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 Ring Pro delivered very sharp 1080p video in testing. Daytime video was clean with rich colors, and night vision video was well lit with good contrast and remained sharp out to around 20 feet. There was noticeable barrel distortion around the edges, but people and objects appeared normal. Two-way audio was loud and clean, unlike the original Ring Doorbell which would become garbled on occasion.
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.
When we reviewed the original Ring Video Doorbell three years ago, it earned high marks for its easy installation, sharp video quality, and motion detection, but was dinged for its middling audio quality, lack of on-demand video, and short battery life. With the new Video Doorbell Pro ($249), Ring has addressed all of these gripes and added some handy features including 1080p video, custom motion zones, pre-buffering to capture what was going on before the motion sensor was triggered, support for Alexa voice commands, and interoperability with other smart devices via IFTTT. All this earns it our Editors' Choice for video doorbells.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
There is currently no support for controlling the system with voice commands, but it should come as no surprise that Ring is developing an Alexa skill. Once you can arm your security system using a voice command, you won’t want to do it any other way (disarming it that way is whole other question). Harris was slightly more circumspect about supporting Google Assistant. “We remain committed to being open to all of the different pieces that are important to our customers. We’ll continue to march down the path of trying to support everything we can.” I got a similar answer when I asked about support for Apple’s HomeKit technology: “We’ve given it a lot of time. Again, we remain focused on bringing HomeKit support across the product line, but it won’t be available at launch with the Alarm products specifically.”
This is probably the best part about this alarm, that there is no need for a desktop PC to reach any advanced features and that you can configure it from anywhere. From arming the alarm from work (if you forgot to arm it before leaving), to disarming remotely if needed. App is extremely user friendly and very intuitive, so this is probably the best part. Very well organized and all Ring devices can be controlled from within the same app.
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.
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.
Below the Live View button is a series of feature buttons. Event History takes you to the same events list that you'll see in the My Devices screen; Device Health lets you check voltage, Wi-Fi signal strength, and system status; Linked Chimes is where you go to pair the doorbell with an external plug-in Ring Chime ($29) or Chime Pro ($49); and Motion Settings lets you adjust motion sensitivity, set up motion zones, and create a motion schedule that determines when motion alerts are active.
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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.
In terms of larger home integration, Nest is the very definition of a smart device. Its Works with Nest program automatically instructs connected products (such as smart lighting and thermostats) to perform their tasks without you having to tell them what to do. It’s an exceptionally hands-off solution, though you can still tweak it with custom preferences.
Aside from the obvious value proposition, Ring’s big pitch for the Alarm system is its simplicity. Though it has all of the features necessary for a proper home security system – professional monitoring, battery and cellular backup for the event of a power loss – installing the Ring Alarm in my home took less than 20 minutes and involved following the app’s instructions to get the base station on my Wi-Fi network and register each included piece. Cleverly, Ring presets the included motion detector, contact sensor, and range extender to pair with the hub that’s in the box, so getting them set up is just a matter of pulling the battery tab to wake them up and waiting a moment for the app to find them.
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.
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Like the hardware, Ring’s Protect Plus service is significantly less expensive than other options. It costs $10 per month and has no long term contract commitments. Nest offers a similar service, but it starts at $19.99 per month with a three-year contract and jumps to $29.99 per month if you opt for no commitment. ADT, one of the largest traditional home security services, has plans that start at $28.99 per month and requires a three-year commitment.
The camera's motion sensor worked without a hitch, as did the pre-buffer feature. I always received a push notification, and the camera never failed to record a clip when the sensor was triggered or when the doorbell button was pressed. I created an IFTTT applet to have a D-Link Smart Switch turn on a lamp whenever the doorbell button was pressed, and it worked without fail, as did my Alexa voice command to display the Ring Pro's live stream on my TV using an Amazon Fire TV Stick and Amazon Echo.
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.
1. Correct. Geofencing is a free feature. I’m not sure what abode uses specifically, but generally, geofencing does require GPS or location services to be enabled. I know the system doesn’t use Bluetooth. My dad is using the system right now and he’s had problems with multi-user geofencing. I asked abode about it, but they just wanted to troubleshoot instead of discussing general performance. If I were to guess, I’d guess that it’s only using GPS to detect presence and not a combination of data like GPS and phone presence (Wifi).
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.
As far as actually using the Video Doorbell 2, my experience was largely positive. The video that’s streamed live from the doorbell is bright and has decent resolution, and the IR sensors around the camera make it possible to see visitors at night, too. Connecting to the camera through the smartphone app was quick, even if I wasn’t home and had to use LTE, and the two-way microphone and speaker made it possible to talk to visitors directly. I was even able to view the camera’s feed on Amazon’s Echo Show — though it doesn’t support two-way audio, and I had some trouble connecting to the camera at times.
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.
When Ring worked as advertised, it delivered on all its promises. I never had any suspicious characters press the button, but I blew my neighbor’s mind when I communicated with her—quite easily, through the doorbell—while I was on vacation in wine country, 80 miles away. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help her get into her house (she had locked herself out), but it was a striking illustration of what Ring can do.