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
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!
If that’s not possible, or if the floodlight feature is really important to you, I recommend either the Ring Floodlight (not tested but I have heard good things about it) or Ring Spotlight. Ring launched a new indoor camera at CES, so that might be an option. I need to dig into it more before I say yay or nay of course. Currently, Nest, Arlo Q, Arlo Pro, and Amazon Cloud Cam are my top recommended indoor cameras.
The aesthetic result of two devices mounted and connected by a wire isn’t overly pleasing. Thankfully, my setup is installed in a spot where it isn’t publicly visible. If it were on my porch, I would probably return the solar panel to use two batteries. That’s right, two! During the install, I was most surprised to find that though Spotlight Cam ships with one battery, it has room for two.
4) keypad- the nest system is if you dont have a table to lay the base station on as you come in the door. If you have a modern hosue or modern design you will prefer the flexibility to mount the keypad on the wall AND (VIP) use multiple keypads if you choose to enter through more than one door ! Nest allows for openly one keypad ! And also by putting kepayp[ad and base station in one chassis, you can't hide the base station OR locate it wher the mesh networks eorks best ! I understand nest keypad is a work of minimalist art.but Ring keypad is hardly ugly and very functional and flexible . It even lights up as you approach it and can be operated on batteries as well (ie you can take it with you to other parts of the house as needed !)
Swann Smart Security Camera is an indoor/outdoor battery powered security camera that works without a base station. It’s most similar to Reolink Argus and Canary Flex. The camera records in 1080p FHD, offers a 120° field of view, night vision, and is IP65 rated for outdoor use. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with any third-party devices and it lacks intelligent features to reduce false alarms. The camera boasts a feature called True Detect™, but that’s just a fancy marketing term for PIR motion sensor. The camera’s best feature is free local and cloud storage. From the app, you can playback seven days worth footage stored locally. The camera also includes two days of cloud storage.
Installing Spotlight Cam Solar wasn’t that simple, which I expected since it requires drilling, but the process was made even more complicated by two issues. First, the box design would have Steve Jobs rolling over in his grave. In fact, I’m not one for exaggerations so know that when I say it’s one of the worst box designs I’ve ever opened, I mean it. On a more serious note, there’s a discrepancy between the instructions found on the app, those printed on the included quick start guide, and those found online.

The base station connects to Ring Alarm devices using Z-Wave Plus. In theory, it could also connect to third-party devices using the same as well as Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth; however, it cannot currently connect to other devices besides the First Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm. Like abode and Nest, Ring’s Base Station includes battery backup, an integrated siren (104db), and a cellular chip which you can activate by paying just $10 per month. Finally, while you can connect to the Base Station via Ethernet, it’s not required.
The one thing Apple fans might miss is HomeKit support, which isn't included in Ring Alarm and still has yet to come several other Ring products for which HomeKit support was promised long ago. Ring declined to offer any new details on its HomeKit plans, but acknowledged that customers continue to request it and promised the company is still working on it.
Ring also doesn't currently offer any additional security accessories, but it plans to add a leak sensor and other devices at some point. And while your Ring security cameras and video doorbells ($250 at Amazon) live in the same app as your Ring Alarm Security Kit, there aren't any direct integrations between them today. I'd like to see something like, "If the Ring Alarm Security Kit's front door sensor notices that the door is opened in Home or Away mode, then tell my Ring Video Doorbell Pro to record automatically" -- even if the Video Doorbell Pro itself hasn't detected motion yet. 
The base station is also wall-mountable and can be installed on a Wi-Fi network or connected directly to your internet router over Ethernet. It has a 24-hour battery backup plus the ability to connect to an LTE network in the event of a power outage. (The LTE connectivity is available when you subscribe to Ring’s Protect Plus monitoring service and uses AT&T’s network.) Both the keypad and the base station feature colored LED rings to signify if the system is armed or disarmed and have built-in speakers to sound the alarm in the event of an emergency or intrusion.
The original Ring has a battery option. I don’t know how I would feel about that because you do have to remove the doorbell to charge it. Ring claims it will last 6-12 months on a charge. If that’s true, that wouldn’t be so bad; however, I would expect it to last like 3-6 months. In my experience, when a company gives a top end battery life range, that’s how long it will last if you never use the device. All that said, I don’t know how hard it would be to move a wired doorbell to the front of your door.
For instance, you cannot use the contact or motion sensors to turn lights off and on, and the system doesn’t have the ability to adjust your smart thermostat when the system senses that you leave your home. The Ring Alarm system does use Z-Wave technology, which is a widely used standard with smart home devices; however, it doesn’t utilize this functionality as much as it could.

