There are many great brands out there that make it easy for you to find the security products that fit your unique needs. Two such options are the Ring and Nest systems. These popular brands have developed a range of products to help you easily build and customize your home security ecosystem. In order to help you choose the right system for you, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of each. Here’s a quick rundown of the main features you should keep in mind when deciding between the two:
When you add the keypad, you’re asked to come up with a four-digit PIN that you’ll use to arm and disarm the system. If you opt in to professional monitoring, you’ll also need to come up with a verbal passcode that you’ll use to identify yourself as an authorized user when the monitoring service calls (so be sure to provide this information to your secondary contact, as they’ll need it as well).
With the Spotlight Cam Battery ($199), Ring continues to grow to its already impressive stable of home security devices. This battery-powered outdoor security camera is completely wireless and offers motion detection with triggered recording and compatibility with IFTTT and other smart home devices. As with other Ring products such as the Video Doorbell Pro and Floodlight Cam, you have to subscribe to one of the company's cloud plans to view recorded video, and it doesn't offer pre-buffered recording. But it's very easy to install and offers sharp 1080p video, making it a strong option for outdoor security cameras.
Two days later we had the Ring alarm and a Ring doorbell in hand. The whole setup took less than 20 minutes (including the doorbell). Plug in the parts, stick sensors to doors, use the app to walk through configuring them, and you're done. A few minutes later I had the professional monitoring set up. I spent a few minutes familiarizing myself with the features, adjusting alarm volume, adding user codes, etc. It was all just so seamless.
Ring's updated app (which will roll out to everyone in the coming weeks) brings lots of improvements for those invested in the ecosystem. You have quick and easy access from the main screen to the alarm features, as well as a glimpse of what your cameras are seeing. Things can be a little slow to load, depending how much equipment you have, but most of the time it works great.
Right now, abode reigns supreme due to the number of integrations they offer, the variety of security sensors, and the fact that it’s an open platform not tied to Google (Nest) or Amazon (Ring). I would give Ring second place due to cost, and it’s bumped iSmart off of my list of recommended self-monitored security systems. My only gripe is that it doesn’t integrate well with its own camera system. Nest takes third, but I would still recommend it. It’s a beautiful system, easy to use, and thoughtfully designed. That said, if Ring raised the bar on their camera integrations, launches an indoor camera, a flood sensor (coming soon), and a glass break sensor, it might just become the system to beat.
Arlo Pro can be used outdoors only if running on battery or solar power. (While they once sold an outdoor power adapter, it is no longer available due to quality issues.) If you’re using battery power, you will have to charge your camera indoors as the included power adapter is not rated for outdoor use. Furthermore, if your battery is too cold from being outside, you might have to wait for it to warm up before you can begin to charge it. If you don’t like the sound of that, you can invest in the $59.99 Pro Charging Station and an additional rechargeable battery ($49.99). You can use the charging station to charge two batteries simultaneously so that you always have one ready to go when needed. You can also purchase the Arlo Pro UV-resistant silicone skins, which provide added protection against condensation and sun glare.

Installing the Ring Alarm system is easy thanks to the well-written getting started guide. I already had a Ring account, but if this is your first ring device, start by downloading the Ring app and creating one. I opened the app and tapped Add a Ring Product, selected Alarm from the list, and confirmed my location. I plugged in the base station and pressed the pairing button, which started the blue LEDs spinning, indicating that the station was in pairing mode. I tapped Find My Base Station in the app and selected Wi-Fi as my internet connection method (you can connect via Ethernet or Wi-Fi), selected my router's SSID, and entered my Wi-Fi password. The LEDs flashed white momentarily before turning solid blue and the Wi-Fi indicator turned green, indicating a successful pairing. The app also confirmed the connection.


