Ring’s new $ 249.99 Video Doorbell Pro 2 is the best video doorbell to date from a company that has almost become a household name for video doorbells. It has an excellent field of view and video quality; many customizable features for alerts and recording zones; and fast performance, whether it’s sending alerts to your phone or smart speaker when someone calls or taking live feed from the Call app on a phone. If you can afford the price tag, are able to install a wired doorbell on your door, and are not disappointed by the Ring’s Neighbors app or police partnership (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 Ring̵
Despite the price tag being higher than average, the Pro 2 doesn’t really look that much better than other Ring models. The house is made of plastic, and there is a large ring logo stamped on the bottom. If sleek design is what you are looking for, Google’s Nest Hello or Logitech Circle View Doorbell are better choices.
Ring has added a number of new features this time, but the most important change is how Video Doorbell Pro 2 captures video clips. Unlike the previous model and all other Ring doorbells before it, the Pro 2 1536 x 1536 pixels shoots square video, allowing you to see visitors from top to bottom. It also makes it much easier to see if packages have been left right outside the door, because you can see the ground right in front of the doorbell.
On my doorway, the Pro 2’s wide and high field of view could let me see my entire little porch better than the older 16: 9 format bells or others that have a high but not as wide aspect ratio, like Logitech’s Circle View Doorbell. Pro 2 captures a sharp and detailed image, complete with HDR to balance bright skies and visitors. It also has a dedicated infrared night mode that will come on automatically if the light level is low enough. The porch light I have at my door was sufficient enough to keep the Pro 2 in normal video mode, so I was able to have full-length video recordings at night without blinding visitors with a light on the doorbell itself like what happens to Circle Look at the doorbell.
Thanks to support for both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi, it’s a painless process that takes just a few seconds to pull up the Pro 2’s video feed through the Call app on my phone. In the same way, it is quick and easy to ask an Echo Show to show the feed. The Echo Show and Fire TV units will even automatically display the input from the camera when the door is rung. Older video doorbells spent a lot of time viewing their video feeds. I’m glad to see that this latest crop is much faster than before.
Pro 2 also has a new “3D motion detection” feature that lets you see the movements of anyone on your property, even if they are outside the camera’s frame. The name sells over what this does a bit: the app shows an overview from top to bottom of movements represented as colored dots on the map of your home deliberately on the recorded video clip. It is designed to let you see where someone has been on your property before appearing on the primary camera. But the range of this feature is limited to just 30 feet – that’s about enough to reach a third of the way down my driveway – and while it’s a nice demo of technology, I did not find much use in it.
The other thing I did not find much use for is the Alexa Greetings feature, which allows you to have Alexa answer the door through the ring door, if you do not get to it within a certain time.
There are two reasons why I did not like this feature. One is that since we still spend most of our time at home because of the pandemic, I do not really need anyone else to answer the door for me – I am always there. The other is the idea of having Amazon’s Alexa robot talk to a visitor in my place. Alexa may ask couriers to leave a package at a specific location you specify, or register 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 command prompt.
But in general, it feels a little disgusting and rude to force visitors to interact with an unexpected robot. I feel the same way about using two-way audio to talk to someone at the door through my phone. While there may be good availability issues for these features, they were not useful to me, and I left them off. I think basic package discovery and alerts, which other doorbells offer, would be more useful, but Call does not have any features like that.
The Alexa response feature requires a subscription to the Rings Protect plan, which starts at $ 3 per month and enables other features such as a six-second pre-roll recording for motion alerts, the ability to only be alerted when a person is detected, video history for up to 60 days, and the ability to save and share clips. You can use Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 without paying for this subscription, but you will be limited to motion alerts, live views, two-way talking and six preset answers if you are not at home. Neither one of Ring’s plans, paid or free, offers continuous 24/7 recording. If there’s something you want, Google’s Nest Hello is a better choice.
Since Ring is an Amazon company, Pro 2 works best and offers the most tools if you have Amazon Echo speakers or smart screens. In addition to the ability to automatically display the feed when the clock is pressed, you can have echo speakers announce when someone is at the door, so you never miss a visitor. This feature is not available with Google Nest smart speakers or monitors; Again, Nest Hello would be a better choice if you run a smart home from Google. (Similarly, if you run an Apple HomeKit smart home, the Logitech Circle View Doorbell is a better choice.)
Finally, I can not cover a Ring product without mentioning the controversial Neighbors app and police partnership. The Neighbors app is a separate app that collects crime and security reports from other callers in your neighborhood. By default, the Neighbors feed is integrated into the Call app, so you can view other posts and share videos from your camera.
Similarly, the Public Safety feature allows police and other agencies to request video clips from your camera to help solve crimes. You then have the option to approve or reject the request.
Ring has made it easier to manage these features. Both are controlled in the app’s control center section, where you can disable neighbors and feed public agencies from requesting clips from your camcorder. 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 them both by default, and let the owners decide if they want to sign up or not during setup.
Ring’s portfolio of video doorbells has grown significantly over the last couple of years, and it can be confusing to find the one that suits your needs. Pro 2-tone is simple: this is the best video doorbell camera that Ring sells, provided you have the option to connect it to existing wiring cables or run new wires to it. If you want the best performance and are in the Amazon Echo ecosystem, the Pro 2 doorbell is available.
Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge