There is a problem with the Alexa skill if it requires the user to say “(whispers) Alexa, show me the front door” when someone is at the front door. As is, without Alexa – people already try to hide, turn the lights off, etc. – lol. “ALEXA!!! SHOW ME WHO IS AT THE FRONT DOOR. OH THAT PERSON I DO NOT WANT TO OPEN IT, I DO NOT LIKE THAT PERSON THEY ARE NOT HOLDING PIZZA! SO I WILL NOT OPEN IT. I HOPE THEY DID NOT HEAR ME.”
The door/window sensors (also called contact sensors) work pretty well, but the same cannot be said about the motion sensors; they will detect motion after there’s been plenty of movement (if I walk the hallway and enter a room it will not detect, but if I sit for a few seconds moving in the hallway it will detect it then). This is still not a show stopper for me, as I have a dog and don’t plan on buying any more motion sensors, it will be all contact sensors.
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.
The Spotlight Cam performed well in our tests. Daytime video was highly detailed with rich colors, while black-and-white night video showed good contrast and appeared sharp out to around 25 feet. The motion sensor always generated a push alert and followed my schedule without issue. Recorded video was just as sharp as the live feed, and two-way audio communications were distortion-free. The internal siren was certainly loud enough to scare away any would-be intruders, and the spotlight did a great job of lighting up an otherwise dark area in my backyard.
Ring doesn’t offer free storage. While you will be able to see missed alerts, you won’t be able to view missed events without subscribing. The good news is that cloud storage is cheap. For $3 a month per device, you will be able to view and download up to six months of events. You will also be able to share clips, which is of vital importance if you want to use your video as evidence. If you have several Ring Cameras, you can subscribe to their Protect plan for $10 per month or $100 per year. This plan covers an unlimited number of Ring cameras and adds a lifetime product warranty. Beyond storage, all Ring features are free.
Outdoor security cameras provide a line of defense for your home, and smart capabilities elevate that by adding control and peace-of-mind to your home security system. Today, one of the best on the market, Ring’s floodlight camera, is $314 for a two-pack from Home Depot, a big drop from a list price of $448. And you’ll also get a free $50 Chime Pro Wi-Fi extender and speaker with your purchase.
If you think about it, all of these cameras are magnetic meaning that anyone can steal them or knock them offline. The only way to stop this is to mount the camera high enough that an average person cannot reach them. In doing this, it means the battery cameras require you to get out a tall ladder to replace or recharge the battery where with the nest, once you run the power cord and its plugged in, you for a lack of a better phrase, “you set it and forget it.”
If you have a dog or a cat, getting a home alarm that won’t be constantly triggered by Fido or Fifi’s movements is a real question you have to consider. The Ring Alarm claims that it won’t detect pets weighing under 50 pounds if the alarm is mounted above seven feet, while pet-friendly motion detection is already integrated into the Nest base station and door sensors.
Nest will intelligently alert you, within reason. For example, you can have the street set as a zone, but turn off notifications for the street. Nest can also tell you when it sees a person or thinks it sees a person. In fact, you can choose to only receive alerts when it sees a person, which virtually eliminates false alarms. Better still, you can turn on person detection for the entire frame or from select activity zones.
The video doorbell is what Ring is known for. This smart doorbell and home security camera lets you answer people at your door remotely and keep an eye on what’s going on at your house. You get alerts whenever someone pushes the doorbell or when the motion sensor registers activity. The live view shows you what’s going on and two-way talk lets you communicate through the device. It holds up well in many conditions with its weather-resistant design. Ring’s video doorbells are also equipped with night vision.
Installing the sensors was similarly easy: I used the included double sided tape to mount the contact sensor to my front door and the motion sensor to the corner of the downstairs living room in my home. Ring also includes the necessary screws and wall fasteners for a more permanent installation, but the double sided tape was sufficient for my needs. For this review, I added two extra contact sensors (available as $20 add ons) and mounted them on a window and second door in my home. Syncing these with the existing system was just a matter of scanning a QR code on the back of the sensor, which triggered the app to search for it. Ring says that it will preset any additional devices you order at the same time as the Alarm starting kit, which would make setting them up as seamless as the in-box sensors.
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.
Arlo Pro can be used outdoors only if running on battery or solar power. (While they once sold an outdoor power adapter, it is no longer available due to quality issues.) If you’re using battery power, you will have to charge your camera indoors as the included power adapter is not rated for outdoor use. Furthermore, if your battery is too cold from being outside, you might have to wait for it to warm up before you can begin to charge it. If you don’t like the sound of that, you can invest in the $59.99 Pro Charging Station and an additional rechargeable battery ($49.99). You can use the charging station to charge two batteries simultaneously so that you always have one ready to go when needed. You can also purchase the Arlo Pro UV-resistant silicone skins, which provide added protection against condensation and sun glare.
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."
After shipping later than expected, is the Ring Alarm still worth your time? There are a bunch of alarm systems available that you can buy and install yourself these days, but there are a few key points that make the Ring Alarm stand out. From the ease of installation to the low monthly costs, the Ring Alarm system ticks a lot of boxes on paper that people will be looking for, but how does that on-paper experience compare to the real-life one?
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 other thing of note is its lack of smart home partners. Despite being owned by Amazon, Ring's system doesn't work with Alexa or any other major smart home platforms. If you want to arm and otherwise get the status of your home security system via voice commands, the Ring Alarm Security Kit isn't the right option for you. Ring does specify in its support section that it's working on these integrations for a future release.