I live in a new build development, and due to a few initial teething issues with the property developer, we all setup a Facebook group to keep each-other informed. A year ago, one of my neighbors reported that someone was trying their door handle at 3am – i.e. an opportunistic thief. Other neighbors said this happened to them too. Another neighbor had their car stolen from their driveway a bit before this.
This led to a few neighbors getting Ring smart doorbells installed. Around six months ago, another neighbor reported that someone tried their door handle in the early hours of the morning. Again, other neighbors experienced the same thing.
Only this time, two affected neighbors had Ring doorbells. They posted the video clip (showing the potential thief’s face… no idea why he didn’t cover his face!) on the Facebook group, and also forwarded it to the police. The police were able to identify the person and took the relevant action.
Result. Whilst it’s never nice knowing that you (apparently) live near opportunistic thieves, it’s a nice area to live overall… despite this introduction making it sound like a slum!
Anywhoo, due to our neighbor’s experiences I decided that it was about time that we purchased a smart doorbell too. The TL;DR is that I ended up buying the Ring Doorbell Pro, but why did I chose this? Well the below outlines the research I did and why I settled on the Pro.
Since I wrote this original article, the Ring Doorbell Pro 2 has been released. I made a video on why I didn’t upgrade to it here.
Ring vs Nest vs ??
My first decision was which brand of smart doorbell to go with. Ring seems like the most popular (and is the one that all my neighbors went for), whilst the Nest Hello ‘range’ is quite new.
Nest’s Aware plan costs $5/£4 per month for 5 day’s history, whilst Ring’s Protect plan starts at $3/£2.50 per month for 30 day’s history – a better deal than Nest Aware.
There’s 3 main Ring doorbells available, with the original Doorbell 1 still being actively sold in the UK (for £89) – meaning more choice compared to Nest Hello. There’s also more retailers selling Ring – meaning more deals and offers compared to Nest.
Due to this, I opted for Ring compared to Nest. But I thought that I’d quickly check out whether other options existed. There were various budget options (i.e. for less than $100/£100) – and most of them offered 720p recording (not 1080p) and only local video capture (via a memory card).
This sort of defeats the object of using a smart doorbell as a crime prevention tool, because thieves can just steal the doorbell and so destroy the evidence (i.e. the video of them stealing it)!
A few options did offer cloud storage (some for free, some as a paid-for plan) but it was mainly for motion-activated clips and the storage length wasn’t great.
In the end, I decided to get a Ring.
Right, I’ll buy a Ring. Wait, which Ring?
So there are three main Ring doorbells: the original Video Doorbell 1 which records in 720p and has a battery or can be hardwired, the Doorbell 2 which is twice the price, records in 1080p – and also has a battery or can be hardwired. There’s then the Doorbell Pro which records in 1080p, can only be hardwired – but offers better features (and arguably performance) as a result. It’s also around $50/£50 more than the Doorbell 2.
Whilst 720p sounds bad in 2020 (“y no 4k video?!“), many reviews said that 720p is fine for a smart doorbell. So if I was on a budget, I would have happily picked up the Doorbell 1 for £89 (or even less when there’s an Amazon sale on).
But because budget (thankfully) wasn’t a major issue for me, I whittled down my choice to either the Doorbell 2 or the Pro.
Now, I love my house but the UK is really stingy with land – especially in new builds. What this means is that I don’t really have a front garden, and so the Ring’s footage would end up capturing something like the following:
(I taken that from my Samsung S10’s wide angle lens which isn’t quite as wide angled as the Ring, but it’s still useful for this purpose).
The problem is that – even at the recommended install height of 48″ (121cm), road traffic will end up being captured a fair amount. As a result, the more that I can set detection zones, the better. In other words, the simple detection zone configuration of the Doorbell 1 and 2 might not serve me as well as the fully customizable detection zone feature of the Pro.
Secondly, my door frame is fairly narrow:
As I’ve explored previously, installing Ring on a narrow door frame can be problematic – and so the size of the Ring device is key. Unfortunately the Doorbell 2 is substantially bulkier than the Pro – it’s around double the overall volume/size:
|Ring Doorbell 2||5″ (12.83cm)||2.5″ (6.35cm)||1″ (2.74cm)|
|Ring Doorbell Pro||4.5″ (11.43cm)||1.8″ (4.67cm)||0.8″ (2.03cm)|
The Doorbell Pro comfortably fits onto my door frame, whilst the bulkier Doorbell 2 would struggle a bit. That’s another ‘vote’ in favor of the Pro.
I also noticed that the Pro supports 5 Ghz WiFi (along with 2.4 Ghz), unlike the others which just support 2.4 Ghz. Whilst 5 Ghz isn’t as good when passing through walls, my internet router sits around 3’3″ (1m) away from where the Ring doorbell will be – meaning that I could reliably use the better 5 Ghz WiFi connection if I go for the Pro.
Finally, the Pro can only be hardwired. Whilst this might be a big negative for some, it’s a positive for me because I already have a hardwired doorbell – meaning the Pro could be installed fairly easily.
The benefit of it being hardwired is that it can constantly be analysing video footage (hence it being able to offer custom detection zones) – something the other Ring doorbells couldn’t do as it would kill the battery.
Some reviews have said that this allows the Pro to offer better video quality than the Doorbell 2, in that it has less pixelated video captures and seems to more-correctly determine when to stop and start recording.
Whilst the Pro is more expensive, the range of benefits it would offer me outweighs the higher price – hence my choosing the Pro in the end.
Finding a good deal for the Ring Doorbell Pro
So after deciding on the Pro, I realized that I had missed all the Black Friday deals by a couple of months. Doh!
I wasn’t going to buy the Pro at its full £229 price, considering that it was substantially cheaper in the sales. Plus a few reputable retailers were selling it for £189, meaning that there is scope to get it cheaper – even outside of Black Friday.
I went on Hot UK Deals and the deals page shown that you can pick-up the Pro for just £139.95 from a reputable seller on eBay. I don’t fully trust eBay – especially for relatively expensive electronics – but many people have purchased a Pro from this seller and not had any issues.
Overall though I preferred to buy from a better retailer than eBay, and so I set an alert on the Hot UK Deals page, and I did the same on Price Spy – so that I could be notified the moment the Ring Doorbell Pro came down in the price.
When it did, I purchased it:
Why I haven’t upgraded to the Ring Doorbell Pro 2
The Ring Doorbell Pro 2 was released a few months ago, but I decided not to upgrade to it – as I cover in the below video:
My main reasons for sticking with the original Pro 1 are:
- There is only 1 faceplates in the original box (although you can order another one for free).
- The Pro 2 is quite expensive – it would cost me $250 to upgrade to it.
- I wouldn’t use the new “bird’s eye view” feature.
- There is no Wi-Fi 6 support, which feels like a shortcoming for such an expensive smart doorbell.
In other words, I don’t see any new features that would cause me to spend $250 and upgrade to it. But if I didn’t have any Ring Doorbell, I would consider buying the Pro 2… if it was on sale!