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.
Ring’s Alarm, which is finally shipping to customers starting today, is the latest in these new, do-it-yourself home security systems. It’s most similar to the Secure system that Nest released last year, and uses a variety of motion, entryway, and fire / carbon monoxide sensors, along with Ring’s other home security cameras to monitor your home for emergencies and intrusions.
Finally, unlike abode’s base station (iota does not require Ethernet), Ethernet is not required to use Nest Secure. Nest likes to make things easy and they send everything you need, including batteries, to get your device up and running. Nest Guard ships with a 6-foot cable with a power adapter and CR123 batteries for the sensors. My system already had the batteries installed which made setup even easier.

Oco Pro Cloud Video Surveillance Camera is easy Oco Pro Cloud Video Surveillance Camera is easy to use HD Wi-Fi camera with Cloud and SD card Recording for monitoring everything you care about: business home children pets elderly parents etc. No Monthly Fees required to access all camera features. Self-learning motion detection system helps Oco understand motion and ...  More + Product Details Close


The picture isn’t quite as rosy if you’re also looking for a full-fledged smart home system. Ring Alarm is positively capable of being a great smart home controller. But it’s not that today. And to be fair, Ring isn’t promising that it ever will be—at least not officially. But they wouldn’t have built in Z-Wave, ZigBee, and whatever that third mystery radio is if they didn’t intend to go down that path.
With the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, I managed to almost eliminate false alarms, so that just about the only thing that set off an alert was an actual person at my front door. I occasionally got an evening alert when a car with exceptionally strong headlights went by—I presume because it illuminated the lawn and that was interpreted as movement—but the level was much lower.

▽ Your account minimum payment amount is determined by the purchases and balances on your WebBank/Fingerhut Credit Account. The change in minimum payment amount is based on your account balance at the time it is advertised, and includes an assumption of interest charges and SafeLine fees, as applicable. The change in minimum payment amount does not include subsequent activity on your account such as any purchases, including deferred payment purchases, backordered, unshipped, returned or other pending purchases or exchanges; any payments, including partial, missed or returned payments; any fees, including recurring partner program charges, subsequent interest charges, late fees or returned payment fees. It is also subject to change based on shipping address, shipping method, partial shipments and taxes. Your minimum payment amount will not change and the purchase will not reflect on your statement until the order ships. If you have a balance or are making a multiple item purchase, see the Existing Balance Payment Chart.

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.
My home lacks any sort of doorbell wiring, so the Video Doorbell 2’s battery-powered features appealed to me. To install it, I drilled two holes into the brick around my door, used the angled bracket provided in the box with the Video Doorbell 2 to angle it toward the doorway, and then mounted the actual doorbell to that. (A flat bracket is also provided.) The whole install process took about 10 minutes, since I didn’t have to actually wire anything up. If you have a more complicated setup, Ring provides video tutorials to walk you through it.
The Ring Doorbell Camera security system was acquired by Amazon. They currently offer doorbell cameras and exterior security lighting cameras. And according to their website product page, Ring will soon be adding indoor security and environmental protection products to their lineup as well. This is great news based on how popular their current products have become.
Great article with lots of useful information. Very comprehensive comparison that really helps people make a wise decision based on their particular needs. FYI, I chose abode for my home security needs because it’s a proven shipping product and it integrates well with other systems. Although the camera quality might not be as good as others, it will suffice for my needs.
On the downside there is no way to enable/disable video motion detection clips in sync with the armed status. I only want certain cameras to record when armed stay or away. They really need the option to tell the cameras when to record and when not to record. Other than that the 2-way camera communication is spotty at best, but not really a feature that’s important to me. Adding live video to the online access would be a BIG plus too (currently you can only access the cameras through the app).
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.
Installing the actual ring was even easier. I was able to drill into grout lines between stones so I had that going for me. The hook up was super easy, two wires from the house connect to the two connectors on the Ring – doesn’t even matter which is which. Nice and easy. I will have to work out something to cover the shimmed side, but I’ll work something out.

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.
I’m confident that if Ring were a closed system—hardwired to my home network, and not at the mercy of Wi-Fi and smartphone connections—signal reliability would be a non-issue. But we’re in the wild, wild west of cloud-connected smart-home devices. The Internet of Things (ugh—that word!) is riddled with weak links, and neither Ring nor its smart-home brethren can control the infrastructure’s frequent unpredictability.
You can also disarm the system from the app, but in a break from convention, Ring does not offer a key fob for arming and disarming the system. Geofencing that would automatically arm and disarm when you leave and return isn’t supported either. Harris said those were conscious design decisions. “What it came to was security,” Harris said. People said ‘Hey, I want this to automatically disarm my security system when I get close.’ The question then becomes: How close? And is it really you with your phone? Or did someone pick it up at the park, find your address, drive to your house, and let themselves in?”
To start I shut off the breaker that powers my existing doorbell before removing it and detaching the two wires. I slid off the Ring Pro's detachable faceplate and attached the two wires to the terminals. I then attached the doorbell to the outside of my house using the included mounting screws. I already had a Ring account from previous reviews but if you haven't created one, now's the time to download the app and do so.

