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What this Ring doorbell camera might lack in form, it more than makes up for in function
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Ring is one of the most trusted names in the video doorbell world, so we were really excited to get our hands on their newest Video Doorbell 3. We recently spent nearly 72 hours testing the device from top to bottom.
What did we find? Well, the Ring has got some great features that we’re sure you’re going to love, however we found a couple minor drawbacks as well. We’ll unpack everything through the course of this article, but first let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons.
Pro Tip: Simple is good, but if you want a Ring doorbell with smart features, the Ring Pro delivers all the goods plus a ton of extras. See what’s behind all the hype in our Ring Video Doorbell vs. Ring Pro comparison.
Before we get into the features and technology, let’s get the Ring Video Doorbell 3 out of the box.
The first thing we noticed was the Ring’s size. It’s really big! It’s nearly double the size of Google’s Nest Hello and has a rectangular design akin to something like the August Video Doorbell. Now, this is certainly a matter of preference, but we tend to prefer rounder designs and slimmer profiles like the Arlo Video Doorbell or the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro.
That said, we did appreciate that the Ring comes with two interchangeable faceplates — one’s silver and the other’s a dark bronze. Despite what we’d consider a design shortcoming, it’s clear Ring has prioritized customization for its customers.
Speaking of that versatility, we were happy to find we were able to choose how we’d like to install it. It comes with a battery pack if you’re not comfortable wiring it to your home, or if you’re comfortable with a more involved DIY project, you can go the wired route. We certainly appreciate Ring’s decision here!
And while we’re on the subject of decisions, here are a few quick stats on Ring Doorbell to help you decide if it’s right for you:
|Accolade||Best Doorbell Cam|
|Wired or Wireless?||Wired|
With that, let’s get back to nuts and bolts.
As we were unboxing the unit, we also noticed they gave us everything we could possibly need for any type of install — different lengths of screws, various wire extensions, two different anchor plates if we needed to install it at an angle — it’s all there. That said, it’s also a little overwhelming! We decided to go with a battery-powered configuration, but we needed some guidance on how to get started. Like most video doorbells on the market, we were prompted to download the app for instructions.
Did You Know: The Ring Video Doorbell 3 also provides you with a physical instruction manual for reference. It’s helpful to flip through before you get started so you can know what to expect for either type of install.
The app felt well-designed with user experience in mind. After going through the setup process, we started to notice some pretty cool features. More on that later, though. We need to get it installed first.
The process began by walking us through the device set up. After we entered some standard information, we were prompted to name our doorbell. We weren’t feeling particularly creative, so we selected “Front Door” from the standard choices.
After that, we needed to power on the device. We did this by sliding the battery into the bottom of the unit, at which time a mechanized voice told us the Ring was in setup mode. Not a huge deal, but little feedback details like that are helpful and worth noting. Then to link the Ring app with the doorbell we were prompted to scan a small QR code on the back of the device. No problem there.
Pro Tip: If you’re installing the Ring with a battery-powered configuration, plug the battery pack in overnight to charge all the way before you’re planning to set the doorbell up.
Once that was done, we had to connect the Ring doorbell to our Wi-Fi. While the app doesn’t tell you to do this, it’s important that you select the 2.4 GHz channel on your router (if you have it). While it’s a little counterintuitive since the 5 GHz channel offers faster speeds, 2.4 GHz is actually better at penetrating walls and is better suited for connecting a device like a video doorbell.1
After it connects to the Internet, the Ring will automatically update its firmware. The app told us this process could take up to five minutes, and we found it took every second of that. Be patient! Grab lunch or something.
After we finished eating our sandwich, our Ring Video Doorbell 3 was fully updated and ready to physically install. Here the app prompted us to watch a video on a new feature called Modes. Using Modes, we can sync all of our Ring devices together and change their settings based on privacy and security needs. For example — if you’re home, you don’t necessarily want an indoor camera alerting you every time there’s motion. If you’re away, though, you might want to turn that functionality on. Remember when we said Ring’s really great with versatility? That’s another example of what we’re talking about.
And just to give you an idea of the devices you can link up using Modes, here’s a few notable products from the Ring family:
|Ring Product Name||Device Type||Price|
|Indoor Cam||Security Camera||$59.99|
|Stick Up Cam||Security Camera||$99.99|
|Spotlight Cam||Security Camera||$199.99|
|Floodlight Cam||Outdoor Light/Camera||$249.99|
|Solar Panel||Power Source||$49.99|
So Modes seems pretty cool, but since we’re just installing one doorbell camera, it’s not immediately necessary for us.
