(Cybertech) – When it comes to video doorbells, Amazon-owned Ring is king. We said that of the original Doorbell Pro when reviewed in 2020 – and now its successor, the Pro 2, has been dangling from our brickwork for some time.
So why opt for the second-gen Pro hard-wired doorbell over the original option? Well, it impresses with new recording quality, a head-to-toe aspect ratio, and other details – some good, some less so – that we’ll cover in this end-to-end review.
- Higher-res recording: 1536p
- Wider vertical angle of view: 150-degrees
- Bird’s Eye View and 3D Motion Detection for better motion alerts
- Choose your preferred faceplate (post install, shipping is free too)
The biggest chance in the Pro 2 is the angle of view. There’s a new sensor on board, which offers a square aspect ratio, with 150-degrees angle of view both horizontally and vertically. Which is another way of saying it can deliver a head-to-toe perspective, which is far more useful for seeing who’s at the door when they’re especially close-up, but also – a common issue with the former – what the postie may have left on the floor for you to go collect.
As that sensor is square it’s got more rows of pixels in it, too, so you can record 1536 x 1536 from it. The standard ‘Full HD’ is 1920 x 1080 by comparison, so while you’re losing some ‘width’, you’re gaining a focus on the most useful area around your door.
During setup there’s also more advanced systems for dealing with another common issue: motion alerts. Using what’s called Bird’s Eye View, you can pick your precise door position on a top-down map, which then corresponds with the doorbell’s 3D Motion Detection to show alerts of when someone/something is a specified distance away – during setup you can limit this to, say, 1.5m, or 3m, or 5m, depending on what’s most appropriate for your property.
And while the Video Doorbell Pro 2 only comes with a silver faceplate included in the box, once you’ve finished activating the device you’ll be sent an email from Ring allowing you to pick your faceplate of preference. There are dozens to choose from, shipping is free of charge, meaning you can get the look you want without there being excess waste plastics in the box itself. Nice touch – although, inevitably, ‘black’ was out of stock, so we went with ‘midnight blue’ which isn’t that far off.
- In the box:
- Video Doorbell Pro 2, silver faceplate, angle mount
- Mains-wired transformer, doorbell bypass
- Hex screwdriver, screws and plugs
- Not in the box:
- No screwdriver fitting, no drillbit
- No additional faceplates
At this point it’s worth pointing out that installing a hard-wired – i.e. mains powered – doorbell can be a bit of a pain. You only need to go check out our original Video Doorbell Pro review to see the various stages of issues we had. It can all be overcome, though, so it’s just a case of working the problem. Or, y’know, hiring someone else to do it for you.
In the case of the Video Doorbell Pro 2 things are a bit different to the first-gen product. We were originally advised it would just be a case of switching the doorbell on the front of the house. Nah-ah, incorrect. For whatever reason, Ring has changed the new doorbell’s power demands. Thus the transformer we had already fitted was delivering a dangerously high voltage level (see image) to the new doorbell. Eek. At least the app tells you this, though, in Device Health.
Once we’d highlighted that issue, of course we set about installing the new transformer (Pro 2) in place of the old one (original Pro). Problem is, Ring doesn’t include any screwdriver tools or heads in the newer doorbell’s box, unlike with the original’s. And that was a problem, because this newer transformer requires a 3mm elongated electrical screwdriver to be able to connect the cables. So add that to your purchase list, because it’s not going to be on your standard multi-tool head.
We find that somewhat peculiar as the original Pro’s transformer has much wider screw heads (and openings), plus that necessary screwdriver was included – it’s a reversible screwdriver/hex tool, whereas the Pro 2 only includes a hex tool (it should really be a reversible tool with the 3mm to solve this install issue out of the box!).
: Original traditional doorbell, cover removed, ready to bypass.Original traditional doorbell, cover removed, ready to bypass.
Anyway, tools acquired and – bish, bash, bosh – the new transformer went in no problems. Interestingly, despite its RCD design for consumer unit mounting, the middle section is removable to make for a much smaller transformer. This, admittedly, was a big problem with the double-size original – as we had to purchase a whole new box to mount on the wall to house it in place of the original doorbell (we couldn’t bypass it as the instructions suggest, because it was wired alongside the downstairs lighting loop).
Design & Chime
- No Chime (separate ringer) included
- Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n/ac 2.4/5GHz
- Dimensions: 114mm (H) x 49mm (W) x 22mm (D)
Popping the Pro 2 onto the front of our house was easy because, thankfully, its two main screw holes are in the same position as the original Pro’s. The two devices aren’t exactly the same size, however, so you can’t use older faceplates on the newer product – something to keep in mind. If you’re switching from a more conventional doorbell then wiring up mains and neutral to the two screw-on connectors to the rear is easy enough.
: Pro (left), Pro 2 (right) – sizes differ slightly, old covers won’t fit the newer model.Pro (left), Pro 2 (right) – sizes differ slightly, old covers won’t fit the newer model.
Once the Video Doorbell Pro 2 is mounted it’s ready for setup, activated by scanning the QR code to the product’s side and firing up the Ring app. The new doorbell talks – literally – to you to help guide you through the setup process, but there’s no way to turn her down during this rather shouty section of installation. You can turn down the ringer/speaker after install, thankfully.
