Ring Video Doorbell 4: the pre-roll is a game-changer | Amazon

The latest iteration of Amazon’s battery-powered Ring Doorbell adds new functionality to capture the first details of events that most competitors would miss without needing to be plugged in.

The Ring Video Doorbell 4 costs £ 179 (A $ 199.99 / A $ 329) and can be installed in any home with wifi. It leads the battery-powered Ring range, which starts at £ 89.

The basic appearance and function of the Doorbell 4 is very similar to the older Ring models. It has a camera with night vision, motion sensors and a large doorbell button.

When someone presses the button, Ring’s signature chime sounds and an alert is sent to your phone. You can view a live stream and speak through the doorbell using the app from anywhere with the internet. If you don’t answer, the new ‘quick answers’ feature is like an answering machine for your door, recording the caller’s messages. And it also works as a motion activated security camera.

Four seconds of pre-roll

A ring of blue LEDs will light up when the doorbell is pressed, indicating that it is active and something is happening, like answering the door through the camera. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

Most battery-powered doorbells sleep until motion is detected to save power, which means they typically only capture the second half of an event as it takes time for the camera. to wake up and start recording.

Ring’s “pre-roll” system fills the gap before the motion detector goes off. It takes a clip of a lower-resolution four-second color loop recording that can be used all the time without draining the battery too much.

This is a game-changer for battery doorbells, giving you a much better idea of ​​what happened before the main camera went off.

Video, movement and replay

Ring Video Doorbell 4 review
The camera has a wide 160-degree horizontal field of view, but only an 84-degree vertical field of view, which means you can’t see packages left at your doorstep. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

Primary 1080p HD video is crisp and clear enough to make out faces and name tags, and recorded in HDR (High Dynamic Range) to better handle the sun shining right at your doorstep. Infrared night vision is also bright and clear.

You can adjust motion sensitivity and set which areas you want to monitor so that you only receive notifications when something happens in the chosen area, which is especially useful for avoiding notification overload if your doorbell is facing traffic. Street.

Protection ring

Ring Video Doorbell 4 review
All settings, power modes, and alerts are accessible through the app, which has an easy-to-use video recording timeline if you’re paying for Ring Protect cloud storage. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

While standard motion and doorbell notifications, live view, and pre-roll are free, you need to subscribe to Ring Protect to get the most out of the doorbell. A 30-day free trial is included so you can see what it does, and plans start at £ 2.50 per month, but it’s basically cloud recording for your videos as they don’t. are not stored locally.

You get up to 30 days of event history, visitor-logged messages from the quick responses feature, and snapshots taken every 14 minutes to fill in gaps between events.

Ring Protect also turns on smart motion alerts, to differentiate between people and other things like cars, and rich notifications, which show a picture of the movement or the person in the alert on your phone.

Battery configuration and life

Ring Video Doorbell 4 review
The quick-release battery can be replaced in seconds to be charged without having to remove the doorbell. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

The installation of the doorbell is very simple. It comes with screws and dowels, along with a bracket to point the camera towards your door if needed and cables to secure it to an existing doorbell wire and a chime if you have one.

The doorbell can be held in place by adhesive tapes if you cannot damage the mounting surface, such as if you are renting. I used a set of Command brand foam strips, but Ring sells a £ 17 ‘no-drill mount’ which achieves something similar.

Once it’s mounted, all you need to do is insert the battery at the bottom, open the Ring app on your smartphone, and scan the QR code on the side of the bell. The app will complete the rest of the setup in about five minutes.

Ring Video Doorbell 4 review
Depending on how close your wifi router is to the door, you might need a wifi extender or the £ 49 Chime Pro (pictured), which in addition to acting as a ringtone also creates a network wifi specifically for Ring devices. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

If you don’t have a traditional chime, you can buy the wireless chime for £ 29 or use any existing Amazon Alexa device in your home to ring the bell instead.

Battery life will vary depending on the number of features like snapshot and pre-roll you use and the number of motion events and live views. With everything active and capturing around 45 events per day, the battery lasts for around a month. I would buy a second battery for £ 20 as it takes at least five hours to fully charge the battery via microUSB.

Privacy

Ring Video Doorbell 4 review
Ring has had a few privacy issues over the years, particularly in the United States when it comes to his law enforcement activities. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

You can block certain parts of the camera view, such as your neighbor’s journey, from recording by using privacy zones. Ring recently added options to limit the storage time of recorded video camera by camera, bolster account security with two-factor authentication, and in addition to standard encryption, enabled end-to-end encryption ( E2EE) for videos.

E2EE offers the strongest protection and means that only the mobile devices you select can decrypt and watch the captured videos. No one else can see the video, not even Ring. But with E2EE enabled, some more advanced features like pre-roll, snapshots, event timeline, rich notifications, and Alexa integration to watch a live stream from an Echo Show cannot be used.

Durability

Ring Video Doorbell 4 review
The faceplate and battery can be easily exchanged if damaged, while various screws, brackets, parts and add-ons are available direct from Ring.

The Ring Video Doorbell 4 is generally serviceable and a range of spare parts, including the rechargeable battery, are available at a reasonable price. Most parts are also interchangeable with older models. The company will support its devices with software updates for at least four years from the time it stops selling the device on its site and will continue to support all devices it has sold until. here.

Ring offers trade-in and recycling programs through Amazon for its devices, but has not commented on the use of recycled materials in Doorbell 4. Ring falls under Amazon’s climate and sustainability commitments.

Observations

Ring Video Doorbell 4 review
The removable front, available in several colors to best suit your door, is held in place by a small security screw at the bottom of the battery. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
  • The response time to live view requests through the app is shorter than previous Ring models, but it may still take a few seconds to answer the door, so Ring has a separate, streamlined Rapid Ring app that is faster to load, which can be used to answer ringtones alongside the main Ring app.

  • Alexa smart displays can display a live feed on demand or automatically when the doorbell rings.

Price

The Ring Video Doorbell 4 costs £ 179 ($ 199.99 / A $ 329) and Ring Protect costs £ 2.50 per month.

For comparison, the Ring Video Doorbell (2nd gen) costs £ 89, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 costs £ 219, the Google Nest Doorbell costs £ 179.99, and the wireless Arlo Video Doorbell costs £ 179.

Verdict

Another great battery powered smart doorbell from Amazon is the Ring Video Doorbell 4.

It intentionally doesn’t look any different from previous versions, so parts are interchangeable and older models don’t look dated. But it wakes up faster, the color pre-roll captures a lot more of each event, and its night vision is really good.

It can be installed almost anywhere, but it needs good wifi so you might need a booster. You’ll probably also need the extra £ 29 chime which brings the actual cost to £ 189 as a package plus the £ 2.50 per month subscription to get the most out of it as it has no local video storage.

Note that the Ring Android app has an extremely annoying hard-coded pattern of four strong, long vibrations for each motion alert. It cannot be changed, which forced me to completely disable motion alerts and lost the 4 one star doorbell. Ring said he was working to resolve the issue by the end of the year. However, this issue does not exist for the Ring iPhone app.

Advantages: easy to set up, clear video, great pre-roll colors, lots of accessories, strong iPhone app, quick and quick responses, snapshots, Alexa device integration, ideal as a regular doorbell replacement, end-to-end encryption available.

The inconvenients: no local storage means you need Protect subscription for reviewing events, no constant video recording, large enough for some door frames, battery needs to be recharged once a month, Chime probably needed.

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About Georgia Duvall

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