Think of Smart Alerts as the ability to control alert frequency. You can request to receive more alerts, “standard,” or “light” (fewer alerts) or choose to turn notifications off from the app’s main screen. You can also snooze motion alerts for a set period of time. Once snoozed, you won’t receive motion alerts, but motion events will continue to upload to the cloud. Besides snoozing motion, you can also snooze your Ring Chime or your Chime Pro.
Tapping the Spotlight Cam icon in the Ring app opens a dedicated screen with all the camera’s controls laid out. The Ring app is one of the best in this regard, as it doesn’t require you to go hunting through nested settings menus to find what you need. At the top are on/off toggles for the camera’s lights and motion alerts. Using a selection of buttons below these, you can open the camera’s streaming feed, event history light settings, and more.
I’ve only tested one cloud-less camera this year (Reolink Argus) and it’s battery-powered. And if you’re asking about systems like Amcrest and Swann, I don’t have anything similar. I mainly focus on cloud cameras for now, but who knows what the future holds! Currently, I’m working on an updated indoor camera version of this article, but all the cameras I’m testing use cloud storage.
I am using Wyze Cam on my front porch right now in addition to Nest Hello. I actually have all push notifications turned off, I just use it to check in on things. I’ve had it out there since June I believe, and it’s still kicking. Of course, my porch does provide added protection. I have a friend who mounted his under an eave using the same casing and his is still kicking too, even though it’s more exposed.
Through Works with Nest, abode works with Nest Protect, Nest Thermostat, and Nest Cam. Using this integration, you have the option to sync your abode modes with Nest modes or keep them separate. The abode system also offers deep integration with the Nest Thermostats. From the abode app, you can access and control your home’s temperature and create temperature thresholds. The same is true for ecobee users.

We gave the Ring Floodlight Cam 3.5 stars out of 5, noting that it’s a great addition to the Ring system and that its strong video quality and personalized motion zones make it a solid pick for outdoor security. Speaking of the Ring ecosystem, Home Depot has also slashed prices on its Ring Doorbell bundles. You can get a Ring Video Doorbell Pro with a Chime Pro Wi-Fi extender and speaker for $199 or the standard Ring Video Doorbell 2 with a Chime Pro for $169. 

Unfortunately, though I purchased the Solar Panel version, the camera did not ship with Solar Panel installation instructions. The Solar Panel itself had an instruction pamphlet, but it’s picture book style, which is not my favorite. I decided to ignore all instructions and guess at the install, which wasn’t a good idea. After installation, the camera’s video feed kept flickering in and out (a problem which I have yet to resolve) so I went back through my install steps to see if I had messed up along the way. I had. I found Solar Panel installation instructions online which I recommend and followed step-by-step.
Ha! That’s funny. Anywho, Arlo. Yes, Arlo needs the base station. The cameras only talk to the base station which creates its own network. The max range is stated at 300ft between base station and camera, which I assume is direct line of sight. If I had to guesstimate the distance between my base station and camera I would say 50 feet max? I haven’t tested beyond that.
Biggest problem though is the ‘wake up’ time. You reported on it, but I didn’t really take the time to really consider, “Hey, if I want to catch the kids driving by banging mailboxes, by the time they drive by and the camera wakes up, they’re gone!’ Well, that’s just what I learned as I set everything up, had the ap working and started getting notifications when people drove by. I thought AWESOME! it works! Well, not so much. Unfortunately, the car is never seen on the video, so the purpose is pretty much defeated.
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.
2. I tried to use it to find footage of an event, and it was incredibly difficult. The Wyze Cam history tab uses a generic photo for all alert events. You can’t even see a photo of the event without clicking in. When I use a camera indoors, the ease of finding video evidence is less of an issue, but when you’re trying to pinpoint something that occurred outside, you usually have a longer time frame to sort through. For example, we had someone spray paint the curbs in our neighborhood overnight which means I had to look through several hours worth of footage. It was annoying, and all of the footage was irrelevant so it was time wasted.
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.
While other smart security systems let you arm the alarm through key fobs, unfortunately, the Ring Alarm system does not have this capability at this time. Using a fob makes things quicker and easier than opening an app or punching in a code; however, Ring does have plans to make its system compatible with Alexa in the future, so that will make things a little easier.
Ring Chime Pro: For $49, you get a Wi-Fi extender and an indoor chime that lets you know when you have Ring notifications. This accessory is particularly useful if you have a lot of Ring devices in a larger home, as it helps you eliminate Wi-Fi dead spots that could prevent important notifications. You can change the alert tone, adjust the volume and put it on a Do Not Disturb mode. If you just want the chime capability without a Wi-Fi extender, the Ring Chime is $29.