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.
The Ring Alarm system does not include fire or carbon monoxide monitoring – for those features, you’ll need to add a First Alert Z-Wave Smoke/CO alarm ($40) or Ring’s Alarm Smoke and CO listener ($35) that gets installed next to your existing smoke alarms and “hears” when they go off to trigger the system. I was not able to test these products for this review.
I know the doorbell works because I have a rule that runs on the doorbell. I know the alarm does not work with IFTTT. Now I’m questioning my assessment of the Spotlight. I can’t remember if I actually used an IFTTT recipe with it or just assumed there was one. I gave the camera to my dad so I’ll have him check and then update the article if needed. Thanks for the tip!
Rose, thanks for the great review! Paul, I have a Video Doorbell Pro and a Floodlight Cam — both are hardwired. Both lag at least seven seconds behind real time and sometimes even longer. During the lag, the would-be burglar is gone or could be in your house. Ring’s ads suggest you see things in real time which is not the case for me. The signal strength and wifi speed both test excellent. I hope this helps you. Nick
The motion and door/window sensors can be mounted with screws or with Velcro strips (provided). I’m happy the sensors didn’t come from the factory with the strips already attached. I’ve never seen an adhesive strip that didn’t eventually fail, so I prefer to use screws—and peeling those strips off so you can use screws is a major pain. The sensor batteries come preinstalled, so you just pull out a plastic tab when the app tells you to. This enables the battery to touch the electrical contact inside the sensor, powering it up.
Thinking of your situation only….More than likely, you will need to buy an additional piece of hardware to upgrade your wired system to support newer technology, but it’s hard to say without more details. You might want to look into a device called Konnected. This would allow you to integrate your wired system with SmartThings which supports Ring cameras. You can read about that here. In my situation, they are not integrated, although most major home security companies now work with at least some third-party devices like Ring, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, August, etc.
** Information used for home security alarm system comparisons was obtained November 2016 through telephone and online research. ADT prices: based on total out-of-pocket expense to obtain services; installation based on fees for similar home security equipment packages; "Monitoring" price listed includes the additional "warranty" or "extended service plan".

A Canary Membership provides 30 days of video history, full-length video clips, social sharing, custom Home mode, two-way audio, desktop streaming, and unlimited downloads for $9.99/month for up to five cameras. It also provides access to a Safety Buton feature backed by Noonlight, formally SafeTrek. If you have more than five cameras, Canary charges an additional $4.99 per camera per month. You can use an unlimited number of cameras in a single location with a Canary Membership.
Thinking of battery-powered original Ring, I don’t think opening up the mount and recharging a battery every 3-6 months would faze me. Having two doorbells (the “real” one on the side and the Ring on the door frame) probably would bug me more than a little. It did not occur to me to move the existing doorbell, just to install the Ring in the new location on or near the door.
3) contact sensors- people complain they are too large-this is true if you plan to use on windows and most your openings, but thats true for any system that is not hard wired, including Nest ‘s contact sensors which are much more $ and only slightly smaller . And the hard wired ones are set into window/door frame- you can do that yourself and hire at least Hal;f the senior (i have chosen to embed with a little chiseling the large part fo the contact and lead the mangnet small part episode on the door; if you want it save yourself soem work and can tolerate a little more obvious appearances, embed the magnet. If this is a big issue for anyoen, just embed one half fo the contact into the doorframe it yield a very unobtrusive appearance.

