Friday, September 1, 2017

No more knock, knock, who's there!

This is a S3 post: I received a complimentary Ring doorbell.
#C2 for full details please see my disclosure policy

It's no secret that I live in a bit of a dodgy area. It's more likely to be mentioned in the news for a stabbing than for the accomplishments of its schools. But as high as it is on the crime-o-meter (that's a thing, right?), I still love my lil house and this street. It just means we take a few extra security measures.

The latest we've adopted is the Ring video doorbell which I had been eyeing off in the catalogues for a while. I thought it would be pretty good, which is why I said yes to a review, but it has actually been even better than predicted, and in unexpected ways!

What does it do?

Well, it's a doorbell that has a camera and microphone inbuilt. When someone presses the button you get the usual ding-dong of a standard bell, but you also get an alert immediately via the app on your Android or Apple phone - open it and voila, you can see and hear who is at your door, and they can hear you, but can't see you (or your pyjamas).

You can also set it up to record whenever it senses movement so it becomes a security camera even when noone presses the bell. Super handy when you're going away and want to keep an eye on your property or, if you do happen to be broken in to, you might actually catch the bugger on video! Alternatively you might just get cool vision of a child patting a dog and go viral. Whatever works for you. It's quite sensitive so I'll reserve the motion sensor function for when we're on holidays.

A great bonus is that you can have it professionally wired to your house, but you don't have to., The internal battery lasts for months and the app actually lets you know how much battery life is left. If you have it turning on all the time with the security sensor, then you might want to think about putting it on the mains, but as a standard video door bell, it hasn't used much of the juice at all. Ours is still running on battery and won't need to be charged for another month or so yet.

So that's all great, and it does what it says it will do, using secure wifi. The kids think it is the bee's knees, I think it's fabulous, and the cop who came to my door the other day because my neighbour had a break in thought it was a great additional step to security, too. But it doesn't stop there...

Unexpected perks

1. Because you can see who it is before you press the answer button, you can choose to not answer. Pretend you're not home if it is someone trying to force their religion down your throat, sell you encyclopedias, or even a family member, up to you. You'll never have to close the door on Aunt Beryl again, because you never have to open it in the first place. Aunt Beryl aside, this is also fabulous for those of us with anxiety who are flooded with a sense of dread whenever the bell rings, not knowing who it is. When you see it's a friend with a box of chocolates, you know to let them in.

2. As the app works wherever you have coverage, I answered the door when I was in Kmart the other day and ACCEPTED A PARCEL! Oh lordy, is there anything worse than finding you've been carded two minutes before you got home? I was able to tell the delivery dude that I couldn't come to the door, but he could leave the parcel. I may have looked like a tool in Kmart, but that's OK, I'm used to that. I could have been on the other side of the door with an infectious illness for all he knew, but no, I was looking at storage solutions.

3, Again, because it is app based and you don't have to be on the other side of the door to use it, I was able to let a friend know I was only a few minutes away when she got to my house before me. I'd popped to the shops for milk thinking I could get back before our visitors arrived, but she was early. Rather than her standing around waiting and repeatedly knocking or having to phone me, straight away she knew I was five minutes away.

Only once did the video get a bit laggy, making the image pixelated (see above) and the audio was crackly, but on further investigation it appeared to be because we were maxing out the wifi with streaming and downloading at the same time. But even with it coming through at a lower quality, I could still see who it was and hear everything that was said.

However, there is one thing I'd like to change if I could. The time it takes for the app to load when the doorbell is pressed. It seems really slooooow. I feel some people might walk away before I've even had the chance to see who it is. The app is 'asleep' to save battery power, and if someone was in a hurry or a courier was ready to card, I reckon you'd end up seeing them getting back in to their van rather than waiting at your door by the time it was up and going.

Overall, I'm quite happy with the Ring. The camera gives a sharp picture, even at night with no external light source (see below), the audio is clear, and the app is very easy to navigate and control. You do have to purchase a subscription to view saved videos (including missed rings), but at $4 per month, that's less than a cup of English Breakfast at the local cafe, so that's OK by me.

The Ring video doorbell is available from stores such as Bunnings, Harvey Norman, and JB Hi-Fi.

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