Ring Video Doorbells Review 2021
From porch pirates to door-to-door salespeople, there’s more reason than ever to keep tabs on your front door. If you’re like us and want to take a peek at what’s happening on your front step without having to open the door, the Ring Video Doorbell is worth another look.
The Ring Video Doorbell rings in at $99.99 (pun intended), which makes it the cheapest Ring doorbell on offer. Even at such a low price, it comes chock-full of features such as two-way communication, 1080p resolution, night vision, a 155-degree field of view, and a motion sensor.
Though a single doorbell cam can’t replace a regular alarm system, the Ring Video Doorbell is one of our favorite security devices—plus it just makes your life a little easier.
How the Ring Video Doorbell works
The Ring has DIY installation and comes with self-monitoring through a mobile app.
Ring currently has four video doorbells on the market. While the original is the cheapest (and the star of this review), it’s also the clunkiest. The Ring Video Doorbell has a boxy design that sticks out pretty far from the siding of our tester house and doesn’t look as sleek as the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro.
We like the streamlined look of the Ring Pro and the flush profile of the Ring Elite, but you’ll be paying significantly more to get a video doorbell with a better aesthetic.
|Product details||Ring Video Doorbell||Ring Video Doorbell 3||Ring Video Doorbell Pro||Ring Video Doorbell Elite|
|Field of vision||155°||160°||160°||160°|
|Battery type||Battery or hardwired||Battery or hardwired||Hardwired||Hardwired|
|Learn more||View on Amazon||View on Amazon||View on Amazon||View on Amazon|
Amazon.com List Prices (as of 11/9/20 14:01 PST) Full Disclaimer
Ring Video Doorbell installation
One thing we have to give Ring: ordering and installation are super easy overall. You order the doorbell camera online, and it arrives in a compact box with the cam and almost everything you need to install it. (You’ll need your own drill if your wall is brick or concrete.)
You you will need to drill four holes for anchors. (Ring does give you the proper drill bit.) If you have a concrete or brick wall, you’ll need to use the provided anchors.
Included Ring installation tools:
- USB charging cable
- Wedge and corner kits
- Mounting bracket
- Screwdriver bit and drill bit
- Spade connectors
- Screws and anchors
- Level (mini)
And yes, the Ring works as a regular doorbell, even without its camera function. There are a few types of chimes the Ring can’t work with (check the list of compatible chimes), in which case you can use Ring’s external chime that lets you receive a notification anywhere in your house.
Ring also offers the Ring Chime Pro, which combines a chime with a Wi-Fi extender.
The Ring Video Doorbell and Ring Video Doorbell 3 can both work from battery packs—you don’t have to hardwire them. That said, we don’t recommend the battery packs because they’re a pain to track and recharge. If you can hardwire your video doorbell then do it.
If you do decide to use the battery then just remember you have to disable your Ring every time it needs a charge. (Or you can buy an extra battery.) The battery is also a pain in the butt to get out of the camera.
Ring uses special screws that require a specific screwdriver head to open the battery case. It comes in the package with the camera, but even so, you have to track down that one specific screwdriver every time you need to take down the cam.
We get that the screws are an anti-theft feature, but they make dealing with a rechargeable battery a hassle. Hardwiring is more reliable and all-around easier. Do it if you can.
Ring Video Doorbell monitoring
Once you have the camera installed, you monitor the feed yourself through the Ring app on your smartphone. The camera will send push notifications to your phone whenever someone sets off its motion detectors. (Basically whenever someone approaches your doorstep.)
We were pretty impressed with Ring’s 180-degree field of vision. We positioned our Ring camera on the side of a hall-like entryway, and we still had a full view of the area. We couldn’t sneak up from the side without triggering the camera.
Once you buy the Ring, the mobile app is free, which is great. Not every company does that. If you get your doorbell camera through a traditional security provider like Vivint or ADT Pulse, you need to keep paying for their monitoring services to have access to the app—regardless of whether or not you’ve paid off the hardware.
Ring Video Doorbell user experience
We like the Ring app overall
Once we paired the Ring Video Doorbell with our smartphone and installed it, we were good to go. We were also stoked to find out you have essentially unlimited shared users, and it’s easy to add them—you just need their email address.
If you live in a house with a bunch of roommates, you don’t have to designate one person to watch everyone’s Amazon deliveries arrive. Everyone can access the camera, get alerts, and talk to people on the porch.
Additional Ring app features
All Ring Video Doorbell cameras have motion detection, and all of them let you customize how far you want the motion detection to reach. You don’t need a push notification every time a kid rides a bike down the sidewalk in front of your house, but you do want to know when the UPS guy drops off a package.
Ring lets you select motion detection zones, which make it pretty easy to limit how far your motion detection reaches. Maybe you do want to know about every kid on a tricycle who might trample your lawn. You do you.
Ring also has a Neighborhood app. Here, you can see posts from other people in your neighborhood with Ring Video Doorbells, so if there’s a rash of package thievery or car break-ins, you’ll know about it.
