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10 Reasons to Think Twice Before Buying a Ring Video Doorbell

Home security is a top priority for many homeowners today, and video doorbells have emerged as a popular solution for keeping an eye on your front door. Ring, which is owned by Amazon, has become the biggest name in the video doorbell market. However, despite their widespread adoption, there are several compelling reasons why you might want to think twice before investing in a Ring doorbell. As a technology expert who has tested and researched various smart home security devices, I‘m here to share my insights on the potential drawbacks of Ring doorbells and explore some worthy alternatives.

1. Significant Privacy Concerns

One of the most glaring issues with Ring doorbells is the potential violation of privacy for your neighbors and anyone who comes within range of your camera. Ring cameras are capable of recording up to 20 feet away from your door, which means they can easily capture footage of people walking by on the sidewalk or even your neighbors on their own property without their knowledge or consent.

This raises serious ethical concerns and could strain relationships with neighbors who may feel uncomfortable being recorded. There have also been reports of Ring sharing user video footage with law enforcement without a warrant or user consent. While Ring states that they only share footage in emergency situations, the lack of transparency around their policies is troubling.

In 2020, dozens of Ring users filed a class action lawsuit against the company for failing to take basic security precautions to prevent unauthorized access to cameras. Multiple families reported horrifying incidents of hackers gaining access to their Ring cameras and using the 2-way talk feature to harass and threaten them. Ring‘s lax security left users vulnerable to having their Wi-Fi networks compromised as well. While Ring claims to have since enhanced their security measures, the damage to consumer trust is hard to repair.

2. Perpetual Subscription Fees

To access Ring‘s full set of features and cloud video storage, you‘ll need to sign up for a monthly subscription plan. Ring Protect plans start at $3.99/month or $39.99/year for a single device, which includes 60 days of rolling cloud storage, video saving and sharing, and snapshot capture.

For $10/month or $100/year, you can cover all your Ring devices and add 24/7 professional monitoring with cellular backup for Ring Alarm. While these prices may seem reasonable, the costs can really add up over time, especially if you have multiple Ring cameras. Many users don‘t realize they‘ll be locked into a subscription to get the most value from their Ring products.

Competitors like Eufy offer local storage options with no monthly fees, which can be a more economical choice in the long run. With the Eufy Video Doorbell Dual, you get built-in 8GB eMMC storage that can hold up to 90 days of footage with no extra costs. Something to consider if you‘re on a tighter budget.

3. High Risk of Theft

Perhaps ironically, Ring doorbells have become a prime target for porch pirates and thieves. Because of their recognizable look and widespread popularity, burglars know there‘s a good resale market for stolen Ring products. They can fetch anywhere from $50-200 on secondary marketplaces.

While Ring offers a theft protection policy, it has quite a few loopholes. To be eligible, you must file a police report within 14 days and provide a copy to Ring‘s customer service. You‘re also limited to one replacement per year, and the warranty is void if your Ring was stolen by someone you know. Some users have complained that Ring customer support is difficult to work with and slow to respond to theft claims.

Even if you can get a free replacement, having your sense of security shaken by a brazen Ring theft is an upsetting experience that you may want to avoid altogether by opting for a lesser known brand.

4. Limited Viewing Angles

Depending on the layout of your entryway, Ring‘s field of view may not fully capture your front area. Ring Video Doorbell 2 and Pro models max out at 160 degree horizontal and 90 degree vertical viewing angles. If you have a wide front porch or doorway that‘s set back from the street, the camera‘s scope may fall short.

In contrast, competitors like Arlo offer a generous 180 degree diagonal field of view with their Essential Video Doorbell model, ensuring you can see a packages left on your doormat and people approaching from the sides. Eufy also goes above and beyond with their dual-camera Video Doorbell Dual that has a 2K resolution top lens for a sharp head-to-toe view and a second bottom lens angled downward to clearly monitor packages.

When investing in a video doorbell for security purposes, you want the most comprehensive coverage possible with no blind spots, so consider your space and whether Ring‘s specs will measure up. Don‘t just assume that the biggest brand offers the widest viewing range.

5. Not Built for Extreme Climates

If you live in an area prone to sub-freezing or sweltering temperatures, Ring doorbells may not be the most reliable choice. Ring‘s operating temperature range is -5°F to 120°F (-20°C to 48°C). While this is fairly standard for most electronics, it could pose issues in regions with harsh winters or heat waves.

Lithium-ion batteries like those used in the Ring Video Doorbell 2 and 3 can start to lose capacity and drain faster when exposed to frigid conditions. The company even recommends removing your doorbell and bringing it inside to charge if temperatures dip below -5°F. This is clearly not a convenient solution if you live somewhere with long stretches of freezing weather.

If your area regularly sees -20°F or below, you‘d be better off choosing a video doorbell specifically designed to withstand extreme cold, such as the Nest Hello which is rated to operate at -22°F. For exceptionally hot climates, the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro has an impressive operating range up to 140°F.

6. Demands High-Speed Internet

To work properly, Ring doorbells require a strong, stable internet connection with upload speeds of at least 1-2 Mbps. If your Wi-Fi signal is weak or your bandwidth is limited, you may experience choppy video, lag times, and connectivity issues with your Ring. Slow network speeds can also cause significant delays in receiving motion alerts, which defeats the purpose of having a security camera.

