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.
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 Ring Alarm system does not include fire or carbon monoxide monitoring – for those features, you’ll need to add a First Alert Z-Wave Smoke/CO alarm ($40) or Ring’s Alarm Smoke and CO listener ($35) that gets installed next to your existing smoke alarms and “hears” when they go off to trigger the system. I was not able to test these products for this review.
I got the Costco version a month ago. Very happy with the system. I came from Simplisafe, while I liked that service you had to pay for $25/mo plan in order to use their App (basic monitoring is $15/mo for Simplisafe). Rings app is waaaay better and is free to use even without monitoring, I'm currently on my home monitoring trial with Ring, but will definitely sign up for the full year with no hesitation (1/3 of the cost I was paying). No issues integrating the First Alert Smoke and CO detectors (Simplisafe can only use their products). Also if you have ring cameras the recordings for that are included in the $10/mo or $100/yr
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Both systems offer exceptional protection and support, so the choice really comes down to your unique needs. For someone who wants their home to be fully automated and for their devices to talk to one another, Nest is the easy choice. While more expensive, the system offers excellent connectivity and added products like the Nest Tags and connected lock.
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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.
Ring’s sensors operate on battery power, the keypad and base station come with AC adapters, and the Z-Wave range extender plugs directly into an AC outlet. All three of those components have battery backup, so the system will continue to operate in the event of a power outage. The base station connects to your home network via hardwired ethernet or Wi-Fi. A Ring Protect subscription activates an LTE module in the base station that will keep the system connected to the internet if your broadband connection goes down. You can even run the keypad on battery power full time if you choose, since most homes don’t have AC outlets right next to doors. An LED will tell you when the battery needs to be charged.
It would have been convenient to have a device like a key fob for the Ring Alarm, as running to find the keypad or navigating the app to turn off the alarm takes a few seconds too long, but one does not currently exist. However, arming and disarming the system is relatively straightforward. I just had to dig through the paper manual to figure out how to correctly enter my PIN to change modes.
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.
You have 2 alarm modes: home and away. Using the app you get to chose which sensors will trip home mode and away mode; to be a little more specific, in the app you can select a sensor and check a box next to away and a box next to home if you want it to trip the alarm even if your alarm is active in “home mode” such as when you’re sleeping at night, where motion sensors inside won’t trip the alarm, but doors or windows opening will do so. You can also select a motion sensor and select a lower sensitivity level in case you have pets. You can do all this from the app even away from home.
When we reviewed the original Ring Video Doorbell three years ago, it earned high marks for its easy installation, sharp video quality, and motion detection, but was dinged for its middling audio quality, lack of on-demand video, and short battery life. With the new Video Doorbell Pro ($249), Ring has addressed all of these gripes and added some handy features including 1080p video, custom motion zones, pre-buffering to capture what was going on before the motion sensor was triggered, support for Alexa voice commands, and interoperability with other smart devices via IFTTT. All this earns it our Editors' Choice for video doorbells.
From what I understand, it’s not so much a matter of just buying a device, but also programming it to the exact frequency that matches your alarm system. (Which makes an interesting case for not using a security sign, but that’s another debate.) That said, a really good signal jammer can cost upwards of $1,000, and as CNET pointed out, they would still have to smash a window or break down your door. The guy who wants money for his addiction isn’t going to spend the money and effort needed to pull off a jamming heist. Of course, if you are a public figure or might be the target of a more complex attack, I would suggest looking into a wired alarm system.
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.
All that said, the biggest flaw with price is that purchasing Nest’s multi-purpose sensors may be forcing you to purchase more equipment than you need. Most homes don’t need three motion sensors, especially if the sensors have a decent range. Remember, Nest’s motion detectors only detect movement within a 10-foot range, the abode motion sensor has a 120° field of view and can detect motion within a 34-foot range so you would need at least two Nest motion-enabled devices for every one abode motion sensor. Ring’s motion sensor’s range is unlisted, but I tested it at 35 feet, and it worked perfectly.
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.
3 - If you do not answer the alert fast enough, you are locked out-- even though someone is standing at your front door. You cannot "turn on" the camera from your phone or tablet. If someone is there and you do not have an "ACCEPT" button on the screen, there is just no way to see or talk to them. This is obviously a software flaw. You should always be able to "wake" a camera remotely and talk to a person at your front door. Or maybe you just want to see the view outside your front door. You should be able to access the camera / microphone and enjoy your front yard.