Talking tech since 2003

It's about time someone reinvented the doorbell. The doorbell as we know it came into existence in 1831, when Joseph Henry invented the first electric doorbell. However, it wasn't until after 1913 that electric doorbells became widespread with the introduction of electric transformers which eliminated the need for batteries and allowed doorbells to take advantage of the home's electricity.

Fast forward to 2020 and we now have video doorbells from companies like Nest and Ring. Video doorbells are designed to solve the same problems as traditional doorbells, but they also offer even more. For starters, with a video doorbell, you can actually see who's at your door: is it an axe murderer or grandma? I don't know, let's take a look!

Me ringing my Ring Video Doorbell Pro.

But seriously, knock knock jokes aside, should you invest in a video doorbell? That's what I plan to answer for you, or at least, help you answer for yourself.

Why we went with Ring

When we decided to replace the lock on the front door with a smart lock, we figured it would probably be a good idea to replace the super old doorbell as well. I fairly quickly decided to go with the Ring because my parents bought one a while back and they love it, and of course, we've all seen the commercials.

More specifically, I went with the Ring Video Doorbell Pro which you can connect to your existing doorbell's wiring to allow for constant power. If your house has existing doorbell wiring, this is the Ring video doorbell you want.

What you need to know before buying

There is one piece of information that you need to know before buying the Ring Video Doorbell Pro – in order to have your videos saved, you need to purchase the cloud subscription from Ring/Amazon for $30 per year for two devices. Now it's not a required purchase, the device will work without the subscription, but you won't be able to go back and review recordings from a previous point in time. But it is something to keep in mind if in fact that feature is important to you.

At the time I'm writing this review I have yet to make the commitment to pay the $30 per year for the archived cloud recordings. I'll be sure to update this if that changes.

Now, without the cloud subscription, you still get access to all the other features including, the ability to view and talk to someone in real time as well as to get notifications on your phone of motion and activity outside your front door.

Installing the Ring Video Doorbell Pro

The installation of the Ring Video Doorbell Pro is pretty straightforward. Simply remove the existing doorbell and disconnect the power, then attach the power to the Ring and mount it onto the side of your home.

Ring says the install should take 15 minutes, that's pretty accurate.

Once you have the Ring connected and attached to your home, you'll need to download either the iOS or Android app and complete the setup. This entire process was painless for me and within a minute or two, I had a working Ring Video Doorbell Pro.

How does the Ring Video Doorbell Pro work?

The Ring Video Doorbell Pro comes equipped with a 1080p HD camera with night vision. The camera has a field of view of 160 degrees horizontally and 90 degrees vertically. What this means is you see a fish-eye type view when viewing the camera in the app, which obviously is beneficial so you can get the best view of what's going on directly outside your front door.

The app offers a variety of settings and options most of which you really don't need to concern yourself with too much as I've found the default settings in most cases to be adequate for me. That being said, you should still take a look at them.

One of the settings that looks interesting to me, and may eventually put me over the edge to purchasing the $30 yearly subscription is a new feature called Rich Notifications. Rich Notifications can be found under Smart Alerts and what they do is provide a real time snapshot of what's going on at your front door within the notification sent to your phone – you don't even have to open the Ring app. I think that's pretty freaking awesome.

Motion Detection

Here's a question I'm sure you all have: what's the false positive situation like when it comes to getting notifications when you really shouldn't? That's a great question. For me, there are times when I get a notification about activity at the front door when there isn't any. Because I live in a community, there are times when wind blows the leaves on a tree or someone is driving or walking by and it gets picked up. And when I say times, I mean fairly frequently. For example, today I had 35 Ring notifications (yesterday I had 22) – I had one food delivery, left the house twice (and returned twice), and received at least one delivery. So yeah. What would be nice to see if is if Ring could tell how close the person/object is from the camera and only send a notification if they're within some amount of feet or something.

While I was writing this up, I had the best idea: let me ask my mom for her hot take on this. So, I asked my mom, who as I mentioned, also has one of these and lives in a house on its own lot of land, she told me she has specifically disabled the motion alerts feature. Now I can see why. Bottom line: if you're getting a ton of false positive notifications consider turning off the motion alerts feature as it's very sensitive.

Night Vision

A view from my front door at night via Ring Video Doorbell Pro.

Ok, let's talk night vision. I'm actually impressed with the quality of the night vision on the Ring Video Doorbell Pro camera. It's clear and not nearly as grainy as many security cameras. As you can see from my screenshot from directly in front of my front door, it's helpful to have a light by your front door (which I'd imagine most people do) in order to provide enough light for the camera to see clearly.

Here's another screenshot from the camera during the day time for comparison.

A view from my front door during the day via Ring Video Doorbell Pro.

As you can see, the night vision is very good, which is really nice to see. I'm sick of terrible quality "security" footage.

The verdict

I know, I know – you want to know – should you buy one? Typically, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro retails for $250 and for $250 I feel like they should include at least one year of cloud service – that's something I'd really like to see. That being said, because it's the holiday season, you can save $80 if you buy it today on Amazon for $170, and for that price I'd say go for it and then if you buy the cloud subscription you're still coming out ahead.

The thing about these Ring video doorbells is that they have inserted themselves in an industry that was honestly really ripe for disruption. The doorbell industry hadn't changed in decades before they came along. Ring has created a really solid product here with the Video Doorbell Pro – it's got a great camera and easy installation. The thing is, with a doorbell, it's kind of one of those things you want to "set and forget" and with the Ring Video Doorbell Pro so far I've been able to do that. Of course, it also provides me useful tidbits of information each day as well by letting me know when I'm getting a package or a delivery. I love the fact it's so easy to see who's on the other side of the door. That's great peace of mind.

I'd give the Ring Video Doorbell Pro a B+ rating.

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