As we touched upon at the beginning of this review, there’s a lot of new detail in the setup process. The Bird’s Eye View, 3D Motion Detection and Motion Zone adjustment all play a key role in how the doorbell will alert you to motion – if you instruct it to do so. Seeing the real-time interaction with it detecting your distance from the door – defined by ringed zones from the source – is a clever way of calculating how far you wish for the doorbell to ‘see’ for alerts.
Once everything is setup as you please – and there’s a lot of options within the app to mull over – someone pressing the doorbell’s ringer button will make it, indeed, ring. Except, it’s literally sound emitted from the doorbell itself – as no separate Chime ringer is included in the box, as it was with the original Pro model. Hum. So you’ll definitely need to add a Chime or Chime Pro to your shopping list too, which bumps the price up.
Having Chime devices – which plug into a mains socket anywhere in your home – is really useful, though, to ensure you’ll always hear the door wherever you are in your home. Over time we’ve acquired two to ensure we can always hear the door, whether working out in the garage or tucked away in the corner office upstairs. It’s a good system, as you can control the volume independently of each one. And the latest Chime devices are really loud.
: Ring Chime, purchased separately.Ring Chime, purchased separately.
You can even designate Chime’s ring type – whether that’s a traditional doorbell, a spooky ghost, a screeching cat, or whatever suits. There’s no Amazon Alexa tie-in just yet, though, and Amazon’s Sidewalk isn’t yet available for UK customers (but an email confirms that it’s coming). But Ring is always expanding its feature set, so expect to see much of this evolve over time to enrich the experience.
- Live View at any time
- Rich notifications (picture alerts)
- Two-way audio with noise cancellation
- Motion/Ring activation: 1536p quality recording
- Snapshot: Low-resolution capture every 30 seconds
As for recording, unlike key competitor Nest, Ring doesn’t capture everything full-time. It will only record motion and ring alerts in the full 1536p resolution. Everything else is a snapshot taken every 30 seconds (that’s the quickestcycle) to give a sort of stop-motion view of what’s going on – you can scroll through the past 24 hours of this. We think it’s time Ring offered full-time recording, really, so the doorbell acts as that much more.
The quality of recordings is decent enough, although we’d like snapshots to be taken at improved clarity, while we think there’s scope for higher resolution still – mainly for the purposes of zooming, which lacks in the current setup. The opportunity to zoom, with clarity, could be helpful if your Video Doorbell Pro 2 suddenly becomes an asset in, say, solving your neighbour’s break-in or figuring out whose dog tore up the flowers over the road. That kind of thing.
The associated Ring app is available for Google Android and Apple iOS, so you can install it on your phone or tablet (or both, of course). Once you’ve set it up you’re then able to invite others – so everyone in the family could, with the correct permissions, virtually answer the door. The choice is yours. And if you have visitors then the Chime will alert them to the door going in the usual manner.
- Ring Protect Plan 30 day trial included
- Ring Protect Basic covers one device for $3/£2.50 a month
- Ring Protect Plus covers multiple devices for $10/£8 a month
- Functions as a video doorbell without subscription – but minus recordings/history
When you first setup the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 it activates 30 days of Ring Protect (or 60 days for US customers). This is the other name for the company’s subscription package.
Ring Protect for a single device isn’t too pricey: it’s £2.50/$3 per month. It’s only if you own more than one Ring product – and that could be an alarm system or other indoor camera – that you’ll need the Plus package, which is more than three times that price.
After the trial period elapses we’ll cease to pay for the Protect package. Why? Because the Pro 2 continues to work well on a real-time basis. It’s possible to see Live View whenever you choose. You can answer the door via the app in real-time too – although if you miss that window to answer then you can’t really look back at who it was.
Not having the subscription activated just means no recordings, no history to look back at, no ability to share, no rich notifications. Which, if all you want is a doorbell you can answer from your phone, is totally fine. It’s not as though we’re going anywhere of late anyway – and we can activate Protect should we be going on vacation any time in the future.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 takes what was great about the original hard-wired doorbell and further improves on it with better recording quality, better vertical angle of view, and better motion detection systems.
You’ll need to get over the hurdle of having it installed first, though, but after that – and purchasing a Chime, of course, as one isn’t included – it’s all plain sailing. No battery worries mean it’s always there, primed and ready to go.
Thinking of upgrading from original Pro to the Pro 2? The older product’s faceplate won’t fit the newer one, but you won’t need to drill any new holes to fit the doorbell onto the wall. It’s just a case of swapping the original’s transformer for the new product’s different standard, which is easy enough (if you have a 3mm electrical screwdriver anyway).
All in all, Ring remains is the smart doorbell king – and the Video Doorbell Pro 2 is well worth installing for always-on peace of mind and convenience.
Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus
Don’t want a hard-wired mains install? The second best option is the battery-powered 3 Plus – the ‘Plus’ part being the secondary camera that can record events before they happen, adding a layer of security.
The main competitor, Nest, does offer compelling full-time capture and plenty of features that will tempt those embedded in a Google-based ecosystem. Some will think it looks smarter too.
Writing by Mike Lowe.