Once we finished learning about the Modes feature we landed on the app’s home screen. Hmm? No prompts on how to install the unit itself? That’s a bit frustrating. To find the physical installation instructions we had to dig into the settings. While we’re pretty competent with installing video doorbells, this might be frustrating for a first-timer.
Pro Tip: If you decide to wire the Ring Video Doorbell 3 into your existing doorbell wiring, make sure you’re following safety protocols. Working with electricity can be dangerous!2
Also worth noting, the Ring does not come with a chime — either wired or wireless. The unit itself will ring when the doorbell is pressed by a guest, but if you think you’ll miss the traditional “ding dong” of a doorbell, you should consider purchasing a chime.
Once we found the instructions, the installation process was super straightforward. All it took was two screws to secure the mounting bracket, and four screws to secure the Ring doorbell to it. One thing we noticed, though — the Ring is designed in such a way that we couldn’t use our drill to screw the doorbell into place. That was kind of a pain, but it was still pretty easy using the provided screwdriver. Another handy touch is that Ring includes a level that snaps into the unit during the install so we were able to make sure it was perfectly squared up before tightening.
Alright — now that the unit was in place, it was time to secure the faceplate. We liked the monochromatic look the bronze option offered, so we went with that. We’ve got to say, though, it’s unfortunate Ring went with the material they chose here. It’s lightweight and feels a little cheap. We also found it didn’t connect as securely as we would have liked it to — even after we screwed the final screw into the bottom of the unit. Is it a deal-breaker? No, but we sort of expected more from one of the video doorbell market leaders.3
Even though we were a little underwhelmed with how the Ring is designed and how it’s made, we’ve got to say, we were blown away once we started using it.
We’ve tested quite a few doorbell cameras in our day, and the Ring Video Doorbell 3 functionality is one of the best we’ve seen. The video quality is outstanding, the camera’s field of view is stunning, the audio is crystal-clear, and the two-way talk functionality is nearly perfect. After running it for a few days, it’s clear why these doorbells are among the most popular on the market. Now let’s drill down into these qualities a little more.
The Ring 3 sees the world through a 1080p HD lens with a super-wide 160-degree field of view. That means we could see everything going on outside our door. And we really mean everything. Seriously, look at that view.
The unit’s advanced motion capture capability also meant that when anything was happening outside, we wouldn’t miss it. We also really appreciated Ring’s capacity for customization here. Using the app we were able to set up meaningful zones for the Ring to pay special attention to, and we were also able to adjust the sensitivity of the motion detection overall. This really cut down on false alerts and made it so only meaningful notifications were sent.
One thing we would have liked to see, though, is some sort of package detection option. Our entire life is pretty much delivered via Amazon right now, and it would have been nice to differentiate notifications to know if our groceries showed up or if our neighbor was taking out her trash.
Some of the doorbells we’ve tested have a problem with significant lag in their two-way talk functionality. Not so with the Ring Video Doorbell 3. Conversations happen in near real-time, so we never found ourselves talking over our guests or missing what they were saying. We also found the audio quality to be pretty good on either end of the device, although the speaker in the doorbell itself makes things sound a little tinny.
One thing we thought was missing, however, was pre-recorded responses. We loved how the Arlo and Google Nest Hello allowed us to respond to visitors with the push of a button, and it seems like this is glaringly missing from the Ring. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it’s a feature we would have liked to see.
So this was really cool. When we wanted to see the moments our Ring captured, instead of being met with a vertical list of video clips to scroll through, events were presented on a timeline we could scrub through. We thought this was a unique, thoughtful, and most of all intuitive way of organizing things. Bonus points for that alone!
It’s worth pointing out here that this function, which Ring calls Snapshot Capture, is enabled by default on the device. It’s great, but it will significantly drain your battery life as it’s capturing what is essentially an ongoing stream of still images. If you’re running a battery-powered configuration, it might be worth considering how often you want to be charging the battery. The company says a full charge should last between 6 to 12 months, but if you’re running Snapshot Capture, we’d expect it to be on the lower end of that spectrum.
