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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.
When Ring was working without a hitch, the time delay between someone hitting the doorbell and receiving an alert on my phone was almost non-existent. Mind you, sometimes it would take a while to get from the smartphone notification to Ring’s video display (more about that soon), but at least there was very little lag in actually getting the notification itself.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro improves on the Ring Video Doorbell 2 and is well worth considering if your porch faces an area that’s likely to have lots of traffic, people walking by, or trees swaying in the wind. The extra $50 could make you a much happier owner, even if you need to bring power to that location. But if the area around your front door is calm and quiet, save the cash and go with the excellent Video Doorbell 2 instead.
Unfortunately, there’s no video-on-demand (VOD) feature that lets you view the outside world whenever you want. Instead, you have to wait for someone to approach the door. VOD appears to be on many users’ wish lists, and Ring says it’s working on adding that feature. With VOD built-in, the doorbell would instantaneously turn into a full-featured security camera, so let’s hope we see this addition soon.
By purchasing this system you’re almost certain that they will come out with upgrades and updates to this product and ways to integrate it with Alexa and smart home devices. If you encounter any kind of issues, they will have someone listen to you and actually give you a solution rather than one of these knock off Chinese products that will give you excuses for faulty behavior but not solutions.
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Ring provides 24 / 7 professional monitoring of the Alarm system through its Protect Plus service, which will automatically notify authorities and emergency services if there’s an intrusion or crisis detected. The service will alert you and other emergency contacts you set via phone and then dispatch emergency personnel as needed. Though the Ring Alarm will provide push notifications to your mobile device without the additional monitoring service, having the service ensures that emergency services are deployed automatically whether you see the push notifications or not.
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 is a Wi-Fi connected doorbell and exterior lighting security system that was recently purchased by Amazon. They don’t offer any type of home automation features; however, their system is compatible with many third-party smart home systems. However, Ring has announced that they will soon be adding interior home security and environmental protection features to their current lineup.
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.
Setting up a smart security system requires you to consider the size of the space you want to protect, the tech capabilities that are most important to you, as well as the tech stack you want to use. Ring’s products are all Alexa-enabled, meaning they can be easily integrated into your existing smart home set-up. Plus, the company offers Protect Plus 24/7 Professional Monitoring for $10 per month. (Compare this to Nest’s similar service, which will ding you $19-29 over the same period.)
Ring cameras will work without a monthly fee, but Ring doesn’t offer any form of free storage beyond a free 30-day trial. Their first plan is Basic which is $3 per month per camera. This plan includes 60 days of cloud storage, video review, and video sharing. Their second plan, Protect Plus, is $10 per month. It covers unlimited cameras including both doorbell and security cameras. This plan also includes coverage for your Base Station. The same $10 per month that provides unlimited cloud storage also provides Ring Response (24/7 professional monitoring) and Cellular Backup.
When it's time to pair the keypad, the Ring app will have you create a four-digit PIN for arming and disarming the system. If you choose to have professional monitoring, you'll need to also come up with a verbal password to help identify you in case you have to talk to a dispatcher. As a reviewer — and a person who has tripped countless alarms in the last few months — I also appreciate that there's a seven-day trial period before professional monitoring becomes active, so you can take time to set up the system without worrying about false alarms. It also gives you time to register the alarm so that you do not incur any fees.
If you have signed up for 24/7 professional monitoring, you may need a permit to dispatch emergency services. After signing up for Ring Protect Plus, you’ll get an email from our dedicated Permits Team so you can have everything you need to apply for your permit. In some cases, our team will handle the entire permitting process, but for others, we’ll walk you through every step to help you get your permit as quickly as possible.
This works well. The install is easy. I have one very major complaint. The blurb on Amazon does not explain that you have to pay for a cloud subscription to store and retrieve the short videos of motion events. The promotional material and install instructions are structured such that you do not catch this ¨gotcha" until the unit is installed and you use it for a day or 2. There is no provision to store these videos locally on your own computer. I am giving this just one star because they are not up front about the need for a paid subscription and the lack of a local event video storage option.
The motion and door/window sensors can be mounted with screws or with Velcro strips (provided). I’m happy the sensors didn’t come from the factory with the strips already attached. I’ve never seen an adhesive strip that didn’t eventually fail, so I prefer to use screws—and peeling those strips off so you can use screws is a major pain. The sensor batteries come preinstalled, so you just pull out a plastic tab when the app tells you to. This enables the battery to touch the electrical contact inside the sensor, powering it up.
