Use the Device Health button to view signal strength, firmware version, and the current Wi-Fi network you are connected to, and the Linked Chimes button lets you enable motion settings for any Ring Chime devices you may have installed. Motion Settings lets you adjust sensitivity using the slider, create detection zones, and set up schedules for enabling/disabling motion alerts, and Motion Snooze lets you temporarily turn off alerts. Tap the Shared Users button to invite friends and family to view video clips, and the App Alerts Tones button to assign one of a dozen sounds to play when motion is detected.
The Spotlight Cam captures video at 1080p and has a 140-degree field of view, but lacks the pre-buffered recording capabilities that you get with Netgear's Arlo Pro 2 camera and the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. It uses four infrared LEDS to provide up to 30 feet of night vision and has a built-in 110dB siren, an 802.11n Wi-Fi radio, and a speaker and microphone for two-way audio. The spotlight itself consists of two strips on either side of the camera, each with four LEDs that provide an overall brightness of 700 lumens with a 4,000K color temperature. The camera comes with one battery pack, a mounting bracket, wall screws and anchors, a screwdriver and drill bit, and a setup guide.

All plans, including the freemium plan, offer access to the same security features and provide a semi-decent way of sorting through historical footage. Through the app’s “Library” section, you will have access to a timeline feature. You can view all recorded events by day. You will also be able to favorite an event, download, or share it. You can also filter recorded footage by favorites, motion events, audio events, manual recordings, or recordings triggered by IFTTT.
Where Nest Wins: Nest has a better design, fantastic cameras, and cheaper cellular backup. Their multi-purpose sensors may cut down on the number of sensors you need, though they are more expensive than abode and Ring sensors. Also, Nest Guard is the most intuitive with LED lights, a keypad, and voice feedback. Finally, Nest Secure offers a 2-year warranty where abode and Ring offer 1-year warranties. However, there are areas where abode and Ring win too.
When you add the keypad, you’re asked to come up with a four-digit PIN that you’ll use to arm and disarm the system. If you opt in to professional monitoring, you’ll also need to come up with a verbal passcode that you’ll use to identify yourself as an authorized user when the monitoring service calls (so be sure to provide this information to your secondary contact, as they’ll need it as well).
Spotlight Cam’s star feature is its light. The camera is equipped with two lights that automatically trigger when motion is detected. The lights aren’t very bright. At 700 lumens, they’re about as bright as a 60-watt light bulb. It’s not enough to scare someone away, but does improve the camera’s ability to see at night. And nighttime is the only time when the lights will automatically turn on, though you can turn the lights on manually at any time. When triggered, the light stays on for about 30 seconds. When turned on manually, it stays on until you end the live stream (required to access light feature).
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.
Finally, I wouldn’t put too much weight into the Amazon review from 2015. Things have really changed since then, including the Nest app. The Nest app was a little slow going when first launched, but they’ve really improved it and added back features that were initially missing, though found within the Dropcam app, plus added new features like person detection.
Thanks Rose for this update! Not familiar with Kuna and will check them out via your link. Have been continuing to research the best outdoor option. Surprised that none of the major brands in your side-by-side can be used in colder regions – seems like that eliminates a lot of potential customers. Glad I found your review and keep up the great work in this space – very helpful!
Some jurisdictions require permits for monitored alarm systems, and Ring will guide you based on the address where you're using Ring Alarm. In some areas, Ring can obtain the permit on your behalf once you pay required fees, but in other jurisdictions you'll need to handle it on your own. Either way, once you have your permit, you can enter the permit number and expiration date in the Ring app to make all parties aware that your system is properly registered. My town does not require permits, so I did not need to go through this step.

