Ring’s Video Doorbell 2 Brings Battery-Powered 1080p Video Security to Your Front Door

Earlier this year, popular smart doorbell and home security company Ring debuted its Video Doorbell 2, equipped with a motion sensing 1080p camera, a removable battery, and two-way audio capabilities. Integration with Ring's mobile app lets you see activity at your door from anywhere, and even communicate with visitors.


The Video Doorbell 2 is priced at $199 and can either replace an existing wired doorbell or be freshly installed in either a wired or a battery-powered configuration.

We've been testing one out over the past month to see how it works on a standalone basis and in conjunction with the Floodlight Cam and Chime Pro accessory we reviewed a couple of months ago, so read on to see what we thought of it.
Continue reading "Ring’s Video Doorbell 2 Brings Battery-Powered 1080p Video Security to Your Front Door"

Review: CalDigit AV Pro 2 Combines External USB-C Storage With a USB Hub and 30W of Charging Power

CalDigit recently launched its AV Pro 2 storage hub, a USB-C accessory that serves not only as an external drive with up to 8 TB of storage, but also acts a peripheral hub with two additional Type-A USB 3.0 ports and can charge a connected computer at up to 30 watts.


The AV Pro 2 is available in a range of capacities in both traditional 7200 rpm hard drive and solid-state drive models, ranging from 3 TB to 8 TB for the HDD models and coming in at 1 TB or 2 TB for the SSD models. I've been able to spend time with a 3 TB HDD model, and I've come away impressed with its capabilities. Stepping up to an SSD model would offer even more performance, although at substantially higher cost and lower capacities.

Overview


The AV Pro 2 can be oriented either vertically or horizontally, with small cushioning pads provided on one of the large faces for horizontal placement. For vertical placement, CalDigit includes a clear plastic stand, also equipped with cushioning pads, to provide stability.

A large green LED power button is located on the front of the AV Pro 2, making it easy to turn the drive on and off. The LED shines steady when there is an active connection, flashes while the drive is being accessed, and turns off when the drive goes to sleep, keeping you informed of its status and helping protect against data loss. As always, you should eject the drive from your system before physically disconnecting it, and you can use either the built-in eject function in macOS or a dedicated menu bar utility from CalDigit.

MacBook Pro with AV Pro 2 and Tuff external drive

CalDigit is still in the process of finalizing the utility software for the AV Pro 2 and it should be available as a download from the company's support site "in a few weeks," although I was able to use CalDigit's existing menu bar utility for other docking stations and it worked fine with the AV Pro 2.

The AV Pro 2 itself measures 9.5 inches deep by 5.8 inches wide by 1.8 inches tall (in horizontal orientation), and weighs approximately 4.37 pounds. It's not light, as there is quite a bit of aluminum making up the enclosure and the drive module, plus the drive itself and the electronics inside the enclosure.

It certainly has a hefty feel, so this is something you're going to want to leave on a desk rather than take with you unless absolutely necessary. The enclosure is made of a silver brushed aluminum that matches Apple's Mac finishes, with aluminum ribbing along the narrow sides.

Storage Drive


One of the great features of the AV Pro 2 is the removable drive module, which is compatible with both traditional hard drives and solid-state drives in 3.5-inch form factors. The removable module, which is fairly rare in a single-drive system, offers flexibility for easily moving the drive to and from other enclosures or managing multiple drives, and is fully compatible with some of CalDigit's other storage products such as the T4 RAID array line.

Traditional hard drive options for the AV Pro 2 include 3 TB, 4 TB, 5 TB, 6 TB, and 8 TB capacities, and CalDigit advertises speeds up to 200 MB/s for these models. In my testing, the HDD model came close to that 200 MB/s mark for both read and write. CalDigit says the 1 TB and 2 TB solid-state drive models max out at 430 MB/s.


The AV Pro 2 includes support for USB attached SCSI protocol (UASP), which can improve single-drive storage device performance by allowing for simultaneous bidirectional commands and thus faster transfers.

The drives arrive pre-formatted for Mac in HFS+ format, although they can obviously be re-formatted as needed.

Swapping out the drive module is a simple two-step process involving a pair of keys provided in the box. The first step is to use the larger drive key to gently twist a drive module lock counterclockwise to unlock it, and then inserting the smaller drive pin into the release hole to release a large spring-loaded lever on the front of the module that can then be easily grasped to pull the module out.


Installing a drive module is even simpler, only requiring you to slide the module in while making sure the lever catches the rim of the enclosure opening and then snapping the lever closed. A quick twist on the module lock with the drive key secures it.

