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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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