For many of us, missed deliveries are one of life’s most frustrating problems. Modern life is busy enough, so having to use your free time to head to the depot to collect a parcel because you weren’t around when the driver called isn’t something most of us want to be doing.
The best video doorbells go some way to alleviating this problem as they let you converse with whoever is at your threshold –so if you’re not around, you can ask the delivery driver to leave your package with a neighbour, or in a safe place. However, many video doorbells have a narrow field of view, which means you can’t see the full length of someone at your door, including any parcels that may be on the floor when they press the doorbell.
If you can’t answer the notification at the time it comes through, you may never know if the delivery driver took your parcel to a depot for you to collect at a later date, or if it was left at your property and disappeared during the day.
However, Ring is hoping to put an end to this by adding parcel detection to two of its video doorbells; the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 and the Ring Video Doorbell (2nd generation). The feature, which will highlight in the alert if a package has been detected in a preset area in the camera’s field of view, will be available to anyone who subscribes to the Ring Protect service and will begin rolling out on September 28 worldwide.
Ring told TechRadar that the package alerts feature will be rolled out to the brand's other models of video doorbells.
"At Ring, we only bring products and services to our customers when we feel they will provide the best experience. We’re excited to bring Package Alerts to our other video doorbells early next year," it told TechRadar.
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Track down your parcel if the worst happens
Lost and stolen parcels are a big issue – in the last year alone 5.5 million Brits, which equates to one in ten UK residents, claim to have had a parcel stolen, research by Citizens Advice revealed. In our eyes, this makes parcel detection a must-have feature if you want to get the most out of your video doorbell.
The Nest Hello video doorbell from Google was the first doorbell camera on the market to introduce package detection in mid-2019. It works in the same way as Ring’s package detection feature, which requires an activity zone to be created in a section of the camera’s field of view before the doorbell checks for packages and alerts you when they’re spotted. If a package is detected, the doorbell will issue an alert flagging that a parcel has been seen.
In late 2019, Arlo followed suit with the imaginatively named Arlo video doorbell, which can also detect parcels in its field of view. But unlike Nest and Ring, this doesn’t require an activity zone to be created. Instead, the doorbell uses AI to identify any packages and again, flags this on the smartphone notification, and on test we found the artificial intelligence extremely effective.
Should the worst happen, and you discover a delivery has gone missing, parcel detection on a video doorbell means you’re better informed when it comes to tracking down your missing delivery. You’ll be able to very quickly discover whether the parcel was left at your property or remained with the delivery driver.
As we’ve already mentioned, these package detection features do require a subscription to the relevant cloud service. The idea of an ongoing subscription cost may not be particularly appealing, especially when the cost of living is rising and we’re all looking at ways to make savings; but when you consider that lost and stolen parcels in the US each year equates to $25 million, according to C+R Research, this puts it in to perspective.
Missed deliveries is one of the most crucial reasons for investing in a video doorbell in the first place, so it seems madness to potentially miss out on this feature because of a few dollars a month.
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Carrie-Ann Skinner was formerly Homes Editor at TechRadar, and has more than two decades of experience in both online and print journalism, with 13 years of that spent covering all-things tech. Carrie specializes in smart home devices such as smart plugs and smart lights, as well as large and small appliances including vacuum cleaners, air fryers, stand mixers, and coffee machines. Carrie is now a copy editor at PWC.