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Ring Video Doorbell 2 review: Ring's latest battery-powered buzzer is oh-so easy to charge

The battery-powered Ring Video Doorbell 2 is incredibly easy to install -- and charge.

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Megan Wollerton
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Megan Wollerton

Senior Writer/Editor

Megan Wollerton covers renewable energy, climate change and other environmental topics for CNET. Before starting at CNET in 2013, she wrote for NBC Universal's DVICE (now SYFY). Megan has a master's degree from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College, both in international relations. She is a board member of the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. When Megan isn't writing, she's planning far-flung adventures.

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Ring's Video Doorbell 2 isn't my all-time favorite smart buzzer -- that'd be the SkyBell HD (mainly because it offers free cloud storage of your recorded video; every one else charges for that). But you have to hardwire SkyBell for it to work; the Ring 2 runs on wires or a rechargeable lithium ion battery. The ability to install this doorbell pretty much anywhere, no wires needed, is a huge selling point. Bonus: Unlike Ring's original battery-powered buzzer, you don't have to remove the entire Video Doorbell 2 when it's time to charge -- just take out the battery.

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7.4

Ring Video Doorbell 2

The Good

The Ring Video Doorbell 2's removable lithium ion battery makes it easy to install -- and even easier to charge. It works with Alexa via the Amazon Echo Show.

The Bad

You have to sign up for Ring's optional fee-based cloud storage service to save and review past video clips. The large Video Doorbell 2 won't fit on most doorframes.

The Bottom Line

Look no further than Ring's battery-powered Video Doorbell 2 if you don't want to deal with electrical wiring.

It performs well, too. Expect prompt alerts whenever a visitor rings the doorbell, or if its built-in motion sensor detects nearby activity. Ring's partnerships with Amazon's Alexa, IFTTT and Wink also don't hurt. If you want a battery-powered smart doorbell, the Ring 2 is the right answer. Otherwise, take a look at SkyBell, the August Doorbell Cam or Ring's Video Doorbell Pro.

A simpler design helps Ring's Video Doorbell 2 shine

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Battery or wires? The choice is yours.

Check out the chart below for details on how the Video Doorbell 2 compares to other smart buzzers. 

Comparing smart doorbells

Ring Video Doorbell 2SkyBell HD Wi-Fi Video DoorbellRing Video Doorbell ProAugust Doorbell Cam
Price $199/£155/AU$299$199/£155/AU$265$249/£195/AU$325$199/£155/AU$265
Color finish Satin nickel, venetian (both finishes included with purchase)Brushed aluminum, oil-rubbed bronzeSatin nickel, venetian, satin black, pearl whitesilver, dark gray
Power source Hardwired or removable, rechargeable batteryHardwiredHardwiredHardwired
Resolution 1,920x1,080p HD1,920x1,080p HD1,920x1,080p HD1,280×960p HD
Field of view 160 degrees180 degrees 160 degrees120 degrees
Live streaming YesYesYesYes
Cloud storage Yes, 60-day storage for $3 per month.Yes, free. Yes, 60-day storage for $3 per month.Yes, 30-day storage for $5 per month.
Mobile app Android and iPhoneAndroid and iPhoneAndroid and iPhoneAndroid and iPhone
Web app YesNoYesNo
Night vision YesYesYesNo
Alerts MotionMotionMotionMotion
Activity zones YesNoYesNo
Dimensions (HxWxD) 5.1 x 2.5 x 1.1 inches2.8 x 2.8 x 0.9 inches4.5 x 1.9 x 0.8 inches2.9 x 2.9 x 0.9 inches
Third-party integrations Alexa; IFTTT; WinkAlexa; IFTTT; NestAlexa; IFTTT; WinkAlexa; IFTTT; Nest
Operating temperature range -5 to 120 degrees F (-20 to 48 degrees C)-40 to 140 degrees F (-40 to 60 degrees C)-5 to 120 degrees F (-20 to 48 degrees C)-13 to 122 degrees F (-25 to 50 degrees C)

Every smart doorbell I've tested has at least one unique feature. For the Video Doorbell 2, it's the removable, rechargeable battery. For Ring's Video Doorbell Pro, it's the narrow doorframe-friendly design. The SkyBell HD offers free cloud storage -- and August's Doorbell Cam integrates seamlessly with other August products, like its HomeKit-enabled Smart Lock

While I wish Ring offered some sort of entry-level free cloud video storage option, I really like that every Video Doorbell 2 purchase comes with easy-to-remove face plates in different color finishes: satin nickel and venetian. Its smart home partnerships with Amazon Alexa via the Echo Show, IFTTT and Wink also add appeal. 

Say, "Alexa, show me the front door" to pull up a live video feed on the Amazon Echo Show's screen. 

IFTTT is a free web- and app-based service that lets you connect your Ring Video Doorbell 2 to other smart home devices, like Philips Hue LEDs so that "If someone rings your doorbell, then your Philips Hue bulbs will flash." 

Wink helps to consolidate your connected home devices to one hub and one app. Pair the Video Doorbell 2 to Wink so you can view your live feed alongside other smart products.

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Ring sends you an alert to let you know you've successfully connected to its Wi-Fi module.

Screenshot by CNET

Installation, configuration, Wi-Fi!

Ring makes the Video Doorbell 2's configuration extremely simple. Download the Ring app on your Android or iOS device, create an account (if you don't already have one from an existing Ring product), and follow the instructions to set up your smart doorbell. 

Note: You can either hardwire the Video Doorbell 2 or rely on the included battery for power. You'll still have to install the battery even if you opt for hardwiring, but you won't have to mess with electrical wiring at all if you only use the battery. 

Always consult a professional if you have installation questions, particularly if you're replacing a hardwired buzzer with your new Ring. This process took me roughly 15 minutes from start to finish, though. It helped that I was able to use existing holes from previous installations to mount the doorbell's base plate. A battery-powered installation should take even less time, assuming you also don't have to break out the power drill to create new mounting holes.

Once the doorbell's installed, the app will prompt you to name your doorbell -- the CNET Smart Home review unit is called "Front Door." Connect to the Video Doorbell 2's Wi-Fi module and then enter the credentials for your local Wi-Fi network. This process is standard for many of the Wi-Fi home security devices we test, but Ring makes it especially easy with little pop-up alerts that let you know you're on the right track.  

For instance, a notification will appear on your phone to let you know you've connected to Ring's Wi-Fi module and that you can now return to the app (see the screenshot to the right). 

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It's an overcast, rainy day, but you can still clearly see Dave.

Screenshot by CNET

Is Ring right for you?

Once your Ring Video Doorbell 2 is installed and configured, you can start using it right away. Pull up the live feed whenever you want, or when the app sends you an activity alert. From there, you can even talk to visitors via the buzzer's built-in microphone and speaker. The app also allows for scheduling and motion zones so you can customize how and when you receive these alerts. 

Note: Performance will vary based on the quality of your Wi-Fi network. 

Even so, this model worked quite well for me, delivering prompt alerts and (mostly) crisp live video feeds. The free 30-day trial of Ring's cloud service also gave me a chance to review and download saved clips to my phone. 

But the Video Doorbell 2's main value is definitely its removable, rechargeable lithium ion battery. If battery power isn't a priority, you should consider other buzzers, particularly the fee-free hardwired SkyBell HD.   

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7.4

Ring Video Doorbell 2

Score Breakdown

Features 7Usability 8Design 7Performance 8
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