We thought we lived in a pretty safe neighborhood, so we were surprised to see how many of our neighbors had packages stolen or witnessed people checking for unlocked doors on cars. That’s one way to make sure we never leave our wallets in the car again.
Ring Video Doorbell camera quality
Ring image and audio quality were both decent. Not amazing, crystal-clear, feel-like-you’re-right-next-to-me awesome, but decent. We could hear and see everyone who came on the porch, which is what matters.
And, of course, one of the best things about any (good) video doorbell is that you can talk to visitors. You can welcome your kids home from school or tell the postal worker to leave a package at the side door instead of on the porch.
We have heard the Ring can be a little slow at snapping motion-triggered images if your Wi-Fi network speed isn’t up to snuff. If your signal is weak, you tend to get images of people leaving your porch, rather than arriving, which makes the doorbell cam a bit pointless.
If your internet is fast enough but your signal doesn’t quite reach the porch, you can get a simple range extender, or go for the Ring Chime Pro we mentioned earlier.
Ring Video Doorbell integrations
Ring products integrate with a bunch of different smart home devices, including smart lights, smart locks, and, of course, Amazon Alexa.
Ring smart home integrations:
- First Alert
- Amazon Alexa
- Google Assistant
Of course, Ring doorbells also work with the full Ring Alarm security system.
Ring Video Doorbell pricing
You pay for the doorbell and that’s it, unless you decide to add cloud storage.
Because you order online and install it yourself, the Ring Video Doorbell’s pricing is up-front and transparent. You pay for the device and that’s it—unless you want to add on a Protect plan.
You don’t have to subscribe to a Protect plan to use the Ring doorbell, but you do if you want to record footage and save videos to the cloud—meaning that unless you plan to review your videos once and only once, you might want a plan.
Luckily, Ring plans are cheap. And if you pay annually instead of monthly, they’re even cheaper.
|Plan details||Protect Basic Plan||Protect Plus Plan|
|Exclusive discounts||None||10% off other Ring devices|
|Cloud storage||60 days||60 days|
|Lifetime theft protection||No||Yes|
|Professional monitoring for Ring Alarm?||No||Yes|
|Learn More||View on Amazon||View on Amazon|
Data effective 11/9/2020. Offers subject to change.
We recommend the Protect Basic plan for most people who just want to save some videos to review later. At $3 per month, it’s about as cheap as it gets, and you save $6 if you pay annually instead.
The Protect Plus plan works best for people who want to add other Ring devices to their system. Not only do you get a 10% discount on any other Ring devices you want to buy (other cameras, security equipment, etc.), but you also get unlimited cameras.
If you’re a landlord who uses Ring cameras on your properties or you just want to turn your house into a Ring camera fortress, the Protect Plus plan is the way to go. And if you intend to keep the plan indefinitely, then we recommend paying annually. You save $20 that way.
If the Ring Video Doorbell doesn’t feel like your jam, these products might work better for you.
We think Ring’s doorbell cameras work best for people who want an easy DIY, self-monitored option they can set and forget. Ring equipment also works well for renters who perhaps can’t hardwire their doorbells or need to take them with them when they move.
If that doesn’t sound like you then one of Ring’s competitors might work better for you.
Vivint doorbell camera
Vivint’s doorbell camera is very similar to the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, but you don’t have to do anything yourself. Vivint’s doorbell camera is part of Vivint’s smart home security system, so you get it as part of a complete security set.
Like Ring, Vivint’s doorbell camera lets you see and talk to anyone who comes up to your house. Plus, paired with Vivint’s smart locks, you can even lock and unlock doors from your phone. So when your kids come home from school, you can let them in the house and lock the door behind them—no matter where you are.
The Vivint doorbell camera is best for these people:
- People who want a professionally installed security system that works with their video doorbell.
- People who don’t mind paying a higher price for home security and cameras.
The Nest Hello is very similar to the Ring Video Doorbell, but Nest gives you some unique devices to protect your home, including cameras and its iconic smart thermostat. And, of course, the Nest Hello doorbell camera.
You will pay more for the Nest Hello than you would the Ring Video Doorbell. But at $229, Nest Hello is priced right between the Ring Video Doorbell 3 and the Ring Video Doorbell Pro.
Don’t forget—if you want to get the most out of your Nest devices, you’ll need a Nest Aware subscription plan. But if you already have some Nest tech (and already have a Nest Aware plan) then the Nest Hello is an easy addition to your existing system.
Nest Hello is best for these people:
- Those who already have Nest equipment and want to add to their existing system
- Those who like the idea of a DIY doorbell cam but who dislike Ring’s design
Recap: Is the Ring Doorbell good?
The Ring Video Doorbell is a solid DIY option for those who don’t want a fully monitored security plan.
We liked the Ring’s original doorbell camera overall, even with its boxy design. We recommend hardwiring the camera so you can watch live feeds and don’t have to recharge a battery. And we think the Protect Basic plan is a good idea if you want to store any footage your camera captures.
We’d like to see more third-party integrations from Ring. But in the meantime, the Ring Video Doorbell is a good option if you just want to see who’s on your porch.
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