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
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.
On another note, I really like this article. It has a lot of good information that I’ve added to my personal research. One thing I like about Abode is that the Chris Carney (a founder) has many years of experience in the security industry. It is open source and seems like it protects user data better. After Google purchased Nest, one can only imagine how they are combining all of that personal data with all of the other personal data they have on us. The on-demand monitoring seems really valuable–I only really need 3rd party monitoring when I’m out of town.
abode also sells their own line of cameras. They sell an image sensor, which will take three snapshots if it detects motion, and two streaming cameras. I’ve tested two of the three. The two cameras I tested were unfortunately unimpressive, and I found Nest cameras to be vastly superior. abode’s newest camera, not tested, offers two major benefits: FHD 1080P resolution and two-way audio. Of course, there’s also abode iota which offers the same camera specs as the newest abode streaming camera. The benefit of using abode cameras over Nest cameras is free cloud and local storage. abode’s streaming cameras support a microSD card and include three days of free cloud storage. Nest supplies just 3 hours of snapshot storage for free. As described above, if you want more Nest storage, you will need to pay for Nest Aware.
It would have been nice to see more smart-home integration between the Ring Alarm and other well-established third-party names, if only because the company has already set such a precedent for itself in this area. Buying it won't introduce any new tricks to an existing Ring doorbell, either, but if you're already in the ecosystem and you're looking to expand, this $200 starter kit is a sure fit.
Despite our internet running at 300mpbs or faster, our Ring struggles to pick up a solid signal from our router, which is no more than 15 feet from the RING. The several times I've contacted the Ring support team they've been very friendly. They even sent us a signal boosting Chime Pro for free to help with the signal problem. Unfortunately this only made the signal worse according to the support team.
Moving on...If you are installing the hard wired RIng doorbell version (not wireless) just remember to shut off the power to the doorbell prior to installing. I installed the doorbell, downloaded the free application for my wife and I, added the adapters to my current doorbell, and set the "Motion Zone". The entire process took approximately 40 minutes. Having the set "Motion Zones" helps us out a lot so we do not get "Motion Detected" alerts from people on the sidewalk but anything closer to my home it goes off. Everything works flawlessly and the speaker sounds great. Images and video during day and night are clear. No issues hearing the person at my door nor them hearing me. My wife loved it as much as I did and we decided to get a second one for our second door (plus it was a Amazon special we could not pass up!).
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.
Ring’s motion sensors and contact sensors are much more traditional than Nest’s, which cleverly combine the two into a single device that also adds a nightlight. Nest’s base station also combines the keypad with it and adds even more motion detection sensors – Ring’s separate base station and keypad approach is almost clumsy in comparison. But it is possible to add multiple keypads to the Ring system, so you can have one at each entry way or in your bedroom if that’s a more convenient place for it. The keypad can be placed flat on a table or mounted to the wall, and uses a simple MicroUSB cable for power. Its internal battery lasts between six and twelve months, according to Ring, so it’s possible to install it in a location that doesn’t have an accessible power outlet and just charge it occasionally.
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.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro offers almost everything you'd want in a smart doorbell. It's fairly easy to install, sports a slender design with interchangeable faceplates, and delivers sharp 1080p video day and night. As with the August Doorbell Cam Pro, the Ring Pro uses pre-buffering technology to show you what transpired prior to a motion trigger, and lets you view live video on an id="354749">Amazon Echo Show device using Alexa voice commands.
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.
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.
Nice article. I see from your disclaimer at the top of this article that the site participate in the program that can get fees from linking to Amazon purchases. And I know not every security system is available from Amazon. But could you still review the latest Simplisafe system please? I’m trying to decide what to get, and I have three friends that have the old Simplisafe. The new one looks so much better. I really don’t care about Geo fencing or whether or not I can chat with google or Siri. I’m just interested in getting a security system that works and doesn’t cost way too much. Thank you!
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.
If you're set to Home and Armed and you trigger an entry sensor that's fitted anywhere but your front door, the base station will sound a piercingly loud 104-decibel alarm until you can get to the keypad, or to your phone to deactivate it. If you're Away, both the motion and the entry sensors will trigger the alarm — unless, again, the entry sensor is affixed to the front door, in which case it will start a 60-second countdown until you enter your PIN (you can adjust the timer as you need).
