Ring Video Doorbell buying guide: Which is best for you?

Ring Video Doorbell Pro review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Ring has four different video doorbells for smart home security, devices that let you see and talk to anyone at the door via an app. That gives smart home fans plenty of options, but it also makes choosing among them plenty tough.

Ring’s doorbells have many similarities. All versions include a two-way talk function to communicate with visitors, support motion-activation, and can record in infrared for night vision. All the doorbells stream live footage that you can check with the Ring app at any time you want, and they provide alerts when the camera detects motion (all allow for cloud storage of captured video too, but permanent storage will require a monthly fee).

But what makes them different? Each consecutive doorbell offers a number of upgrades—some worthwhile, and others less so. If you want to choose the best Ring video doorbell for your home, it’s important to know the differences. Let’s take a deeper look.

Ring Doorbell Ring Doorbell 2 Ring Doorbell Pro Ring Doorbell Elite
Finishes Venetian Bronze, Polished Brass, Antique Brass, Satin Nickel Includes two faceplates: Satin Nickel, Venetian  Includes four faceplates: Satin Nickel, Satin Black, Dark Bronze, Satin White Includes four faceplates: Satin Nickel, Pearl White, Venetian, Satin Black
Compatible Transformers 8-24 VAC, DC not compatible 8-24 VAC, DC not compatible 16-24 VAC at ~30 volt-amps Cannot run off a doorbell transformer
Motion Detection  Five selectable zones and customizable sensitivity scale Five selectable zones and customizable sensitivity scale Customizable motion detection zones Customizable motion detection zones
Battery Life 6-12 months with normal usage 6-12 months with normal usage N/A – hardwired N/A – hardwired
Compatible Networks 2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g/n 2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g/n 2.4 GHz or 5.0 GHz (Channels 11-13) 802.11 b/g/n  2.4 GHz or 5.0 GHz 802.11 b/g/n
Field of View 180 degrees horizontal 160 degrees horizontal, 90 degrees vertical 160 degrees horizontal, 100 degrees vertical 160 degrees horizontal, 90 degrees vertical
Dimensions 4.98 x 2.43 x 0.87 in. 5.05 x 2.5 x 1.08 in. 4.5 x 1.85 x 0.80 in. 4.80 x 2.75 x 2.17 in.
Video Resolution 720p HD 1080p HD 1080p HD 1080p HD
Price $100 $200 $250 $500

Ring Video Doorbell ($100)

Ring Wi-Fi Enabled Video Doorbell smart home devices

The original Ring Video Doorbell — first released in 2015 — offers 720p resolution video surveillance with five selectable zones and sensitivity adjustment. The detection angle covers a full 180 degrees, and the recommended bandwidth for the connection is only 1Mbps (but it can survive on just 500 kbps), so demands on your Wi-Fi are very low.

This model has a battery, allowing you to place the Doorbell in nearly any position, as long as you are willing to change out the battery every 6 to 12 months. Otherwise, there is an option to hardwire the model into your existing doorbell wiring. The Ring Doorbell is available in bronze, brass, antique brass, and satin nickel finishes.

In our review, we noted that there was some delay in time-to-answer, and the doorbell components felt a little plasticky, but that the installation and interface were both easy to use.

Bottom line: The original Video Doorbell is a good option for those who want to save money and don’t have a lot of bandwidth to spare on a doorbell. The cost factor is probably the best reason to choose this affordable model.

Shop Now

Ring Video Doorbell 2 ($200)

Ring Video Doorbell 2

Released in the summer of 2017, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 has many of the same features as the original Doorbell, including sensitive and zone customization, a 180-degree motion detection angle, and a choice between a battery you have to replace or wiring the unit into your existing wiring.

However, several key features are also a bit different. Most notably, the video resolution got a boost from 720p to 1080p, now providing HD security footage. Of course, this means that demands are also higher, and have doubled to 2Mbps — still not very much, but it will have more of an impact on low-bandwidth wireless networks. The field of view also got an update thanks to the lens. It’s now only 160 degrees horizontal, but a higher 90 degrees vertical, which makes placement more flexible. Faceplates are available only in satin nickel and Venetian, but the design itself is a bit slimmer.

Finally, the Doorbell 2 adds a couple new features that make it more effective. Alexa compatibility shows up, which allows you to use an Echo Show/Show 2 to view the video with a command. The charging method is also new: You had to detach the first Doorbell and plug its battery into a separate charger, which was time-consuming. This model updated to a slide-out battery that quickly attaches to a microUSB port for fast charging.

Bottom line: For a model that costs twice as much, the Doorbell 2 does more. If it’s important to you to have a higher resolution doorbell, or you are invested in using Alexa to control/view your home security, this doorbell is a good choice. The new battery feature adds a lot of welcome convenience, which may be worth the cost if managing batteries sounds like a pain to you.

Shop Now

Ring Video Doorbell Pro ($250)

Ring Video Doorbell Pro review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Many things with the Pro model are different from the Doorbell and Doorbell 2. First, you can no longer customize sensitivity, but you can still choose a few motion detection zones for personalization. Second, there’s no battery option for this model, since it’s designed be hardwired right into the existing doorbell wiring. That leaves fewer options for placement, but you don’t have to worry about replacing a battery at any time. Alexa functionality also means you view your video from an Amazon Echo Show if your phone isn’t handy.

