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?”
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.
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.
When you add the keypad, you’re asked to come up with a four-digit PIN that you’ll use to arm and disarm the system. If you opt in to professional monitoring, you’ll also need to come up with a verbal passcode that you’ll use to identify yourself as an authorized user when the monitoring service calls (so be sure to provide this information to your secondary contact, as they’ll need it as well).
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 $10 per month that provides unlimited cloud storage also provides Ring Response (24/7 professional monitoring) and Cellular Backup.
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The doorbell can be used in temperatures as low as -5°F and as high as 120°F, enabling operation in a wide variety of environments. Additionally, the package comes with four different colored faceplates (black, charcoal, silver, and white) so that you can match the doorbell to your home's exterior or your existing hardware. Motion detection with programmable zones will send an alert to your smartphone or tablet when movement is detected in one of the motion zones, and bank-grade encryption offers safe transfer of data from the doorbell to your mobile device.
So far my experience with this system has been good. I am giving this product 5 stars because of the customer service experience I had when my alarm went off and the future potential I see for the whole Ring product line. However, I would like to see a couple things addressed. 1) The app needs to be easier to use, especially the cancel option, that cancel option should be there immediately and very easy to find. 2) With my old 42$ a month system I was able to control my lights, door lock and thermostat. Please please Mr. Siminoff, can we get this feature added to the system? I think adding in those features will take this from a very good low cost option to a GREAT overall option for security and home automation.
For doors especially, I much prefer sensors that can be embedded into the door and doorframe, so they’re completely hidden. As I mentioned earlier, Nest really innovated on this front, embedding pathway lights and secondary motion sensors into its Nest Detect sensors. Ring sensors have an LED that lights up when activated, and the base station (but not the keypad) will chirp when a sensor is activated, but that’s about it. But it’s worth noting that a basic Nest Secure system costs $499 to the Ring Alarm’s $199, and Nest Detect sensors cost $59 each where Ring’s cost just $20 (extra Ring motion sensors are priced at $30 each).
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.
Unlike the other options, Ring cameras don’t integrate with the security system. Sure you can monitor them all using a single mobile app, but there is no “if this, then that” relationship. If your alarm sounds, your cameras will not record. If your cameras detect motion, they won’t trigger your alarm. However, there is one major benefit to using Ring cameras: If you pay $10 per month, you will gain access to cloud storage and professional monitoring with cellular backup.
Our favorite security system for do-it-yourself monitoring and home automation is the $280 Abode Essentials Starter Kit, because not only does it add professional monitoring to your home, but it also works as a smart hub for third-party devices and helps facilitate home automation. But if you're looking for something a little more affordable and dead-simple to set up, Ring Alarm is worth a look.
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.
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