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Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus Review: Coasting on success

Ring Video Doorbell 3

“Live glitches and a few missing features makes this doorbell an iffy choice.”
  • A variety of motion controls
  • Pre-roll preview feature
  • Compatible with Alexa and Ring devices
  • Easy installation
  • Doesn't detect boxes
  • Glitchy live view
  • Distorted looking video
MSRP $229.99

We already love Ring doorbells. You can see who is at your door no matter where you are and even talk with visitors in real time using the Ring app. We love Ring so much, in fact, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 and the Ring Video Doorbell Pro made our list of best video doorbells for 2020. Now, the company has come out with the next model in its line, the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus ($229.99). Will we love it just as much? Here’s how things rang out.

 Doorbell Plus 3 being rungInstallation

Setting up the Ring doorbell is pretty simple since the Ring app guides you through connecting the doorbell to your Wi-Fi network. It’ll even help to set up security and usage settings. The installation kit comes with everything you need, too, including a drill bit, just in case you need to make new holes for the mounting bracket.

Once that’s completed, you can connect your new doorbell to other Ring products like the Ring Solar Floodlight, solar path lights, Ring’s various smart light bulbs, or solar step lights. With this connection to other devices, you can set up tasks. For example, you can set up a task so that when motion is detected by the doorbell, your smart lights will come on automatically during nighttime hours.

Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus coverplates
Alina Bradford/Digital Trends

If you have color preferences, the 3 Plus comes with two different face plates: you can choose from silver or black to better match your home. Changing them out is as easy as snapping a case onto your phone.

I recommend combining the Ring Doorbell 3 with the Ring Chime. It will work without it, but if someone comes to your door and you don’t have your phone nearby, you likely won’t hear the doorbell ding. It isn’t very loud. I could hardly hear it and I was only a few feet from the front door. Chime will, well, chime inside of your home.

Standout features

The Ring Doorbell 3 has so many features, it almost seems overwhelming. Luckily, the app is intuitive and it’s easy to set everything up.

One feature I like is the Pre-roll option. This enables the camera to take a four-second preview video to see exactly what triggered a movement alert. The footage is recorded in black and white to save the battery. In case of a possible burglary or package nabbing, these extra four seconds can be helpful to law enforcement. Unfortunately, though, pre-roll doesn’t work with the camera’s night vision. That means you don’t get this nifty feature at night.

I was disappointed that it didn’t have box detection technology.

The motion detection is completely customizable. You can adjust the range of the motion detector by choosing how many feet away from your door it will detect movement, for example. So, if your house is close to a sidewalk or road, the doorbell won’t alert you every time something goes by your house. If you’re about to take a nap, you can also snooze motion alerts for 30 minutes to four hours. You can even adjust the sensitivity of the motion detector to lessen alerts.

Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus app

There are options to change just what the doorbell detects as well. You can select whether the doorbell will detect any type of movement or just humans. I was disappointed that it didn’t have box detection technology like the Nest Hello Doorbell, though. I get a lot of packages and I’d like to know when there is a package sitting on my porch. For some reason, this doorbell doesn’t include the box identification A.I. feature. It has the same field of view as the Nest at 160 degrees, so it’s a shame it doesn’t accommodate this feature.

In addition to those options, you can also adjust different modes that can be set up with certain behaviors for when you are at home or away. For example, while in Home Mode, you can set the doorbell to not detect motion and disable the live view function.

Like to stay in the know? The Ring app will send you real-time crime and safety alerts that are being reported by your neighbors or local law enforcement. The app will show you current activity on a map of your neighborhood, weekly safety reports, and more. I think this is a very useful feature. For example, a neighbor just down the road was shot by her boyfriend. I was able to see the location of the incident on the map. The app also reports on information about missing children in your area so you can keep an eye out for them.

Ring Neighborhood Alerts

Works with Alexa

Although the app works great, you can connect other smart devices outside of the Ring ecosystem to your doorbell through the Alexa app. You can also control the doorbell using voice commands. For example, you can say commands like:

  • “Alexa, talk to the front door.”
  • “Alexa, turn off motion sensor on the front door. “
  • “Alexa, set motion sensitivity to low on the front door.”

If you have an Alexa compatible smart display, like the Amazon Echo Show, you can see who is at the door on the screen. You can also talk with them, giving you even more flexibility in how you use the 3 Plus.

Video and audio

The Ring Doorbell 3 Plus has 1080p HD video, which means the quality hasn’t changed since the Ring Doorbell 2. Still, the video was nice and clear, but there was a problem.

Things are just a bit rounded.

There is a fishbowl-like distortion to whatever you see through the camera. This doesn’t seem to affect how visible a person is in the video, though, no matter where they stand on the porch. Things are just a bit rounded. I am a bit disappointed with this because other video doorbells, like the Arlo Video Doorbell, figured out how to achieve great video quality without the fishbowl look.

Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus live video
Alina Bradford/Digital Trends

The live video can also glitch out and take a minute to connect to the app. This can be annoying if you’re trying to talk to someone at your door. They may leave before you ever get the app to work. Shutting down the app and restarting it fixed the problem, but it was a hassle. It’s tough to say what’s the culprit behind the issue since the 3 Plus has both 2.4 and 5GHz dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity.

While the 3 Plus takes great night time video, I wish it had a built-in floodlight like the August Doorbell Cam Pro. There are dozens of situations where a little extra light on your front porch can come in handy. The August also records nighttime video in color, and the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus only records in black and white.

In order to store your videos, you need a cloud service plan. With the Ring Protect, plan you can review and share videos and photos up to 60 days. It costs $3 per month per device or $100 per year for your whole household. This price is comparable to other video doorbell video storage plans, such as Nest Aware, but you get a lot more storage days through Ring Protect. August, on the other hand, offers its video storage to customers for free.

The audio quality when you’re talking to someone through the app is very good. The 3 Plus has noise-cancellation technology to make voices stand out from all the noise around your house, which helps a lot.

Privacy

Ring has been in the news many times for privacy concerns connected to their cameras. The Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus, though, has a few features that can help put your mind at ease. For example, there is a two-step verification to access the app or your account online to help keep your personal information safe. You can also choose to turn off the mic to prevent it from potentially hearing things you don’t want. If there are certain parts of your yard you don’t want recorded, like your pool or your children’s play area, for example, you can set up privacy zones that will restrict what the camera can see or record, as well. In the video, you’ll see a black box where the privacy area was set up on the app.

Our take

Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus is a decent smart doorbell. It has a lot of great features, but it isn’t the best option we’ve come across. Its video specs could have been upgraded to keep up with its competitors, for sure, and I don’t like the live video glitches. However, there are a lot of great features to customize how the doorbell detects things around your door. And lastly, I really appreciate how easily it can be integrated into a larger smart home ecosystem to work with other smart products compatible with Alexa and Ring. When it comes to price, at $230, the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus is on the high end when compared to other major players in the video doorbell market.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes. The Arlo Video Doorbell ($149) is less expensive and has a lot of great options, including Alexa integration. The August Doorbell Cam Pro ($171) is also less expensive and has a lighting feature that is fantastic.

How long will it last?

The whole doorbell is made of plastic. The thinness of the cover plate concerns me. I’m not sure it will hold up to rigorous use, but it does come with a one-year limited warranty. In the unfortunate event of it being stolen, Ring will replace it for free.

Should I buy it?

If you already have a lot of Ring products in your home, I would say absolutely. The best part about the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus is how it interacts with other Ring products and the great Ring app features like crime alerts. If you’re not a Ring fan, I would choose a different video doorbell.

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