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.

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.
After testing indoor Nest IQ Indoor and Nest Cam Outdoor, I’ve decided to pass on Nest IQ Outdoor. Plus, it sounds like this version will require drilling, and I’ve found that Nest’s facial recognition feature doesn’t add more value than their face detection feature. I also don’t have a place for Ring Floodlight. However, I will buy Ring Spotlight. I have six devices in my office waiting to test, so I can’t promise that it’s going to happen quickly, but it will happen! 🙂
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).
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.
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."
Do it yourself can be a really good option, but you need to make sure this is right for you before you jump in. There won’t be any technicians or professional installers to make sure everything is installed and working correctly. Ring does claim that the system is effortless to install but that obviously doesn’t guarantee that you won’t run into issues, especially if you don’t have experience with security systems. In this case, you just need to know yourself to know if this type of installation and maintenance is right for you. If you tend to hire out for most of your home projects, this extremely important project probably isn’t the one you want to start with trying on your own.

All these new DIY systems pretty much rely on cellular and/or Wi-Fi. It seems that although it makes things more accessible, cheaper and easier to install, that’s where most of the glitches, or inconsistent alarm notifications come from, right? But in general it’s good that these systems have been made available for us all to choose from. Thank you for helping us navigate all the choices.

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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."
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.

The Spotlight Cam works with IFTTT , applets so you can have it work with other IFTTT-enabled smart home devices such as sirens, smart switches, and lights. It also works with Kwikset Kevo and Lockitron locks, the Wink Hub, and Wemo devices, and you can use Amazon Alexa voice commands to view video on an Echo Show display or other compatible device.
Post launch of Nest Cam IQ Indoor, Nest has announced that they are making an outdoor version of IQ. I’ve tested the indoor IQ and it is one of a few cameras that I’ve returned. In my opinion, the extra features (Person Recognition, Supersight, 4K Image Sensor, HD Talk and Listen, 12x Zoom, and HDR) don’t justify a price tag that is nearly double the original Nest Cam.

I love the Ring Video Doorbell, but I’m not a huge fan of their other cameras. However, the wired version of Ring Spotlight works in temperatures ranging from -20°F to 120°F, which makes it an interesting choice for you. I also like my Nest Hello. Nest Cam IQ Outdoor can work in temperatures ranging from -40° to 113°F. That said, if you are opening to drilling during your construction project, which I assume you are, I would recommend exploring PoE cameras, which is a category I need to dig into more. If you go this route, you would more than likely have one app for your cameras and another for your doorbell. As a side note, Ring Video Doorbell Elite is a PoE option.


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.
When you say, “a service like Ring,” do you mean the ecosystem itself? As in, you’re looking for a doorbell and outdoor camera that work under one app? Or do you mean something different? Short answer is no, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. Long answer: Ring Elite, as you said offers PoE as does DoorBird Video Doorbell, but I do not recommend DoorBird. Regarding security cameras, Arlo Q Plus (no doorbell, but it does work with IFTTT). EZVIZ Husky offers PoE (no doorbell camera, poor quality IMO, works with IFTTT). OCO Pro Bullet offers PoE as does their Pro Indoor camera (no doorbell, but it does work with IFTTT). In order, I like Arlo Q the best (it’s got a strong lead in this three-way race), followed by Oco, and EZVIZ. I have tested cameras from all three companies.
When you arm or disarm the system, the keypad and the base station play a female voice that informs you of the system’s status (the keypad’s speaker is unfortunately subdued). LEDs on both devices provide visual feedback as well, although only the base station gives you a constant visual cue as to the system’s status: Blue for unarmed, red for armed.
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’ve been following along, you know that when I face wire management issues or I have to use a power drill, I call my dad. Drilling into brick isn’t easy. Even for dads, apparently. In the end, I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep the camera anyway. What if I don’t like the camera? Do I want holes in my brick? With that in mind, we decided to use a piece of industrial strength 3M adhesive on the power adapter (the power adapter weighs about 4.5 oz) and a regular 3M strip on the camera wall plate. Everything seemed fine at first. At about 10 o’clock that night, I heard a loud crash. Thankfully, the camera was fine, but the power adapter proved to be too heavy for the adhesive.


Two days later we had the Ring alarm and a Ring doorbell in hand. The whole setup took less than 20 minutes (including the doorbell). Plug in the parts, stick sensors to doors, use the app to walk through configuring them, and you're done. A few minutes later I had the professional monitoring set up. I spent a few minutes familiarizing myself with the features, adjusting alarm volume, adding user codes, etc. It was all just so seamless.
I agree! This was a great comparison article for me and timely. A neighbor of ours just recently got robbed and led us to upgrade our basic home security features. I am curious if this article will be updated once Abode Iota is launched. I like the al a carte of monitoring with Abode and may end up getting nest outdoor camera with Abode. Thank you again!

You set up the Chime Pro, which also adds a chime sound to your motion detection alerts, in a process that’s similar to the camera installation: You plug it in to an AC outlet somewhere between your router and the camera to repeat the wireless signal. I used a spare outlet in my kitchen as that was roughly the halfway point between my living room router and the camera on the front of my house. Once the Chime Pro is plugged in, a voice prompt will tell you it’s ready to set up. You then add the device in the Ring app then follow the voice and app prompts to connect it to your wireless network.
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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).
The other major part of the Ring Alarm kit is the 5.9 x 3.9 x 0.9-inch keypad, which can also be laid flat or hung on the wall. The keypad has 12 backlit number buttons, as well as three other buttons for quickly arming and disarming the system (though it's also possible to do so from the Ring app for iOS and Android). The buttons are plastic and easy to clean, and by default, they chime when pressed. I like that the keypad is handheld, but I still much prefer the rubberized remote keypad offered by SimpliSafe.
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.
I’ve heard others say Arlo is the perfect outdoor camera. I disagree. The original Wire-Free camera had more latency than Arlo Pro. Also, Pro includes a wider field of view, a rechargeable battery, a siren (built into the hub), and it adds sound with two-way audio, all features the original Arlo lacked. Arlo Pro 2 bumps up the resolution to 1080p and adds three features if the camera is plugged-in: CVR, Motion Zones, and Look Back.
With the base station up and running, I was able to verify the address associated with my Ring account, enter my closest cross street to assist emergency responders, and add emergency contacts to be notified if the alarm trips. Adding a verbal password to authenticate my account when Ring calls due to an alarm event was the last step, and I was good to go with the 30-day free trial of professional monitoring. After the free trial, professional monitoring costs $10 per month or $100 per year, and it also includes cloud video storage for any other Ring camera and doorbell products you have in your home.
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.
“Where we’re going with it is once we know this, we can then do things in our network which include, you know if someone’s walking around your house at 3 AM in the morning and your house is on stay mode, then we can do a different type of alert or sort of raise the alert level on that camera,” explained Siminoff. “And then we do things like deliver presence saying ‘How can I help you, what are you doing?’ and so really taking that presence and that interactivity, and that pre-crime thing that Ring is so good at and take it to the next level by knowing the status.”
Unfortunately, Ring doesn’t offer any professional monitoring services at this time; however, they do offer two video recording packages without a contract and they don’t have any other subscription requirements. Additionally, they are not currently offering any deals or discounts other than the 10% discount you will receive on all future purchases if you are a Protect Plus member, which is their premium unlimited video recording service. They also have a one year warranty on all their equipment unless you are a Protect Plus Plan member which entitles you to a lifetime warranty on all your equipment, as long as you remain a Protect Plus member. Check out the full review of Ring Doorbell here.
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