Ring does offer a separate Chime Pro device that extends your Wi-Fi signal to help boost performance, but that‘s an extra $50 expense. If you don‘t have a robust home internet plan or your router is located far from your front door, a Ring doorbell may not be the best fit.

Other video doorbells like the August Doorbell Cam Pro have a built-in floodlight connector that allows you to hardwire the device to your existing doorbell wiring for a more reliable connection. Arlo‘s wireless video doorbells also tend to be more forgiving of less-than-ideal Wi-Fi signals in my experience.

7. Resolution Caps Out at 1080p

While Ring‘s 1080p HD video resolution is sufficient for most users, it notably lacks the ultra-crisp 2K and 4K resolution options offered by an increasing number of competitors. The Eufy Video Doorbell Dual and Arlo Essential both deliver impressive 2K HDR video quality that makes it easier to discern facial details and capture clear footage in low light conditions.

If you‘re investing in a video doorbell primarily for security reasons, having the highest resolution possible can be invaluable for identifying suspicious visitors or providing usable evidence to law enforcement. It‘s puzzling that Ring has yet to roll out any 2K or 4K models, but it may be only a matter of time before they‘re playing catch up to the competition. For now, if you want top-of-the-line resolution, you‘re better off looking elsewhere.

8. Some DIY Required

Installing a Ring Video Doorbell is fairly straightforward, but it does require some basic DIY skills and tools. You‘ll need a power drill, screwdriver, level, and possibly wire strippers depending on your setup. Ring provides printed instructions and installation kits, but if you‘re not confident with home improvement projects, the process could be intimidating.

While Ring offers professional installation through OnTech for $99, it‘s an added expense that brings your total cost closer to $250-300. If you‘re renting or living in an apartment, you may not even have the authority to drill holes or hardwire a Ring without permission from your landlord.

For those who want a simple peel-and-stick installation method, the Blink Video Doorbell or RemoBell S may be more appealing options. They can be mounted to almost any surface without screws and easily removed without damage if needed. Just something to keep in mind if you have limited installation experience or permissions.

9. Expect Frequent False Alarms

Like many motion-sensing smart cameras, Ring doorbells are prone to sending false alerts triggered by passing cars, waving branches, and even insects flying by. This can quickly become annoying, especially if your Ring is linked to your phone and constantly lighting up with notifications.

To minimize excessive alarms, you‘ll need to precisely calibrate your motion sensitivity settings and motion zones, which can involve a tedious trial-and-error process. And even with optimized settings, Ring‘s infrared motion sensors can still be tripped up by heat sources like sunlight reflections and car headlights.

Ring‘s paid subscription plans do include access to Advanced Motion Detection and customizable motion zones to help fine-tune your alerts. But at the end of the day, false alerts are still a common occurrence with Ring that may be disruptive to your daily routine or sleep schedule. If you want to be notified only when people are physically present at your door, Nest Hello‘s intelligent facial recognition and Arlo‘s smart detection of people, packages, and animals may offer more precise alerts.

10. Hacking Risks Remain a Threat

While no connected device is 100% immune to hacking, Ring has a history of security vulnerabilities that have allowed bad actors to gain unauthorized access to users‘ cameras, live footage, and even their Wi-Fi credentials. Because Ring cameras are often placed at the entrance to peoples‘ homes, a breach can be especially violating and traumatic.

One of the most publicized cases occurred in December 2019 when a hacker taunted an 8-year-old Mississippi girl through her family‘s Ring camera, claiming to be Santa Claus and encouraging her to destroy her room and belongings. Equally horrific intrusions were reported by over a dozen other families that year who had their Ring cameras hijacked by hackers harassing them with racial slurs, death threats, and demands for ransom payments.

Attackers were able to access Ring cameras through techniques like credential stuffing, which exploit the fact that many people reuse the same login and password across multiple accounts. While Ring has since implemented mandatory 2FA, suspicious activity checks, and other safety measures, the company still hasn‘t accepted responsibility for its lax approach to security that left users vulnerable for far too long.

So What Are the Best Alternatives to Ring?

If you‘re now questioning whether a Ring is right for you, here are two highly rated substitutes I recommend checking out:

Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free: With its easy wire-free installation, 180-degree field of view, crisp 1536 x 1536 resolution with HDR, and smart person, package, vehicle and animal detection, the Arlo Essential is our top pick for a Ring replacement. You get direct-to-mobile video calls, built-in smart responses, a built-in siren, color night vision, and compatibility with Alexa, Google Home and Samsung SmartThings. Arlo‘s cloud plans are competitively priced starting at just $2.99/month.

Eufy Video Doorbell Dual: This innovative model really steps up the game with dual 2K cameras that simultaneously capture a person‘s face and any packages on your doorstep. The wired doorbell intelligently detects body shapes and faces to give you the most precise alerts and lets you define up to 3 custom activity zones. Local storage with 8GB of built-in memory provides up to 90 days of recordings with zero subscription fees.

While no video doorbell is completely foolproof, Arlo and Eufy offer compelling features and stronger privacy measures that make them worthy contenders to Ring. No matter which brand you ultimately choose, thoroughly reading the privacy policy, understanding the terms of service, and following best digital security practices can go a long way in protecting your home and data. As always, being a savvy and cautious consumer is key when it comes to the gadgets we entrust with our safety.