April 19, 2021

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Ring’s new video doorbell is expensive, but worth every penny

8 min read
(CNN) —  

Ring’s most capable video doorbell yet is launching today and we’ve spent the last few weeks with it. Yes, the $249.99 Video Doorbell Pro 2 is packed with nearly every bell and whistle imaginable.

The addition of 3D motion sensors allows the Pro 2 to see more and even map out paths a person takes to reach your doorbell. Why does this matter? You get a deeper understanding of who or what is approaching your house paired with more accurate alerts. In terms of view, it delivers crisp video that shows the ground to the sky in a fish-eye orientation.

After a long testing period, we’ve found that while there’s a lot to like about the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2, it has some issues with its new integration with Amazon Alexa that lets the virtual assistant answer the door. And at over four times the cost of the entry-level Video Doorbell Wired, it’s not for those on a budget. But if you’re after the ultimate doorbell, the Pro 2 makes a lot of sense, especially by ushering in features that tell you a lot more.

The who, what and how

Who this is for: The Ring Video Doorbell 2 Pro is a top-of-the-line option for anyone who wants to add security to their home and doesn’t mind paying for the best. Its 1536p camera with extra sensors captures the entire scene, making it easy to see who or what is walking by your door.

What you need to know: At $249, the Pro 2 isn’t cheap, but it’s also loaded with features that arguably justify its price tag. The video quality is crisp and shows more, thanks to a wider field of view. This allows you to see where a package might be dropped off and a full view of the delivery person. 3D Motion Detection and Bird’s Eye View ensure more detailed alerts and give you more context of who or what is approaching your doorbell.

How it compares: The Pro 2’s 3D motion and Bird’s Eye View features are not found in any other doorbells, which give the Pro 2 a big edge. Being able to map the path a person took to get to your doorbell isn’t just convenient, but it can also provide peace of mind. The fish-eye view makes it easy to see everything and everyone near your door and is, again, something that other Ring doorbells, along with competing doorbells like the Nest Hello, cannot match, as they don’t have the wider lens. Many of the Pro 2’s core features are enabled by new hardware that’s not found on other doorbells.

Installation is a breeze

Jason Cipriani/CNN

Unlike the Video Doorbell 3 or 3 Plus, the Video Doorbell Pro 2 is hardwired only. And you won’t need to buy a new door chime module — it works with your existing chime. The most critical part of the install requirements is that you have a doorbell transformer capable of providing between 16 and 24 volts of power. This is a metal box, generally located near your electrical panel, that converts the standard electrical current of your home to a lower voltage that will power the doorbell. You can check your voltage with a multimeter or reach out to a licensed electrician to do so.

Once you’ve confirmed the Pro 2 will work in your home, the Ring app (for Android or iOS) will walk you through the entirety of the installation. You’ll start by scanning a small QR code to add the doorbell to your Ring account. After that, the app details every step required to complete the install. You’ll need to be comfortable with electrical wiring for parts of the installation, namely removing your old doorbell and installing the Pro 2. If you have a chime, you’ll also need to install Ring’s Pro Power kit that’s included in the box.

In total, it took us about 15 minutes to install the Pro 2 doorbell, and even if you aren’t familiar with doorbell wiring, it should take you about the same amount of time. Everything you need to install the doorbell is in the box, save for an electric drill or screwdriver. If you’re not comfortable, we suggest contacting a licensed electrician who can complete the install.

After the doorbell is installed and you turn the power back on, you’ll use the app to connect it to your Wi-Fi network and install any pending firmware updates.

Once it’s up and running, the app will help you set up motion detection and choose where you want alerts to come from. We’d recommend not including the road, if you face one, so you don’t get a ping every time a car goes by.

A bigger, clearer picture

Ring outfitted the Pro 2 with a wide lens that captures clear and crisp video, meeting the bar set by previous Ring doorbells and raising the quality a bit. The Pro 2 captures 1536p high-definition video, which is an odd resolution. Instead of capturing standard 1080p or even 4K, the Pro 2 has a field of view that’s 150 degrees by 150 degrees. That translates into a video that captures not only a wide horizontal view but also a tall vertical view.

