Hi Rose, thanks for the reviews. I am about to send a Vivint system back due to the doorbell camera. It does not capture motion events. I am curious as to why you did not review them (or the camera). They are complaining about my upload speed of my WiFi, which makes me ask, where are the motion detection algorithms processed? Are they run on the doorbell, the panel or only after it is uploaded? Did you look into that?
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.
Getting this much capable home security hardware for $199 is an absolute bargain (the system became available for purchase today). Adding door/window sensors for $20 each and motion sensors for $30 is an absolute bargain. Paying $10 a month for professional monitoring and video storage in the cloud for an unlimited number of Ring security cameras is an absolute bargain. Ring Alarm will be a huge hit with people looking for a straightforward, easy-to-use home security system.

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.
Blink is also a battery-powered outdoor camera. It’s built around a unique chip that should provide an amazing battery life. However, while my indoor cameras are almost at the two-year mark using the original AA batteries, my Blink XT batteries usually last between 1.5 and 2 months. While I love my Blink indoor cameras, I would not recommend Blink for outdoor use. You can read my Blink XT review and comparison to Arlo Pro here.
Speaking of monitoring, there are different modes that you can set when arming the alarm. When you're at home, there are two choices, including Disarmed and Home. With disarmed, there is no 3rd-party monitoring happening, so you can open and close the doors, windows, and more as you please. Home mode is used for times like when you're home alone or going to bed, and there is external monitoring involved. With Home mode, you can opt to change which sensors are active and which aren't, which is great for if you don't want a motion sensor to go off because of your pets or something.
Finally, you can add third-party Z-Wave and Zigbee devices. abode has a list of compatible devices on their site. The list includes products by Aeon, Aeotec, Enerwave, Fibraro, First Alert, FortrezZ, GE, Linear, Kwikset, Leviton, Schlage, Iris, Sensative, ZooZ, and Netvox. abode also sells their own Home Automation Power Outlet & ZigBee Extender. The device will turn any outlet into a smart outlet, allowing you to control plugged-in devices and include them as part of your automation recipes. The switch also acts as a ZigBee range extender.
The Z-Wave range extender and the sensors in the kit are pre-paired with the base station, so you just need to enroll them into the app. Ring also sent me a couple of add-on door/window sensors so I could experience the full onboarding process. This simply involves scanning a QR code on the device, verifying that the PIN printed below the QR code matches what’s displayed in the app, and then pulling the battery tab.
That said, using abode with a Nest Cam is my recommended solution, and integrating the two provides one major advantage: more free storage for your Nest Cams. The major disadvantage is that even if you are a Nest Aware subscriber, abode can only store snapshots. If you want video clips or continuous cloud access, you will need to pay for Nest Aware to access your footage via the Nest app.
I’m leaning towards Arlo Pro 2 over the Arlo Q, due to the portability – however, since the portability is only a plus for me and not a must, is there any advantage that the Q has over the Pro 2 that I may want to consider before making my final decision. [I tried finding differences between the Arlo Q and Arlo Pro 2, and, aside from the design & portability, I was unable to find any.] If you know of any can you please share with me, and then I’ll be 100% certain in my decision:)
The Alarm system performed flawlessly. The base station chimed whenever a sensor was triggered while in Disarmed mode, and the event was added to my history log within seconds of the event. I promptly received push and email notifications whenever there was a mode change or when the base station was unplugged and switched to the cellular network while running on battery power. However, the Alarm system does not send push or email notifications when a sensor is triggered while in disarmed mode like the Vivint Smart Home system does. This may not seem like a big deal, but it's nice to know when windows and doors are being opened if you're away while other family members are home with the system disarmed.
If you already have a Ring doorbell or security camera, the integration is quite seamless, and the value becomes even better on the annual costs. Ring charges $30 a year per camera on the regular subscription, so if you've been holding out on adding to your system, this may push you over the edge. The company has plans to offer additional sensors in the future, like smoke and CO sensors, water sensors, and more, which will only help make it even more robust.
So let’s talk cost for a minute. For $399, Nest includes a Nest Guard which also acts as a keypad, siren, and motion detector, two Nest Detects which are also motion sensors, and two Nest Tags. An equivalent package from abode would cost $479. A comparable package from Ring would cost $279. However, Ring doesn’t sell a key fob, and the kit includes a range extender, so that needs to be factored into the equation.
2. If you want monitoring of video, check out SimpliSafe. They won’t monitor your motion events, but rather your sensors. If your sensors show an alarm event, they can log into your camera to gather video evidence. They offer what’s called ‘video verification.’ The downside to SimpliSafe, when compared to the options presented in this article, is that it lacks home automation. The system does support Nest Thermostats, Alexa, Google Assistant, and the August Smart Lock Pro, but it doesn’t offer an automation engine. Also, integrations are not free, which is in contrast to what abode, Ring, and Nest offer. Finally, SimpliSafe does not have an outdoor camera though they did recently release a video doorbell and have plans to launch an outdoor camera. abode, Nest, and Ring all lack professional monitoring of video and the cameras are not tied to the alarm as motion sensors. Camera motion activated events are self-monitored.
Ideally suited for the darker nooks on your property that are susceptible to breach after sundown, it comes in four models: Spotlight Cam Wired ($199), Spotlight Cam Battery ($199 at Amazon), Spotlight Cam Solar ($229), and Spotlight Cam Mount ($249 at Amazon). The cameras in all four models are the same. The Battery and Solar use the same battery; the latter just comes with an included solar panel that can also be purchased independently ($49 at Amazon). 

