Ring Video Doorbells Compared

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Smart device maker Ring, now owned by Amazon, was a pioneer in the smart doorbell segment and has grown their range of doorbell products over the last few years. Having a connected video doorbell offers some distinct advantages in terms of convenience and security, and Ring’s offerings deliver on both of those counts.

The range of doorbells on offer has now grown to five, with the original Ring Video Doorbell still for sale. Add to that the Video Doorbell 2, Video Doorbell Pro, Video Doorbell Elite, and the newest member of the family, the Peephole Cam, and you have a few options to weigh up. Let’s take a look at the offerings and the scenarios best suited for each.

Up-Front Considerations

Before jumping into a connected camera of any kind, it’s important to understand a couple of key things. The first is ongoing costs. While some camera devices offer internal storage or streaming to a local device like a DVR or hub, Ring (and other brands) opted for a cloud-only storage design.

Storage Costs

While it’s possible to use Ring devices without a cloud subscription you lose a key benefit of an always on camera system, the ability to record video for later review. With only the free tier, you still get notifications and can stream a live view from the doorbell, but if you are too slow responding to a notification you’ll miss it and see nothing.

You can get the Basic plan for as couple of bucks a month which will give you all the features for one device, and you can opt to pay annually for a discount. Alternatively, if you go for more than one Ring device, the Plus plan covers unlimited cameras and gives you an extended warranty on all of them as well as a 10% discount on future eligible purchases.

Both plans give you unlimited recordings for 60 days, and the ability to save and share selected videos easily from the app.


As with any cloud service you should always be aware of the privacy implications. After all, you’re effectively sending your data to someone else to look after for you. That’s not necessarily bad, there are clear benefits in terms of data backup, ubiquitous access, and knowing that the recordings will be there no matter what happens to the camera.

In Ring’s case it’s worth noting that their overall design approach is focused on perimeter security monitoring, which means the camera will always record when it detects motion. You can turn off notifications, but the only way to stop it recording is to disconnect it from the WiFi.

For watching the public facing areas of your home this is fine and, arguably, useful. You can review the recorded events if you need to check on something that’s happened later, but I wouldn’t point a Ring camera anywhere that I want some level of privacy.

Ring Video Doorbell (original)

The original Ring Video doorbell was actually born out of the Ring CEO Jamie Siminoff’s experience with his first product, the crowd funded Doorbot. The Video doorbell improved on that initial foray into smart doorbells in pretty much every way. The resulting product remains on the market because it actually works very well, and has proven itself over several years of worldwide use.

This model offers a 720p night vision camera with a whopping 180 degree field of view. In actual use it’s probably more like 170 as the edges are pretty compressed through the fish eye lens, but it does actually provide a viable picture across most of that area. There’s also two-way talk so you can communicate with someone at the door, and it comes in four color options (silver, satin, nickel, and venetian).

Connectivity is exclusively via 2.4 GHz Wifi (b/g/n), powered by an integral rechargeable battery. The battery will give you a good six months between charges in normal use, but obviously your mileage will vary with how much traffic your door gets. Alternatively the device has wire terminals on the back to allow connection to conventional doorbell wiring with a voltage of 8 to 24 volts AC.

The mounting kit provides a secure mounting plate which the device clicks onto from above, and is secured by security screws at the bottom. Ring is so sure of the security of the mounting solution they offer a free replacement in the event of theft. All screws, wall plugs, and even tools (except for a power drill) required for the installation are provided as has become customary for Ring products.


Ring Video Doorbell 2

The second version of the standard doorbell addressed some limitations in the original design, but these aren’t major issues, more convenience improvements.

The unit itself appears almost identical to the original Video Doorbell, but does have slightly different dimensions and a different mounting plate. The video feed is upped to 1080p, but with a reduced 160 degree field of view. That’s still more than adequate for most installations.

The convenience improvements are found on the front, with the bottom (colored) section of the face now a quick release cover for a removable battery pack. That section is also interchangeable, so you can swap between the two color options (white or black). Having a removable battery mitigates the need to unmount the device for charging, and with a spare battery you can swap it out without having to take the doorbell out of action for a few hours, as is the case with the original version of the device.

Power options are otherwise the same, with support for doorbell wiring to provide continuous charging, but with the option of a solar powered mounting plate as well. This provides a convenient compromise between battery charging and hard wiring, so long as you have enough sun on your doorbell position.


Ring Video Doorbell Pro

If you have existing doorbell wiring, then the Pro may be for you. It’s a sleeker design of the v2 product, but drops the battery entirely and requires 16-24 volt AC supply. In exchange for that you get interchangeable face plates (the whole face this time) in four colors (nickel, pearl, venetian and black) and the ability to customize motion zones. This helps greatly in reducing false alerts by empowering you to select exactly where you want to be notified of movement.

The camera and audio features are the same as the Video Doorbell 2, with 1080p HD night vision and a 160 degree field of view. This one also picks up 5GHz WiFi support and comes with Ring’s Chime Pro product in the box, which is a significant value add. The Chime Pro acts as wireless indoor ringer for the doorbell with customizable tones, and a built-in WiFi extender (for Ring devices only).


Ring Video Doorbell Elite

This brings us to the Elite, a professional grade model which again forgoes the battery for hard wiring only. In this case the wiring requires 15.4W Power over Ethernet (PoE), which means you’ll need a PoE capable switch or router to run the cable back to.

While this installation requires considerably more effort than the other models, it does offer the most reliable power and connectivity of the four, as well as being the slimmest profile. The Elite still comes with WiFi support, for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, and is available in the same four color options as the Pro (nickel, satin, pearl and venetian).

The profile and wiring are the key differences here, with the other features the same as the Pro, 1080p video, two-way talk, and a 160 degree field of view. Being hard wired it also supports the custom motion zones feature as well.


Ring Peephole Cam

The last model on the list is the newest entrant to the family. This one is a little different in that it is designed to fit into an exiting peep hole arrangement, which makes it ideal for apartments and town houses. It also makes for super simple installation assuming there is an existing peephole in the door.

Being attached to the actual door, it’s battery powered like it’s older siblings, and sports a 1080p HD camera with a 155 degree field of view. Also being attached to the door it includes an impact sensor to provide a ‘knock detection’ feature, so it can alert you to knocks as well as ringing the bell.

The unit attaches to the door using the peephole barrel itself to connect the outside part to an indoor panel, and retains the normal peephole in addition to a camera. The indoor panel is where the WiFi radio and battery are located, both improving WiFi reception by having it inside the home, and keeping the battery safe from outside access. The battery itself is swap-able via a removal cover on the indoor part of the device.

The smaller size of the unit means a smaller battery, and this one will give you about 3 months of use before a recharge. As with the Video Doorbell 2, keeping a spare on hand makes for an easy swap over without significant downtime for the doorbell.


Real World Performance

In all cases, these products use an encrypted connection back to Ring’s servers both to store video recordings and to provide connectivity to the mobile app from anywhere in the world. I’ve found the response time of notifications to be reliably prompt, arriving within a second or two of the triggering event. Quick response is particularly important for doorbell rings, as you want to be able to respond quickly before the visitor assumes no one is home (even if you actually aren’t).

Video Streaming

The recorded video is reasonable quality, and quite usable for both communication and security purposes, but it’s not the best on the market. Quality will also vary based on signal strength to the doorbell and you’re internet performance. The streaming service will downgrade the video quality automatically in the case of congestion or other performance issues.

Ring advises a minimum sustainable upload speed of 1Mbps, but recommends 2Mbps as preferred. This is on top of any other usage going on in your network at the time, of course. I only have 5Mbps on my service, and that has proven adequate for full quality video 90% of the time.

Something to be aware of with any wireless product is that your mileage will vary, signal strength, router position, interference sources and other factors can adversely impact the performance of both the video quality and notification speed. In that event using a Chime Pro may help resolve things for you, but not always.

Camera and Motion

It’s also worth noting that these are not super high quality cameras, and some users have reported issues with video quality in their install locations where the camera is in shade, which causes everything outside the shade to be over exposed and washed out. Motion detection can also be an issue.

For whatever reason, Ring has still not been able to roll out person detection as many other smart camera vendors have, which means the doorbells will trigger motion alerts for pretty much any movement. Adjusting the sensitivity helps, but only by reducing the size of the moving area that triggers it, so a sufficiently large object will still trigger it. Facing the street, even on minimum sensitivity, the garbage truck would always trigger a motion alert due to the size of the motion event.

To mitigate this, Ring offers a few optional mounting plates; one that positions the doorbell at an angle horizontally, and one which angles it downwards. Either of these can help point it away from busy areas and give you better control of what the motion zones are covering.


Ring offers a variety of video doorbells to suit different applications. Some of these are more aesthetic considerations, and up the price accordingly. Overall, the products rate well, averaging four stars in customer reviews, and I’ve found them to live up to their claims.

Build quality is also noteworthy in a world where many consumer devices are prone to dying after a year or two. I’ve been using Ring devices since the first version of the doorbell product and they have been rock solid for years. Indeed, that original doorbell is still going strong today.

So which one is right for you?

For a low cost option that does the job and offers easy installation, you can just go with the Ring Video Doorbell.

For a bit more you can benefit from higher quality video and swap-able batteries with the Ring Video Doorbell 2.

A sleeker option for those willing to hard wire, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro also offers improved connectivity and better motion zone customization, as well as an included Chime Pro ringer/extender.

Upgrading to the Ring Video Doorbell Elite gets you a more professional look and the best connectivity option by using Power over Ethernet, but comes at a significantly higher installation effort cost.

For apartment dwellers, the Peephole Cam is the way to go, basically a Ring Video Doorbell 2 that attaches right onto your peephole for a secure and convenient fit, and includes the novel knock detection feature.