The Ring Alarm system does not include fire or carbon monoxide monitoring – for those features, you’ll need to add a First Alert Z-Wave Smoke/CO alarm ($40) or Ring’s Alarm Smoke and CO listener ($35) that gets installed next to your existing smoke alarms and “hears” when they go off to trigger the system. I was not able to test these products for this review.
With 1080HD video, custom motion zones and an ultra-slim design, Ring Video Doorbell Pro is our most advanced Doorbell yet. Ring Video Doorbell Pro sends you instant mobile alerts when anyone presses your Doorbell or triggers the built-in motion sensors. When you answer the alert, you can see, hear and speak to visitors from your smartphone, tablet or PC. With customizable motion zones, Ring Pro lets you focus on the most important areas of your home. It also includes four interchangeable faceplates, so you can pick a color that matches your style and your home. And with our complementary tool kit, you can get your Doorbell set up in just minutes.
3) Operational Use. I like being able to set up polygons for the motion detection zones. I was able to easily mark my drive way, flowerbeds and porch. I’ve never had a problem with the busy traffic from the road (something the security guy mentioned was a problem with his original Ring). There are two problems they need to work out: You will get a motion detect when the night vision clicks on in the evening and when it clicks off in the morning. Expect that.
The Ring Alarm is equipped with the hardware to serve as a smart hub, though it's not quite there yet. While the base station contains both ZigBee and Z-Wave radios, only the latter is user- accessible, and any noncertified third-party devices that are paired won't trigger the alarm. You can pair Z-Wave products through the Ring app, but they'll only use the base station as a bridge.
Also, this is not a miracle product. It will only work as well as your internet connection. That means a little lag if you’re on a cable connection at peak times. There are a few times I’ve had the video come up in laggy and weirdly pixilated forms that took a second to work out. I’ve also noticed our voice connection is VERY quiet. As in, the person at the door can barely hear the person on the phone, so I consider that feature a bit useless. We managed to scare our cat sitter from the other side of the country and greet my mom, but I wouldn’t rely on it for communicating with people often. We managed to talk to our lawn service but we had to yell into the phone and they had to ask us to repeat ourselves a few times. Also we live on such a busy road that there is a lot of noise which makes the video sound very choppy. So again, I just consider this feature a novelty and not something to rely on.
Just like with Wi-Fi, the Ring platform is at the mercy of smartphone conventions it can’t control. I can’t tell you whether the video screen delays are due to poor coding in Ring’s app, performance problems with my LG G4 smartphone, or hiccups in my phone’s Wi-Fi or 4G connectivity. But the bottomline is that simply getting to the video chat screen can be a long, frustrating experience. In a perfect world, I’d be able to launch the video chat display directly from the notification shade—and do so quickly. But Ring doesn’t have actionable notifications access.
But let’s go over what it can do today, first. The very affordable ($199) starter kit includes a wireless base station, a keypad for arming and disarming the system, one door/window sensor, one passive infrared motion sensor, and a Z-Wave range extender. You can monitor the system yourself, but at the price Ring is charging for professional monitoring—just $10 per month ($100 per year if paid annually) with no long-term contract—it would be foolish not to sign up for it. That goes double for people who already have other Ring devices, because it includes video storage in the cloud for an unlimited number of Ring cameras.
The biggest physical difference between the Doorbell 2 and the original is the new, slide-out battery. With the first model, recharging the battery required removing the entire doorbell from the frame and plugging it in for five to six hours. The new, removable battery (which looks like something you might find in a DSLR or camcorder) is much easier to charge: you just remove the front panel of the doorbell (a security screw underneath needs to be removed with the included screwdriver first), slide the battery out, and plug that into a Micro USB cable. Charging still takes five or six hours — it’s a hefty, 6,100mAh battery and this doesn’t have any quick charging features you might find on a smartphone — but the modularity of this design means you can buy a second battery and put that in to keep your doorbell functional while the other charges. Ring provides one battery in the box, but you can buy spares from Ring’s website for a reasonable $20.
I blame spotty home Wi-Fi for this particular performance problem. It’s not necessarily Ring’s fault that my Wi-Fi network is a weak link in its communication chain, but this is a product that relies on home Wi-Fi to work in the first place. The problems I suffered reveal an intrinsic, inescapable weakness in Ring’s workflow, and should remind us that all Internet-connected home appliances are only as strong as the weakest link in their networks.