Best answer: If your house is already equipped with low-voltage doorbell wiring, Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 is the best consumer-grade video doorbell in Ring’s lineup. Otherwise, Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen) can run off a rechargeable battery and offers a solid experience for customers wanting a Ring doorbell.
What is a Ring Doorbell?
Ring’s line of Wi-Fi-connected video doorbells is a great way to secure your home and give yourself some peace of mind when you’re waiting on a package or going away on vacation. They detect motion before anyone gets near your door, alert your smartphone, and start recording video. Best of all, most Ring Doorbells go on sale pretty regularly, so keep an eye out for upcoming holidays — that’s typically when deals strike.
Recorded footage gets stored in the cloud (with a subscription fee, of course), so you don’t have to be watching live to catch a would-be burglar. There’s also two-way audio, meaning you can talk to the person on the other end of the doorbell from your phone. With so many options in Ring’s lineup, it can be overwhelming to determine the best smart doorbell for your needs — that’s where we come in.
Which one is right for my home?
Ring has plenty of video doorbells to choose from, each hitting a different price point and feature set. Ring Video Doorbell Wired is only $60 and works for homes that already have electrical wiring for their existing doorbell. It’s a sleek design that’s small, unobtrusive, and offers great 1080p video quality and most of Ring’s best motion detection features at a fraction of the price of their other products. If you don’t have an electrical wire to use, Ring Video Doorbell (2nd gen) offers the ability to run on battery power for only $40 more.
If you’re looking for more features, Ring Video Doorbell 4 is an upgrade from Ring Video Doorbell 3 in two big ways: automated quick replies and color pre-roll footage. Running off a battery for months is a tough task, but Ring Video Doorbell 4 does it admirably. Color pre-roll is the biggest new feature, as it provides color snapshots of anything that happened four seconds before the motion event occurred. In the past, many battery-powered video doorbells took at least one second to wake up from low-power mode, meaning you wouldn’t get a recording of the first few seconds after a motion was detected.
Additionally, Ring Video Doorbell 4 can act as an answering machine for your front door with automated quick replies. Just use the app to set an amount of time that your doorbell should ring before answering with an automated response. Folks at your front door can then choose to leave a message for you, bringing back the good old days of a telephone answering machine — just without all those incredibly irritating hang-ups!
Ring Video Doorbell 4 keeps the same great improvements from its predecessor, including 5GHz dual-band Wi-Fi and improved motion zone settings. The new motion zone settings let you tweak notifications only for close-by subjects within a few feet of the camera. It also features the easier to remove faceplate design that Ring Video Doorbell 3 introduced, making it effortless to toss in a spare battery.
Those improved motion zones are hugely helpful, particularly if your camera faces a busy street that would otherwise constantly set off motion alerts (I’m writing this from experience!). It’s now easier to set up and connect to your Wi-Fi network since the doorbell supports both 5GHz and 2.4GHz networks, so you’ll no longer need a dedicated 2.4GHz network just for your video doorbell. You can also easily swap out the faceplate with a color that might better match your home!
Ring Video Doorbell – newest generation
No cable, no problem
Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen) is the replacement for the original Ring Video Doorbell. It uses the same form factor with a built-in rechargeable battery but bumps up all the specs to line up with the best from 2020. It’s a great budget pick for when you don’t have an existing doorbell wire to use.
More money, more features
Ring Video Doorbell 4 (2021)
See what happened before the motion alert
The Video Doorbell 4 is the only camera in Ring’s lineup with color Pre-Roll footage that lets you see an additional four seconds of the events before your motion alerts. It can also act as an answering machine for your front door with automated quick replies.
If your house does have proper doorbell wiring, though, you might want to look at the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 instead. It might be more expensive than Ring Video Doorbell 4, but you’ll be getting beaucoup features in exchange for that extra cash. That includes 3D motion detection, considerably upgraded video quality, a better aspect ratio that sees more of your front porch, and a much sleeker design.
Just bear in mind that even with existing doorbell wiring, you may still need more power; the Video Doorbell Pro 2 requires a proper transformer, while regular doorbell chimes can operate on as little as 8 volts. Ring includes a Pro Power Kit in the box that you’ll need to install during setup, but you can also run the Doorbell Pro straight from a plug-in adapter that Ring sells separately on its store.
Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2
The best consumer-oriented camera in Ring’s lineup.
The Video Doorbell Pro 2 offers ultra-sharp 1536p video, several interchangeable faceplates, 3D motion detection, night vision, two-way audio, and customizable motion alert zones into a small, great-looking design. It can even answer itself and talk to guests using a custom Amazon Alexa built for doorbells. You’ll need to power it with low-voltage wiring, but it’s well worth the money.
Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 is, by far, the most advanced video doorbell Ring has ever launched. Higher-resolution 1536p HDR video displays in an aspect ratio that Ring calls “head-to-toe video.” That puts it neck-and-neck with Arlo as the most useful aspect ratio for any video doorbell to have.
But those are only the fairly rudimentary upgrades if you can believe it. Ring sets the Video Doorbell Pro 2 apart by including a bevy of new motion sensors, including a 3D motion detection system that utilizes radar and some fascinating software tricks to estimate movement from an aerial perspective.
To sum it up, when Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 spots motion, it automatically generates a map of your property by using Mapbox and OpenStreetMap and draws a nice little motion line on that map. It’s a clever feature that Ring hopes customers will find real security value in, as it helps the camera detect movement even beyond what the camera can see.
The built-in Alexa Greetings feature can use Alexa’s familiar voice to answer your door and even allow visitors to leave a message like an old-school answering machine. If you’d rather have a bit more control, tapping a quick reply right from the doorbell’s live view within the app will respond to any inquiries your visitors might have.
If you’re feeling ritzy, there’s also the Ring Video Doorbell Elite, which retails for a surprisingly high price. It comes in a wider, flatter design that sits mostly flush against your home and uses Ethernet for both power and connectivity. This lets it communicate with your phone much more quickly and consistently than Ring’s other cameras. Unless you’ve already got a powered Ethernet cable and supported PoE switch, however, it’s not likely you’ll be wiring this up yourself.
Its image quality is outstanding but, seeing as it’s roughly 50% more expensive than Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 (not to mention the added cost of hiring a professional for the wiring), you probably don’t need to shell out for the Elite unless you have particular home security needs.
Ring Video Doorbell Elite
The power user’s security camera
If you really serious about security — or if you’re dealing with new construction — the Doorbell Elite is as good as it gets. It’s a high-end solution that gives you a more flush look and requires professional installation. It also uses power over Ethernet for the best, most consistent experience.
Lastly, for apartments and houses with a peephole at the door, the Ring Peephole Cam is a great, affordable option. The camera still detects motion, but the Peephole Cam also has a built-in impact sensor that lets it detect a knock on your door to notify you in the same manner. You still get a traditional peephole as well, and there’s a privacy shade so that folks on the other side can’t see you.
Affordable and easy to install
Ring Peephole Cam with Ring Chime
A Video Doorbell built into a peephole.
The Peephole Cam is a two-part battery-powered camera that replaces any compatible peephole. It has the same motion alerts and customizable zones like the rest of Ring’s cameras, along with a unique impact sensor that lets you know when someone’s knocking on your door.
Accessorize your cameras
Whichever camera you buy, you can make it even better by adding a few accessories to the mix. The corner kit and wedge kit are potentially essential add-ons for some homes, allowing you to adjust the resting angle of your Video Doorbell 4 camera.
Ring Chime plugs into any wall outlet and does exactly what your old doorbell chime used to, just with better portability thanks to the fact that it connects to your video doorbell wirelessly.
If you live in a multi-story home and don’t always hear your Video Doorbell from upstairs, you might also want to consider grabbing the Chime Pro. It acts as both an indoor chime and a Wi-Fi extender for Ring products. Unfortunately, this cannot be used as a range extender for your other gadgets, just Ring products.
Another thing: Ring’s cameras are all equipped with night vision, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still improve their visibility. Ring’s Smart Lighting Spotlight kit lets you put two battery-powered lights anywhere in your yard that can sync with your Video Doorbell to immediately light up the entire field of view when motion is detected.
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