With a spinning hard drive and a small fan inside the AV Pro 2, there is a little bit of noise while the disk is active, but it's not overly distracting. When the disk goes to sleep, the AV Pro 2 is silent.

Ports


The AV Pro 2 includes a USB-C port and a USB Micro B port, both on the 5 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 1 standard, and CalDigit includes a 0.5-meter USB-C to USB-C cable and a 1-meter USB Micro B to USB-A cable in the box to allow you to connect to both the latest USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 computers and older computers offering only legacy USB-A ports.


The AV Pro 2 also includes a mini USB hub built into it, consisting of a pair of USB 3.0 Type-A ports on the rear of the enclosure. The Type-A ports can be used to connect peripherals such as mice and keyboards, add additional hard drives, or even daisy chain more AV Pro 2 units. The USB ports also include support for Apple's external SuperDrive, and they can provide up to 1.5A/7.5W of standalone charging, so you can recharge an iPhone or other device even if the AV Pro 2 isn't connected to a computer.

I tested CalDigit's fast Tuff external SSD hooked up to one of the AV Pro 2's rear USB ports, and I saw speedy data transfers from my MacBook Pro in the range of 425 MB/s read and write. That performance is actually surprisingly fast considering the connection is only 5 Gbps USB 3.0 and has the AV Pro 2 between the Tuff and the computer.


Beyond its various USB ports, the rear of the AV Pro 2 also includes a DC-in port for the power supply connection, a vent for the small fan to keep things cool, and a Kensington lock slot if you wish to secure the AV Pro 2.

USB-C Power


While MacBook owners will appreciate the 30 watts of power the AV Pro 2 can supply to their computers over a USB-C connection, MacBook Pro owners may find it coming up a bit short depending on their usage patterns, as the 13-inch MacBook Pro can draw up to 60 watts while the 15-inch model can draw up to 87 watts at peak demand.

I did test the charging capabilities of the AV Pro 2 with a Late 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro, and over the course of a workday the AV Pro 2 was able to keep my Mac topped off at 100 percent charge. Granted, I wasn't doing any heavy lifting like video processing with my Mac, but for moderate uses the AV Pro 2 can actually keep up with or at the very least significantly slow the rate of battery discharge.

I asked CalDigit why the AV Pro 2 is limited to 30 watts of charging power, and a representative told me it was a combination of factors. For many users like myself, 30 watts is actually enough. Boosting power output to 60 or 85 watts would require a much larger power supply, and given the relatively small size of the AV Pro 2 as a single-drive storage device, a larger power supply would be an extra cost and a bit of an inconvenience. The AV Pro 2 already includes a 60-watt power adapter, with 30 watts going to the drive itself and 30 watts able to be passed through to a connected computer.

From a more general perspective, CalDigit views storage as being the primary function of the AV Pro 2, with the charging capabilities being a bonus. Under many circumstances, 30 watts will be enough to keep even a MacBook Pro topped off, but if you're putting your machine under heavy loads or need to recharge a depleted battery quickly, you'll want to use a higher-powered charger.
A customer will get the convenience of single cable charging but if they're in a rush they'll need to connect the factory charger. It's really only for instances when someone needs to charge quickly before they go somewhere. When working with the files on the AV Pro 2 or overnight charging they won't see much difference.
While tradeoffs in size and component costs are understandable, it's still a bit disappointing that the AV Pro 2 can't fully support charging a MacBook Pro over a single USB-C connection. It seems that it would likely be sufficient as an everyday power source for my needs, even with a 15-inch MacBook Pro, but it definitely wouldn't be for users with heavier workloads, and for many users it could be hard to tell until they really spend some time with it.

Wrap-up


Pricing on the AV Pro 2 starts at $249.99 for a 3 TB HDD model, with higher-capacity options available at 4 TB ($299.99), 5 TB ($349.99), 6 TB ($399.99) and 8 TB ($449.99). If you're looking for faster speeds but with lower capacities, CalDigit offers the 1 TB SSD model for $549.99 while the 2 TB SSD model costs $849.99. All models come with a one-year warranty.

CalDigit is currently offering a 15 percent discount on all capacities through November 6 simply for signing up for the company's newsletter through a pop-over on the AV Pro 2 product page.

Amazon is currently knocking $50 off of several of the lower-capacity models including 3 TB, 4 TB, and 5 TB HDD options for an even better deal, although stock is quite limited.

