Right now, abode reigns supreme due to the number of integrations they offer, the variety of security sensors, and the fact that it’s an open platform not tied to Google (Nest) or Amazon (Ring). I would give Ring second place due to cost, and it’s bumped iSmart off of my list of recommended self-monitored security systems. My only gripe is that it doesn’t integrate well with its own camera system. Nest takes third, but I would still recommend it. It’s a beautiful system, easy to use, and thoughtfully designed. That said, if Ring raised the bar on their camera integrations, launches an indoor camera, a flood sensor (coming soon), and a glass break sensor, it might just become the system to beat.
Unfortunately, Ring doesn’t currently, nor does it appear to be adding any type of home automation features, but it is compatible with many third-party smart home services. Although Ring doesn’t offer professional monitoring services, they do offer live streaming when hardwired to your existing doorbells power supply. Ring Live View does not work when using the internal battery. Since most users prefer to use the Ring internal battery, paying for one of the Ring video recording packages is the ideal option.
The Ring Alarm starter kit is one of the most affordable security systems available. For $200, you get a wireless base station, a keypad for arming and disarming the system, one entry sensor, one motion sensor and a Z-wave range extender. I would have liked the kit to include at least two entry sensors since there's typically more than one point of entry to every dwelling, but you can purchase additional entry sensors for $20 a piece.
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I’ve settled on continuous video for my outdoor cameras too. Obviously, I use Nest for that. For indoor cameras, Arlo Q is also an option. For $9.99/month, you can add continuous cloud recording. SpotCam also has continuous cloud recording, but we haven’t tried it. Of course, there are other options where you store the footage locally, but then the trouble becomes finding usable footage when you need it!
Ring Alarm supports a sensor bypass mode, which allows you to arm the system even if one of the sensors is currently tripped. For example, if you want to arm the alarm but leave a monitored window open, the system will notify you upon arming that one of the sensors is currently faulted. You can choose to close the window to clear the sensor or bypass it, which will arm the system but not monitor that sensor until the next disarm/arm cycle.
My goal with a security camera is to help protect my neighborhood, not my house. (My house is protected as much as any house can be, trust me.) That said, to do my part, I need a camera that can record 24/7 (Stick Up Battery can’t, although the option will soon be available to wired Stick Up Cam users). I also need a camera that can capture a wide angle (Stick Up Battery can’t), and I need a camera that will allow me to quickly sift through footage when my neighbor’s request help (Stick Up can’t).
I want good coverage of two exterior doors and below a deck, but after seeing that Y1 cameras (not mentioned here) sell their data to third parties and can even share clips of customer video, and with the security concerns that go along with baby monitors being viewed on the web from weak passwords, I’ve realized that my main priority is preventing anyone other than my family from being able to view my footage. It looks like my only option is the Argus since it does not include cloud storage, but I’m wondering if use of the Argus mobile app also means that the company’s employees can view our footage. We’re not doing anything illegal, heh, but I really value privacy. Do you know of any cameras that can only be viewed by the customer?
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
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We've begun having an ongoing problem with car break-ins in our neighborhood. I wanted to get a security cam to monitor our driveway. I looked into standard cctv and more advanced poe/hd cams with a dedicated computer and HDD, but hesitated due to the complicated nature of the installs. Not that I can't do that, but I really wanted a simpler option. Enter the Ring Floodlight Cam. I purchased one to install in place of the motion floodlight over our driveway. I am pleased.