Editors' note: Ring has been called out forin the US, leading privacy advocates to express concern about . In December 2019, thousands of Ring users' , leading us to stop recommending Ring products. Ring has since updated its security policies, from offering customers a dashboard allowing people to more easily access privacy and security settings to requiring .
We have resumed recommending Ring's products with this caveat: If you have concerns about Ring's privacy policies, make sure to familiarize yourself with its privacy statement. You can read more about how we factor Ring's privacy policies into our recommendations . CNET has not and will not issue Editors' Choice awards to Ring while the company's policies around law enforcement and surveillance remain on their current course.
At $250, the Video Doorbell Pro 2 is the latest offering from Ring, the Amazon-owned company that largely popularized the video doorbell over the past five years. Unlike Ring'sand , which were both released in the past six months and represented a push by the company for greater affordability, the Pro 2 is focused on innovative features.
That innovation centers on a new built-in bird's-eye-view feature I think other video doorbell-makers should copy. The feature uses radar to tell you exactly where visitors are in your front yard and at your door, which can mean fewer false alerts. But it doesn't work perfectly yet.
- The new bird's-eye-view feature
- The price
- Ring's ongoing security and privacy problems
More practically helpful is the 1536p resolution, up from 1080p on the prior generation, and introduction of a head-to-toe view, which has been a pain point for Ring products in the past. Until now, Ring cameras have only offered wide-angle views of your entryway, so seeing packages left near the door was often impossible.
The question is, as the best product Ring has put out right now, is it worth $250 -- the same price Ring was asking in 2017 for its top-of-the-line? I'm not so sure. We're no longer in the age of video doorbells costing $200 minimum, so higher resolution, a better aspect ratio and radar, while all welcome and genuinely helpful features, seem to come at quite a price: nearly $200 more than Ring's basic $60 device. Even Arlo's higher-end , with the same resolution and a better field of view (though with no radar) costs only $150.
What's more, despite the merits of its hardware and security (including the recent introduction of end-to-end video encryption and required multifactor authentication), Ring has major issues it's failed to address in recent years -- both in terms of security and the larger, thornier questions of privacy. Ring has repeatedly exposed information, such as the addresses and precise locations, of customers. It's also facing a class-action lawsuit by dozens of customers who've been subjected to threats and racial slurs from hackers who've targeted Ring devices.
Perhaps most troubling of all, Ring actively requesting video of legal demonstrations in Los Angeles last year.with thousands of police departments over the past two years, which has led to a number of scandals, including one case of police forces
The Video Doorbell Pro 2 sits squarely at the intersection of conversations around technology and its social implications. In some cases, as with the Ring Video Doorbell Wired, the hardware (at its given price) may be impressive enough to outweigh some people's concerns. This time around, however, the Doorbell Pro 2 feels too expensive to justify the more fraught trade-offs.
Breaking down the specs
My favorite feature of the Video Doorbell Pro 2 is the 1:1 aspect ratio, a first for Ring, which means you can see 150 degrees horizontally and vertically. In the past, Ring devices would typically show someone standing near the camera from the thigh up. Since I use my video doorbell mostly to check if there are packages on my doorstep, though, being able to actually see my doorstep is vital.
Even with the improvement, the 150-degree viewing angle isn't what it could be, especially when rival devices, such as our category favorite, the $150 Arlo Video Doorbell, offer 180-degree angles on a 1:1 aspect ratio. Whether this makes a practical difference for you may come down to where delivery people leave your parcels, and whether this is one of your primary concerns -- but it was enough of a difference that I couldn't see boxes left against my door.
Otherwise, Ring's doorbell is standard: Setting it up is as easy as it's been for years, the device has solid resolution, various push alerts, encrypted video, smart responses with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant (a new feature available on a number of Ring devices) and it can connect to Ring's Neighbors app, which lets you share clips with other app-users nearby.
If you want cloud storage, you'll need to subscribe to Ring's Protect plan, a $3-a-month service that gives you access to more customizable alerts, more in-depth notifications, 60 days of video storage and a handful of other minor perks. Without this plan, you'll be able to get basic push alerts, check the live feed and use two-way talk -- but not much else. This breakdown isn't unusual, and comparable to services from competitors.
The big selling point of this new Ring Pro 2 is, as already mentioned, the built-in radar. Here's how it works: First, via the Ring app, you place your doorbell as accurately as possible on a satellite image of your home, directionally orienting it. Then set your preferred monitoring distance (up to 25 feet). Finally, you can test it by walking in front of the doorbell, and watching as it tracks your movement within the space.
Right now, the bird's-eye-view feature seems to mostly augment existing live-view or video recordings, giving more context to what you're seeing. The radar won't track people out of view of the camera (say, behind a wall), but it is pretty accurate at following their movements in view.
The one issue I noticed while using the radar feature was false radar readings at the location of the doorbell itself when I was walking past outside the set range of the radar. This isn't a serious problem, but I could see it leading to more false alerts than the radar helps avoid.
After working with Ring to solve the problem, a spokesperson gave me this explanation for the issue: "Ring uses a fusion of computer vision (CV) and radar for better results. This is an edge case in which the CV is picking you up and the radar is picking up the tree's slight movement on your porch. In Live View, we don't run as much filtering logic, which is why it's tripping these false motions. This is new technology for Ring devices and Ring's team is working to refine this experience for customers. There is a fix for this that will be rolling out in the coming weeks."
While the radar needs work to be practically helpful, it feels like an important evolutionary step for video doorbell technology overall. As of the release of the Pro 2, most video doorbells use drawn-on "zones" to distinguish between parts of the image you want the camera to ignore or pay attention to -- that way you get notifications if someone walks up your front path, but not for each car driving past on the street just beyond it.
These zones have operated as a sort of stop gap for a limited technology: The device is making sense of a three-dimensional, physical space by way of a flat image. The radar functionality changes this, allowing you to set physical boundaries that trigger the camera if crossed. It gives fuller information in the form of the bird's-eye-view feature, which tracks how people enter your property (whether they're approaching your door or not).
This technology is still developing, and right now I'm not sure it's worth the price for most people. But I wouldn't be surprised to see it replace zone-drawing as the norm for video doorbells in the coming years.
Under the radar
Beneath all the hardware is the complicated question of Ring's policies, recent history of serious security leaks and ongoing support for police partnerships with little evidence of positive outcomes and significant evidence of negative ones.
We at CNET have covered , and -- and the difficulty of parsing them responsibly as a reviewer -- before. I won't fully relitigate the cases for and against Ring here, but I will say, despite legitimate security and privacy improvements from the company, the ongoing partnerships with police forces enable police overreach in ways reviewers like me should not support or ignore. And these partnerships have implications on a level Ring's users shouldn't be fully comfortable with.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to purchase products for the convenience they provide or avoid buying them for the technological shifts they propagate is up to you.
In the case of the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2, I feel comfort in saying the hardware doesn't justify the asking price, at least for most people. While the device is seriously innovative -- its radar feature could, as I said, set a trend for competitors moving forward -- the high asking price and moderate improvements to other features, such as the 150-degree viewing angle, leave a little to be desired. Factoring in the larger privacy conversation, then, makes that decision all the easier.
This is likely a Ring to pass up.
First published March 31.