Thank you so much for your great review! It’s so thorough and really helps with decision-making. My question is, what would you pick between the Ring Cam Battery and the Arlo Pro (not the 2)? I purchased the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery because I liked the idea of the light and the battery power, but as i read my reviews, I see that the video can lag, and it’s quality is highly tied to the WiFi signal. I also bought the Arlo Pro because it was on sale and it seemed to get really top reviews even though it’s only 720p compared to the Ring Cam Battery. I will be mounting these outside. I noticed that the Arlo Pro 2 way talk is really hard to hear compared to the Ring Cam Battery. Thank you again for all your information!
Download the Ring app (available for both iOS and Android) and connect the Alarm with your existing Ring devices, or, if this is your first Ring product, follow the instructions and advice on how to get started. Both the app and written materials in the box provides helpful suggestions on how and where to set up your motion sensors and contact sensors.
All these new DIY systems pretty much rely on cellular and/or Wi-Fi. It seems that although it makes things more accessible, cheaper and easier to install, that’s where most of the glitches, or inconsistent alarm notifications come from, right? But in general it’s good that these systems have been made available for us all to choose from. Thank you for helping us navigate all the choices.
Arlo Pro 2 also works with Arlo’s continuous video recording (CVR) plan. The catch is that the camera must remain plugged-in in order for the feature to work, and Arlo’s power cord is not weatherproof. The subscription is per camera and also works with Arlo Q, Q Plus, and Arlo Baby. For $9.99 per month, they will provide 14 days of 24/7 CVR, for $19.99 per month you get 30 days, and for $29.99 per month, you will get 60 days. Arlo provides a discount if you pay for the year upfront and they offer a 50% discount if you have more than one CVR plan on your account.
On the downside there is no way to enable/disable video motion detection clips in sync with the armed status. I only want certain cameras to record when armed stay or away. They really need the option to tell the cameras when to record and when not to record. Other than that the 2-way camera communication is spotty at best, but not really a feature that’s important to me. Adding live video to the online access would be a BIG plus too (currently you can only access the cameras through the app).
When you say “full coverage” I’m assuming you mean continuous recording, is that right? Arlo and Nest can record continuously, but only if they are plugged in. Also, the outdoor power cord for Arlo is new and it’s on a pretty long lead time right now. It’s sold separately from the camera. If you could confirm that your new is continuous recording, I’ll dig in a little more, but I don’t want to assume anything before making a recommendation.
Arlo Smart also adds the ability to use Activity Zones even when your cameras are unplugged; however, if you choose to keep your Arlo Pro 2 indoors and plugged-in, you will have Activity Zones for free. Either way, you can select up to three zones for Arlo to monitor. If activity is detected in one of your zones, you’ll receive an alert. Activity that occurs outside of your set zone will be ignored.

Ring provides 24 / 7 professional monitoring of the Alarm system through its Protect Plus service, which will automatically notify authorities and emergency services if there’s an intrusion or crisis detected. The service will alert you and other emergency contacts you set via phone and then dispatch emergency personnel as needed. Though the Ring Alarm will provide push notifications to your mobile device without the additional monitoring service, having the service ensures that emergency services are deployed automatically whether you see the push notifications or not.


