As the video doorbell craze continues to gain traction in the smart home security market, one group of people have largely been left standing on the doorstep: Renters. Often unable to install either hardwired or battery-operated video doorbells due to lease constraints, renters or those with strict homeowner association rules don’t get to benefit from the added security of having a video doorbell protecting their front door.
So Ring set out to do something about it. At CES 2019, the company debuted a video doorbell that renters might actually be able to use — the Ring Door View Cam, an easy-to-install security device that replaces a traditional peephole on a door with a doorbell/camera/peephole combination. We got a chance to test out the device and came away impressed. Here are our initial thoughts on Ring’s newest video doorbell, available later this year for $199.
This is Ring’s fifth doorbell offering, but what’s different about the Door View Cam is that it’s actually two separate pieces, meaning that there’s a side that the visitors see and the other side, which connects through the removed peephole on the inside of the door. It should be obvious by now that you actually need a peephole in order to use the device, and you need to remove it in order to join the two sides together.
After removing the existing peephole in your door, connecting the two sides together takes just a few minutes, and Ring includes all of the necessary hardware to complete the job. Installation doesn’t require drilling or any permanent modifications to the front door.
The doorbell side that visitors see resembles a tiny black or silver traffic light, with three round buttons, although only one is actually a button. On the top is the peephole aspect of the device, which still gives you the option of looking outward if you just want to take a look at who’s outside. The middle “button” is the camera, which offers high-definition resolution, and the bottom button is actually what visitors push to ring the doorbell.
The camera offers high-resolution imaging, and like other Ring devices, comes with an app that sends you notifications about motion alerts. You can set up blackout areas that block out certain views so that you aren’t getting an alert every time your neighbor across the hall takes his seven cats for a walk (or if said neighbor is concerned about their own privacy and doesn’t want a camera pointed at their door).
The doorbell also features something called “Motion Stop,” meaning that if it determines the motion that’s recording is unimportant, it will stop recording to prolong battery life. You can also adjust motion sensitivity, so things like blowing trees outside your door don’t trigger a motion alert. One nifty feature is an impact sensor that detects a knock or if someone might be trying to forcefully open the door.
As mentioned before, the Door View Cam operates on batteries, so there’s no need for hardwired equipment to run it. The battery pack is located on the inside of the door and can be charged easily when the battery is low. Unlike video doorbells like Arlo, Simplisafe, and ADT, which rely on the company’s home security ecosystem to run, Ring can operate independently (although like with all Ring products, expect to pay a small monthly cloud storage fee to view motion alerts after a free trial period).
While we said that the Door View Cam is perfect for renters, really anyone who has a peephole can use the device, and taking it down and reinstalling the peephole is also an easy process.
Alexa, show me the front door
Like all Ring doorbells, the Door View Cam can be answered via an Amazon Echo Show, Echo Spot, or Alexa-enabled tablet, so if you’re in the kitchen and someone rings the doorbell, you can talk to the person through your device’s screen if your phone isn’t handy or you don’t want to answer the door personally. You can also view live footage ,as well as motion alerts.
Overall, we came away impressed with the Door View Cam. It’s Ring’s most versatile offering to date, and while it’s a drag paying for monthly monitoring fees, if you already have a Ring camera or Alarm, the home monitoring system, you won’t have to pay extra.
We will say that seeing a block on the inside of your door will likely take some getting used to, as it’s a bulky extra component and probably the only real drawback to the device. Still, renters seeking extra security will probably find that the block is a small price to pay.