All that said, the biggest flaw with price is that purchasing Nest’s multi-purpose sensors may be forcing you to purchase more equipment than you need. Most homes don’t need three motion sensors, especially if the sensors have a decent range. Remember, Nest’s motion detectors only detect movement within a 10-foot range, the abode motion sensor has a 120° field of view and can detect motion within a 34-foot range so you would need at least two Nest motion-enabled devices for every one abode motion sensor. Ring’s motion sensor’s range is unlisted, but I tested it at 35 feet, and it worked perfectly.
abode also sells their own line of cameras. They sell an image sensor, which will take three snapshots if it detects motion, and two streaming cameras. I’ve tested two of the three. The two cameras I tested were unfortunately unimpressive, and I found Nest cameras to be vastly superior. abode’s newest camera, not tested, offers two major benefits: FHD 1080P resolution and two-way audio. Of course, there’s also abode iota which offers the same camera specs as the newest abode streaming camera. The benefit of using abode cameras over Nest cameras is free cloud and local storage. abode’s streaming cameras support a microSD card and include three days of free cloud storage. Nest supplies just 3 hours of snapshot storage for free. As described above, if you want more Nest storage, you will need to pay for Nest Aware.

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.
Second, you can take it to the next level with Ring Locations. The Locations feature lets you assign your different devices to different locations under one account. You can then decide who has access to each location. For example, this could theoretically solve the challenge I described above. If I had a camera at my grandmother’s, I could give access to my family, but exclude them from viewing footage from cameras located at my home. When the new app launches, you will also be able to view location-based grouping backed by a multi-camera view.
Even if the power goes out at home, your property will still be protected by the complimentary 24-hour backup battery. And for only $10 a month, you can upgrade to Ring Protect Plus and enjoy 24/7 professional monitoring with cellular backup, unlimited video recording for Ring Doorbells and Cameras at your home. You won’t be locked into any long-term contracts. You don’t need professional installation. You don’t even need any tools. It’s that simple.
Regardless of whether you go the adhesive or hardware route, Ring provides everything you need right in the box, with installation kits for each component of the system conveniently boxed and labeled to make it easy to find what you need. All you'll need if you want to use the included screws and anchors for hardware mounting are a screwdriver and a drill.
Our favorite security system for do-it-yourself monitoring and home automation is the $280 Abode Essentials Starter Kit, because not only does it add professional monitoring to your home, but it also works as a smart hub for third-party devices and helps facilitate home automation. But if you're looking for something a little more affordable and dead-simple to set up, Ring Alarm is worth  a look.
Aside from the app and the keypad, there isn’t currently another way to set the system. In comparison, Nest’s system can be set via key fobs, which are quicker and easier than punching in PIN codes or opening an app, or voice through the Google Assistant. Ring says that integration with Alexa will come down the road, but it is not available at this time.
The base price of the Nest Secure will set you back $399. Included in that cost is one alarm, two Nest Detects (a sensor that keeps tabs on doors, windows, and rooms), and 2 Nest Tags (an arming/disarming device that doesn’t require a passcode). As for the Ring Alarm, it will cost you $199, and the price includes one base station, one keypad, one contact sensor, one motion detector, and one range extender. The Ring Alarm is definitely the more affordable option, and you get more components — and thus, flexibility — for the price.

System is very responsive and mobile alerts are sent in real time. If the alarm goes off, you will get a mobile alert from the app with information about the actual sensor tripped; this app alert will be followed a few seconds later by a phone call from a representative checking on your well being. They will ask you for your “safe word” and if you cannot give the correct one they will dispatch a police officer. I also noticed if you cancel quickly enough with the app then they will not call you; I once cancelled after a few seconds through the app and the phone call came in, but before it could be answered it was already disconnected - which was great, no need to explain myself.

One final issue has more to do with software performance than hardware issues, but it’s important to point out. From time-to-time, the snapshot will record a little too late. In the example above, it caught the UPS man’s back. For those without a Nest Aware subscription, this is all you get. Those with a subscription can rewind footage to see the moments before the clip.


