Ring offers access to a timeline-style feature where you can view events going back six months (if you are subscribed). From the timeline, you can sort through ring events, motion events, starred events, or live view events. From the web app, you can also sort by device so that you can separate your Spotlight Cam footage from footage captured by your other devices. Right now, the feature isn’t very advanced. Soon, Ring plans to completely revamp their mobile app.

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.
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.
It doesn't work with the Amazon Cloud Cam indoor home security camera, either. Here's what a Ring spokesperson had to say about it: "Ring Alarm does not work with Amazon Cloud Cam at this time. While I can't comment on the roadmap at this time, what I can tell you is that we will make product decisions based on what will best empower Neighbors with an affordable, effective way to monitor their homes."
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.

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.


I’m in the rocky mountain region where it occasionally gets well below -4 and can verify your reader’s quote about cold weather limitations w Nest outdoor. I asked Nest support about this and they suggested that a different product might make sense. Seems like there really isn’t a good DIY option for users that live in cold weather? Arlo pro battery life is impacted, Flex only rated down to 14F and Nest said I should try a different product in cold weather.
Ring Alarm hits nearly all the right notes for a basic DIY home security system. I’ve already touched on a couple of its shortcomings—including an absence of support for smart speakers—but tighter integration with Ring’s own cameras would be another welcome development. When an alarm is tripped, the cameras should begin recording to perhaps capture a glimpse of what triggered it—potentially valuable forensic evidence you could provide to the police investigating a break-in. And if Ring Alarm could control your home’s smart lighting, it could turn on all the lights if the alarm is triggered after dark, which might convince an intruder to make a hasty retreat.
If you do have smart lights and want to control them with a contact sensor or motion detector, you will need to install separate ones in addition to Ring’s, which can make your front door look like it’s grown barnacles with all of the sensors installed. Another simple integration would be to set a smart thermostat to its away mode when the Alarm is set to away, and then switch it back to its home mode when the Alarm is disarmed, but that’s currently not possible either.
After using Flex unplugged for a little over two weeks, the battery fell critically low before getting to the point where the camera would no longer turn on. I don’t blame this on the weather as much as I do the wind. Continued tests showed a battery life of 2-4 weeks. Per a reader request, I retested the camera in August. The weather is warmer here in August, it’s less windy, and Canary has since made several adjustments to help extend Flex’s battery life. This time, the battery lasted a full seven weeks.

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.
The device’s design causes another issue. In theory, each clip cable needs to be screwed in. I’ve heard others claim this is for security reasons, making the device harder to steal. But I don’t see how this could be true. It’s not hard to walk up and unscrew the camera from the cord and walk away with it. The camera attaches to the base using a magnet, and it connects to the power adapter using a cord that you simply push and twist to disconnect.
In home mode, the default setup is for motion sensors to be ignored while door/window sensors will trigger the alarm to activate. This mode is obviously intended for when you're moving around inside your home but want to be protected if someone enters the house through a monitored door or window. Finally, away mode arms all sensors so that any opened monitored door or window or movement within the house will set off the alarm.
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.
Also, Ring thinks it can do more than others in this space because of its overarching mission, which has focused much of its product development to date: Creating a so-called “Ring of security” that extends across the home and into the neighbourhood. Protect is a big part of that plan, because it deepens the relationship that Ring has with its customers, and allows it to gather data to help truly hone and personalize its alert system and monitoring services.
Great article with lots of useful information. Very comprehensive comparison that really helps people make a wise decision based on their particular needs. FYI, I chose abode for my home security needs because it’s a proven shipping product and it integrates well with other systems. Although the camera quality might not be as good as others, it will suffice for my needs.
The Ring Doorbell Camera security system was acquired by Amazon. They currently offer doorbell cameras and exterior security lighting cameras. And according to their website product page, Ring will soon be adding indoor security and environmental protection products to their lineup as well. This is great news based on how popular their current products have become.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, how did Ring become a giant in home security now worth over $1 Billion?  They started out as 'Doorbot' and failed getting an investor on Shark Tank.  While this could have been a low blow to the company, they pursued the smart doorbell camera and became the leader of it (Vivint to follow in 2nd).  Richard Branson chimed in with a large investment and that really got the company going.  Fast forward some years and now they are in thousands of stores and in neighborhoods across the nation.
The camera is powered by the same quick release battery pack used on the Ring Video Doorbell 2. It contains a mini USB charging port and is rated to last for six to twelve months between charges depending on camera and spotlight activity. The camera can hold two battery packs and will automatically switch over to the secondary battery when one runs out of juice. Additional battery packs are available for $29 each. If you prefer a wired solution, Ring sells a Spotlight Cam Wired model for $199.
I tested the Spotlight Cam Wired and the Spotlight Cam Solar separately. The Wired is a great option if you have easily accessible outdoor power outlets. The 4.96-inch-by-2.72-inch-by-2.99-inch camera has a 20-foot power cable attached at the back as well as a built-in wall mount, and unlike with the battery powered models, you won’t have to worry about dead batteries or too many overcast days interrupting your surveillance. I’m guessing, however, most folks will need one of the battery-powered cameras.
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor will offer most of the same features as the indoor IQ (less the Google Assistant integration). The only difference between IQ and the original Nest Cam is the power cord. Unlike the original Nest Cam Outdoor, you will have to drill a hole to install the IP66-rated Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, unless you happen to have an existing opening. Nest Cam IQ Outdoor will start at $349. And this, my friends, is why I won’t be purchasing Nest Cam IQ. Not only is person detection sufficient and offered via the less expensive Nest Cam Outdoor, but I don’t have an existing opening, and I’m not going to drill. Plus, Nest Hello offers facial recognition and a pretty sweet Google Home integration.

To test all the professionally monitored security systems out there would too expensive due to the high monthly fees so I usually keep up with them at CES when I can, and Vivint attends CES. I’ve seen all of their cameras including the doorbell in Vegas, but it’s not the same as living with something for months and experiencing the quirks that often come along with longterm ownership. You can read my Vivint review here, but I doubt it’s going to help with the issue you are experiencing. Vivint processes motion events in the cloud. I believe they recommend that customers have a minimum upload speed of 2MBPS.
Was Ring too quick to announce the launch of this new product?  They have launched their security cameras without any bumps but they are being sued by ADT and halted by a judge from selling their security system until the court has reached a verdict (story here).  ADT is claiming intellectual property violation.  Since they are the largest company in the industry surely they want to slow down Ring anyway they can, and this is sure doing a number on them at the peak of their launch.

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.


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.”
Away mode enables a countdown timer which you can set from anywhere between 30 seconds to 3 minutes. This gives you time to exit your home or cancel the alarm if need be. Once the timer reaches zero, a notification is pushed to your phone letting you know the system is armed. You’ll also hear an announcement (if you’re still in your house) through the base station that the house is now armed.
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.
Ring's Neighborhood is a cool feature that lets you share recorded events with neighbors who have joined the Neighborhood. You'll receive alerts when a neighbor posts a video and when there's fire and police activity in your neighborhood. The Events tab takes you to a screen where you can view a list of all camera and alarm events including sensor activity, arming and disarming times, and motion detection. Below the Neighbors and Events tabs are windows with live views of each installed Ring video doorbell and camera.
Like the hardware, Ring’s Protect Plus service is significantly less expensive than other options. It costs $10 per month and has no long term contract commitments. Nest offers a similar service, but it starts at $19.99 per month with a three-year contract and jumps to $29.99 per month if you opt for no commitment. ADT, one of the largest traditional home security services, has plans that start at $28.99 per month and requires a three-year commitment.
Disclaimer: The information featured in this article is based on our best estimates of pricing, package details, contract stipulations, and service available at the time of writing. All information is subject to change. Pricing will vary based on various factors, including, but not limited to, the customer’s location, package chosen, added features and equipment, the purchaser’s credit score, etc. For the most accurate information, please ask your customer service representative. Clarify all fees and contract details before signing a contract or finalizing your purchase.
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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.
When it comes to integrating your home alarms with the rest of your smart home, both Nest and Ring offer the option to purchase extenders. It may take a bit of time to figure out if you need one, since the size, layout, and materials in your home can all make a difference in creating dead zones on your property. Nest’s extender will set you back $70, while Ring’s is just $25.