You also have a dual-band option, allowing you to run the doorbell on the 5GHz band of your Wi-Fi router. The 5GHz band is bit slower, but has a longer range and is more suitable if the doorbell is a long way from your router and you are worried that the connection may be spotty. There’s a beautiful new slim design that fits into the background more easily, and four faceplate options in satin nickel, pearl white, Venetian, and satin black.

Other features are largely the same as the Doorbell 2. The camera is 1080p, with a 160/90-degree angle of view. The connection still takes 2Mbps. The motion detection acts much the same, but has more sophisticated software that analyzes the zones users create for signs of activity.

In our review for the Pro model, we noted that new Alexa functionality makes the unit more compatible with Amazon Fire and Echo Show devices, but that construction remains a little plasticky.

Bottom line: The upgrades make this Ring doorbell the best option for homes, if you don’t mind paying the higher price. The only exception is if you don’t have any current doorbell wiring , in which case you should consider the costs of installation carefully to see if it’s worth it. Otherwise, go with the original Doorbell or Doorbell 2.

Shop Now

Ring Video Doorbell Elite ($500)

Ring Video Doorbell Elite

The petite Elite model is very, very similar to the Pro version, except for two points. First, the doorbell is even slimmer than before. Second, it cannot be hardwired into the existing doorbell wiring. Instead, it uses the Power over Ethernet protocol via an Ethernet cable to get power. If you’re willing to install an Ethernet cable, you have more placement options.

Bottom line: It’s twice the price, and you get an Ethernet-cable placement requirement. That may make installation more versatile, but it’s also likely to make it more expensive, unless your doorbell already has an Ethernet cable.

Shop Now

Product Review

Kwikset Kevo Contemporary review

Tired of carrying around keys? Make keyless entry so easy that all you have to do is have your phone nearby to open the door. It’s a little pricey, but sleek lines and simple features make the Kwikset Kevo Contemporary a great choice for…
Deals

From Samsung to HP, here are the best cheap Chromebook deals right now

Whether you want a compact laptop to enjoy some entertainment on the go, or you need a no-nonsense machine for school or work, we've smoked out the best cheap Chromebook deals -- from full-sized laptops to 2-in-1 convertibles -- with most…
Product Review

Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the simplest entry into a smarter doorway

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 may lack the style and sophistication of premium door-dingers, but few can match its simplicity and versatility. The device, available in both wired and wireless configurations, is easy to set up and adds instant…
Product Review

Gate’s Smart Lock is locked and loaded but ultimately lacks important basics

In a world of video cameras and doorbells comes the Gate Smart Lock, a lock with a video camera embedded. It’s a great idea, but lacks some crucial functionality to make it a top-notch product.
Smart Home

Ring security camera catches man licking the doorbell for hours

A family in Salinas, California had their Ring camera capture something pretty unexpected: a man licking the doorbell outside of their home for more than three hours. The incident took place around 5:00 a.m.
Smart Home

GHSP makes a (back)splash with its touchscreen concept kitchen

One of the coolest concept kitchens from CES 2019 came from GHSP. It created a backsplash entirely made of touchscreens. That means the control panel for your kitchen is accessible no matter where you are.
Health & Fitness

In search of the fountain of youth, beauty companies turn to tech

Beauty tech is a fairly new concept, but at CES 2019, companies such as Olay, L’Oreal, and Neutrogena were fully embracing it with all kinds of gadgets that promise to give you glowing skin.
Smart Home

Airbnb says sorry to guest for how it dealt with undisclosed security camera

An Airbnb guest recently found a surveillance camera in his rental apartment that hadn't been properly disclosed in the listing. The firm admits its initial response to the guest's complaint was poor, but has since made amends.
Smart Home

Thinking of buying an Instant Pot? Here's what you need to know

The Instant Pot is a powerful kitchen appliance that does everything from pressure cook to to slow cook to steam. Heck, you can even make yogurt in it. Here's all you need to know about the magic device.
Smart Home

Want a smarter home? Ditch the keys with these great smart locks

A good smart lock should offer a combination of security and convenience. Fortunately, these devices keep your home protected, your family safe, and your belongings secure from possible intruders.
Smart Home

The best sous vide machines cook your food perfectly, every single time

Want to make four-star meals from the comforts of your own kitchen? Here are the best sous vide machines available right now, whether you prefer simple immersion circulators or something more complex.
Smart Home

Busted: Facebook Portal gets 5-star reviews from company employees

It's fair to say that Facebook's Portal smart display received a tepid response at launch, so it was something of a surprise to see lots of glowing reviews of the device on Amazon. Turns out some were written by Facebook workers.
Smart Home

Idaho mother says her child’s light-up sippy cup exploded

After a mother filled a Nuby insulated light-up cup with milk, the cup allegedly exploded. The incident caused burns to the mother's hand and face and a stinging sensation in her lungs that required a trip to the hospital.
Smart Home

Project Alias is a ‘smart parasite’ that stops smart speakers from listening

Two designers chose to do something about nosy smart speakers. The result is Project Alias, a "smart parasite" that whispers nonsense to Google Home and Alexa until it hears a specific wake word.