With the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, I managed to almost eliminate false alarms, so that just about the only thing that set off an alert was an actual person at my front door. I occasionally got an evening alert when a car with exceptionally strong headlights went by—I presume because it illuminated the lawn and that was interpreted as movement—but the level was much lower.
Each piece of Ring's kit is designed to protect a different part of your house. The contact sensors detect when windows and doors are opened or closed; the motion detectors use infrared beams to sense movement and heat in a room; the keypad lets you arm and disarm the system; the base station keeps the system online, and has a 110-decibel siren that sounds when motion is detected; and the range extender keeps the sensors connected to the base station. Both the base station and range extender have a 24-hour battery backup that will keep the system online in case of a power outage.
All the components in the Ring Alarm system use Z-Wave Plus radios and support Z-Wave’s S2 security framework, but Harris told me there’s also a ZigBee radio onboard as well as some other surprises that aren’t discussed in the user manual. “You’ve got Wi-Fi, you’ve got LTE, you’ve got Z-Wave, you’ve got ZigBee….” Harris said. “I’m sure people will open it up and see there’s another radio in there that’s not turned on yet. There’s an awful lot going on in there.”

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.
Wow, thanks for putting such a great article together. I knew about Ring – for some reason their marketing got to me, and started to consider, which lead me to this article. But, after reading this I might have to revisit purchasing it. Looks like some people are thinking Nest after reading it, but it’s leaning me toward Adobe. Thanks again for all the details!

Right now, abode reigns supreme due to the number of integrations they offer, the variety of security sensors, and the fact that it’s an open platform not tied to Google (Nest) or Amazon (Ring). I would give Ring second place due to cost, and it’s bumped iSmart off of my list of recommended self-monitored security systems. My only gripe is that it doesn’t integrate well with its own camera system. Nest takes third, but I would still recommend it. It’s a beautiful system, easy to use, and thoughtfully designed. That said, if Ring raised the bar on their camera integrations, launches an indoor camera, a flood sensor (coming soon), and a glass break sensor, it might just become the system to beat.
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.
Enjoy superior image quality courtesy of the 4MP Enjoy superior image quality courtesy of the 4MP sensor delivering twice the resolution of 1080p for stunning clarity. Wide Dynamic Range enriches your image quality with deep blacks contrasted whites and vivid colors so images appear true to life. Infrared LED's give you up to 100 ft. of night vision ...  More + Product Details Close
You can also disarm the system from the app, but in a break from convention, Ring does not offer a key fob for arming and disarming the system. Geofencing that would automatically arm and disarm when you leave and return isn’t supported either. Harris said those were conscious design decisions. “What it came to was security,” Harris said. People said ‘Hey, I want this to automatically disarm my security system when I get close.’ The question then becomes: How close? And is it really you with your phone? Or did someone pick it up at the park, find your address, drive to your house, and let themselves in?”
By registering you become a member of the CBS Interactive family of sites and you have read and agree to the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Video Services Policy. You agree to receive updates, alerts and promotions from CBS and that CBS may share information about you with our marketing partners so that they may contact you by email or otherwise about their products or services. You will also receive a complimentary subscription to the ZDNet's Tech Update Today and ZDNet Announcement newsletters. You may unsubscribe from these newsletters at any time.
It catches us leaving for work every day and coming home. It catches me when I go to fill the bird feeders. I’ve not had it miss any movement that I’m aware of. If you have motion sensors on, expect more notifications than you think you will get. As said, you’ll get the two from nightfall and sunrise. Plus I get two from me departing for work and my husband departing plus 2 more for each of us coming home. Add on more for checking the mail and anything you may do in the yard. This is where not being limited on storage size is handy. The cloud storage is $30 per year and it keeps videos for 6 months. It doesn’t say anything about size so having these extra videos doesn’t bother me. I find the video quality to be great and I can easily identify who is at the door night and day.
I would go beyond resolution and consider what you want the camera to do. My favorite outdoor camera is Arlo Pro, but a battery-powered outdoor camera will come with its own challenges. In my front yard, I need 24/7 continuous recording which is Nest, but I can’t deal with the way the giant wire looks on Nest Outdoor so I used Nest Cam Indoor filming through a window for a couple of years, which also has its own challenges, until I swapped out my Ring Doorbell for Nest Hello. Nest Hello is Nest’s video doorbell and it can record continuously.
Great article with lots of useful information. Very comprehensive comparison that really helps people make a wise decision based on their particular needs. FYI, I chose abode for my home security needs because it’s a proven shipping product and it integrates well with other systems. Although the camera quality might not be as good as others, it will suffice for my needs.
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.
The base station is also wall-mountable and can be installed on a Wi-Fi network or connected directly to your internet router over Ethernet. It has a 24-hour battery backup plus the ability to connect to an LTE network in the event of a power outage. (The LTE connectivity is available when you subscribe to Ring’s Protect Plus monitoring service and uses AT&T’s network.) Both the keypad and the base station feature colored LED rings to signify if the system is armed or disarmed and have built-in speakers to sound the alarm in the event of an emergency or intrusion.
I went with the Ring Pro over the Original Ring because I was going to be wiring it in place anyway. I also like the slender profile and the possibility to use wireless 5.0 in the future if I desire. Plus I live on a very busy road and wanted the advanced motion detection zones on the pro. Since I did my research, I was aware that the Ring Pro has a 160 degree field of view compared to the 180 degree view of the original. For this reason, I purchased fiberglass shims to angle it more towards my large 6 foot doors when I installed it.
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.
×