Ring’s New Mailbox Sensor Will Give '90s Kids Major 'Smart House' Vibes

Brandon Carte
·4 min read
Photo credit: Ring; Brandon Carte
Photo credit: Ring; Brandon Carte

From Best Products

There are a lot of cool things out there that make us wonder — do they really work? In our I Tried It series, we set out to use them in the real world and have determined that, in fact, they really do.

On Trial: Ring Mailbox Sensor

The Tester: Brandon Carte, a gadget-obsessed editor with a budding smart home

The Brief: The Ring Mailbox Sensor is a battery-powered motion sensor that you put inside your mailbox so it can notify you when your mail is delivered.

Before Alexa and the Google Assistant became part of my life, there was another smart assistant I dreamed of having.

Her name was PAT, short for Personal Applied Technology, and she was a computerized conscious played by Katey Sagal in the 1999 Disney Channel Original Movie Smart House. PAT made coffee and smoothies for the family, fetched the newspaper with a snake-like robotic arm, and even had floor absorbers that could suck up trash and clean up spills instantly.

Although those things are a bit far-fetched, the 20-year-old kids’ movie surprisingly got a lot right about our present-day smart homes. They can control our lights, adjust the temperature, lock our doors, set alarms or timers, play music, and answer questions instantly.

You can now add “Checking the Mail” to your smart home’s list of skills, thanks to a new gadget from Ring.

The Ring Mailbox Sensor is a battery-powered motion sensor that you mount in your mailbox, so you can be alerted when your mail has arrived. I’ve been testing the smart home tool for the last month and am giddy at how well it works.

The device comes with a wired external antenna that you affix to the side or rear of your mailbox. To use the mailbox sensor, you must also have a Ring Bridge, which you might already have if you have a smart doorbell. Amazon sells a bundle for those who don’t, though.

The sensor goes inside your mailbox and it wirelessly pairs to the Bridge, which you plug in next to your router indoors. The Ring Mailbox sensor conveniently connects with your Amazon Echo smart speaker, too. That way Alexa can announce when the mail is here. As a product of the ’90s, I customized mine to say: “You’ve Got Mail!”

Installing the mailbox sensor and antenna wasn’t too difficult and took me about 20 minutes. The kit comes with double-sided tape for attaching the components to your mailbox. There’s even an included drill bit in the event you need to drill a hole into your mailbox for routing the antenna’s wire through.

I had to do the latter and drilled a hole in my metal mailbox’s door, which is where I mounted the sensor. I would have preferred putting the sensor on the inner rear wall of my mailbox, so as to appear less alarming to my mail carrier. Unfortunately, I couldn’t, since my mailbox is encased in brick.

I didn’t have high hopes that the outdoor sensor would have a strong enough signal to connect to my wireless network, especially since it’s 100 feet away from the house. To my pleasant surprise, it has been working without a hitch.

The only thing that’s a little bit annoying is that it sends an alert any time the sensor detects motion. So, if you’re putting outgoing mail in your mailbox in the morning, you’ll get a push notification to your phone telling you that the mail is here.

Additionally, I wish the audible alerts would work with Google Assistant-powered speakers, not just Amazon Alexa ones. On the plus side, you can get alerts sent to your iPhone or Android smartphone if you don't have an Alexa speaker.

I also like that the Ring app shows the battery percentage for the sensor. Three AAA batteries power it, which Ring says should last for a year.

Closing argument: The Ring Mailbox Sensor is one of those unnecessary, but nice-to-have products that makes a small, but notable difference in your everyday life, especially if your packages are delivered by USPS. We’ve all experienced a sense of excitement for an incoming piece of parcel. The Ring Mailbox Sensor will make sure an empty mailbox never lets you down again.

Read More:

The Best Amazon Tech Products You Can Buy

The Best Alexa Accessories for Making the Most of Your Smart Home

Find Out Which Amazon Echo Is Best for Your Smart Home

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