CalDigit also offers extra drive modules bundled with HDDs ranging from 1 TB ($109.99) to 6 TB ($349.99). Standalone SSD modules will be available in 1 TB ($449.99) and 2 TB ($749.99) capacities, and they should be added to CalDigit's site in the very near future. Each package also includes an archive box for storing and organizing extra modules.

Note: CalDigit provided the AV Pro 2 to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.


Discuss this article in our forums

Review: Elgato Eve Light Switch and Eve Motion Add Versatility to Your HomeKit Setup

Elgato's Eve lineup of smart home devices is one of the largest contributors to the HomeKit ecosystem, with a variety of sensors and switches for inside and out, including five more products announced a couple of months ago.

We reviewed a set of the early Eve products two years ago, when we found a solid set of sensors that were hampered by bugs in the early days of HomeKit. HomeKit has come a long way since that time, making it much more stable and useful, so many of our early qualms have been resolved and we were impressed by the new Eve Degree temperature monitor released earlier this year.

Two of the other products in the Eve lineup are the Eve Light Switch, a rather typical smart light switch, and Eve Motion, a battery-operated motion sensor. I've been using both of these for a few months, and I've found them to be quite useful in automating my home.

Eve Light Switch



There are a number of HomeKit-compatible smart switches on the market, including one from iDevices that I looked at earlier this year. The Eve Light Switch was, however, the first entrant into this category late last year, and it remains a worthy competitor.

Installation and Setup


If you've ever swapped out a light switch, it's a pretty straightforward process, and installing the Eve Light Switch isn't much different. As always, make sure you turn off power at the circuit breaker for safety before getting inside the junction box.

The Eve Light Switch is a lot bulkier than a traditional switch in order to accommodate all of the electronics, so you'll need to make sure you have enough room in your junction box, and you'll also need to have a neutral wire present at the switch location in order to provide continuous power to the switch. If you don't have one, you'll have to run some new wiring to the switch (which may not be a do-it-yourself job) or else select another location.

Unlike the iDevices Wall Switch, the Eve Light Switch can only be used in single-pole configurations. So if you've got a three-way circuit where a single light is controlled from two different switches, for example, you won't be able to use the Eve Light Switch.

Once you've determined the switch you want to replace is an appropriate location for the Eve Light Switch, it's just a matter or removing the old switch, transferring the wires over to the Eve Light Switch using the included wire nuts, shoving everything back into the wall, and screwing it all together.

Included snap-on plate (left) vs. standard wall plate purchased separately (right)

From there, you have a decision to make. Elgato includes a two-piece face plate for a clean look, which requires that you screw on a snap plate over the switch and then snap on the face plate. Alternatively, you can skip those two pieces and put your own face plate on. Metal face plates may decrease the Bluetooth range of the switch, but I haven't experienced any issues with mine.

With everything put back together, it's time to turn the circuit breaker back on and make sure tapping the switch properly turns your light on and off. From there, head to the Eve app to get finish setting up the switch and getting it registered with your HomeKit network.


When you're done with setup on your device, you'll be all set to control the Eve Light Switch using the Eve app, the built-in Home app on iOS, or Siri. And as always, you can set up scenes to control the switch in conjunction with other HomeKit accessories, such as a "Good night" scene that turns off the lights, locks the doors, and adjusts the thermostat when heading to bed.

Usage


One thing my whole family loves about the Eve Light Switch is that the switch is actually just one big capacitive touch sensor. Tapping anywhere on the switch will turn the light on or off, and a green light in the center of the switch when it's off helps make it easy to find and hit in the dark.

The sensor makes for a big target, and it's easy to activate it when carrying things, even if you have to use an elbow. That's in contrast to the iDevices Wall Switch, which is a more traditional paddle design that requires you to physically press the top or bottom half of the switch to turn it on or off.

The Eve Motion communicates via Bluetooth, which conserves energy but somewhat limits its range. It can connect directly to your phone via Bluetooth, but if you have an Apple TV or iPad set up as a hub for your HomeKit setup, it'll ensure that all notifications and scenes function properly even when your phone isn't in range. Bluetooth range is much shorter than Wi-Fi, however, so you could run into some difficulty if your hub is located far from the switch.

Eve App


Once you've set up your light switch in the Eve app, you'll find that it's also a very full-featured HomeKit control app, showing all of your HomeKit devices around the house with options to set scenes, timers, rules (triggers), rooms, and zones (groups of rooms).

I won't go into too much detail on the app, as we've covered it fairly extensively in previous reviews such as the Eve Degree, but it's definitely a high-quality app for managing not just Eve products but a variety of HomeKit-compatible accessories.


