Ring Video Doorbell 4 review: pre-roll is a battery bell gamechanger
Simple to install and use, Amazon ’s smart doorbell now has a much better view of events at your door
Last modified on Mon 20 Sep 2021 07.01 BSTThe latest iteration of Amazon’s battery-powered Ring doorbell adds a new feature to capture the early details of events most competitors would miss without needing to be plugged in.The Ring Video Doorbell 4 costs £179 ($199.99/$A329) and can be installed in any home with wifi. It tops Ring’s battery-powered range, which starts at £89.
The look and basic function of the Doorbell 4 is very similar to Ring’solder models. It has a camera with night vision, motion sensors and a large doorbell button.When someone pushes the button Ring’s signature chime plays and an alert is sent to your phone. You can view a live feed and speak through the doorbell using the app from anywhere with internet. If you don’t answer, the new “quick replies” feature is like an answering machine for your door, recording caller’s messages. And it works as a motion-activated security camera too.
Four seconds of pre-rollA ring of blue LEDs lights up when the doorbell is pressed showing that it is active and something is happening, such as you answering the door through the camera.Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The GuardianMost 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. headtopics.com
Ring’s “pre-roll” system fills in the gap before the motion sensor is tripped. It takes a clip from a looping four-second lower-resolution colour recording that can be operated all the time without draining the battery too much.It is a gamechanger for battery doorbells, giving you a much better idea of what has happened before the main camera fires up.
Video, motion and replayThe camera has a wide 160-degree horizontal field of view, but only a 84-degree vertical field of view, which means you can’t see packages left on your doorstep.Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The GuardianThe main 1080p HD video is clear and sharp enough to discern faces and name tags, and recorded HDR (high dynamic range) to better handle the sun shining straight at your door. The infrared night vision is bright and clear, too.
You can adjust the motion sensitivity and define areas you want monitored so that you only get notifications when something happens in the chosen zone, which is particularly useful for avoiding notification overload if your doorbell faces the street.Ring Protect
All the settings, power modes and alerts are accessed through the app, which has an easy-to-use video recording timeline if you pay for the Ring Protect cloud storage.Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The GuardianWhile standard motion and doorbell notifications, live view and pre-roll are free, you need to subscribe to headtopics.com
Ring Protectto get the most out of the doorbell. A free 30-day trial is included so you can see what it does, and plans start at £2.50 a month, but it is essentially cloud recording for your videos as they are not stored locally.You get up to 30-day event history, messages recorded by visitors from the quick replies feature and still snapshots taken every 14 minutes to fill in the gaps between events.
Ring Protect also enables smart motion alerts, to differentiate between people and other things such as cars, and rich notifications, which show an image of the motion or person within the alert on your phone.Set up and battery lifeThe quick-release battery can be swapped out in seconds for charging without having to remove the doorbell from the door.
Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The GuardianSetting up the doorbell is very easy. It comes with screws and wall plugs, plus a bracket for angling the camera towards your door if needed and cables for attaching it to an existing doorbell wire and chime if you have one.Read more: The Guardian »
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