I once said that a $200 doorbell was a very silly thing. I was very, very wrong. Because the Ring Video Doorbell — as well as the Ring 2 and Ring Pro — has very quickly become one of my favorite connected home products. It's not inexpensive, and it's not perfect. But it's paid for itself several times over in terms of safety and security — and just general ease of mind.
For the uninitiated, a Ring Doorbell is a doorbell with a camera. It can detect motion before someone gets anywhere near your door, then alert your smartphone or computer. It has cloud recording (with a subscription fee, of course), so you don't have to be watching live to see see something that happened. It also has two-way audio — you can hear them, and they can hear you.
Ring also has four options for its doorbells. I've used three of them at length, and here's how I'd approach picking the right one for you:
Ring Video Doorbell
This one's the original. It's not small, and it's not cheap. But it's what got the ball rolling for a good many of us.
The OG Ring runs $179 and gives you 720p video and two-way audio, along with basic motion detection and night vision. You can hear the folks at the door, and they can hear you.
It's got a rechargeable battery, so you don't have to have it connected to low-voltage wiring to keep the internal battery topped off. But if you're going to charge over USB, you're going to have to unscrew the doorbell from the wall plate first. (In other words if you have low-voltage wiring running to the door already, use it!)
If you can get a good deal on the OG Ring, it can still be a decent purchase. Otherwise, I'd take a look at ...
Ring Video Doorbell 2
This is the 2017 update to the original Ring. It's $20 more at $199, and you get a bit more for that upgrade. For starters, the camera now shoots 1080p video. Then there's the quick-release removable battery, making it a lot easier to recharge if you don't have low-voltage wiring rigged up. Plus it's got interchangeable faceplate, though black and silver are your only options right now.
The whole thing's a little more boxy than the original Ring, but it's definitely a good buy.
Ring Video Doorbell Pro
Now we're starting to get into some sexy tech. The Ring Pro runs $249, which ain't cheap. But you get something that's far more inconspicuous on your front porch. That smaller footprint's a big deal for me.
Along with that, you get 1080p video (on either 2.4GHz or 5GHz Wifi), night vision and motion tracking, and it comes with four swappable face plates.
The biggest difference here is that Ring Pro requires low-voltage wiring. There's no internal battery, and so your options may be a little limited here. It also means that available power is key — I actually had to upgrade my 1980s low-voltage transformer to get it all to work.
But for my money, this one's been the best doorbell to date. (And I've used all three.)
Ring Video Doorbell Elite
If you're really serious about this stuff — or, more likely, if you're dealing with new construction — it might be worth taking a look at the Ring Video Doorbell Elite. It's $500. It's a "professional-grade solution" that gives you a much more flush look, and it requires professional installation, Ring says. It also uses power over Ethernet (PoE) for the best, most consistent experience.
This one isn't for everyone — not by a long shot. But it's also a very cool option to have.
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