With the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2, Alexa can open the door

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Ring’s new $ 249.99 Video Doorbell Pro 2 is the best video doorbell to date from a company that has almost become a household name for video doorbells. It has an excellent field of view and video quality; lots of customizable features for notifications and recording zones; and fast performance, be it sending alerts to your phone or smart speaker when someone rings the doorbell or calling up the Ring app’s live feed on a phone. If you can put up with the price tag, install a wired doorbell for your door, and aren’t put off by the Ring’s Neighbors app or police partnerships (both of which you can opt out of), then the Video Doorbell Pro 2 is one of them. of the best video doorbells you can get right now.

The new Video Doorbell Pro 2 is Ring’s flagship model and replaces the original 2017 Video Doorbell Pro. Unlike Ring’s other doorbells, the Pro 2 does not have a battery option; you must be wired to it for power. But because it doesn’t require a battery, the Pro 2 is much smaller than Ring’s battery-powered options and has faster response times when you want to pull up the feed on your phone or an Echo Show smart display. It can also work with an existing doorbell in your home, if you have one.

Despite its above-average price tag, the Pro 2 doesn’t really look much better than other Ring models. The case is made entirely of plastic and has a large Ring logo stamped on the bottom. If you’re looking for a sleek design, Google’s Nest Hello or the Logitech Circle View Doorbell are better choices.

Ring has added some new features this time around, but the main change is how the Video Doorbell Pro 2 records video clips. Unlike the previous model and every other Ring doorbell before it, the Pro 2 shoots a square video of 1536 x 1536 pixels, which allows you to see visitors from top to bottom. It also makes it much easier to see if any packages have been left at the door as you can see the ground right in front of the doorbell.

On my doorway, the Pro 2’s wide and high field of view allowed me to see the very small porch much better than the older Ring doorbells of 16: 9 format or others with a high but not quite as wide aspect ratio, such as Logitech’s Circle View- doorbell. The Pro 2 captures a sharp and detailed image, complete with HDR for balancing clear skies and visitors’ faces. It also has a special infrared night mode that turns on automatically when the light levels are low enough. The porch light I have at my doorway was enough enough to keep the Pro 2 in normal video mode, so I could shoot full-color video at night without dazzling visitors with a light on the doorbell itself, like what happens with the Circle View doorbell.

The Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 has a new camera that captures a wide and tall square video clip.

Despite its above-average price tag, the Video Doorbell Pro 2 is still very tacky and looks cheap compared to other options.

With support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, getting the video feed from the Pro 2 via the Ring app on my phone is a painless process that only takes a few seconds. Likewise, it is quick and easy to request an ultrasound show to display the feed. The Echo Show and Fire TV devices even automatically display the camera’s feed when there is a call. Older video doorbells used to take a painful amount of time to display their video feeds. I am happy to see that this latest crop is much faster than before.

The Pro 2 also has a new “3D Motion Detection” feature that allows you to see the movements of someone on your property, even if they are far from the camera. The name slightly surpasses what this does: the app shows a top view of movements represented as colored dots on the map of your home overlaid on the recorded video clip. It is designed to show you where someone has been on your property before you can see them clearly on the camera. But the range for this feature is limited to just 30 feet – that’s about enough to reach a third of my driveway – and while it’s a nice demonstration of technology, I didn’t find much usability in it.

The Video Doorbell Pro 2 shows more of my porch than other doorbells. The new 3D Motion Detection feature provides a bird’s-eye view of motion on my terrain, seen in the right image.

The other one that I didn’t find much use for is the Alexa Greetings feature, which allows you to have Alexa answer the door via the Ring doorbell if you’re not there within a set amount of time.

There are two reasons why I didn’t really like this feature. One is that because of the pandemic we still spend most of our time at home, I don’t really need anyone else to open the door for me – I’m always there. The other is the idea of ​​having Amazon’s Alexa robot talk to a visitor in my place. Alexa can ask couriers to leave a package at a specific place you specify, or record a message from other visitors that is sent to your phone. In my tests, it works like a typical Alexa interaction, with a slight delay between each prompt.

But in general, forcing visitors to interact with an unexpected robot feels a bit off-putting and rude. I have the same feeling about using the two way audio to talk to someone at the door on my phone. While there are certainly great accessibility use cases for these features, they weren’t helpful to me, and I’ve left them disabled. I think basic package detection and notifications that other doorbells provide would be more useful, but Ring has no such features.

The Alexa response feature requires a subscription to Ring’s Protect plan, which starts at $ 3 per month and allows for other features such as a six-second pre-roll recording for motion alerts, the option to be notified only when a person gets detected, video history for up to 60 days, and the ability to save and share clips. You can use the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 without paying for this plan, but you’re limited to motion alerts, live view, two-way calls, and six preset responses when you’re away from home. None of Ring’s plans, paid or free, offer continuous 24/7 recording. If you want that, Google’s Nest Hello is a better choice.

The Video Doorbell Pro 2 has a traditional grayscale infrared night mode (right), but if you have enough light, it will revert to its color input (left) at night.

Since Ring is an Amazon company, the Pro 2 works best and is the most useful if you have Amazon Echo speakers or smart displays. In addition to the ability to automatically display the feed when the bell is pressed, you can have Echo speakers announce when someone is at the door so you never miss a visitor. This feature is not available with Google Nest smart speakers or displays; again, the Nest Hello would be a better choice if you have a Google smart home. (Likewise, if you’re using an Apple HomeKit smart home, the Logitech Circle View doorbell is a better choice.)

Finally, I can’t cover a Ring product without mentioning the controversial Neighbors app and police partnerships. The Neighbors app is a separate app that collects crime and safety reports from other Ring owners in your area. By default, the Neighbors feed is integrated into the Ring app, so you can see other messages and share video clips from your camera.

Likewise, the Public Safety feature allows police and other government agencies to request video clips from your camera to help solve crimes. You then have the option to approve or reject the request.

Ring has made it easier to manage these functions. Both are controlled in the Control Center section of the app, where you can disable the Neighbors feed and prevent public authorities from requesting clips from your video camera. You can also enable end-to-end encryption, which disables these features and limits the ability to share video clips with others. But I wish Ring would go even further and disable both by default so owners can decide whether or not to sign in during installation.

Ring’s portfolio of video doorbells has grown significantly in recent years, and it can be confusing to figure out which one is right for your needs. The pitch of the Pro 2 is simple: this is the best video doorbell camera that Ring sells, provided you can plug it into existing doorbell wiring or rewire it. If you want the best performance and you’re in Amazon’s Echo ecosystem, the Pro 2 is the doorbell to get.

Photography by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Correction, March 31, 2020: An earlier version of this review stated that the 3D motion detection feature allows you to see movements outside the camera image. That is not correct, it can only detect movement within the frame of the camera. We regret the mistake.