With the evolution of both surveillance camera technology and cloud storage, and as the term ‘porch pirate’ has become mainstream, the video doorbell is emerging as the go-to device for those starting a smart home security system. Until recently, the original Ring Video Doorbell dominated the doorstep, delivering an extremely functional device that was also easy to install. As competitors like Nest have emerged with more features and more compact designs, Ring has introduced a new premium model, the Video Doorbell Pro ($249).
With the Video Doorbell Pro, the company is aiming for a more premium look, taking nearly all the functionality of its original Video Doorbell but wrapping it into a sleek, slimmer package. It’s 20 percent thinner than Ring’s Video Doorbell 2, and over a half inch narrower and shorter. The improved design and proportions make the Pro look less like an intercom and more fitting of something you’d be proud to see next to your front door.
Unfortunately, the tradeoff for a slimmer design is that the Video Doorbell Pro requires hardline power, unlike Ring’s Video Doorbell 2, which can work as a battery-operated device. Other slim, premium video doorbells, namely the Nest Hello Doorbell, are making the same sacrifice. Typically, your existing doorbell has the wiring necessary to pull this off. Whether those wires are in the ideal location is another story, which we’ll get back to.
Out of the Box
Just about anyone with some basic do-it-yourself experience will be able to install the Video Doorbell Pro. In the box, you’ll get the doorbell, four assorted color faceplates to choose from, a relay that wires into your existing doorbell chime, a screwdriver, drill bit, optional retrofit plate, some wire extensions, and screws. Everything you need is in the box, and the instructions show every installation step in the process. If you download the Ring App and follow the installation instructions there, you can watch a few helpful videos as well. We had no problems attaching the doorbell chime relay, attaching wires to the doorbell itself and mounting it to the existing wood siding of the house. The included mounting screws do a particularly respectable job of threading and securing easily, making any installation into wood hassle free.
In our installation, our existing doorbell wiring was in a less-than-ideal spot: immediately to the side of the door on angled siding. This meant we couldn’t see the doorstep well or the pathway leading up to the door. To catch a porch pirate, that had to be resolved. We fashioned up a block of cedar on a compound miter saw to compensate for the angle of the siding and to aim the camera more toward the street. For those with similar installation challenges who don’t want to engage in carpentry, Ring does offer pre-made wedge and corner kits to solve these problems. After re-installing the Video Doorbell Pro on the custom wedge, the field of view was ideal.
Use and App
Once installed, there are a few steps to setting up the Video Doorbell Pro with the iOS or Android app. First, you’ll need to sign up for a Ring account. The standard free account offers all the alerts and live viewing only. You’ll get motion detection notifications, but won’t be able to view the recorded footage that triggered the alert. The Ring Protect plan is a $30 a year subscription that stores all recordings from the camera in the cloud for future viewing. It’s something that’s essential to have if you catch someone making off with a package. Everyone gets 30 days of the service free, and we think it’s certainly worth the investment.
Basic settings for the Video Doorbell Pro let you select preferences for receiving push notifications when someone rings the doorbell or when motion is detected. There are also intuitive controls for setting up motion zones. This allows the camera to ignore motion in certain areas of the field of view and only triggers recordings when something moves in designated areas.
The Ring Pro looks less like an intercom and blends in well next to your front door.
After three weeks of testing, we found that the Ring Video Doorbell Pro maintained a diligent watch over the front door. The 1080p camera offers a 160- x 100-degree field of view, which covered our entryway well. Daytime images are crisp and colorful, but don’t expect to be able to identify faces or license plates from across the street. Image quality is good within 10 feet of the lens. In the dark of night, the camera excels. The motion detector was even able to capture a bat quickly flashing in front of the camera. Accessing the videos in the app is straightforward, with options to sort by event type and share recordings. Recordings are captured from about 10 seconds before either a ring or motion is detected and last about 60 seconds.
When answering the door, two-way communication is effortless. There’s a bit less than a second of latency, which is about on par with the competition. In the app, you have the option of seeing live video immediately upon a ring or just a push notification.
Alexa users can enable a skill which displays the camera image on a compatible Fire TV or Echo Show device. And you can answer the door via your Echo Show if you cant or don’t want to go to the door. Ring’s doorbells also integrate with smart home hubs like Wink. This lets you set the doorbell or motion sensor as a trigger for other smart devices like lights.
As Ring releases more home security products like the recently-announced Ring Alarm and Ring Spotlight Cam, the company is also developing a community where Ring users can share information about suspicious or illegal activity in their neighborhood — essentially a modern-day neighborhood watch. Sharing recordings is easy to do in the app, and you can filter shared events in your neighborhood by date and location on the map.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro offers a one year warranty on parts, which also includes theft protection.Our Take
As one of the most functional and eye-catching video doorbells on the market, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro is a safe bet for those looking to add smart functionality to their home.
Is there a better alternative?
It depends on your ecosystem of choice. Expect Amazon to bring new Alexa features to Ring products in much the same way that Nest devices offer features built around Google Assistant. Nest Hello offers similar video capabilities to the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, along with slim design, for about the same price.
If you’re using Google Assistant, you should probably go with the Nest. Alexa users, go with Ring. Note that Ring also has cheaper doorbell options – the Video Doorbell ($99) and Doorbell 2 ($199), that can also work as battery-operated devices. They are bulkier though and not as sleek looking.
How long will it last?
With operating temperatures ranging from -5 degrees Fahrenheit all the way up to 120, the Video Doorbell Pro claims to be designed to tackle the elements. The mounting hardware is solid and it feels well built. Also expect Ring to provide deeper Alexa integration going forward.
Should you buy it?
If you want a premium doorbell and aren’t deep into the Google Assistant ecosystem, then yes. The Ring Video Doorbell Pro is a stylish and functional virtual welcome mat for your home.
Updated November 2, 2018 to note that you can now answer your Ring Doorbell Pro via your Amazon Echo Show.