Ring’s new $249.99 Video Doorbell Pro 2 is the best video doorbell yet from a company that has nearly become a household name for video doorbells. It has an excellent field of view and video quality; plenty of customizable features for notifications and recording zones; and speedy performance, whether that’s sending alerts to your phone or smart speaker when someone rings the bell or pulling up the live feed from the Ring app on a phone. If you can tolerate the price tag, are able to install a wired doorbell at your door, and aren’t put off by Ring’s Neighbors app or police partnerships (both of which you can opt out of), the Video Doorbell Pro 2 is one of the best video doorbells you can get right now.
The new Video Doorbell Pro 2 is Ring’s top-of-the-line model, replacing the original Video Doorbell Pro from 2017. Unlike Ring’s other doorbells, the Pro 2 does not have a battery option; you have to have wiring running to it for power. But because it doesn’t have to house a battery, the Pro 2 is much smaller than Ring’s battery-powered options and has faster response times when you want to pull up the feed on your phone or an Echo Show smart display. It also can work with an existing doorbell chime in your home if you have one.
Despite its higher-than-average price tag, the Pro 2 doesn’t really look all that much more premium than other Ring models. The housing is made entirely of plastic, and there’s a big Ring logo stamped on the bottom. If sleek design is what you’re after, Google’s Nest Hello or the Logitech Circle View Doorbell are better choices.
Ring has added a number of new features this time around, but the most significant change is how the Video Doorbell Pro 2 captures video clips. Unlike the prior model and every other Ring doorbell before it, the Pro 2 shoots 1536 x 1536-pixel square video, which lets you see visitors from top to bottom. It also makes it much easier to see if packages have been left at your doorstep because you can see the ground right in front of the doorbell.
On my doorway, the Pro 2’s wide and tall field of view was able to let me see the entirety of my small porch much better than the older 16:9 format Ring doorbells or others that have a tall but not as wide aspect ratio, like Logitech’s Circle View Doorbell. The Pro 2 captures a sharp and detailed image, complete with HDR for balancing bright skies and visitors’ faces. It also has a dedicated infrared night mode that will come on automatically if the light levels are low enough. The porch light I have at my doorway was sufficient enough to keep the Pro 2 in normal video mode, so I was able to have full-color video captures at night without blinding visitors with a light on the doorbell itself like what happens with the Circle View Doorbell.
Thanks to support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, pulling up the Pro 2’s video feed through the Ring app on my phone is a painless process that just takes a couple of seconds. Likewise, asking an Echo Show to display the feed is quick and easy. The Echo Show and Fire TV devices will even automatically display the feed from the camera whenever the doorbell is rung. Older video doorbells used to take an agonizing amount of time to show their video feeds. I’m glad to see this newest crop is much faster than before.
The Pro 2 also has a new “3D Motion Detection” feature that lets you see the movements of someone on your property even if they are out of frame of the camera. The name oversells what this is doing a bit: the app will show a top-down view of movements represented as colored dots on the map of your home overlaid over the recorded video clip. It’s designed to let you see where someone has been on your property before they show up on the primary camera. But the range for this feature is limited to only 30 feet — that’s about enough to reach a third of the way down my driveway — and while it’s a neat demo of technology, I didn’t find much utility in it.
The other thing I didn’t find much use for is the Alexa Greetings feature, which lets you have Alexa answer the door through the Ring doorbell if you don’t get to it within a set amount of time.
There are two reasons I didn’t really like this feature. One is since we’re still spending the majority of our time home due to the pandemic, I don’t really need someone else to answer the door for me — I’m always there. The other is the idea of having Amazon’s Alexa robot speak to a visitor in my place. Alexa can ask couriers to leave a package in a particular place you specify or record a message from other visitors that will be sent to your phone. In my tests, it works like a typical Alexa interaction, with a slight delay between each prompt.
But in general, it feels a bit off-putting and rude to force visitors to interact with an unexpected robot. I feel the same way about using the two-way audio to talk to someone at the door through my phone. While there may certainly be great accessibility use cases for these features, they weren’t helpful for me, and I left them turned off. I think basic package detection and notifications, which other doorbells offer, would be more useful, but Ring doesn’t have any features like that.
The Alexa responses feature requires a subscription to Ring’s Protect plan, which starts at $3 per month and enables other features such as a six-second pre-roll recording for motion alerts, the option to only get alerted when a person is detected, video history for up to 60 days, and the ability to save and share clips. You can use the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 without paying for this subscription, but you’ll be limited to motion alerts, live view, two-way talking, and six preset responses if you’re not home. Neither one of Ring’s plans, paid or free, offers continuous 24/7 recording. If that’s something you want, Google’s Nest Hello is a better choice.
Since Ring is an Amazon company, the Pro 2 works best and offers the most utility if you have Amazon Echo speakers or smart displays. In addition to the ability to automatically show the feed when the bell is pressed, you can have Echo speakers announce when someone’s at the door so you never miss a visitor. This feature isn’t available with Google Nest smart speakers or displays; again, the Nest Hello would be a better choice if you’re running a Google smart home. (Likewise, if you’re running an Apple HomeKit smart home, the Logitech Circle View Doorbell is a better choice.)
Lastly, I can’t cover a Ring product without mentioning its controversial Neighbors app and police partnerships. The Neighbors app is a separate app that collates crime and safety reports from other Ring owners in your neighborhood. By default, the Neighbors feed is integrated into the Ring app, allowing you to see other posts and share video clips from your camera.
Similarly, the Public Safety feature allows police and other public service agencies to request video clips from your camera to aid in solving crimes. You then have the option to approve or deny the request.
Ring has made it easier to manage these features. Both of them are controlled in the app’s Control Center section, where you can disable the Neighbors feed and block public agencies from requesting clips from your video camera. You can also enable end-to-end encryption, which will disable these features and limit the ability to share video clips with others. But I wish Ring would go even further and disable both of them by default, letting owners decide if they want to opt in or not during setup.
Ring’s portfolio of video doorbells has grown significantly over the past couple of years, and it can be confusing to figure out which one is right for your needs. The Pro 2’s pitch is simple: this is the best video doorbell camera Ring sells, provided you have the ability to hook it up to existing doorbell wiring or run new wiring to it. If you want the best performance and are in Amazon’s Echo ecosystem, the Pro 2 is the doorbell to get.
Photography by Dan Seifert / The Verge