In a doorbell showdown between Nest and Ring, which high-end buzzer wins?
Editor's note, March 26: Ring has been called out for its partnership with local police departments in the US, leading privacy advocates to express concern about the data Ring shares with law enforcement and how they use that information. In December 2019, thousands of Ring users' personal information was exposed, leading us to stop recommending Ring products. Ring has since updated its security policies, from offering customers a Control Center dashboard allowing people to more easily access privacy and security settings to requiring two-factor authentication.
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 here. CNET has not and will not be issuing Editors' Choice awards to Ring while the company's policies around law enforcement and surveillance remain on their current course.
We've tested a lot of smart video doorbells, but Google's $229 Nest Hello and Amazon's $249 Ring Video Doorbell Pro are two of our favorites. But which one is the best of the best at protecting your packages? The Nest Hello has free person alerts, but the Ring Pro has a lower monthly charge for cloud video storage. Decisions, decisions -- let's get to the comparison.
The Google Nest Hello is a $229 hardwired smart video doorbell. It has HD live streaming, motion, sound and person alerts, night vision, two-way audio, automatic responses from Nest if you don't want to talk to whoever's at the door -- and a three-hour image history of any activity that took place. The Nest Hello doorbell works with Google Assistant on smart displays and has some Alexa capabilities too.
If you level up with a Nest Aware subscription, starting at $5 per month, you get even more. The optional cloud service adds continuous recording and saves the footage for five, 10 or 30 days depending on the level you choose. It also adds in facial recognition. You can create a database of friends, family and anyone else who regularly visits your home so you'll get a custom alert when the camera sees them. Nest recently added package detection for Nest Aware too, so that you'll get an alert when the camera thinks it sees a package. You can designate custom motion detection zones with Nest Aware too.
Google recently changed Nest's Works with Nest program to Works with Google Assistant. During the transition, Nest has stopped working with as many smart products as before. Hopefully, this will improve over time, but it's frustrating for now.
It's an easy doorbell to install, configure in the app and use. The Nest Hello performs well, including having a crisp live feed, access to 24/7 footage (with Nest Aware) and other advanced options. Yes, it's expensive, but Google's Nest Hello is the best video doorbell you can buy today.
At $249, the hardwired Ring Video Doorbell Pro costs a bit more up front. Like the Nest Hello, it comes with HD live streaming, motion alerts, night vision and two-way audio. Unlike the Nest Hello, this Ring doorbell comes with free motion detection zones. The Ring Pro works with Alexa, but not Google Assistant.
If you pay for the optional Ring Protect service, starting at $3 per month, you get 60 days of activity-based recorded, saved video clips. That means the doorbell records only when it detects motion. So instead of 24/7 continuous recording like the Nest Hello, you get shorter clips only of specific motion activity.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro is a solid smart doorbell that performs well, but it doesn't offer the same breadth of features as Google's Nest Hello. Ring doesn't offer any sort of free access to activity, either. Nest's three hour grace period where it takes images of activity isn't much, but it's something. And, if you pay just $2 more per month than Ring's optional subscription service, you get a lot more -- facial recognition, continuous recording and so on.
Ring partners with local police departments to share footage from Ring cameras, leading to privacy concerns. It also filed two patents for facial recognition technology that would run the faces it sees through law enforcement databases, raising concerns about profiling.
I do like that Ring makes motion-detection zones free -- that isn't always the case, including with Nest Hello -- but ultimately it isn't enough for it to win this round.