Unfortunately, Ring doesn’t currently, nor does it appear to be adding any type of home automation features, but it is compatible with many third-party smart home services. Although Ring doesn’t offer professional monitoring services, they do offer live streaming when hardwired to your existing doorbells power supply. Ring Live View does not work when using the internal battery. Since most users prefer to use the Ring internal battery, paying for one of the Ring video recording packages is the ideal option.
Ring offers a wide variety of doorbell and exterior security lighting features that range in price from $99.99 to $499.00, as well as plenty of accessories for them that range in price from $10.00 to $49.00. These accessories include options such as a solar panel, ring chime, quick release battery pack and more. And, they have two monthly video recording packages that range from $3.00 per month ($30 annually) to $10.00 per month ($100 annually).
Arming the system Away starts a 60-second countdown, delaying the armed state to give you time to exit the home without tripping any of the sensors. Opening a protected door while the system is armed also triggers a 60-second countdown, this one is to give you time to reach the keypad to disarm the system. If a sensor installed on a window is tripped while the system is armed, the alarm will go off instantly. That’s sensible: No one should be entering or leaving the home through a window while the system is armed.
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!
The bottom half of the screen contains a historical list of all events (rings, motion triggers, and live view requests). Tap any event to view the associated video clip, share it, delete it, or save it. Tapping the Ring Pro button takes you to a screen where you can enable and disable ring alerts and motion alerts, view live video, and access the doorbell settings. When you tap the Live View button it launches a live stream presented in full-screen landscape mode and has buttons for two-way audio, speaker mute, and neighborhood sharing.
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.
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 Alarm starter kit is one of the most affordable security systems available. For $200, you get a wireless base station, a keypad for arming and disarming the system, one entry sensor, one motion sensor and a Z-wave range extender. I would have liked the kit to include at least two entry sensors since there's typically more than one point of entry to every dwelling, but you can purchase additional entry sensors for $20 a piece.
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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.
Home security systems have been around for decades, providing a way to have your home monitored for intrusions and emergencies while you’re away or sleeping. But traditional home security systems have required professional installation, costly subscription plans, and long-term contracts that lock you in to the service. They’ve not been practical to move from home to home or for use in apartments.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Enjoy a free 30-day trial of Ring Protect Plus with your purchase! Ring Protect Plus lets you record, save and share all the videos captured by unlimited Ring Doorbells and Cameras at your home. Protect Plus members also get 24/7 professional monitoring with Ring Alarm, exclusive discounts and extended warranties. Activate Ring Protect Plus for only $10 a month, or get video recording and sharing for only $3 a month per each device with Ring Protect Basic
But those were only best-case scenarios. Throughout real-world testing with visiting strangers as well as staged testing with friends, I oftentimes experienced very long latencies between the button press and a phone notification. Sometimes the lag would last up to three or four seconds. And sometimes I wouldn’t receive any smartphone notification at all. Case in point: the hapless pizza delivery guy who pressed the Ring button two times before giving up, and calling my phone.
The company’s latest product, the $199 Ring Video Doorbell 2, was released earlier this summer, and it improves upon the original product in a number of ways. It provides higher-resolution video output — 1080p verses the 720p of the original — and makes it easier to recharge the unit’s internal battery if you don’t have it hardwired into your home’s electrical system.
By default, Ring Alarm offers three modes: Unarmed, Home and Armed, and Away and Armed. You can use the keypad to change modes, or use the mobile app, which also offers access to any Ring cameras you might have set up in your home. The app also provides status updates on any connected devices you have in the house, a separate history log for the alarm system and the cameras, a settings panel for configuring professional monitoring and what each mode does when activated.
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.
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.
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.
The keypad has 12 backlit buttons on the left-hand side and three in a circle on the right. You create a four-digit PIN during setup, which you’ll tap into the keypad when you arm and disarm the system (you can also do this from the Ring app, which is available for Android and iOS devices. It’s the same app used for Ring’s video doorbell and security cameras, although there’s currently little integration between the cameras and the security system.)
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As a Contributing Editor for PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networking and smart home gear, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for almost 20 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine's Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of t... See Full Bio
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.
My Wi-Fi problems notwithstanding, both the doorbell and chime accessory were easy to pair with my wireless network. Just a word of caution: If you’re using a Wi-Fi range extender, make sure to pair the doorbell outside your house, right on your doorstep. This will ensure that Ring finds the extender, and not your router. If you pair the doorbell inside your home, you run the risk of pairing it with your main Wi-Fi router, especially if your router and range extender have different names.
The Ring system offers many different types of cameras; which one (or ones) you choose will depend on your unique configuration needs. The Ring Stick Up Cam is a fairly versatile option, letting you monitor both indoor or outdoor areas in 1080p HD video. It can also rest on a flat surface or be mounted to a wall or ceiling. Like the Ring Doorbell, this camera allows two-way talk, so you can see and speak to whoever’s on the other end of the lens using your phone or connected device.
Enjoy a free 30-day trial of Ring Protect Plus with your purchase! Ring Protect Plus lets you record, save and share all the videos captured by unlimited Ring Doorbells and Cameras at your home. Protect Plus members also get 24/7 professional monitoring with Ring Alarm, exclusive discounts and extended warranties. Activate Ring Protect Plus for only $10 a month, or get video recording and sharing for only $3 a month per each device with Ring Protect Basic.