The keypad has 12 backlit buttons on the left-hand side and three in a circle on the right. You create a four-digit PIN during setup, which you’ll tap into the keypad when you arm and disarm the system (you can also do this from the Ring app, which is available for Android and iOS devices. It’s the same app used for Ring’s video doorbell and security cameras, although there’s currently little integration between the cameras and the security system.)
Well, I have not had any problems. This product works as advertised. Video freezes up occasionally but recovers quickly. I did move my router inside the house and went from -61 to -48. Camera resolution is acceptable and the IR emitters work well up to about 20 feet at night. Customer service is good (at least the one time I called them). I recommend this product. ADT installed our system and stand behind their work.
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 picture isn’t quite as rosy if you’re also looking for a full-fledged smart home system. Ring Alarm is positively capable of being a great smart home controller. But it’s not that today. And to be fair, Ring isn’t promising that it ever will be—at least not officially. But they wouldn’t have built in Z-Wave, ZigBee, and whatever that third mystery radio is if they didn’t intend to go down that path.


Ring’s smart home security system does not include carbon monoxide monitoring. If you want to add this feature to your home, you can purchase either Ring’s Alarm Smoke and CO listener or First Alert’s Z-Wave Smoke/CO alarm. These are installed next to your current smoke alarms and will hear when either go off which triggers your security system and lets you know there is an emergency at home.
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.

From what I understand, it’s not so much a matter of just buying a device, but also programming it to the exact frequency that matches your alarm system. (Which makes an interesting case for not using a security sign, but that’s another debate.) That said, a really good signal jammer can cost upwards of $1,000, and as CNET pointed out, they would still have to smash a window or break down your door. The guy who wants money for his addiction isn’t going to spend the money and effort needed to pull off a jamming heist. Of course, if you are a public figure or might be the target of a more complex attack, I would suggest looking into a wired alarm system.


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.
On another note, I really like this article. It has a lot of good information that I’ve added to my personal research. One thing I like about Abode is that the Chris Carney (a founder) has many years of experience in the security industry. It is open source and seems like it protects user data better. After Google purchased Nest, one can only imagine how they are combining all of that personal data with all of the other personal data they have on us. The on-demand monitoring seems really valuable–I only really need 3rd party monitoring when I’m out of town.
As you set up each piece, you're able to give it a name (like Front Door, Office Window, Main Hallway, etc), and then a location of where it is in your home, as well. Within the app, the devices are grouped by type, and the names that you give each piece is displayed to help you know what is what. While setting up the keypad you'll be asked to create a PIN number that you'll use to engage and disengage. If you have additional family members, once you share the new equipment with them in the app, you can set PIN numbers for them as well.
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.

True. I do feel like I touched on most of my “what’s best” thoughts in the Final Thoughts section. I would take from abode the free and vast integrations which extend to its ability to work with so many security-related devices (glass break sensors, flood sensors, freeze sensors, key fobs, etc.). I would also take their optional on-demand monitoring plans, free cloud storage, and geofencing. I would take from Nest their fabulous camera technology, design, and overall experience (voice prompts, clean app experience, etc.). From Ring, I would take pricing and extended battery backup.
You can also disarm the system from the app, but in a break from convention, Ring does not offer a key fob for arming and disarming the system. Geofencing that would automatically arm and disarm when you leave and return isn’t supported either. Harris said those were conscious design decisions. “What it came to was security,” Harris said. People said ‘Hey, I want this to automatically disarm my security system when I get close.’ The question then becomes: How close? And is it really you with your phone? Or did someone pick it up at the park, find your address, drive to your house, and let themselves in?”
Motion detection was responsive and accurate with the default settings, which placed the sensitivity midway on a scale between “people only” and “all motion.” You can adjust this to your liking with the slider, or use it in combination with customizable motion zones.  With each alert, Chime Pro simultaneously emitted a digital Ring. This ensured I was kept aware of detected activity even when I was home, as I don’t usually carry my phone around the house. You can change the chime’s sound and volume and “snooze” it for periods of time in the Ring app.
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