The learning curve was pretty quick once I started playing around with it. Immediately following activation, Ring puts you in a seven day trial period, which is great because I set off the alarm a handful of times because I wasn't used to having it. The trial period lets you use everything the way it's intended, except that when the alarm goes off it won't alert the monitoring company. You can end the trial mode at any point if you prefer to just get right into the full monitoring services.
In terms of larger home integration, Nest is the very definition of a smart device. Its Works with Nest program automatically instructs connected products (such as smart lighting and thermostats) to perform their tasks without you having to tell them what to do. It’s an exceptionally hands-off solution, though you can still tweak it with custom preferences.
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.
The Ring Security System can be a great option, there are just some things you need to keep in mind before you jump in and purchase the system. Instead of chancing it on a company that is just getting started in the home security business, why not go with a company that is absolutely committed to protecting homes and families and has been for many years. Protect America has a proven track record as the 14th largest residential home security company and a Nine-Time Consumers Digest Best Buy Winner. If you’re looking for a tried and tested home security system, contact Protect America for a free quote today.
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
After shipping later than expected, is the Ring Alarm still worth your time? There are a bunch of alarm systems available that you can buy and install yourself these days, but there are a few key points that make the Ring Alarm stand out. From the ease of installation to the low monthly costs, the Ring Alarm system ticks a lot of boxes on paper that people will be looking for, but how does that on-paper experience compare to the real-life one?
The Ring Alarm system comes in an attractively packaged box that includes a square base station, a keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, and range extender. Unlike the Nest Secure home monitoring system, Ring created the hub and keypad as separate devices to give homeowners more control over where to place them. The products are both lightweight and durable, although the keypad digits do feel a bit antiquated when you press them.
The kit comes with a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, and range extender. Since Ring is pre-packaging all of this, all of the pieces are designed to automatically talk to each other, which makes setting them up easier, but could lead to some confusion when things go wrong. You won't be able to take any of these parts and integrate them with another Ring Alarm system, just the one they come with.
Quiet Open allows you to bypass an armed sensor simply by touching it. For example, if your system is armed, but you want to check the weather outside, you can press the sensor, and open your door. While I’ve heard only praise for this feature, my initial reaction was that it seems like a security flaw. Your teenagers, for example, can press the sensor and sneak out. Furthermore, there is no identification tied to using the feature. For example, it won’t say, “Rose bypassed the sensor.” Fortunately, you can turn this feature off if you’re concerned.
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 and Ring Stick Up Cam provide easy and effective ways to set up a pretty strong security perimeter around the outside of your home, but it could be made considerably stronger with the addition of the now-Amazon-owned company’s Spotlight Cam. This outdoor camera/porch-light hybrid, illuminates the area and records video when its motion sensor is tripped.
As of this writing, there are only a handful of add-on devices available that will work with the system, and for now, it doesn't support integrations with other Ring devices or third-party Z-Wave and Zigbee devices. That said, integration with Ring doorbells and cameras is on the way, and interoperability with third-party devices is also in the works.
I can see why you’re confused because really any of these three options will do everything you want and more. Is it important to you that your security system and camera use the same app? If so, maybe eliminate abode from the list. You can use the outdoor Nest Camera with abode, but it isn’t a great experience. If you want an outdoor camera that can record continuously and not just based on motion, that would be Nest Cam. If you don’t mind if the camera only records events and as you said, want a system without “big monthly charges,” Ring is probably the best choice for you. They recently launched an indoor camera, you could then add a video doorbell (ideal) or one of their outdoor cameras to your porch. You will need five contact sensors in total. Ring Alarm will include a mobile app for you to review footage and you can expand the system down the road if needed. As it just launched and based on Ring’s history of product support, the chances that it will be outdated soon are very slim.
I’ve stayed away from all Ring products as their API is only accessible by large entities they approve of. You are also forced to use the cloud. If they have an outage, it impacts you. In my smart home setup, I’m not reliant on the cloud for many aspects. There are some exceptions, like Nest thermostats and Protects. Alarm system is locally controlled, Z-wave devices are locally controlled as well. If my Internet is down, then remote access and the Nest products is not possible. The rest of the devices continue to work. My video doorbells are locally controlled; no need for the cloud nor their monthly/annual fees. I want to capture images, I can do it locally but also review it remotely.
Just as heads-up, customer support from Ring was top-notch. After a week of use, I had an issue with a sensor that wasn’t communicating properly. Fortunately it didn’t trip the alarm (I say fortunate as I wouldn’t want to local police to show up for faulty sensor). A late night call to the Ring customer service, which appears to be U.S. based, helped to resolve the issue. The rep was professional and patient. All told, I’m glad I chose Ring.
