Unfortunately, there’s no video-on-demand (VOD) feature that lets you view the outside world whenever you want. Instead, you have to wait for someone to approach the door. VOD appears to be on many users’ wish lists, and Ring says it’s working on adding that feature. With VOD built-in, the doorbell would instantaneously turn into a full-featured security camera, so let’s hope we see this addition soon.
In fact, some of my neighbors might testify to this. After Ring sent me the review unit, they also seeded some 20 of my neighbors with Rings of their own. The goal was to turn my neighborhood into something of a test bed for measuring how the doorbell can be deployed to reduce crime (or at least give homeowners more confidence in their own home security). Using the NextDoor social network, I asked neighbors for reviews.
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.
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?”
The abode Gateway also supports limited local functionality. This is in part thanks to the Gateway’s ability to communicate using its own proprietary protocol called abodeRF. If your internet is down, your automated rules will continue to run, assuming that the devices involved are connected to the Gateway directly and not through a third-party service like IFTTT.
So let’s talk cost for a minute. For $399, Nest includes a Nest Guard which also acts as a keypad, siren, and motion detector, two Nest Detects which are also motion sensors, and two Nest Tags. An equivalent package from abode would cost $479. A comparable package from Ring would cost $279. However, Ring doesn’t sell a key fob, and the kit includes a range extender, so that needs to be factored into the equation.
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.
I’m confident that if Ring were a closed system—hardwired to my home network, and not at the mercy of Wi-Fi and smartphone connections—signal reliability would be a non-issue. But we’re in the wild, wild west of cloud-connected smart-home devices. The Internet of Things (ugh—that word!) is riddled with weak links, and neither Ring nor its smart-home brethren can control the infrastructure’s frequent unpredictability.
“Where we’re going with it is once we know this, we can then do things in our network which include, you know if someone’s walking around your house at 3 AM in the morning and your house is on stay mode, then we can do a different type of alert or sort of raise the alert level on that camera,” explained Siminoff. “And then we do things like deliver presence saying ‘How can I help you, what are you doing?’ and so really taking that presence and that interactivity, and that pre-crime thing that Ring is so good at and take it to the next level by knowing the status.”

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.


Ring, maker of one of the original (and still likely the best) connected video doorbell, has launched a comprehensive home security system called Protect, which retails for $199 and includes a base station, keypad (for arming and disarming) a contact sensor for a window or door, a passive infrared sensor for detecting motion and a Z-Wave extender for adding range to smart home devices that use the standard.

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That’s convenient for a number of reasons: it’s easier to install a Video Doorbell 2, and it has more options for its placement than one that has to be installed where the wiring is. But don’t be fooled: the Video Doorbell 2 is not the kind of product that can be installed and then easily removed and swapped to a different door or area. This is very much a permanent installation, which means it likely won’t work for renters.
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.
For larger spaces like your garage door or back patio, it might benefit you to invest in an additional motion detector. These devices can be configured to detect movement up to 30 feet, sending alerts to your phone whenever something enters the monitored area. As long as you mount the detector on a wall or corner of a room above seven feet, it shouldn’t be triggered by movement from small pets or pests, though that has still been known to happen.
Unfortunately, there’s no video-on-demand (VOD) feature that lets you view the outside world whenever you want. Instead, you have to wait for someone to approach the door. VOD appears to be on many users’ wish lists, and Ring says it’s working on adding that feature. With VOD built-in, the doorbell would instantaneously turn into a full-featured security camera, so let’s hope we see this addition soon.
This one is for anyone who lives in a medium to large size house. The Ring Chime Pro boosts the Wi-Fi signal from your router so that even your most remote Ring devices are supported. This also amplifies any notifications they send. Most users have found that this significantly improves the strength of their doorbells, which makes sense as the front door is often far away from your living room or office. Possibly the simplest item to install on this list, simply plug the Ring Chime Pro into a wall outlet and you’re good to go.
This, according to Siminoff, is one of Ring’s key differentiators over home security industry stalwarts like ADT. He repeatedly called ADT and its ilk “marketing companies” on our call, whereas Ring is a product and “mission” company. The goal of most home security providers is to market safety and security and sell that marketing as a product with a lucrative recurring subscription, is the implication, whereas Ring is focused on an overall goal of making neighbourhoods more secure, per Siminoff.

Through Works with Nest, abode works with Nest Protect, Nest Thermostat, and Nest Cam. Using this integration, you have the option to sync your abode modes with Nest modes or keep them separate. The abode system also offers deep integration with the Nest Thermostats. From the abode app, you can access and control your home’s temperature and create temperature thresholds. The same is true for ecobee users.
If a monitored door or window is left open when you arm the system, Ring Alarm will warn you, but give you the opportunity to push an illuminated button on the keypad to bypass that sensor. You’ll get a similar warning and opportunity when using the app to arm the system. The sensor will remain bypassed until you disarm the system again. It’s a convenient feature: If you left the upstairs window open, for example, but are in too much of a rush to run up and close it, you can take a calculated risk and secure the rest of the home.
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 Z-Wave range extender and the sensors in the kit are pre-paired with the base station, so you just need to enroll them into the app. Ring also sent me a couple of add-on door/window sensors so I could experience the full onboarding process. This simply involves scanning a QR code on the device, verifying that the PIN printed below the QR code matches what’s displayed in the app, and then pulling the battery tab.
Setting up a smart security system requires you to consider the size of the space you want to protect, the tech capabilities that are most important to you, as well as the tech stack you want to use. Ring’s products are all Alexa-enabled, meaning they can be easily integrated into your existing smart home set-up. Plus, the company offers Protect Plus 24/7 Professional Monitoring for $10 per month. (Compare this to Nest’s similar service, which will ding you $19-29 over the same period.)
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.
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.
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.
As far as Ring Alarm, I don’t have an answer for you, but I understand and appreciate the knowledge you’ve shared. I would also agree that if they haven’t advertised jamming detection, that’s probably because it doesn’t exist. A Twitter friend of mine, who works for Underwriters Laboratories (UL), also mentioned that the system is not UL certified. Again, probably not as important to you as this jamming issue, but something interesting to note.
The abode Gateway also supports limited local functionality. This is in part thanks to the Gateway’s ability to communicate using its own proprietary protocol called abodeRF. If your internet is down, your automated rules will continue to run, assuming that the devices involved are connected to the Gateway directly and not through a third-party service like IFTTT.
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
Ring offers a full line of security cameras. These provide more protection and are not limited to just the doorbell area of the home. The security cameras range in overall function and features. The company’s security cameras all come with HD video, which ensures a high quality view every time. They also feature two-way talk features, lights, as well as sirens to alert the area. You can choose to link into them through your app or you can use any pc. Here is a look at some of the options.
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