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No, Ring Does NOT Offer True “Full HD” Quality – New Video

People quite rightly think that when a company advertises “full HD” quality… the image quality matches expected full HD (1080p) quality. Seems obvious, right?!

Well unfortunately this isn’t really the case. Whilst Ring’s cameras and doorbells tend to have a 1920x1080p resolution, the all-important bit rate is a measly 2.5 Mbps – which is closer to 480p quality.

The timestamps for each part of the video is:

  • 0:00 Intro
  • 0:47 What is “bit rate”?
  • 1:58 Ring’s resolution and bit rate
  • 3:58 Examples
  • 4:46 The alternative: ANNKE for 4k, Ring for convenience
  • 5:54 Conclusion

Thanks to BorrowLenses for their helpful article on this topic: https://www.borrowlenses.com/blog/intro-to-bit-rate-for-new-filmmakers-and-vloggers/

Google’s help page on bit-rate can be seen here: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/1722171?hl=en-GB#zippy=%2Cbitrate

And my blog post on 4K smart doorbells is available here.

Video Transcript

Hello, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point. One of the things I’ve learnt over the years is that a product’s marketing… doesn’t always reflect the reality. OR the marketing is TECHNICALLY correct, but in practise it’s a bit misleading.

What am I rambling about? Well, I will tell you. Ring’s cameras and doorbells are mainly “full HD” quality (apart from the Ring Pro 2 – the Doorbell –  which offers something a bit different). HOWEVER whilst “full HD” sounds great, the reality is that you probably won’t be able to make out the plate numbers of passing cars, for example, or even the face of someone running past – especially at night.

Whilst this is partly due to “full HD” not always being sufficient for a security camera, it’s also because of something called bit rate.

“Bit rate?! BORING!”

Wait, this is actually a crucially important topic. As BorrowLenses explains helpfully:

“Bit Rate is the amount of data encoded per second when you shoot video. The higher the bit rate, the higher the quality of your video… Many people confuse bit rate and resolution. They are actually independent of one another. Resolution is the pixel size of your video. It does not necessarily determine the actual quality of your video”

And they go onto give another important bit of information (bit… get it?!). Nevermind.

“… If we kept the bit rate constant and we shot two videos – one at 1080p – full HD – and one at 4K – you would notice that the 1080p video might actually look better.”

That’s interesting. Sounds surprising, but it’s interesting. So what’s the recommended bitrate – and hence quality – of 1080p video? Well, if you actually go on YouTube’s own help pages (if like me you produce YouTube videos; you can click the link in the description as well), they make clear that full HD video should be shot at 8 or more megabits per second.

What does Ring shoot at? It’s actually a dismal 2.5 Mbps. This is what 480p video should actually be shot at! So whilst Ring ADVERTISE “full HD” quality, the bit rate – and hence quality – is closer to a 480p resolution. This benefits  Ring because the recording file sizes are much smaller – saving them lots of money on storage and bandwidth costs. But this disadvantages us – the consumers – because the image quality of these “full HD” recordings are worse than you’d expect.

It’s a bit like if you turn on a tap somewhere when there’s a water leak nearby, causing the water pressure to be really low. Yes water IS coming out of the tap, but it doesn’t really wash your hands in the way that you’d expect. It just isn’t as good.

So, Ring’s bit rate is no good. But turning back to the resolution itself: I don’t think that “full HD” is sufficient anymore. Eufy have offered 2k resolution for quite a while, and this captures more than double the number of pixels, both vertically and hoziontally (even though admittedly the bitrate of Eufy cameras isn’t great either).

To be honest, it feels like Ring should be stepping up the resolution – and the bitrate – of their camera and doorbells. Now before you shout…

OMG the Ring Pro 2 does have better resolution you n00b

… rude… whilst the Ring Pro 2 Doorbell does offer “head to toe” resolution – as they call it – it actually has a lower horizontal resolution. In some cases the Pro 2 seems to have WORSE image quality from what I’ve seen due to the “fish bowl” type effect that the head to toe resolution offers and has to display like in the app.

Plus the new Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Pro (which was released after the Pro 2) offers standard full HD again, suggesting that Ring have no plans to take the step up to a higher resolution in their future products: Ring’s version of “full HD” seems like it’s here to stay.

With all that said, I wanted to provide some specific examples of how resolution and bitrate actually appear and work together. This video is being shot at 4k resolution and a 60 Mbps bitrate. But I wanted to give some examples of what happens when you start tapering down both the resolution and bitrate, so let’s start “loop mode” by saying… 

I am groot.

I am groot.

I am groot.

I am groot.

I am groot.

I am groot.

I am groot.

I am groot.

So as you can see – I am groot – no, wait… what was my point? Oh yeah, it’s not just the resolution that matters here, it’s the bitrate as well. I think that Ring are being a little bit disingenuous by advertising “full HD” quality, when in reality the bitrate is so poor that you often can’t pick up important information from the recordings. Of course, it’s easy for me to rant about all this but what’s the solution? Eufy and Nest don’t offer a better bit-rate.

Well, the answer is that if you really care about resolution and bit rate (i.e. video quality) then you’ll probably want to avoid cloud-based cameras and doorbells. These intentionally scale back the bit rate, in order to make the file size smaller. The real solution here is to use a camera that stores locally – such as the ones from ANNKE which can record in 4K and a 16 Mbps bit rate. These record to a local NAS, but the recordings can still be viewed via an app in the normal way. The only downside is that if your NAS fails, you lose all your recordings unless you have backups (of course).

The other big downside is that there’s currently no high resolution, high bit-rate smart doorbells available – only cameras – within the mass market. I talk about this more on my blog (and you check out the link in the description) but at the time of filming there’s only ONE 4K smart doorbell – from Fresh – and it’s still in beta stages. 

My main suggestion is that if you do want great image quality, use a 4K, locally-stored camera for security and THEN a smart doorbell for convenience. And that wraps up today’s video – I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, please click the thumbs up button to tell YouTube that more people should watch this video. Please also consider subscribing to my channel and clicking the bell icon to get notified when a new video comes out. Thank you!

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