There is currently no support for controlling the system with voice commands, but it should come as no surprise that Ring is developing an Alexa skill. Once you can arm your security system using a voice command, you won’t want to do it any other way (disarming it that way is whole other question). Harris was slightly more circumspect about supporting Google Assistant. “We remain committed to being open to all of the different pieces that are important to our customers. We’ll continue to march down the path of trying to support everything we can.” I got a similar answer when I asked about support for Apple’s HomeKit technology: “We’ve given it a lot of time. Again, we remain focused on bringing HomeKit support across the product line, but it won’t be available at launch with the Alarm products specifically.”

Many alarm systems integrate base station and keypad functionalities into a single unit, but Ring has made an interesting decision to separate the two, recognizing that these don't always need to be colocated. The base station serves best located centrally in the home in order to optimize wireless connections to all sensors and to centralize the alarm sound, while the keypad is likely to be placed close to the main point of entry for easy access.
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 device shipped ready to be mounted on an eave, but I decided that I wanted to mount it on a wall. To do that, you have to swap the mounting plate from an upward facing to a downward facing position. What I learned while doing so is that Ring fails to mention that the device does not ship with the security screw already in place so even if the mounting plate is already in the position you want, make sure to check on the security screw. Instructions on removing the mounting plate are found on page 15 of the included instruction manual.


All of these limitations make the Ring Alarm feel less like a cohesive part of an integrated smart home and more like a bolt-on appendage that requires its own app and accessories. For its part, Ring says that smart home integrations are coming, but it wanted to make sure that it had nailed down the security aspect of the system before adding to it. The company says it plans to add integrations with lighting, door locks, and other smart home gadgets down the road, but it wouldn’t provide a timeline for these options when I asked.

P.S. My house was broken once when we was abroad, without breaking a door or a window. In fact, the thieves entered thru the front door without breaking anything – the lock was just magically opened. Because we know we didn’t lose any key, the assumption is that they used lock picking technique or a lock picking gun (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snap_gun) – So I don’t think it’s good to assume thieves are dumb (But i’m not in the USA so maybe you have different kind of thieves ;-] )..
You can place the keypad on a flat surface like a table or shelf, or you can mount it on the wall. Just remember that it needs a Micro USB cable for power, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be placed close to an outlet. Ring says its internal battery will last six to twelve months depending on usage. As a result, you could potentially place the keypad anywhere in your home and charge it every so often.
Ring suggests that the motion detector should be placed in a location with a good view of a high-traffic area likely to be passed by any intruders, with the detector placed about seven feet off the floor. Motion detection sensitivity can be adjusted in the app if you find you're getting too many false alerts such as from a pet. The detector can be mounted using either adhesive or included screws that attach a bracket to the wall for easy removal of the detector itself.
Second, Ring sells a contact sensor. The two-piece sensor can be placed on doors or windows and will notify you of open/close movements. Third, they sell a pet-friendly motion detector. Fourth, they sell a range extender. The range extender is the only sensor that requires AC power, but it also includes 24-hour battery backup. The Range Extender is used to boost the signal emitted by your Base Station to help eliminate dead zones.

So let’s talk cost for a minute. For $399, Nest includes a Nest Guard which also acts as a keypad, siren, and motion detector, two Nest Detects which are also motion sensors, and two Nest Tags. An equivalent package from abode would cost $479. A comparable package from Ring would cost $279. However, Ring doesn’t sell a key fob, and the kit includes a range extender, so that needs to be factored into the equation.


