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.
Ring can be hardwired to your existing doorbell’s electrical leads, but lacking any doorbell at all, I opted to use the device’s internal battery, which is charged with a USB cable (just like any typical mobile device), and is rated to last one year between charges. Pulling off the doorbell for recharging is a simple matter of removing two screws with a special tool that Ring provides, and then sliding the doorbell off a backing plate. It’s no big deal.
Unlike the other options, Ring cameras don’t integrate with the security system. Sure you can monitor them all using a single mobile app, but there is no “if this, then that” relationship. If your alarm sounds, your cameras will not record. If your cameras detect motion, they won’t trigger your alarm. However, there is one major benefit to using Ring cameras: If you pay $10 per month, you will gain access to cloud storage and professional monitoring with cellular backup.
Once your trial of ring video recording ends, you can no longer access past events without a paid subscription. That's not such a big deal until you realize what counts as a "recent event". If you don't press the button within about 5 seconds of getting a motion alert, you missed your shot and now it's a past event. Say the UPS guy comes, presses the doorbell and walks off immediately. Your phone properly notifies you that somebody is at your door, but you've got something in your hands, or your phone is in your pocket or any other distraction is going on that takes 5 seconds to finish. By the time you hit the notification banner and go into the app, it will take you to a screen that says you need a paid subscription to see past events. Earlier today I got a notification WHILE holding my phone, clicked it immediately, but the live video loaded slowly and by the time it did load, the "event" was considered done and it took me to the screen saying I needed to pay. I have no problem paying to record everything and be able to pull up events from hours, days or weeks ago, but needing to pay because 5 seconds went by and the app loaded slowly is a rip-off. This is a $200 item which replaces a $5 hardware store doorbell, and the ONE thing it's supposed to do (show you live video of rings or motion events at your door) doesn't work about half the time without paying extra. There needs to be about a 30 second window at minimum where you can see what's going on without having to pay extra.
Ring's professional monitoring isthrough Rapid Response Monitoring Services, and it's one of the more affordable services available. For $10 a month (or $100 a year if paid up front), you get the benefits of dispatchers on standby, and this includes video storage for any Ring cameras you might have. There's no long-term contract, either, so you can cancel any time you don't need it through the Ring website.
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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.
The backing plate is designed to mount on wood, brick, concrete, stucco, and aluminum siding, and the kit includes installation parts, like screws and a drill bit, to provide everything you’ll need. Unfortunately, using my cordless DeWalt drill, I couldn’t penetrate my home’s concrete, so I opted for heavy-duty double-sided tape. It works marvelously, and there’s a failsafe even if someone steals the doorbell: Ring will replace stolen doorbells free of charge, as long as you provide a police report.
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It doesn't work with the Amazon Cloud Cam indoor home security camera, either. Here's what a Ring spokesperson had to say about it: "Ring Alarm does not work with Amazon Cloud Cam at this time. While I can't comment on the roadmap at this time, what I can tell you is that we will make product decisions based on what will best empower Neighbors with an affordable, effective way to monitor their homes."
At 4.5 by 1.8 by 0.8 inches (HWD), the Ring Pro is slimmer and looks more like a traditional doorbell than the August Doorbell Cam Pro, the RemoBell, and the original Ring. It comes with four interchangeable faceplates (black, bronze, nickel, and white) to match the exterior of your home, a screwdriver, mounting screws and anchors, a Pro Power Kit for connecting to an existing chime box in case your existing doorbell wiring does not provide enough power, extension wires, and illustrated instructions. Ring also sells a battery-powered model, the Video Doorbell 2.
You have 2 alarm modes: home and away. Using the app you get to chose which sensors will trip home mode and away mode; to be a little more specific, in the app you can select a sensor and check a box next to away and a box next to home if you want it to trip the alarm even if your alarm is active in “home mode” such as when you’re sleeping at night, where motion sensors inside won’t trip the alarm, but doors or windows opening will do so. You can also select a motion sensor and select a lower sensitivity level in case you have pets. You can do all this from the app even away from home.
All of these limitations make the Ring Alarm feel less like a cohesive part of an integrated smart home and more like a bolt-on appendage that requires its own app and accessories. For its part, Ring says that smart home integrations are coming, but it wanted to make sure that it had nailed down the security aspect of the system before adding to it. The company says it plans to add integrations with lighting, door locks, and other smart home gadgets down the road, but it wouldn’t provide a timeline for these options when I asked.
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The caller from the monitoring service will identify themselves as being from Ring, since that’s who your business relationship is with, but they actually work for a third-party company that Ring contracts with: Rapid Response Monitoring Services. This is a common arrangement for home security systems. Nest, for example, contracts with MONI Smart Security (which is now doing business as Brinks Home Security). Alarm.com is another major third-party monitoring service.
Third, Nest Guard has a voice. Of course, it’s no Google Home, but it will provide useful information. For example, when you arm your system, there is an arm delay which allows you to exit your home without setting off the alarm. Instead of an annoying beep that continues until the system arms, Nest Guard uses a friendly voice to tell you how much time you have left.
Update 1/24/16 - I have found a fantastic use for the Ring Doorbell and Chime. My mother-in-law, now in her 90s, lives by herself. She has become hard-of-hearing and often does not hear the doorbell. By installing the Ring on her door, she now is bothered much less (solicitors tend to recognize it and don't seem to like it) and when someone rings the bell, the Chime, placed by her favorite chair, gives her a better chance of hearing someone at the door.