If you opt for the rechargeable battery, you have to either disable the device every time it needs a charge or buy an extra battery. The battery is also a pain in the you-know-what to get out. Ring uses special screws that require a specific screwdriver head to remove. It comes in the package with the camera, but even so, you have to track down that one specific screwdriver every time you need to remove the cam.
EverCam is a newer option made by a Chinese company who has never made a security camera before. That said, despite their Kickstarter success, I’m hesitant to recommend the camera even though it boasts an impressive feature list. For one, they refused to answer my in-depth questions about the camera which makes me a little suspicious. Two, they are promising many AI-rich features without a monthly fee. As a consumer, I know that’s tempting, but I also know it’s unsustainable. Facial recognition, for example, does not live on the camera itself. The feature is cloud-based which is expensive to maintain; hence why you see companies like Nest charge a fee to access features that are heavy on AI.
EverCam is a newer option made by a Chinese company who has never made a security camera before. That said, despite their Kickstarter success, I’m hesitant to recommend the camera even though it boasts an impressive feature list. For one, they refused to answer my in-depth questions about the camera which makes me a little suspicious. Two, they are promising many AI-rich features without a monthly fee. As a consumer, I know that’s tempting, but I also know it’s unsustainable. Facial recognition, for example, does not live on the camera itself. The feature is cloud-based which is expensive to maintain; hence why you see companies like Nest charge a fee to access features that are heavy on AI.
1. Nest can record continiously which eliminates the problem of sleepy security cameras. As far as Ring cameras, Ring Pro offers a pre-buffer. As far as their other cameras, I’ve only tried Ring Spotlight wireless. It’s a battery-powered camera and does not pre-buffer. I believe I heard that the wired version does pre-buffer, but I haven’t personally tried it.
The other thing of note is its lack of smart home partners. Despite being owned by Amazon, Ring's system doesn't work with Alexa or any other major smart home platforms. If you want to arm and otherwise get the status of your home security system via voice commands, the Ring Alarm Security Kit isn't the right option for you. Ring does specify in its support section that it's working on these integrations for a future release.
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.
So, where does the professional monitoring come in? When the alarm is triggered, the Ring Alarm central monitoring system calls you and asks for the verbal security code you’ve set up. If Ring doesn’t reach you, they’ll call your emergency contact and ask for the same thing. If either of you forget the code (better choose something you’ll remember!) or if they’re unable to reach either person, then they’ll dispatch emergency responders to your house.
In addition to sharing camera access, having multiple users will make geofencing even more intelligent. The cameras will arm when everyone is away and disarm when at least one person is home. You can also see who is home and who is away using the mobile app and set up Presence notifications to alert you of the same. Finally, it brings everyone in on the action. If an event is detected, an alert will be sent to all users. If one user responds to the alert, other users will be able to see how that person responded. You can also leave a comment on the event and chat with other users directly within the app.
As soon as the alarm is tripped you will receive 2 phone calls (one on each registered number), if no one answers they will immediately dispatch the police. The approximate time for the police to be dispatched from the moment your alarm goes off to the time they call a dispatcher is about 4 minutes (that includes the time to complete the 2 call attempts made to you). Police will be dispatched with a description of the zone that triggered the alarm (ex: living room motion).
This has to be some of the worst customer service I have ever experienced. The web site is very slick, and the pre-sales information is very well prepared. The product does not work, and my Wi-Fi extender (that I bought just for this purpose) didn’t even get a usable signal from 15 feet away with no obstructions. So, after long chats (and waiting a LONG time to get someone on chat in the first place), I convinced them after several conversations to give me a refund… which never came. Three weeks after they received the product back, there was no refund. I went on chat to find out why, and TWO HOURS of chatting later (after their chat system kicked me out for inactivity while THEY looked up my information), they say a refund was issued, but refused to provide any email documentation stating such. This is absolutely unacceptable. I wish I had come to this site to look at these reviews before I wasted time and money on a product that doesn’t work, and which is supported by an incompetent support staff. RUN AWAY from this company! They pretty much stole $500 from me!
Finally, unlike abode’s base station (iota does not require Ethernet), Ethernet is not required to use Nest Secure. Nest likes to make things easy and they send everything you need, including batteries, to get your device up and running. Nest Guard ships with a 6-foot cable with a power adapter and CR123 batteries for the sensors. My system already had the batteries installed which made setup even easier.

As a Contributing Editor for PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networking and smart home gear, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for almost 20 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine's Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of t... See Full Bio

If you can live without the spotlight feature, consider our Editors' Choice for outdoor security cameras, the Netgear Arlo Pro 2. It costs more, but it delivers pre-buffered recording so you can see what happened just before a triggered event. It also comes with free and subscription-based cloud storage and offers continuous recording capabilities.

A Ring home security system can get pricey, as you need to pay upfront for the devices. The plans are straightforward, so you won’t run into any confusion there. The low monthly cost of the plans makes the premium features accessible for any budget, especially if you only have one or two Ring devices. The real question is whether Ring offers enough value compared to the other systems on the market. If you’re willing to take a more DIY approach with installation and you don’t mind a lack of home automation features, then the Ring is a contender.
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