The rest of the kit remains relatively standard. The Ring Alarm entry sensors are about a quarter-of-an-inch bigger than SimpliSafe's sensors and don't perform double duty like Nest's large sensors, which also sense motion. They're easy to install with the included mounting hardware and 3M-branded sticky tape, but they seem unnecessarily large and were hard to place so that the magnets would meet each other on both my front door and the back sliding door.
Most of my setup time was spent testing the position of the three contact sensors I received. The magnetic sensors consist of two parts. One part goes on a door or window frame, the other part goes opposite it so that when the door or window is opened, the magnetic connection is broken. If the two pieces aren't close enough, roughly half an inch, the sensor doesn't work.
Many alarm systems integrate base station and keypad functionalities into a single unit, but Ring has made an interesting decision to separate the two, recognizing that these don't always need to be colocated. The base station serves best located centrally in the home in order to optimize wireless connections to all sensors and to centralize the alarm sound, while the keypad is likely to be placed close to the main point of entry for easy access.
After I finished installing this device I found myself having issues with it for the first 3 days where sensors will go offline for no reason almost every day; suddenly after day 4 maybe, all of the issues disappeared and the system was now working like a well-oiled machine. I reached out to Ring support team and they informed me that there was an automatic update that the brain device was going to perform on its own and that would solve all of the issues I was experiencing. They were indeed 100% correct, after just a few days the system was doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing all along. No issues, no dropped devices, a happy customer here now. If you end up choosing this system and experience issues during the first 3-4 days, please wait a few days for your system to automatically update itself to the latest software and you’ll see the issues magically go away.
For all the things that the Ring Alarm system does well, there are still some areas in which it can be improved. One of my biggest annoyances with the system is that there is an audible alert for when a contact sensor is opened, but there is no alert for when it's closed. I have a sensor on each of the three doors that lead into my house and while it's great to hear a noise that they've been opened, it would be awesome to hear a confirmation that they've been closed as well.
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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.
Most of my setup time was spent testing the position of the three contact sensors I received. The magnetic sensors consist of two parts. One part goes on a door or window frame, the other part goes opposite it so that when the door or window is opened, the magnetic connection is broken. If the two pieces aren't close enough, roughly half an inch, the sensor doesn't work.
haha. Don’t do anything that will make you sad :). I upgraded my internet package and purchased three Google Wifi routers to create a mesh network. Though this upgrade did nothing to improve Flex’s overall performance, it did help with connectivity a touch. Flex’s performance improves when plugged-in and it’s possible that the battery experience will improve over time. Canary has already proven their ability to make a product better – just think about where they started with the original Canary.
The keypad includes a reversible mount that can be attached to a wall as a bracket or flipped over and used as a tabletop stand at a slight incline. Ring includes a micro-USB cable and an adapter to power the keypad, but it also has an internal rechargeable battery that can last up to a year depending on your settings, so it's handy to be able to set it up wirelessly on a table or mounted to the wall, only recharging periodically as needed.
My indoor Canary is self-sufficient, and that is exactly what I want in a home security camera. Flex has yet to provide that same experience. I’ve had to physically interact with the device multiple times to get it to reconnect to my internet. Also, the geofencing feature is inaccurate, often marking me away while home and vice versa. As for power loss notifications? They’re hit or miss.
Thanks, Abe. I have a chart that compares Canary and Flex here: https://homealarmreport.com/canary-flex-security-camera-review/. I still prefer Canary All-in-One over Flex. Of course, it’s an indoor only camera so that might be a dealbreaker for you depending on how you want to use it. It has a better picture, already offers two-way audio (if you’re a Canary Member), has motion zones, and multiple air quality sensors.
As with all Ring products, the Spotlight Cam is easy to install. Start by charging the battery, downloading the Ring app, and creating an account. Make sure you're close to your router, select Set Up Device in the app, and choose Spotlight Cam Battery from the list of Security Cams. You'll be asked to name the camera, confirm your address, and insert the fully charged battery in the compartment. The LED will flash blue and white for a few seconds and then go dark.
Yes, I’m looking for an ecosystem that provides cloud-based mobile access to security video in a reasonably low cost package. However, I don’t want WiFi cameras, because I don’t want the bandwidth burden on the WiFi when I already have CAT6 cables to each camera location and I already have a POE switch. I don’t need a doorbell at all, just the cameras.
Installing the keypad was simply a matter of plugging it in and waiting a few seconds for it to be recognized. I gave it a name and a location, used the included mounting screws to hang the mounting plate on a wall, snapped the keypad into place, created an Access Code for arming and disarming the system, and was done. Installing the motion sensor was just as easy: I removed the battery tape and waited a few seconds for it to be added to the app. I gave it a location and a name, used the double-sided tape to mount it to a wall, and tested the sensor. To install the Z-Wave range extender, I plugged it into a wall outlet between the base station and the motion sensor (the farthest device from the base station), named it, and assigned it to a room. The entire installation took around 20 minutes.

Aside from the app and the keypad, there isn’t currently another way to set the system. In comparison, Nest’s system can be set via key fobs, which are quicker and easier than punching in PIN codes or opening an app, or voice through the Google Assistant. Ring says that integration with Alexa will come down the road, but it is not available at this time.
You can place the keypad on a flat surface like a table or shelf, or you can mount it on the wall. Just remember that it needs a Micro USB cable for power, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be placed close to an outlet. Ring says its internal battery will last six to twelve months depending on usage. As a result, you could potentially place the keypad anywhere in your home and charge it every so often.
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