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.
My wife and I plan to hire a nurse at night for our new baby, but due to the many stories we’ve heard, we want to set up a camera (indoor of course) to surveil her and check up on her at any given time. (we will let her know she’s on camera – it will not be a secret at all.) I read your article but I still want your advice because I’m unsure. Which camera do you suggest for me? The main qualities I need is:

The camera connects to the included wall mount using a ball socket. If you’re installing on brick or another hard surface, you’ll need to drill and insert wall anchors. If you’re installing your camera onto a wooden surface, you can use the included screws and screwdriver to secure the mount. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep Spotlight Cam so both options seemed like rather permanent solutions. I decided to create the most unattractive, temporary solution.


abode also sells their own line of cameras. They sell an image sensor, which will take three snapshots if it detects motion, and two streaming cameras. I’ve tested two of the three. The two cameras I tested were unfortunately unimpressive, and I found Nest cameras to be vastly superior. abode’s newest camera, not tested, offers two major benefits: FHD 1080P resolution and two-way audio. Of course, there’s also abode iota which offers the same camera specs as the newest abode streaming camera. The benefit of using abode cameras over Nest cameras is free cloud and local storage. abode’s streaming cameras support a microSD card and include three days of free cloud storage. Nest supplies just 3 hours of snapshot storage for free. As described above, if you want more Nest storage, you will need to pay for Nest Aware.
New, unopened Ring Spotlight Cam wired uses motion sensing to detect intruders! Plug it in, and then it picks up movement, the spotlight turns on, and it begins recording in 1080p with infrared night vision and two-way audio. It connects to WiFi, allowing u to monitor surveillance straight from your phone! It also contains an alarm that u can activate if needed. It is weather resistant and the perfect device to keep your home safe!

Setup of Ring Alarm is quite simple, and the whole process only took me about half an hour, although I used the included adhesive strips to mount sensors and didn't mount the base station and keypad to my walls, so it would have taken a bit longer if I'd gone all-in with hardware mounting options. I may yet do that once I've decided for sure where I want to put the various components.
Yes, I’m looking for an ecosystem that provides cloud-based mobile access to security video in a reasonably low cost package. However, I don’t want WiFi cameras, because I don’t want the bandwidth burden on the WiFi when I already have CAT6 cables to each camera location and I already have a POE switch. I don’t need a doorbell at all, just the cameras.

A Canary Membership provides 30 days of video history, full-length video clips, social sharing, custom Home mode, two-way audio, desktop streaming, and unlimited downloads for $9.99/month for up to five cameras. It also provides access to a Safety Buton feature backed by Noonlight, formally SafeTrek. If you have more than five cameras, Canary charges an additional $4.99 per camera per month. You can use an unlimited number of cameras in a single location with a Canary Membership.
While you aren’t required to purchase professional monitoring, both Ring and Nest offer you the option of doing so. The purchase of 24/7 monitoring gives you peace of mind that professionals are keeping an eye on your home security on your behalf. The Nest Secure offers professional monitoring for $19 a month if you sign up for a three-year contract, or you can pay month-to-month for $29 a month. The Ring Alarm offers various plans that allow the user to pay by the month or by the year. The Protect Basic Plan is available for $3 a month or $30 a year per camera, while the Protect Plus Plan is $10 a month or $100 a year, and the service can be applied to an unlimited number of security cameras. It also includes professional monitoring.
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.
Friend access allows users to view live streams, view recorded clips, and favorite clips. If you want to share more, grant access rights. In addition to the rights already discussed, those with access rights will be able to record video footage, mute the speaker, enter full-screen view, zoom and drag video footage, access and change modes, manually record, take snapshots, favorite, and share or delete video footage. Finally, Arlo does allow you to control which camera or cameras other users can access. For example, you can give them access to your outdoor camera, but not your indoor camera.
After receiving Arlo Pro 2, I completed a second battery test in a lower traffic environment. With the same settings, I ran Arlo Pro and Pro 2 side-by-side to see if Pro 2, with its higher resolution, drained the battery faster. It did not. In fact, it held a slightly better charge than Arlo Pro. Of course, I’m assuming this has more to do with the fact that the camera’s battery is newer and less to do with the fact that it’s a different camera. During the second test, both cameras lasted 5 months on a single charge, and it took 2 hours and 30 minutes to recharge the batteries.
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.
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.

Blink is also a battery-powered outdoor camera. It’s built around a unique chip that should provide an amazing battery life. However, while my indoor cameras are almost at the two-year mark using the original AA batteries, my Blink XT batteries usually last between 1.5 and 2 months. While I love my Blink indoor cameras, I would not recommend Blink for outdoor use. You can read my Blink XT review and comparison to Arlo Pro here.
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.

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.


Just as heads-up, customer support from Ring was top-notch. After a week of use, I had an issue with a sensor that wasn’t communicating properly. Fortunately it didn’t trip the alarm (I say fortunate as I wouldn’t want to local police to show up for faulty sensor). A late night call to the Ring customer service, which appears to be U.S. based, helped to resolve the issue. The rep was professional and patient. All told, I’m glad I chose Ring.
Ideally suited for the darker nooks on your property that are susceptible to breach after sundown, it comes in four models: Spotlight Cam Wired ($199), Spotlight Cam Battery ($199 at Amazon), Spotlight Cam Solar ($229), and Spotlight Cam Mount ($249 at Amazon). The cameras in all four models are the same. The Battery and Solar use the same battery; the latter just comes with an included solar panel that can also be purchased independently ($49 at Amazon). 
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