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.
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.
On the plus side, the new Chime accessory mitigates some of Ring’s app friction. Even if your phone is in another room, or if you’ve turned its volume down, you can still hear that someone’s pressed your doorbell button. From there you can just go straight to your front door, and talk to your visitor in person. Just like they did in I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show.
abode uses the abode app. If an event occurs, you will receive a notification on your phone. From the app, you can decide how to respond to events. You can review video footage, notify the police, the monitoring center, or even your family. You can also view sensor history and manage your rules. For example, you can create a “coming home” rule that turns on the lights and unlocks the door. And of course, you can use the app to arm and disarm the system.

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.
Installing the sensors was similarly easy: I used the included double sided tape to mount the contact sensor to my front door and the motion sensor to the corner of the downstairs living room in my home. Ring also includes the necessary screws and wall fasteners for a more permanent installation, but the double sided tape was sufficient for my needs. For this review, I added two extra contact sensors (available as $20 add ons) and mounted them on a window and second door in my home. Syncing these with the existing system was just a matter of scanning a QR code on the back of the sensor, which triggered the app to search for it. Ring says that it will preset any additional devices you order at the same time as the Alarm starting kit, which would make setting them up as seamless as the in-box sensors.
Whatever connection your doorbell ends up using, Ring recommends having a broadband upload speed of at least 1Mbps, with 2Mbps preferred. That’s typically not a problem with cable modems, but it can present a challenge to DSL gateways. The video doorbell won’t use this uplink connection all the time, it’s active only while you’re streaming video or when its motion detection triggers video capture that’s uploaded to the cloud.
Setting the Ring to away will trigger a customizable countdown timer (from 30 seconds to 3 minutes), to give you time to cancel the alarm or exit the home. It will then push a notification to your phone when the system is armed, as well as announce audibly through the base station and keypad in the home that it has been armed. The system will also push notifications when the alarm is triggered via motion or through an entryway, as well as when it’s disarmed. In my experience, the push notifications were near instant to my device, but I would not want to rely on them in lieu of the professional monitoring, as they would not reach me if my phone had no service or was otherwise inaccessible. The only thing Ring is missing compared to a system from ADT is the ability to detect when a glass windowpane is broken, though it’s worth noting that Nest’s Secure system doesn’t offer this feature either.
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.

Unfortunately, Ring doesn’t offer any professional monitoring services at this time; however, they do offer two video recording packages without a contract and they don’t have any other subscription requirements. Additionally, they are not currently offering any deals or discounts other than the 10% discount you will receive on all future purchases if you are a Protect Plus member, which is their premium unlimited video recording service. They also have a one year warranty on all their equipment unless you are a Protect Plus Plan member which entitles you to a lifetime warranty on all your equipment, as long as you remain a Protect Plus member. Check out the full review of Ring Doorbell here.


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.
The Base Station keeps your Alarm system online and connected to your mobile devices. It connects to your home network via ethernet or wi-fi and links to all your Alarm components and select third-party devices via Z-Wave. Also included are a built-in 110-decibel siren, 24-hour backup battery and optional cellular backup (with a Ring Protect Plus subscription).
Ring makes sure that no matter your experience level, you're empowered with information. The minute you open the box, there are neatly packaged containers with nearly every component needed to install the kit. Before you do any of that, however, you'll have to add each device through the Ring mobile app, which is extremely straightforward — all you have to do to start setting up accessories is tap the button that says "Set up a new device."
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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.

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.)
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.
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Even if you experience a power outage, both security systems will continue to work thanks to cellular connectivity. This feature is available from Nest for an additional $5 per month or $50 for the year. Ring includes this feature as part of their Protect Plus plan. Nest’s backup battery will last for 12 hours, while Ring’s will last for 24. With a longer battery life and an included cost, Ring is the clear winner here.
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.
This one is for anyone who lives in a medium to large size house. The Ring Chime Pro boosts the Wi-Fi signal from your router so that even your most remote Ring devices are supported. This also amplifies any notifications they send. Most users have found that this significantly improves the strength of their doorbells, which makes sense as the front door is often far away from your living room or office. Possibly the simplest item to install on this list, simply plug the Ring Chime Pro into a wall outlet and you’re good to go.
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.
I started with the extra power pack that gets installed inside and connected to your door chime. It was the more complex part of the installation and involved a very tall ladder but it went well. I was impressed that the ring doorbell came with everything you need to install it – including the drill bit AND a screw driver. It even has extra bits you MIGHT need (like extensions wires and extra screws). I also really appreciated how everything was in separate baggies for which part of the install you were doing and was very well labeled (extras were labeled as extras, pro kit wires in one bag, doorbell wires and screws in another). I was unable to fit the power kit inside my chime housing but it doesn’t look bad attached to the wall just outside the chime housing (see picture). It’s just a bit larger than a matchbox.
The Ring Alarm Security Kit should be every buyer’s first purchase when organizing their security system. It comes with a base station, which is like the central command hub for your Ring devices. The base station connects to your internet to keep your alarm system online; it can also activate sensors and receive notifications from your connected devices.

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.
I can see why you’re confused because really any of these three options will do everything you want and more. Is it important to you that your security system and camera use the same app? If so, maybe eliminate abode from the list. You can use the outdoor Nest Camera with abode, but it isn’t a great experience. If you want an outdoor camera that can record continuously and not just based on motion, that would be Nest Cam. If you don’t mind if the camera only records events and as you said, want a system without “big monthly charges,” Ring is probably the best choice for you. They recently launched an indoor camera, you could then add a video doorbell (ideal) or one of their outdoor cameras to your porch. You will need five contact sensors in total. Ring Alarm will include a mobile app for you to review footage and you can expand the system down the road if needed. As it just launched and based on Ring’s history of product support, the chances that it will be outdated soon are very slim.
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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.
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 beauty of all Ring products is that they’re free of long-term contracts and completely integrated with the user’s everyday tech. In other words, this ain’t your grandpa’s home security system. For no additional cost, the online home base will alert any selected users and devices when there’s unwanted movement in and around the house. For an additional $10/month, Ring users are upgraded to unlimited video recording (should they add a Ring doorbell or floodlight cam) and 24/7 professional monitoring from the Ring HQ.

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.

Watch over your home from your phone, tablet or PC with the all-new Ring Video Doorbell 2. The latest version of Ring’s iconic Video Doorbell features an innovative design packed with advanced security features. With 1080HD video, two interchangeable faceplates and a quick-release rechargeable battery pack, the new Ring Video Doorbell 2 makes monitoring your home even easier than before. Get instant alerts when people press your Doorbell or trigger the built-in motion sensors, and see, hear and speak to visitors from your phone, tablet or PC.
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