The Nest Aware 5 day is $50 per year. If you add a second camera, it would be $75 per year for both so the difference isn’t as vast since you get 50% off subsequent subscriptions. My suggestion is that you dig in deeper as there are pros and cons to both so pick the one which has features that best align with your goals. A couple of bonus tips, which you may already know…1. I’ve owned both combos (Ring + a Nest Thermostat) and (Nest Hello + Nest Thermostat). To me, the only advantage is one app, and using two apps wasn’t a big deal IMO. If you use Nest’s Home Away/Assist, you might feel differently, but I don’t take advantage of that feature. 2. I’ve also tried Ring Spotlight and Ring Doorbell together. Again, the only advantage is that you will have one app. You can’t use them to trigger each other. For example, you can’t say, “When someone rings my doorbell, tell Spotlight to record.” I thought that was kind of interesting…
Ring makes sure that no matter your experience level, you're empowered with information. The minute you open the box, there are neatly packaged containers with nearly every component needed to install the kit. Before you do any of that, however, you'll have to add each device through the Ring mobile app, which is extremely straightforward — all you have to do to start setting up accessories is tap the button that says "Set up a new device."
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.
An update on the outdoor charger for the Arlo Pro/Pro 2: Amazon has been informing buyers that “NETGEAR has informed us that the product Arlo Outdoor Power Adapters (Model No. VMA4700) may have an issue with the connection between the adapter and Arlo Pro cameras may allow water to enter the camera.” This can result in the camera short-circuiting, overheating, and burning. (It’s hard to find out about this, and Netgear has failed to issue a recall.)
Is the Nest Outdoor can really secure? If you have to run the cable to a power outlet, outside and clearly visible, it seems to me that more than an eye sore it’s simply insecure. Anyone could walk up and unplug it. Sure it may catch a snap of the person prior to that, or it may not if they person makes the right approach. Either way, it seems insecure to have an outdoor camera that anyone could easily take offline. Thus I wonder if the extra $ for the IQ are worth it, just for that reason vs any of the other enhancements that they market, as I agree with you those feature do not seem to be worth the large price increases (which is more than doubled).
Ring doesn’t have any contracts or other subscription-related requirements, but you do have the option of adding one of the video recording packages mentioned above. However, they do offer exclusive discounts and an extended warranty if you choose to purchase the upper tier package. Ring’s equipment comes with a one-year warranty, and if your doorbell is stolen, Ring will replace it for free.
At 3.2 by 0.9 by 0.9 inches (HWD), the Z-Wave contact sensors for doors and windows are bulkier than the sensors that come with the Vivint Smart Home system (2.5 by 1.0 by 0.5 inches). They're each powered by a CR123 battery that is rated to last three years and can be installed using double-sided tape or with mounting screws. The motion sensor (3.5 by 2.4 by 1.7 inches) also runs on a CR123 battery and uses a Z-Wave radio to communicate with the base station. The range extender (3.1 by 1.8 by 1.1 inches) plugs into a wall outlet and extends the Z-Wave signal by up to 250 feet, so you can place sensors just about anywhere.
The camera uses the same Android and iOS mobile app as the Ring Floodlight Cam and all of the Ring doorbells, and you can access it from a PC using the web console. The Spotlight Cam appears in the list of installed Ring devices in the app: tap it to access its dashboard screen where you can turn motion alerts on and off and check the battery level. Tapping the Live View button launches a live video stream in landscape mode with buttons for turning the spotlight on and off, sounding the siren, recording and sharing a clip with neighbors, push-to-talk (two-way audio), muting the sound, and ending the stream.
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.
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.

Installing the Ring Alarm system is easy thanks to the well-written getting started guide. I already had a Ring account, but if this is your first ring device, start by downloading the Ring app and creating one. I opened the app and tapped Add a Ring Product, selected Alarm from the list, and confirmed my location. I plugged in the base station and pressed the pairing button, which started the blue LEDs spinning, indicating that the station was in pairing mode. I tapped Find My Base Station in the app and selected Wi-Fi as my internet connection method (you can connect via Ethernet or Wi-Fi), selected my router's SSID, and entered my Wi-Fi password. The LEDs flashed white momentarily before turning solid blue and the Wi-Fi indicator turned green, indicating a successful pairing. The app also confirmed the connection.
Ring lacks third-party integrations. The Base Station communicates with Z-Wave and Zigbee, and I’ve confirmed those protocols were added for a reason, but they haven’t taken advantage of them. The system supports the First Alert Z-Wave Smoke/CO detector which is also compatible with the Ring Response service. Soon, it will also work with the Dome Siren. But that’s it. Ring currently lacks an IFTTT channel and even an Alexa integration, which is odd as Ring is owned by Amazon.

The Ring Alarm system has three different modes, which can be set via the keypad or through the iOS and Android apps. There’s the standard disarmed mode that turns off all of the monitoring; an away mode that watches all of the installed sensors for intrusions; and then a “Home” mode, which by default will monitor sensors installed on entryways, but ignores motion inside the house. I’ve used the latter mode as basically a night or sleep setting, since during the day my family moves in and out of the house a lot and would constantly trip the door sensors.


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.
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 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.


Hi and thank you for the exhaustive review. I like the option of Ring Doorbell Pro. However, my existing doorbell is on the side of the house, facing parallel to the door across the front steps. If I mounted the Ring there, the camera would capture a profile of the visitor as they approach the door. It would not capture their face head on, would not (likely) capture them them as they approach the steps, which is where delivery people often leave packages (my interest in Ring, Arlo, etc., came out of the neighborhood social app conversation about a rash of package thefts), and would not capture the car they drive as it would face parallel to the street, not into the street. My question is: what would the installation of Ring look like on or near the front door, where there is no existing wiring? Is my existing setup enough to steer me away from Ring and toward a battery powered option?
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.

I'm a Ring user, with a Video Doorbell 2 and a Floodlight Cam already installed at my house, but I don't have any prior experience with home security systems. That made for a bit of a learning curve just in terms of figuring out how I wanted to set things up and remembering to arm/disarm the system at the appropriate times. But Ring Alarm is intended as a simple do-it-yourself system that makes it easy for even novice users to get up and running, so perhaps I'm an ideal candidate for testing things out.
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.

Ring Protect retails for $199 for the basic hardware, which is also less than Nest Secure’s $399 entry price. The system also works with all of Ring’s existing products, and will be rolling out support for third-party connected devices over time, too. On its own, it operates as a self-monitored connected security system, sending you alerts while you’re away. The Protect plans starting at $10 monthly include 24/7 monitoring by professionals, as well as unlimited cloud storage for recording from an unlimited number of Ring devices, as well as a 10 percent discount on future Ring hardware purchases.


Ring allows some of the best customization. As a result, it is very common for individuals to be able to pick and choose the features most important to them. You do not have to buy an entire package. Instead, check out this Ring product costs and price list. You can see the cost of each component of the Ring system, and you get to choose what works for your individual needs.
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