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

Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 vs. Ring 4 vs. Ring (2020).

Amazon Ring dominates the video doorbell market. Sure, you can buy a Google Nest buzzer or one from Arlo -- and both offer solid alternatives to Ring -- but most people looking to buy a doorbell cam opt for the biggest brand in the industry.

Ring has an extensive selection of video doorbells at this point, so it can be tough to figure out which one is right for your home. Are you looking for a wireless or hardwired option? Do you want something affordable, or do you want all the bells and whistles? Ring has a complicated history with privacy and police partnerships, so are some devices better at protecting your privacy than others? Video doorbells can come with lots of questions, it turns out.

Well, we've got all the answers for you. Let's take a look at Ring's most popular, recent devices -- the Ring 4, the Doorbell Pro 2, and the Video Doorbell (2020) -- and help you break down the options.

Chris Monroe/CNET

In 2021, Ring launched its latest core video doorbell, the Ring 4. It's $200, offers 1080p resolution, a 160-degree field of view and two-way talk, along with plenty of other goodies like full-color pre-roll (which captures a few seconds before motion is detected, for added context). The Ring 4 can be used wirelessly with its battery, or it can be wired -- though this won't let it use your existing doorbell chime, sadly. For that, you'll have to either get a separate plug-in chime, or use your Echo devices as a stand-in.

A few downsides: the Ring 4 has a wide-angle aspect ratio, so you can see things easily side-to-side, but when a visitor approaches the door, their head and feet (or a package, if they leave one) can easily be cut out of frame. Another downside: as of right now, the Ring 4 still can't send you package alerts like the Pro 2 or the Ring (2020). This is pretty disappointing considering every major competitor can send you package alerts at this point -- and considering how important video doorbells can be at protecting packages during online shopping season

Read our review.

 

David Priest/CNET

Ring's highest-end video doorbell, the Video Doorbell Pro 2, includes some pretty great features for its $250 price tag. You get a 1:1 aspect ratio, so you can see people head-to-toe, super-sharp 1536p resolution and even radar, which lets you track visitors' or delivery persons' route up to your door. In short, this thing's got all the extras you could possibly want.

What's more, the Pro 2 takes full advantage of being wired; it can use end-to-end video encryption (unlike the other two options on this list), it can send package alerts (unlike the Ring 4), and it can use your existing doorbell chime. I liked the Ring Pro 2 a lot when I tested it out in 2021, though I questioned how many people really needed features like radar tracking. That said, if you're interested in those features and willing to part ways with $250, the Pro 2 is a solid gadget.

Read our review.

 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Ring's $100 video doorbell is its most basic offering -- almost identical in hardware to its $60 Ring Video Doorbell Wired, other than its included battery. If you're looking for a starter smart buzzer, this one's a great option -- and it even works with Ring's latest package alerts feature.

While the Video Doorbell (2020) is great, it won't win awards for smartest features. It doesn't have pre-roll like the Ring 4, let alone radar or end-to-end encryption like the Pro 2 (though the wired version does offer this feature).

The big downside here is the need to remove the whole doorbell in order to charge the battery.

Read our review.

 

The verdict

When you're looking for a video doorbell, the most important question isn't "Which one is best?" so much as "Which one is best for me?" All of Ring's video doorbells perform well -- and all of them come from the same company, with the same troubling history of facilitating video sharing with police. Not all of them will be ideal for you.

If you're curious about trying out a video doorbell for the first time, mostly for its basic features, like live monitoring, two-way talk and so on, a basic device like the Ring Video Doorbell (2020) (or its Wired version) should do what you need.

On the other hand, if you really want to see what a smart video doorbell can do in 2021, the Video Doorbell Pro is pretty unbeatable in terms of features -- and especially with that option to use end-to-end video encryption.

That leaves the Video Doorbell 4 as the middle child, with a bit for both kinds of people, but not necessarily the best value or features around.

If you're interested in video doorbells, don't forget to take a look at the competition, too.