For free, you have access to Basic which includes 7 days of free cloud recordings (up to 1GB), supports up to 5 cameras, and 3 months of phone support. Premier is $9.99 per month or $99.00 per year. It includes Arlo Smart, e911, 30 days of cloud recordings (up to 10GB), support for up to 10 cameras, and provides unlimited phone support. Finally, Elite is $14.99 per month or $149.00 per year and includes 60 days of cloud recordings (up to 100GB), support for 15 cameras, and unlimited support.
I have! That is a white box piece of hardware used by several companies so I actually have that same exact camera from another company. I don’t love it, but for the price, it’s a good choice. Of course, a huge portion of the experience is not just hardware, but user experience. I don’t know how Wyze will deliver on that side of the equation, but I’ve ordered a Wyze Cam for Bethuel to try, another writer on this site, can’t wait to hear his thoughts.
Check out this video at second 0:19 vs. 1:13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdM9HV1PoUs&lc=UgzO67pS8VXEX-xurdh4AaABAg. I took this video in January and compared the indoor Nest Cam to Arlo Q, which would be similar to Nest Outdoor and Arlo Pro 2. All-in-all Nest is better, especially at night (skip to minute 1:46 and 2:11). Nest also performs better in mixed lighting environments.
Contact sensors come in two pieces, a large sensor part and a smaller magnet part, and both pieces must be aligned within 1/4 inch of each other when the door or window is closed. One piece goes on the door or window while the second part goes on the frame, but it doesn't matter which part goes on which side. When the door or window is opened, the two parts are separated, and the sensor triggers.
From the app, you can control and manage your Nest Secure system. Of course, you can arm and disarm your system, but you can also see sensor status as well as sensor history. For example, you can see if your door is open or closed and you can see when it was last opened and last closed. You can also use the app’s Remind Me feature to remind you to arm your system if you forget to do so.
If the security device isn’t try to prevent jamming at all (And the protocol is one way – from sensor to main hub), all the thief need is a 10$-30$ device (definitely not close $1,000) which actively send signals and prevent the good signal to pass (the cheap signal jammer can be adjusted to frequency like you turn on a radio. the frequency itself is probably common in all devices or can be found on device manual) [not putting a security sign is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Security_through_obscurity but it may be better than nothing].
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.
The white base station is the brains of the system. It measures 1.4 by 6.6 by 6.6 inches (HWD) and has a 1.5-inch LED ring and a speaker on top, and a USB port and a LAN port around back, joined by a pairing button, a reset button, and Wi-Fi and power indicators. The base contains circuitry that supports numerous wireless protocols including dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth 4.1, and LTE cellular as a backup if you subscribe to the Ring Protect Plus plan (more on this later). It also has an internal backup battery that will provide up to 24 hours of power in the event of a power loss, and a loud 105dB internal siren.
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.
Expand Security With Other Devices Nest Cam, Nest Protect, Nest Thermostat, Nest Secure, Nest Hello, Nest Cam IQ Ring Stick Up, Solar Panel, Chime, Chime Pro, Ring Floodlight Cam, Ring Spotlight Cam, Ring Protect, Video Doorbell, Ring Beams Canary, Canary View Arlo Wire-Free, Arlo Q, Arlo Go, Arlo Baby, Arlo Pro 2, Arlo Security Light, Arlo Audio Doorbell (coming soon)
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.
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.
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.
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.
For a long time, I used my indoor Nest Cam to film through my window. It was a makeshift outdoor camera supplemented by my Ring Video Doorbell. So it should come as no surprise that when Nest Cam Outdoor launched, I jumped at the opportunity to buy it. Since then, my search for an outdoor solution has continued to Canary Flex, Ring Spotlight Cam, Arlo Pro, Arlo Pro 2, Blink XT, Nest Hello, Reolink Argus, Argus 2, and a few that did not make the honorable mention list.
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.
okkkk let me make it clear,can we remove battery and plug in camera with the adapter and cable already given in the box directly to the power socket by connecting directly does the camera gets damaged or does camera work while connecting it directly w/o battery in it.i knew it seems awful am asking this just to knew,i saw a reviewer saything that in his video and that why.
The base station connects to Ring Alarm devices using Z-Wave Plus. In theory, it could also connect to third-party devices using the same as well as Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth; however, it cannot currently connect to other devices besides the First Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm. Like abode and Nest, Ring’s Base Station includes battery backup, an integrated siren (104db), and a cellular chip which you can activate by paying just $10 per month. Finally, while you can connect to the Base Station via Ethernet, it’s not required.
The second issue I have for the system is that there is no quick exit feature. For the entire six years that I've had a security system, I have been used to being able to press a button that will give me one minute to quietly exit the house. This is important when I am leaving for work a few hours before my family wakes up for their day. The Ring system doesn't have this feature at all. When the system is armed, it has to be disarmed (which it announces) and rearmed before exiting with a delay that can be set up with your phone (it will announce this as well and will make a sound while it counts down) or can be armed from your phone after you leave (again, it will announce this with the countdown sound). You either have to chose if you want the system to count down or not. Not counting down will immediately arm it and you will have to arm from your phone if you leave and arm it on the "Home" setting while others are still there. You can adjust the sound that is emitted from the panel so that it isn't loud, but it will also make your door and window chimes use the same volume all of the time. If you have your system armed while you’re home, and the volume is down, you might not hear the system telling you that it needs to be disarmed if you forget and open a door. There is no in-between here. If you have to leave while others are still sleeping, this may be a problem for you.
The latest addition to Ring's home security platform, the Ring Alarm Security Kit ($199), contains everything you need to protect and keep tabs on your home. As with other DIY smart home security systems, installation is quick and easy, and you can either self-monitor or pay a modest fee for a professional monitoring service. The system worked well in our tests, but we were surprised to find that it offers limited support for third-party devices, and although it uses the same app, it doesn't interact with other Ring cameras or doorbells, at least not yet. For the time being, we continue to recommend SimpliSafe as our Editors' Choice.
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.
In the end, the best camera depends on what you want to accomplish. There is no one-size-fits-all solution regarding home security. I want to use my camera to help my neighbors. I’ve found that continuous recording is crucial. After all the testing, I went back to Nest Cam indoor supplemented by my Ring Video Doorbell before finally swapping to Nest Hello. Currently, I use Nest Hello with the $5 per month plan backed by a WyzeCam 2 (on my porch). WyzeCam 2 is an indoor camera, but it’s $25 so I’m not overly concerned about it giving out. It offers free cloud storage and CVR to an SD card. However, for my backyard, I feel Arlo Pro is ideal. I don’t need continuous recording, I don’t want more wires, and it wakes up faster than Canary.

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.
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