That said, the Ring comes with a free 30 day trial to their cloud service subscription called Ring Protect. Beyond that, you’ll have to choose between a “Basic” or a “Plus” plan. Basic will run you $3 per month, and Plus will run you $10. Here’s a quick look at what you’ll get with both:
|Number of devices supported||1||Unlimited|
|Lifetime theft protection||Yes||Yes|
|Video history for 60 days||Yes||Yes|
|Video saving and sharing||Yes||Yes|
|24/7 professional monitoring for alarms||No||Yes|
|10 percent off select Ring products||No||Yes|
|Price||$3 per month||$10 per month|
So that’s that on the Ring Video Doorbell 3’s day-to-day use. Overall, we were more than satisfied with its functionality both in terms of a security device and an alert system. If this was all Ring offered, we’d be perfectly happy; however, they take it a step further. By choosing Ring, we had the opportunity to participate in a larger security community beyond our front door.
As a company, Ring is clearly committed to making things safer for everyone. As such, when we set up our Video Doorbell 3, we also joined Neighbors, Ring’s community-based security app. The app is basically a virtual neighborhood watch that has a social media-like feel. It provides real-time crime and safety alerts from both neighbors and the local police department based on the zip code entered at setup.
If you use Neighbors, you’ll also be encouraged to share videos, images, and comments in a collaborative way with the goal of making your community safer. There’s anecdotal evidence to suggest this app has even helped police departments solve actual crimes!4 We don’t think many doorbells can make that claim.
Now, we will say that while we viewed this as a positive, some might see it differently. Those who are hyper-concerned with their privacy might not like that while the Neighbors feature is opt-in, you can’t really opt-out. There’s no real way to delete the service from the Ring app itself. While Ring representatives have said they will never disclose user video to law enforcement without the express consent of the user or if it is required to by law, privacy hawks might not be too keen on this function.5 Take that for what it’s worth.
Did You Know: Ring’s Neighbors app not only helps keep people safe, it keeps pets safe too. The company has documented cases of people using their Ring networks to track down missing animals.
Overall, we were really happy with the Ring Video Doorbell 3. Although it’s not aesthetically designed to our liking, we couldn’t argue with its functionality. Retailing for about $200, the Ring is a solid choice at a more than reasonable price for anyone looking to purchase a new doorbell camera. And with its enormous family of home security products, we think the Ring Video Doorbell 3 is a perfect start to a broader home security system.
If you still want to do some comparison shopping, though, Ring also offers lots of different types of video doorbells to fit any need or budget.
For instance, if you’re looking to save some cash, their original Video Doorbell is only $99. You also have a wired option in the Video Doorbell Pro. The Pro model is slightly more expensive than the Video Doorbell 3, but it boasts a slimmer design and a more reliable (hardwired) connection, which we like.
Then there’s the Video Doorbell Elite, which brings out the big guns as far as entryway protection goes. This model has a flush-mount design and uses an ethernet connection, which is the best connection-type we’ve seen. Finally, if you live in an apartment or condo, you might want to consider Ring’s Peephole Cam.
Here’s a quick look at some of Ring’s offerings:
Peephole CamAdvanced functions with a low-profile design$129
|Video Doorbell||Basic functionality||$99|
|Video Doorbell 3||Wireless or hardwired with excellent resolution||$199|
|Video Doorbell 3 Plus||Advanced motion detection and “Pre-roll” technology||$229|
|Video Doorbell Pro||Hardwired with advanced features and slim design||$249.99|
|Video Doorbell Elite||Advanced functionality, hardwired, slim design, ethernet connectivity||$349.99|
Want to see how these doorbells stack up against offerings from other manufacturers? Head over to our Best Video Doorbell guide.
Both! You can install it either way.
The Ring Video Doorbell 3 is $199 from the manufacturer.
The Ring Video Doorbell 3 records a 160-degree field of vision in high-definition 1080p.
Yes! As one of our favorite features, the two-way talk function is nearly lag-free.
Some of the most basic functions will work just fine without a subscription, but to get the most out of the Ring Video Doorbell 3, you’ll need to purchase a subscription to Ring Protect.
Klein, M. and Glenn, W. (2018, October 21). What’s the Difference Between 2.4 and 5-GHz Wi-Fi (and Which Should I Use)? How-To Geek.
Maxwell, S. (2020, February 10). Should You Do Your Own Electrical Work? Family Handyman.
Morrison, S. (2020, August 24). Contracts, Hacks, and Google: What to Consider Before You Get a Home Security System. Vox.
Harwell, D. (2019, August 28). Doorbell-camera firm Ring has partnered with 400 police forces, extending surveillance concerns. The Washington Post.
Buell, S. (2020, January 1). Ring’s Neighborhood Watch Feature is Bringing Out the Worst in Boston. Boston Magazine.