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Nest Doorbell vs. Ring 4: Which video doorbell is best for you?

While Amazon-owned Ring once cornered the video doorbell market, Google's Nest Doorbell just may be the new front-runner.

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You've heard it before: Amazon versus Google. But now, the battle is coming right to your front door. This year, we've seen a renaissance of video doorbells and Amazon and Google are just two of the tech giants that are currently vying for the top of the market with their latest video doorbell cameras. 

Ring popularized doorbell cams starting in 2014, before being bought by Amazon for a whopping $1 billion a few years later. But the video doorbell market is only reaching maturity now in 2021: for the first time, you have a wide range of products, from super affordable options to pricey, feature-rich alternatives -- and from a variety of companies, including tech giants and upstart startups. And Google wants in, too. 

Google is the most recent company to invest in the market, launching the Nest Doorbell (battery), a wireless and super-smart option for $180. Its biggest competitor? Amazon's recently released and sold-out-most-places Ring 4 video doorbell, which boasts some of the same smarts, a wireless design and a $200 price tag.

These two video doorbells are some of the highest-profile wireless options on the market, so let's break down which is actually better.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Google's new video doorbell looks great and feels even better. The $180 price tag puts it below direct competitors like the Ring 4 and Arlo Wire-Free Video Doorbell, both of which clock in at $200. In addition, it comes with a slew of solid features: a 3:4 aspect ratio with 145-degree field of view; notifications that can tell the difference between people, animals, vehicles and packages; on-device processing and encryption that minimizes the amount of data transfer the device needs to function, and thoroughly encrypts that transfer. You also get three hours of event storage for free.

The biggest downside: a Nest Aware subscription costs $6/month -- or twice Ring's comparable service.

Read our review.

 

Chris Monroe/CNET

The Ring 4 is a competently built wireless video doorbell with a handful of perks, like full-color preroll (which captures and saves the footage preceding an event notification) and Quick Replies (which let you select from a list of automated replies for when people ring the bell). But these smarts are overshadowed by Ring's troubling relationships with police and its Neighbors app, which allows the dissemination of footage on a public feed. In addition, the Ring 4 has a few hardware shortcomings, such as a lens that fails to capture large swaths of area above and below the device.

Read our review.

 

The best wireless video doorbell?

Google's newest gadget has a serious edge over Amazon Ring's alternative.

Between the lower starting price tag and the smart features without a monthly subscription, the Nest Doorbell handily beats the Ring 4 for value -- especially if you plan to use it without a subscription. Its field of view and smart notifications are both far more expansive than Ring's -- putting it more in line with Arlo's Wire-Free Video Doorbell, one of our favorites in the space. And the focus on local processing and privacy are encouraging to see, especially as Ring appears to be committed to a more privacy-eroding approach.

That said, neither device is perfect. We would love to see either one offer end-to-end encryption, but for now, neither does (Ring said it doesn't because the feature requires too much energy for its battery-powered devices; Google said E2EE constrains certain features too much).

Likewise, while the Ring 4 cuts off a lot of recorded space above and below the camera (you know, where faces and packages are), the Nest Doorbell can cut off a lot of important space to the sides of the camera -- which, depending on the shape of your porch, could be a big deal.

The Nest Doorbell definitely gets the nod, in the end, though, thanks to its super smart features and solid free perks that edge out the OG video doorbell company, 

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