect further software upgrades in the future.

The motion sensor functionality will alert you to the arrival of the mailman and Amazon delivery person. If you have a view of the street, it will also alert you to the motion of passing cars and dog walkers. Fortunately, there are settings that will allow you to control the area for motion detection.

The Ring and Ring 2 versions use three passive infrared sensors (PiR) for motion detection that detect the heat signature that humans emit. On these doorbells, you can control the area of motion and attempt to limit the circumference of the three areas monitored to avoid false alarms.

There are many users that have been frustrated with the many false motion alerts on the Ring and Ring 2 doorbells. In response, the Ring Pro and Ring Elite models don’t use the PiR sensor, but instead use the camera itself, run sophisticated algorithms to detect human motion. The customizable motion detection on the Pro and Elite versions allow users to draw up to three separate polygons (see kids, you do need geometry in real life) to identify the exact areas you are looking at to monitor, ignoring other areas such as the street. The customizable motion detection greatly increases the effectiveness of the Ring’s motion detection and, in my opinion, is worth the price upgrade.

It would be nice if the Ring had facial recognition features and provided notifications that let you know who is arriving without checking the video feed. The option of getting special notices or no notices at all when your children and spouse arrive home would be a welcome upgrade. The Nest Hello Doorbell currently offers facial recognition features but the Ring does not. I suspect this feature is in the pipeline for the Ring given Amazon’s capabilities in this space, but for now, if you have alerts set, you will be notified regardless of who is at your door.

It is important to know before you purchase a Ring or Nest Doorbell that when you are notified of someone at your door you can see who is there live at that moment. However, if you want to see who was at your door earlier today or even just two minutes ago you will need to subscribe to the Ring Protect Service. Ring Protect Basic is $3 a month (or $30 a year) and allows access to videos of every ring and motion for up to 60 days. The interface does a good job of showing the event timeline and granting ease of use and access. This, however, is the first home automation device that I own whose basic features require that you have a subscription. If you look back to my review of the Wyze Cam, you will notice that this simple $25 camera, if placed facing your door, will not only notify you when motion is at your door but will also store those clips for you for free for 14 days. Your Ring or Nest cameras at multiples of the cost will unfortunately not have this basic feature, unless you pay a subscription fee. Wyze does not currently have a doorbell connected to its camera. Should you wait to purchase a Wyze doorbell if/when it is available? Perhaps. But for now, both Ring and Nest have a subscription-based model for this service. I should note that the Nest Aware service begins at $5 a month (or $50 a year) and includes up to five days of history. Personally, I have Lorex security cameras around my home, so if I want to know who was at my door or what triggered a motion alert, I can check my security camera footage. While this is certainly not as convenient as the Ring App, it does do the trick and saves the monthly fee. A Wyze camera with a view of the front door will also accomplish the same for those who have an aversion to the monthly fee.

Are there ways to make the motion sensing and notification features of the Ring Doorbells more compatible for Shabbat? Please stay tuned for the concluding Part Three of this article where we attempt to address the Shabbat issues in depth. Shabbat Shalom!


Dov Pavel is a tech enthusiast who reviews and installs home automation through the lens of a shomer Shabbat consumer. Pavel is not a halachic authority and readers should consult their own rabbi as needed. Pavel can be reached at (609) 493-7468 or
[email protected].

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles