Who would have thought that radar would become an increasingly important technology in the smart home? The 2nd generation Google Nest Hub is tapping the technology to track your sleep, and now Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 is using it for 3D motion detection. Ring’s premium doorbell camera also offers other advanced features, but is that enough to justify the $ 250 price tag – and the subscription you need to access them?
If you are not familiar with Ring’s video doorbells and other security cameras at home, you will receive motion and visitor alerts, but you will only be able to see a live stream of what is happening in front of the camera unless you sign up for a Ring Protect subscription. You can talk to people in front of the camera ̵
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best video doorbells, where you will find reviews of the competition’s offers, plus a buying guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.
Ring subscriptions are not very expensive, from $ 3 per camera per month, but they are the only way to get motion-enabled recordings stored in the cloud so you can watch them later (you get up to 60 days of history). You need a subscription to unlock some of Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2’s more advanced features. More on that a bit.
Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 delivers the highest resolution of any Ring camera – 1536p HD – with a 150 x 150 degree viewing angle that delivers a visitor-to-toe visit. But you will find some other cameras that offer even higher resolution and wider viewing angles. The $ 249 Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro, for example, delivers 1664 pixels and 180-degree viewing angles vertically and horizontally. That said, Vivint’s optional subscription costs $ 4.99 per month (and you want as much as Ring), and Ringen’s doorbell offers several advanced features that Vivint does not.
Video Doorbell Pro 2’s 1536p resolution, together with HDR support, results in good video quality in a variety of lighting conditions, but I experienced a problem with the doorbell’s night vision. During a troubleshooting session, a Ring representative noticed a network-level problem that restricted the bit rate and adversely affected image quality. Oddly enough, there was a problem that did not happen with Ring’s wired video doorbell ($ 60) that I am also reviewing.
3D motion detection
The main among these advanced features is the radar-powered motion detection I mentioned above. Once you have connected the doorbell to your home’s existing low voltage power line, enter your home’s address into the Call app. The app will then present a satellite image (of course not in real time) of your property and ask you to mark on the map where you have placed the doorbell and how far you want it to detect movement. Ring’s other cameras meet rough estimates of distance, but radar gives Video Doorbell Pro 2 some precision.
This 3D motion detection feature works in conjunction with something Ring calls Bird’s Eye View, where a picture-in-picture window is placed on the app’s main screen. When you receive a motion alert and start streaming live video, the app will use that satellite image to present an aerial view of the area you marked for motion detection. The overlap in that plane section will be a series of points that mark the path along which movement has been detected. You can see when a motion event started and the path a potential intruder followed – or move, if you are watching a live feed – while in camera view.
This is a killer feature that we have not seen before, and it is useful both while watching a live stream and while watching a recorded clip, but it has an Achilles heel: Ring depends on satellite images from third parties, so it has no control over the quality of these images. In my case, as you can see on these screens, the satellite images are extremely blurry. You do not know what quality your satellite imagery will be until you buy and install a Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2. That said, I know exactly where my doorbell is located, and it was very helpful to see the dots’ tracking motion.
We have seen doorbell cameras with hermetic answers before, and they are good for those times when you can not answer the door, or you just do not want to. Call calls their quick response, and there are six, including “Please leave the package outside. If you want to leave a message, you can do so now. “Ring goes a step further with Alexa Greetings. You can have Amazon’s digital digital assistant answer the door for you, and she can also take messages that appear in your event history. You can program the doorbell so that Alexa responds immediately or up to 20 seconds later. But Alexa integration is another feature that requires a subscription to Ring Protect.
A Ring Protect subscription also unlocks several other features: Advanced Pre-Roll shows a six-second video preview showing what triggered motion detection. Rich Notifications shows a real-time preview of what’s happening in front of the camera even before you open the Call app. And People Only mode is assumed to generate motion alerts only when people are in front of the camera, but I thought it was incredibly unreliable. It could not distinguish between humans, cats and other fur animals moving across the field of view. My editor tells me that he experienced the same problem with Vivint’s video doorbell.
The bottom line
Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 has some unique and sophisticated features, but we have seen competing doorbell cameras with even higher resolution and wider viewing angles that sell for the same price or less. And Ring’s People Only mode just doesn’t live up to your billing. On other hand, if you’re already deep inside the comprehensive smart ecosystem Call – and Amazon Alexa, and you want the best video doorbell in that ecosystem, Call Video Doorbell Pro 2 is it.