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Ring Video Doorbell 4 review

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CNN
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Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Ring has a new video doorbell. Lately, we’ve been testing the Ring Video Doorbell 4, the company’s newest doorbell aimed at helping you keep tabs on your front door.

The $199.99 Video Doorbell 4 sits near the high end of Ring’s lineup. It can be hardwired to replace your existing doorbell, or you can recharge the removable battery whenever it runs low. It’s available to order on Amazon, but be ready to wait for it to arrive. The retailer is currently quoting delivery dates four to six weeks away.

We’ve had the Ring Video Doorbell 4 installed and monitoring our home for the last few weeks, and it’s done a fine job keeping us updated. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at what the Video Doorbell 4 has to offer.

Who this is for: The Ring Video Doorbell 4 is ideal for someone who wants added peace of mind and the security of knowing who is at their door, even when they aren’t home. Video doorbells are nothing new (thanks to Ring), but the features keep expanding to bring more functionality, such as the ability to see what happened before a motion alert was triggered.

What you need to know: The Video Doorbell 4 can replace your existing doorbell or work as a stand-alone doorbell. When someone presses the button, it’ll alert you on your phone and allow you to talk to whoever is at your door. You can also customize motion alerts, so you know when someone is approaching your residence.

How it compares: The Ring Video Doorbell 4 is the most expensive, but most feature-filled, battery-powered video doorbell in the company’s lineup. It offers only one feature over the Doorbell 3 — pre-roll video clips — that makes it worth the $20 premium. Comparing the Doorbell 4 with Arlo’s Wire-Free Video Doorbell, which is the same price as Doorbell 4, Arlo’s doorbell lacks some of the more refined features and offers a more compact design.

One of the aspects we love about the Video Doorbell 4 is its versatility. If you can’t make any modifications to your home, or your house lacks a wired doorbell, the Video Doorbell 4 is fine with that. It’ll work off the removable and rechargeable battery. Or you can install it using your existing doorbell wiring, assuming your transformer provides between 8 and 24 VAC. (If you have a newer home, you’re likely fine. If it’s an older home, you may need to hire an electrician if you’re not comfortable replacing your transformer.)

Either way, installation is a breeze. To hardwire it, you start by removing your old doorbell (after turning off the power to it, of course), and then connecting the Video Doorbell 4 to the two doorbell wires. You then mount the doorbell to the wall using the included screws — we recommend using an electric drill for that step. If you opt for battery power, you’ll want to remove the battery and charge the battery before installation.

There’s a micro USB port built into the battery. If you’re like us, you have multiple cables that fit this type of port around your home, but if not, Ring includes a cable in the box. A complete charge will take between six and eight hours, and you’ll know it’s done when only one of the indicator lights is on.

We opted to hardwire the doorbell, which is something we’ve done frequently and are comfortable with doing. The process took us around five minutes total.

With the doorbell powered on, we opened the Ring app, selected “add a new device,” scanned the QR code on the side of the doorbell and followed the prompts in the app. You’ll be asked to give it a name, adjust motion sensitivity, and edit where you want it to watch for, or ignore, motion.

The longest part of the installation for us was waiting for it to download and install a software update once it was connected to our home’s Wi-Fi network.

All told, we had the Ring Video Doorbell 4 installed, set up, updated and running in under 15 minutes. If you’re handy at all, we have confidence you’ll be able to install it — wired or wireless — without any issues as well.

Our biggest issue with the Ring Video Doorbell 4 has nothing to do with its actual performance (we’ll get to that in a minute). But instead, the Ring lineup continues to grow, and it’s getting downright confusing. When you look at the $199.99 Ring Video Doorbell 4, you’d be hard pressed to find many external differences from the $179.99 Ring Video Doorbell 3 and, for that matter, the standard $99.99 Ring Video Doorbell. Actually, there are slight differences in design from the standard Video Doorbell, but the 3 and 4 are identical to our eyes.

In its defense, Ring has a handy chart on the Video Doorbell 4 store listing detailing the differences between the three models. According to the chart, the difference between Doorbell 3 and Doorbell 4 comes down to color pre-roll video previews: a couple seconds of video that’s recorded and saved before a motion alert is triggered. This allows you to see what happened just before motion was detected, giving you more context.

For example, if the camera only captures a potted plant falling over and you don’t see anything in the clip, you’re left to wonder what happened. With a pre-roll clip, however, you might be able to see that some trash blowing through the neighborhood hit it just before it fell. It’s an innocent example, but you can see how important that information could be if the situation involved, say, someone attempting to break into your house.

CNN

Ring Video Doorbell 4

One downside to pre-roll video is it’s not recorded in high definition. It’s a pixelated clip that’s kept just to give you a rough idea of what happened. If you watch the sample video closely, you can see where the pre-roll clip ends and the standard 1080p video begins.

When it comes to comparing the Doorbell 4 with the standard Video Doorbell, you’re gaining many new features. Of course, both come with live 1080p HD video, two-way audio, motion alerts, Alexa integration and quick replies. But you’re getting dual-band Wi-Fi compatible with 2.4GHz and 5Ghz Wi-Fi systems, a removable battery pack, changeable face plates to customize your doorbell’s look, and an included kit to mount the doorbell in a corner.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve yet to run into any issues when testing the Doorbell 4. We’ve let the doorbell monitor its entire 160-degree by 84-degree field of view, and rarely received any erroneous motion alerts from something like a leaf blowing by.

Answering the doorbell on our iPhone or Pixel 5 resulted in clear video, with crisp audio on both ends. The night vision feature also comes in handy, making it easier to see in an otherwise dark environment — like in the included clip when we let our dogs out just before bedtime.

It’s hard to estimate how long a battery will last on each charge, due to numerous factors such as motion alerts, recording frequency and so on. If there’s a standard outlet near where you’re installing the doorbell, you can purchase Ring’s Plug-In Adapter for $24.99 to keep the battery charged at all times. Alternatively, you can buy a second battery for $29.99 that you can have charged and ready to go.

The Video Doorbell 4 is the most expensive doorbell of this design in Ring’s lineup at $199.99, but not quite as expensive and feature-capable as the Ring Video Doorbell 2 Pro (which needs to be wired). If you need a battery-powered doorbell, or at least want the flexibility of one, the Video Doorbell 4 is, in our humble opinion, worth the $20 upgrade cost over the Doorbell 3 for the pre-roll videos. They’re a small but important part of the experience.

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