The Ring Alarm Home Security System offers an easy and relatively affordable way to make sure your home is safe and secure. The system can be installed in as little as 20 minutes and can be self-monitored using your mobile device or desktop system. Or, you have it professionally monitored by subscribing to the very affordable Ring Protect Plus Plan, which also includes unlimited cloud storage for any Ring camera you may own.
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.
I’ve enjoyed reading your summaries for over a year. I initially had my mind set on Abode after removing iSmartAlarm and SimpliSafe (previous generation) from consideration. I had an Abode package all set and nearly pulled the trigger on a purchase. However, after coming across Ring and reading your review multiple times, I ultimately went with Ring. What won me over was the package being offered by Costco that has six door/window sensors. When I priced out what Abode would cost to have comparable coverage, Ring clearly won out. I don’t need any integrations or automation, thus I don’t feel I’m losing out on those aspects by selecting Ring over Abode.
Nest Indoor or Nest Outdoor? There are pros and cons to both. The Nest Cam Outdoor might be slightly more accurate, but that’s probably more to do with positioning – it has a better vantage point. The fact that it is more accurate, has sound, and night vision made me want to switch, but I could not deal with the way it looked once installed. In the end, Nest Hello provides CVR with the clean aesthetic that’s important to me.
Other Devices Image Sensor, Smart Switch, Extra Siren, Temperature, Humidity & Light Sensor, Water Leak Sensor, iota Smart Doorbell, Range Extender, Smart Deadbolt Lock (Nest x Yale) Video Doorbell (Pro, Elite, 2), Spotlight Cam, Floodlight Cam, Stick Up Cam, Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Panel, Solar Sign, Ring Beams, Smoke & CO Listener, First Alert Smoke/CO Alarm, Flood and Freeze Sensor Satellite Siren, Smart Switch, Yard Sign
What happens if your home Wi-Fi goes out? Luckily, both the Ring and Nest systems offer cellular connectivity, so your alarm will stay online even if there’s a power outage or your Wi-Fi disconnects. Nest charges an additional $5 per month or $50 per year for cellular connectivity, while Ring offers the feature when you purchase the Protect Plus plan. Both systems also incorporate battery backup. While the Nest device will continue running for 12 hours without an external power source, the Ring will last for 24 hours.
And that is its job, to keep the camera charged. However, I noticed during testing that it does charge the battery too. When I installed the camera, the battery level was at 40%. Soon after connecting the solar panel, that percentage jumped to 50%. The next day it rained, and the percentage climbed from 50 to 52%. Day three was overcast, and yet the battery level crept up to 56%. Day 4 was a beautiful sunny day, and the battery level jumped to 78%. By the end of day 4, I was at 100%.
I’m not certain about Nest, but I asked abode about this before. They said, “We have what is called abode Signal Guard. Unlike other smash and grab solutions, the Signal Guard works whether your system is self-monitored or professionally monitored. The abode Signal Guard alarm acts just like a normal alarm where notifications are sent and the siren(s) go off until the alarm is disabled. If you are a professionally monitored customer, the monitoring center is notified of the abode Signal Guard event.”
While having a couple of power/connection options already provides flexibility, there is even more flexibility thanks to accessories (sold separately). The first accessory is a Secure Mount that locks your device into place. Replacing the magnetic base, it helps prevent device theft. The second is the Stake Mount: Stick the mount into the ground or a potted plant to give Flex a hidden camera effect. Third is the Twist Mount, which can bend and wrap around an object so that you can hang it virtually anywhere. Canary suggests using it to place Flex on fixtures, railings, or even branches.
The abode Gateway is responsible for communicating with and controlling all connected devices. Compared to Nest Secure, abode offers a wider array of equipment. Unfortunately, their equipment isn’t as modern looking as Nest’s nor do they offer any multi-purpose devices. However, they do sell everything you need to secure your home. Each Gateway can support up to 150 connected devices and up to six IP Streaming Cameras.
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.
Hi Rose! Thank you for such an informative article. Unfortunately, I’m reading due to the fact that my street was just the victim of car break-ins overnight. I am curious to know what your opinion on the night vision (inside and out) for each of the cameras is. I currently have the older Logitech Alert cameras, but their night vision isn’t the greatest so I really couldn’t make out the burglars or the vehicles they were in. I have been leaning on Ring doorbell/stick ups, but no 24/7 recording is almost scaring me away.