This lets you see everything that’s directly under or above the camera, such as a package that a delivery driver left on your porch. Other video doorbells offer similar viewing features, but it’s typically only in one direction. For example, the Logitech Circle Video Doorbell has a 160-degree diagonal field of view to achieve a head-to-toe view.

The Pro 2’s videos have a fish-eye lens look to them, with some distortion around the edges, but it doesn’t take away from the overall quality. We’d rather have a wider field of view, so it’s a fair trade in our book.

Jason Cipriani/CNN

In addition to a bigger field of view, the Pro 2 has Color Night Vision so it’s easier to see more details of what you’re looking at in low-light situations. We prefer this approach instead of the night-vision look that Ring video doorbells and competing doorbells have had in the past. It’s a lot easier to see who or what might be near your door, and for late-night package deliveries you can easily make out size, shape and color.

3D Motion and Bird’s Eye View should be on all doorbells

The Video Doorbell Pro 2’s two exclusive features work together to give you more detailed and precise motion alerts. 3D Motion provides more accurate measurements of how far away someone is, and Bird’s Eye View uses that information to overlay the route a person took as they walked up to your door.

Right now these are only available on the Pro 2, but we desperately wish it were standard on all of Ring’s outdoor cameras and doorbells.

On a few occasions while testing we had random strangers approach our door — something that doesn’t happen very often where we live — and it was fascinating, if not reassuring when we were able to open the Ring app and view exactly where they walked as they approached the door. Sure, we could watch the recorded video clip to see where they went, but the dots already mapped out on the video so we knew whether or not there was something we should be aware of.

As the person walks, orange dots show up to display their most recent location. The more time that’s passed, the orange dots turn red and then eventually fade away.

Our lone complaint about Bird’s Eye View (not counting the fact it’s not available on all Ring devices) is that the setup process isn’t very precise. After installing the Pro 2 and connecting it to your Ring account, you’re shown a satellite picture of your house. You’re then asked to place a pin on the picture of where the doorbell is installed. Ring then uses this same satellite image as the base for the orange and gray dots.

Because the images aren’t precise, and our placement may have been off a little bit, the dots weren’t placed exactly where the person was walking. The dots on our overlay would often go through part of our yard or right next to the sidewalk instead of showing the person’s path following the sidewalk.

Again, it’s nitpicking. We admit that. But it would be nice to see Ring use the camera to identify common objects, like a sidewalk or pathway, and combine that information with the satellite image to more accurately portray where the person walked.

Automated Alexa greetings are helpful on paper but desperately need a rework

Jason Cipriani/CNN

Ring recently added the ability for Amazon’s Alexa to answer a doorbell ring and allow the person to leave a message for you. You can also have Alexa deliver an automated response. Either one will answer a doorbell ring after a set amount of time (up to 20 seconds) of your choosing. It’s a good feature on paper, but there’s a problem here. You need to answer the door in the Ring app for it to stop Alexa from intervening. If you’re home and answer the door, you’re not also going to answer the door and the Ring app.

On one occasion during testing, we answered the door for a pizza delivery and as we were signing the credit card receipt, Alexa began to talk to the person. She announced that she’d be interacting with them and taking a message. It was awkward, and honestly somewhat embarrassing. There was no clear way to silence her, so we just tried to make a joke (it fell flat) and rush back inside to eat dinner. (Yes, the pizza was still good.)

We encountered similar situations with quick replies answering the door long after we accepted a delivery, confusing the driver as they walked back to their vehicle. Suffice to say, quick replies and Alexa greetings have been turned off on our Pro 2.

There’s a clear purpose for a digital assistant answering your door, but it would be nice if it automatically disabled itself when you’re home and then turned itself back on whenever you’re away. We’re eagerly awaiting some more customization options around this feature set.

Bottom line

There’s a lot to like about the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2. It’s full of features, old and new, that are useful and reassuring. Greetings and quick replies would benefit from some changes, especially with so many people working from home now.

At $250, the Pro 2 isn’t the most affordable video doorbell Ring sells, but it’s the most capable and earns its high price tag. If you want the best Ring has to offer, it’s clear the Pro 2 is it.

Ring’s Video Doorbell Pro 2 is available now for $249.99 on Amazon.

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