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Watch your front porch with the Ring Video Doorbell 2 for $94

It's new, not refurbished, and one of the best deals to date on this popular 'bell-cam.

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If you like (home security) then you should put a Ring on it.

Chris Monroe/CNET

In these days of porch piracy run amok, it's probably a good idea to install an outdoor security camera. In addition to a live video feed, you'll get alerts when there are package deliveries, unexpected activity and potentially even criminals at work.

I've long been intrigued by the Ring option, but less enthusiastic about the $200 price tag. Thankfully, it just got a lot more affordable: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Altatac via Rakuten has the Ring Video Doorbell 2 for $93.99 with promo code ALT6 -- the lowest price I've seen for a non-refurbished Ring 2. Note that you must be signed into your Rakuten account to use that code.

Like all good doorbells, the Ring offers live video feeds, motion alerts, two-way voice communication and a rechargeable, removable battery pack. It can also be hardwired. If you don't already have an indoor bell, the aforementioned Ring Chime (a $30 add-on) is a great accessory, as it lets you actually hear the doorbell when it's pressed, rather than just relying on your phone or tablet to notify you.

Read more: How to install the Ring Video Doorbell 2  

Now, before you buy a Ring doorbell, you need to consider the security and privacy caveats related to this Amazon-owned company. Ring has been criticized for its growing list of security failures, including unauthorized access to user accounts (likely due to reused passwords) and it's even employees fired for accessing user streams, too. And while security-minded users may like Ring's Neighbors app (which lets you connect with other Ring owners in the area to get crime alerts, share videos and, potentially, catch crooks), the company has come under fire as of late for creating partnerships with local police departments in the US, in some cases resulting in town-wide de facto surveillance networks. I'm not going to weigh in on that, other than to say I have no personal qualms about using the product. (Note that you can decline to use the Neighbors system, and the company recently made two-factor authentication a requirement for new subscribers.)

Read more: Best home security systems of 2020

CNET reviewed the Ring Video Doorbell 2 in 2017 and gave it 3.5 stars. Average user rating from Amazon customers: 4.2 stars. I have no hands-on experience with it, but I know what miffs many users: After the 30-day cloud-storage trial is over, the Ring stops recording video -- kind of the whole point of having the thing -- unless you pay for a subscription. That costs $3 per month or $30 annually (a pretty reasonable rate, I think) or $10 per month ($100 annually) for the Protect Plus option. My two cents on the latter: Skip it. It offers little added value.

FYI: Ring's warranty is good for one year and includes lifetime theft protection: If it gets stolen, Ring will replace it for free.

Of course, there are plenty of other video doorbells to choose from, including the $99 RemoBell S, which includes free rolling 3-day cloud storage.

Your thoughts?

Note: Originally published last year. Updated to reflect new sale prices or availability, and to detail the controversies around Ring's security and privacy issues.

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