The Eve app keeps a log of events such as when the light switch is turned on and off, which you can view in graph or table form. The various rules and scenes also make it easy to set up products to work together in scenarios such as activating multiple products at once or using an event on one accessory to automatically trigger a change in the state of another one.

Eve Motion


The Eve Motion is a simple product designed to do only one thing: sense motion in a room. Its 120º field of view and 30-foot detection range help it recognize whenever someone enters a room, and the fact that it's powered by a pair of AA batteries means you can put it almost anywhere. The Eve Motion is also IPX3 water resistant, meaning it can withstand splashes and sprays, and with an operating temperature range of 0º to 130º F, it can be used outdoors as well as inside.


Setup is straightforward, and once you insert the batteries and set the Eve Motion in an appropriate location, the Eve app walks you through step-by-step to allow you to pair with the Eve Motion, set sensitivity for the motion sensing, and set a Siri name for the sensor. If you'd like to integrate with other Eve or HomeKit products, you can set up scenes by specifying triggers and conditions.

As with the Eve Light Switch, the Eve Motion connects to your iOS device over Bluetooth, and if you have an Apple TV or iPad set up as a HomeKit hub, it'll be able to integrate with all of your other smart home devices at all times.

On its own, the Eve Motion is rather limited, basically restricted to pushing notifications whenever motion is sensed. This can come in handy if you want to mount it on your front porch, inside your front door, or in a seldom-used room if you want to be alerted whenever anyone's presence is detected. Within the HomeKit ecosystem, you can restrict notifications to only certain times of the day or, using geofencing, to only times when you either are or are not home.

Notification preferences in Home app for Eve Motion

The real power of the Eve Motion, however, is its wireless connectivity that integrates with the rest of the Eve platform and HomeKit, which lets you use the Eve Motion to trigger actions by other smart home components. For example, you could automatically turn on a light when motion is detected. Rules can also use multiple criteria, so you could set up an "I'm home" scene that turns on lights if it detects motion at your front door but only if it's after sunset. Or you could arrange to have a fan turn on when you enter a room, but only if the temperature is above 72º F.


One of the setups I tried with the Eve Motion was inside a pantry in my kitchen, pairing it with an iDevices Switch to try to automatically turn on a light in the pantry when the door was opened. The setup worked, but it's not instantaneous, sometimes taking as much as five seconds for the Eve Motion to recognize the motion of the door opening and me moving around in front of it, passing the event to HomeKit for processing the trigger, and sending a signal to the iDevices Switch to turn the light on it.

It wasn't ideal, considering I am frequently spending less time popping my head into the pantry than it takes for the light to come on, but it was an interesting test to push the limits of how HomeKit products can work together.

Other less time-sensitive setups worked better, such as triggering lights to come on when motion was detected on my front porch. The slight lag in response for the scene to activate once motion is detected isn't really significant in these contexts.

Wrap-up


The Eve Light Switch carries a list price of $49.95, and a few third-party sellers at Amazon are even knocking a few dollars off of that, which makes for a pretty decent deal in the world of connected light switches where many are closer to $100. It's a lot more than the buck or two you can spend on a traditional toggle switch at the low end, but there's obviously a lot more technology packed in and it comes with much more functionality. Your cash outlay will add up quickly if you want to use any of these smart switches throughout your home, so at least for now most users will want to be fairly selective about where they choose to install them.

The Eve Motion is priced at $49.95, and it's available through a number of retailers including Amazon or directly from Elgato. As a simple motion sensor without any other Eve or HomeKit products, it's not really worth investing in, but as part of a larger smart home setup, it can be a handy addition to help your other accessories do more.

Note: Elgato provided the Eve Light Switch and Eve Motion to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.


Discuss this article in our forums

Review: Ring’s Floodlight Cam Offers Convenient Home Security, but HomeKit Support Still Missing

Back in January, Ring introduced its motion-activated Floodlight Cam, pairing a security camera with two bright floodlights to help protect users' homes. The Floodlight Cam began shipping in April, and I've been using one for about six weeks to monitor the rear of my house. It's a handy product that lets you keep tabs on movement around your home, with push notifications, live and recorded camera views, and the ability to use two-way talk and a siren to communicate with people approaching your home.


The hardwired Floodlight Cam includes a pair of floodlights with a 270-degree motion sensor, combined with a camera capable of 1080p HD video, enhanced night vision, 140-degree field of view, and a cloud recording subscription plan. It's priced at $249 (or $449 for a two-pack) and is available in black or white.
Continue reading "Review: Ring’s Floodlight Cam Offers Convenient Home Security, but HomeKit Support Still Missing"