Where Nest Wins: Nest has a better design, fantastic cameras, and cheaper cellular backup. Their multi-purpose sensors may cut down on the number of sensors you need, though they are more expensive than abode and Ring sensors. Also, Nest Guard is the most intuitive with LED lights, a keypad, and voice feedback. Finally, Nest Secure offers a 2-year warranty where abode and Ring offer 1-year warranties. However, there are areas where abode and Ring win too.
I mentioned a cat sitter. It was kind of awesome to be able to see that she came by every day. In fact, the first day she didn’t come by until 11:00pm and I worriedly texted her to see if she was going to come. Every other day I took solace in knowing that she had already stopped by without having to text her or fear her shed forget. I was able to see when the lawn service came by and did their thing. I was able to see when packages were delivered and when my mom brought the nephews up to use the pool. I also got to scare the crap out of our friend as they were leaving our empty house and I wished them goodnight. That was worth some money right there. I even caught a few people using my driveway to turn around.
The Ring Alarm system has three different modes, which can be set via the keypad or through the iOS and Android apps. There’s the standard disarmed mode that turns off all of the monitoring; an away mode that watches all of the installed sensors for intrusions; and then a “Home” mode, which by default will monitor sensors installed on entryways, but ignores motion inside the house. I’ve used the latter mode as basically a night or sleep setting, since during the day my family moves in and out of the house a lot and would constantly trip the door sensors.
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 feel like this was a great purchase. The price is excellent. I love being able to access it anytime from my phone. I love knowing what is going on at my house even when I’m on vacation. I love the security aspect both in surveillance and as a deterrent. It looks sharp (see photo). It’s also a lot of fun. I’ve shown it off to many friends and coworkers, at least one of which decided to get one themselves.
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.
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.
Finally, unlike abode’s base station (iota does not require Ethernet), Ethernet is not required to use Nest Secure. Nest likes to make things easy and they send everything you need, including batteries, to get your device up and running. Nest Guard ships with a 6-foot cable with a power adapter and CR123 batteries for the sensors. My system already had the batteries installed which made setup even easier.
When it's time to pair the keypad, the Ring app will have you create a four-digit PIN for arming and disarming the system. If you choose to have professional monitoring, you'll need to also come up with a verbal password to help identify you in case you have to talk to a dispatcher. As a reviewer — and a person who has tripped countless alarms in the last few months — I also appreciate that there's a seven-day trial period before professional monitoring becomes active, so you can take time to set up the system without worrying about false alarms. It also gives you time to register the alarm so that you do not incur any fees.
I don’t think I mentioned the answer in this article, but I know I’ve talked about this elsewhere. Unfortunately, all I can remember is abode and Ring. I can’t remember anything about Nest. All abode devices and sensors use the abode RF encrypted protocol to talk to the gateway. They also encrypt all communication between the gateway and the cloud. Ring uses Z-Wave Security 2 and Z-Wave SmartStart technology which encrypts the signal between the base and cloud as well as the base and sensors.
While the August doorbell offers a more symmetrical picture with no barrel distortion, it doesn't support IFTTT integration like the Ring Pro does, and Ring's monthly cloud fees are a bit more affordable. As such, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro is an Editors' Choice for smart doorbells. The SkyBell HD is another top pick, and offers features that Ring doesn't, such as color night video, free cloud recording, and compatibility with Nest smart home devices.
Though the Ring Alarm system covers the bases for a home security setup, there’s a lot of room for integration with other smart home products that Ring has left on the table. For example, it’s not possible to use the Ring’s motion or contact sensors to trigger lights or adjust a smart thermostat when you leave or come back home. This is despite the fact that the Ring Alarm sensors are based on Z-Wave technology, which is a widely used smart home standard.
The other thing of note is its lack of smart home partners. Despite being owned by Amazon, Ring's system doesn't work with Alexa or any other major smart home platforms. If you want to arm and otherwise get the status of your home security system via voice commands, the Ring Alarm Security Kit isn't the right option for you. Ring does specify in its support section that it's working on these integrations for a future release.
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.
I installed a motion sensor inside a shed in my backyard (shed has a tin metal roof) and I kept getting a false alarm daily usually around 1 or 2pm; Ring informed me that their motion sensors use infrared technology and that excessive heat could cause a false trigger. They told me a contact sensor at the shed’s door should do the job and that’s what I will be doing next.
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.
I went with the Ring Pro over the Original Ring because I was going to be wiring it in place anyway. I also like the slender profile and the possibility to use wireless 5.0 in the future if I desire. Plus I live on a very busy road and wanted the advanced motion detection zones on the pro. Since I did my research, I was aware that the Ring Pro has a 160 degree field of view compared to the 180 degree view of the original. For this reason, I purchased fiberglass shims to angle it more towards my large 6 foot doors when I installed it.
By removing the battery, Ring has been able to make the Ring Video Doorbell Pro a bit slimmer and smaller than its first- and second-generation models. The Pro measures 4.5 inches x 1.85 inches x 0.8 inches (11.4 centimeters x 4.7 centimeters x 2.0 centimeters). That’s 6.7 cubic inches (108 cubic centimeters) versus 13.6 cubic inches (223 cubic centimeters) for the Ring Video Doorbell 2—an impressive reduction in volume of more than half.
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.
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 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.
3) Operational Use. I like being able to set up polygons for the motion detection zones. I was able to easily mark my drive way, flowerbeds and porch. I’ve never had a problem with the busy traffic from the road (something the security guy mentioned was a problem with his original Ring). There are two problems they need to work out: You will get a motion detect when the night vision clicks on in the evening and when it clicks off in the morning. Expect that.
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