I haven’t had any issues with Arlo Pro, but I called their support team to get a feel for support quality. As Netgear owns Arlo, phone tech support is managed by Netgear, and they offer offshore support. It was the stereotypical experience you think of when you think of tech support. I called into a phone queue, waited a little bit (not long), got transferred to someone who struggled to understand my question, she put me on hold, she came back to clarify my question, she put me on hold, and then she came back with an answer. While it wasn’t a bad experience, it was sub-par compared to the tech support experiences provided by Nest, Canary, and Ring.
Jamie Siminoff, Chief Inventor and Founder of Ring, said: “We’re excited to continue expanding the Ring of Security with Ring’s first indoor/outdoor cameras. Ring Stick Up Cams give neighbors maximum flexibility to position the cameras anywhere, regardless of power availability, to secure every corner of their property. Every decision Ring makes is driven by our mission to reduce crime in neighborhoods; it’s important to have multiple layers of home security, and the Stick Up Cam line offers affordable, easy-to-install security for both inside and outside of the home.”
Although this looks intriguing, my experience with Ring products is that they work about 75% of the time on our two cameras. And the problems are definitely with Ring, not our network - as sometimes our iPhone / iPad won't connect, but an Android device right next to it on the same network will connect just fine to the video. Occasionally it is the other way around, but sometimes nothing will connect to the Ring camera even though my home network is up and working fine. That's annoying for video alerts... but for a home alarm, I don't think I would trust them based on my experience with our Ring cameras.
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.
I’ve never tried to live stream continuously. I assume that’s possible, and if you hard wire, that shouldn’t be a problem, but what about bandwidth usage? If I wanted to stream continuously, I would probably look into a CCTV system. I’ve never tested one, but I’ve seen some in action. Of course, this would mean using a TV or monitor as your “monitor.” I know you want to keep the Echo Show, but I haven’t tried to do something like you are trying to do so I’m not sure what to suggest. I’m intrigued though.
Ring Alarm doesn’t support smart lighting controls, door locks, thermostats, garage-door openers, or other common smart home products today, and there’s a very short list of supported third-party products. But it lacks nothing needed to support those and similar devices down the road. And in an interview with Ring Solutions president Mike Harris earlier this week, I learned that’s exactly what Ring intends to do.
Just one final question if I can, I was looking around a little more at some of your articles and YouTube videos (they are awesome! short and sweet and to the point!), and it seems like the Blink XT would also meet my criteria (the 9 pointers above), is that right? The thing I liked was that it’s much cheaper and apparently I’m getting the same, no? Is there anything I’d be missing out from my list if I go with the Blink camera (and overall do you recommend it)?
Once the base station is online and your account set up for monitoring, the rest of the devices in your starter kit are automatically identified in the Ring app and you can set them up one by one. With each one, you can provide a name and room location to help identify the accessories in notifications and the app. With the keypad, you'll set up an access code that lets you arm and disarm the alarm, and you can set up different codes for different people. As you set up each motion detector and contact sensor, the app will have you test each one to ensure that they're probably detecting events.
The caller from the monitoring service will identify themselves as being from Ring, since that’s who your business relationship is with, but they actually work for a third-party company that Ring contracts with: Rapid Response Monitoring Services. This is a common arrangement for home security systems. Nest, for example, contracts with MONI Smart Security (which is now doing business as Brinks Home Security). Alarm.com is another major third-party monitoring service.
I recently purchased the new Ring security system after owning the video doorbell for a while. I bought this system to allow me to ditch my system and service from a large national provider (42$ per month for monitoring vs 10$)! Firstly, I have been interested in this product and company since I saw Jaime Siminoff on Shark Tank back in 2013. Back then the company was called DoorBot. I like the new name much better.
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.
Sightline is accessed from the mobile app. From the app, you can see your video history marked with color-coded activities. The colors represent different zones set by you. For example, a green dot might be driveway activity whereas an orange dot is an activity from your porch. If you own a Nest Secure security system, events triggered by the system will also show up in the Sightline as red dots or bars. You will also be able to see a “snapshot” of the event. Finally, using Sightline, you can swipe to fast forward through several days’ worth of footage.
In fact, just this week I had the power go out at my home, which is also where my office is. I had deadlines to meet, so I decided to go to a coffee shop where I could work and fill up on caffeine. It wasn't until I walked into my garage that I remembered I had to manually open the garage door, disconnecting the door from the chain drive. My particular garage door opener wouldn't let me reconnect the door and the chain drive, locking it in place, so I was stuck with a garage door that anyone could lift open with ease.
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.
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