The square wireless base station is the main component of the Ring Alarm system. It's 6.7 x 6.7 x 1.4 inches in size, and though it lay flat on a bookshelf for this review, it can be mounted on a wall. The base station has ZigBee and Z-Wave antennas, and while the latter is available to use with compatible third-party accessories, anything that isn't Ring-certified won't work with security monitoring.
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The Ring Doorbell Pro comes with 30 days of Cloud recordings, however, if you would like to record footage after this, you will need to purchase a monthly or yearly Cloud subscription. With the subscription, you will be able to view and download up to 6 months of recordings, and you will also be able to share recordings with friends, neighbors, and law enforcement. Additionally, you can permanently save files that are important to you and delete any unwanted files. The package also includes mounting hardware and a power kit.
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.
After I installed the second Ring I noticed I was not able to connect as quickly and sometimes not at all to the doorbell. I watched a few YouTube videos for troubleshooting and BOOM! I found the issue (I can not fault Ring for this). My current doorbell transformer was only max 16V of power. I went and purchased a max 24V transformer and a plug-in WiFi extender (approximately $50 total for both). This solved the issue and we were able to connect to both doorbells with no problems. Since July of 2017, and the upgrades, we have had no issues. We had temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit and they were still working.
Put whole-home security in your hands with Ring Alarm. When the system is armed, it sends instant alerts to your phone and tablet whenever doors or windows are opened and when motion is detected at home, so you can monitor your property from anywhere. Ring Alarm is fully customizable and expands to fit any home or apartment. And with Ring Video Doorbells and Security Cameras, it lets you control your entire home security system from one simple app.
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.
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The upshot: When that sketchy person comes to your door asking for “charitable donations,” you can compliment his appearance—nice prison tats!—and tell him you’re too busy to talk right now. Who knows, maybe you’re feeding your Belgian Malinois attack dogs. Or are you? The robber will never know that you’re actually speaking to him from a restaurant. In another state.
The decision to separate the system’s brains—the base station—from the keypad is smart: It allows you to place the larger base station somewhere out of the way and put the smaller keypad near an entry door, where it’s easy to access. You can also deploy more than one keypad—one at the front door, one at the back, and one on your bedside table, for instance. Putting the base station somewhere other than near an entry door also enhances the system’s overall security: If burglars can’t find it quickly, they can’t disable the system.
If the base station is the control center for your Ring devices, then the Amazon Echo Show is the main stage. This 10.1-inch HD screen with built-in speakers was practically made to complement your home security system. Set it up in the kitchen or living room, and you’ll be instantly connected to video and notifications from around your home. Someone at the door but you’re making dinner? Use the Amazon Echo Show to see who’s arrived. In addition to syncing with cameras and alarms, it can even listen for the sound of smoke detectors or broken glass. Talk about a smart security product.
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 $199 Z-Wave-enabled Alarm Security Kit is so simple you might overlook it at first. The system includes a base station, a keypad, a door/window sensor, a motion sensor and a Z-Wave range extender. It's all basic hardware with basic functionality -- you won't find any fancy features here -- but the Security Kit is super simple to set up and monitor in the Ring mobile app.
Ring Alarm hits nearly all the right notes for a basic DIY home security system. I’ve already touched on a couple of its shortcomings—including an absence of support for smart speakers—but tighter integration with Ring’s own cameras would be another welcome development. When an alarm is tripped, the cameras should begin recording to perhaps capture a glimpse of what triggered it—potentially valuable forensic evidence you could provide to the police investigating a break-in. And if Ring Alarm could control your home’s smart lighting, it could turn on all the lights if the alarm is triggered after dark, which might convince an intruder to make a hasty retreat.
What I like is the ease of setup. Very user friendly and quality components. The battery powered cameras offer a level of flexibility that our old wired cameras did not. Video is generally good to excellent (if you have a strong wifi router) and quite simple to customize the system to your particular needs (I don’t mind lack of 3rd party integration). And the $10 monthly price for monitoring and video storage is AMAZING (was paying almost $50/mo before).
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.
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.