I have had a very disappointing experience with my Ring Video Doorbell Pro. When it was installed, I had some customer service issues which were fixed quickly. Then after a few days, the unit continually dropped it's signal and didn't work. I would reboot it, as instructed and repeatedly within 24 hours I would lose the signal again. Finally, the unit lost power completely. Every time I called their customer service, they ran me through the same circus of reboots, despite the fact I told them the battery was drained and although the unit was connected to power, it was not working. I've made 5 calls to their customer service department with long waits on hold and the same scripted 'fix' that has not worked. At this point, I will be returning the doorbell & stick up cam to Amazon for a refund of a defective product that Ring does seem to want to support.
Next, they have plans to sell a Ring Smoke & CO Listener that listens for the sound of your smoke detector then sounds your siren and sends an alert if anything is detected. Keep in mind that this is not a smoke detector, but rather a device that will supplement your current smoke alarm system. As already mentioned, you can also buy the First Alert Z-Wave Smoke/CO Alarm, which will connect to your Ring Alarm system.
Throughout testing, I liked how I could verify the comings and goings of our dog walker simply by listening for the sound of the chime. The motion alert feature is ultra-sensitive, so I had to decrease its range to reduce false positives. I also found that it doesn’t begin recording video until someone has been at the door for a few moments. For example, the doorbell recorded a video of a delivery person leaving my door step, but I didn’t get video of him approaching and leaving my package.
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.
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.
Ring can be hardwired to your existing doorbell’s electrical leads, but lacking any doorbell at all, I opted to use the device’s internal battery, which is charged with a USB cable (just like any typical mobile device), and is rated to last one year between charges. Pulling off the doorbell for recharging is a simple matter of removing two screws with a special tool that Ring provides, and then sliding the doorbell off a backing plate. It’s no big deal.
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.
Quiet Open allows you to bypass an armed sensor simply by touching it. For example, if your system is armed, but you want to check the weather outside, you can press the sensor, and open your door. While I’ve heard only praise for this feature, my initial reaction was that it seems like a security flaw. Your teenagers, for example, can press the sensor and sneak out. Furthermore, there is no identification tied to using the feature. For example, it won’t say, “Rose bypassed the sensor.” Fortunately, you can turn this feature off if you’re concerned.
Like most security systems, Ring Alarm has two armed modes: Home activates the door/window sensors, but leaves the motion sensor turned off. This allows you to walk around inside your secured home without triggering the alarm. Away mode arms all the sensors, so if intruders break in through an entry point that isn’t protected by a sensor, the motion sensor will trigger the alarm when they walk within its range. One motion sensor can do the work of many door/window sensors.
The Nest Guard motion sensor can detect motion within a 90° field of view up to 10 feet away. It also includes tamper detection as well as a proximity sensor (wakes on approach) and will let you know if it’s moved or if someone tries to jam your signal. However, in testing, I found that none of the promised tamper sensors worked. I did not test jamming detection.
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.
As soon as the alarm is tripped you will receive 2 phone calls (one on each registered number), if no one answers they will immediately dispatch the police. The approximate time for the police to be dispatched from the moment your alarm goes off to the time they call a dispatcher is about 4 minutes (that includes the time to complete the 2 call attempts made to you). Police will be dispatched with a description of the zone that triggered the alarm (ex: living room motion).
When you press the doorbell button a chime sounds, the camera begins recording, and a push alert is sent to your phone. As with the Ring Floodlight Cam, you have to subscribe to a service plan to view, share, and download recorded video. The Protect Basic Plan is $3 per month or $30 per year and gives you 60 days of cloud storage per camera and full access to all of your videos. For $10 per month or $100 per year, the Protect Plus Plan gives you everything from the Basic Plan for an unlimited number of cameras, and you get a lifetime warranty (the warranty period is normally one year). By way of comparison, the August Doorbell Cam Pro subscription costs $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year for access to 30 days worth of video.
The Alarm system does not have as many bells and whistles as Nest’s system, nor does it have some of the conveniences Nest provides. But at $199 for the starter bundle, which includes the necessary hub, a keypad, a motion detector, a contact sensor for doors or windows, and a range extender, plus $10 per month for professional monitoring, Ring’s system is significantly cheaper than Nest Secure (which was just recently reduced to $399 for its starter kit) and is one of the least expensive home security systems you can purchase.
The other major part of the Ring Alarm kit is the 5.9 x 3.9 x 0.9-inch keypad, which can also be laid flat or hung on the wall. The keypad has 12 backlit number buttons, as well as three other buttons for quickly arming and disarming the system (though it's also possible to do so from the Ring app for iOS and Android). The buttons are plastic and easy to clean, and by default, they chime when pressed. I like that the keypad is handheld, but I still much prefer the rubberized remote keypad offered by SimpliSafe.
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.