I came close to ditching Ring, but the Video Doorbell 3 has pulled it back from the brink
I’ve been pretty scathing about Ring in recent times. Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote that I was close to bailing out on the Amazon-owned system, because my original Ring doorbell had grown so sluggish that visitors were in a different county by the time I knew they had been at my door.
When the battery started dying within a week of being charged last autumn, I was ready to bite the bullet. I spent a good deal of time researching alternatives and was on the brink of jumping ship to a rival when… I got Amazoned.
Black Friday came around and Amazon chopped the price of the Ring Video Doorbell 3 in half, from £179 to £89. Given I’d already invested in Ring and its various accessories (Chimes, Amazon Echo speakers to theoretically see who’s at the door) I decided to give Ring one last chance. So far, it hasn’t disappointed.
What Ring has got right
Ring has made three massive improvements with the Ring Video Doorbell 3 over the first-generation hardware. These are:
Responsiveness — when someone rings the bell, devices and Chimes are alerted within a second or two, not the five seconds or longer it was taking with the older hardware.
Wi-Fi — unlike my old Ring doorbell, this one doesn’t seem to lose a signal every time the dog sneezes. I still have it connected to a Ring Chime Pro, which acts as a Wi-Fi repeater, but I’ve never seen it drop a connection in the three months I’ve had it. The old one would routinely dip out, leaving people standing on the doorstep like spares at a wedding.
Battery — Not only has battery life been restored to three solid months between charges (I don’t bother with the battery-sapping motion alerts), but replacing the battery when it needs a charge is far easier. Previously, I had to unscrew the entire unit from the wall and then spend 20 minutes wrestling it back on to the awkward bracket when it was topped up. Now, a single screw removes the battery alone, which can be charged and replaced without risk of inducing a hernia.
There’s one other new Ring feature that has made a massive difference to its usefulness, and that’s the Rich Notifications.
Now, whenever someone knocks at the door, you don’t only get an alert but a still image of the visitor in the phone notification itself.
This cuts out the delay of waiting for the Ring app to load and the video feed to commence, which can still take a few seconds. With the poor Covid-conditioned couriers only given about six seconds between deliveries these days, it gives you a fighting chance of answering the door before they’ve shoved your parcel in next-door’s recycling bin (sorry, a ‘safe place’).
So, Ring has earned itself a reprieve. Some of the privacy incursions I mentioned last year still bother me and I’m sure — in the fullness of time — that my Ring Video Doorbell 3 will suffer from the same dilapidated performance, as new features are added that weigh heavy on its lightweight hardware.
But I have a working doorbell once more. Now all I need is the pandemic to lift so I can have actual visitors…