The next step is camera placement, and Arlo Pro offers a few options. It can sit on a flat surface, stick directly to a metal surface (magnetic), or you can use the included plate to mount it to a wall. While you can place Arlo inside or out, the camera’s power cord that ships with the package is not weatherproof so plan to use battery power when placing the camera outside. If you’re willing to spend an extra $25, you can also buy the weather-resistant outdoor power adapter (VMA4900) that works with Arlo Pro, Arlo Pro 2, and Arlo Go. Finally, they also sell an $80 solar panel. The panel works with Arlo Pro, Pro 2, and Go, and can power one camera continuously. Keep in mind, however, that the solar panel only powers the camera. It does not charge the camera’s battery.
Hats off to Ring for the smooth-as-silk installation process. This system was easier to set up than anything in my experience. Although there are no installation videos integrated into the app, as Ring provides with its other products, I didn’t miss them at all. The app takes you through each step with pictures and a brief explanation, just enough information so you don’t feel like you’re learning the system by rote. A printed instruction manual is also provided.
Hats off to Ring for the smooth-as-silk installation process. This system was easier to set up than anything in my experience. Although there are no installation videos integrated into the app, as Ring provides with its other products, I didn’t miss them at all. The app takes you through each step with pictures and a brief explanation, just enough information so you don’t feel like you’re learning the system by rote. A printed instruction manual is also provided.
All three systems require that you purchase the hardware upfront, and they all offer some services for free including free app access as well as third-party integrations (though many of Nest’s and Ring’s integrations have yet to launch). However, they all offer paid plans too. Nest and abode have three options: self-monitoring, self-monitoring with cellular backup, and police dispatch with cellular backup. Ring has two options: self-monitoring and police dispatch with cellular backup.
The Spotlight Cam comes with 30-day free trial of Ring’s cloud storage for recorded video. At the end of the period, you have the option of upgrading to one of a pair of Ring Protect plans: Protect Basic allows you to store, review, and share video for up to 60 days for $3 per month or $30 a year per camera. Protect Plus provides the same for unlimited Ring cameras—including the Ring Video Doorbell—and adds a lifetime warranty and discounts on Ring products for $10 per month or $100 a year.
“Where we’re going with it is once we know this, we can then do things in our network which include, you know if someone’s walking around your house at 3 AM in the morning and your house is on stay mode, then we can do a different type of alert or sort of raise the alert level on that camera,” explained Siminoff. “And then we do things like deliver presence saying ‘How can I help you, what are you doing?’ and so really taking that presence and that interactivity, and that pre-crime thing that Ring is so good at and take it to the next level by knowing the status.”
With Canary, you can also adjust motion sensitivity, and the camera includes a PIR motion sensor, which works when the camera is plugged in or when running on battery. But even with these added features, Flex has trouble sorting true events from false ones. On windy days, false alerts are common, and sometimes Flex misses events. Worse, if you use Flex as a battery-powered camera, you must wait for it to wake up. I had problems with the camera sleeping through events. In general, the camera performs at a much higher level when plugged in.
The Ring app will automatically detect the rest of the items that came pre-packaged with the base station once its initial set up is complete. You'll need to pull plastic tabs on each piece so that they can power up, and you'll want to do this one at a time. If you pull all the tabs at the same time, the system tries to connect to multiple devices at once and slows down the setup process.
I’ve heard others say Arlo is the perfect outdoor camera. I disagree. The original Wire-Free camera had more latency than Arlo Pro. Also, Pro includes a wider field of view, a rechargeable battery, a siren (built into the hub), and it adds sound with two-way audio, all features the original Arlo lacked. Arlo Pro 2 bumps up the resolution to 1080p and adds three features if the camera is plugged-in: CVR, Motion Zones, and Look Back.
Nest will intelligently alert you, within reason. For example, you can have the street set as a zone, but turn off notifications for the street. Nest can also tell you when it sees a person or thinks it sees a person. In fact, you can choose to only receive alerts when it sees a person, which virtually eliminates false alarms. Better still, you can turn on person detection for the entire frame or from select activity zones.
Wow……this is a ton of info. Thank you. I was about to purchase the Blink XT 3 camera system but now I will not based on yours and many reviews. I was stuck on Ring but reading your Arlo review got me thinking….I want wireless, yet compatible for front door area, carport and outdoor bar (all covered with roof). My neighbor has both ring doorbell, and outdoor nest cameras but he says wifi for nest is “iffy”. What is your recommendation for a 3 camera (outdoor/wireless) system for full coverage (not just snippets of video), and reasonably priced service for watching clips if needed. Live feed I assume is available for all; even if cloud service is not purchased? More peace of mind for my family’s safety etc. but love to watch live feed (on phone app) when not home. I have been wanting cameras for 2 years and now with so much available product, it’s getting harder to decide. Thank you for your time.

The final alarm choice is Away, which engages all of your sensors by default and activates the external monitoring services as well. Much like with Home, you can opt to not include certain sensors if you want, and those settings are all controlled through the app. With both Home and Away modes, you can set an entry and exit delay, which is a buffer period that allows you to get in or out and disengage the alarm before the monitoring company calls.
Even if the power goes out at home, your property will still be protected by the complimentary 24-hour backup battery. And for only $10 a month, you can upgrade to Ring Protect Plus and enjoy 24/7 professional monitoring with cellular backup, unlimited video recording for Ring Doorbells and Cameras at your home. You won’t be locked into any long-term contracts. You don’t need professional installation. You don’t even need any tools. It’s that simple.
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