Ring makes sure that no matter your experience level, you're empowered with information. The minute you open the box, there are neatly packaged containers with nearly every component needed to install the kit. Before you do any of that, however, you'll have to add each device through the Ring mobile app, which is extremely straightforward — all you have to do to start setting up accessories is tap the button that says "Set up a new device."
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.
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.
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.
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.
That said, using abode with a Nest Cam is my recommended solution, and integrating the two provides one major advantage: more free storage for your Nest Cams. The major disadvantage is that even if you are a Nest Aware subscriber, abode can only store snapshots. If you want video clips or continuous cloud access, you will need to pay for Nest Aware to access your footage via the Nest app.
The camera's motion sensor worked without a hitch, as did the pre-buffer feature. I always received a push notification, and the camera never failed to record a clip when the sensor was triggered or when the doorbell button was pressed. I created an IFTTT applet to have a D-Link Smart Switch turn on a lamp whenever the doorbell button was pressed, and it worked without fail, as did my Alexa voice command to display the Ring Pro's live stream on my TV using an Amazon Fire TV Stick and Amazon Echo.
Ring lacks third-party integrations. The Base Station communicates with Z-Wave and Zigbee, and I’ve confirmed those protocols were added for a reason, but they haven’t taken advantage of them. The system supports the First Alert Z-Wave Smoke/CO detector which is also compatible with the Ring Response service. Soon, it will also work with the Dome Siren. But that’s it. Ring currently lacks an IFTTT channel and even an Alexa integration, which is odd as Ring is owned by Amazon.
The motion and door/window sensors can be mounted with screws or with Velcro strips (provided). I’m happy the sensors didn’t come from the factory with the strips already attached. I’ve never seen an adhesive strip that didn’t eventually fail, so I prefer to use screws—and peeling those strips off so you can use screws is a major pain. The sensor batteries come preinstalled, so you just pull out a plastic tab when the app tells you to. This enables the battery to touch the electrical contact inside the sensor, powering it up.
So this Ring Video Doorbell worked for about 4 months. I came home one day and the door bell button was stuck in the down position and the unit burned out. I contacted Ring and customer service was receptive and sent me a replacement unit. Unfortunately the replacement unit had trouble connecting to my solid wi-fi and I was directed to reboot the unit by holding down the orange button for 20 seconds. After the unit was rebooted it connected to wi-fi but would not charge or ring my mechanical door chime. My unit was hardwired to my doorbell using a 16 volt transformer and mechanical door bell and the first unit worked fine until it burned out. I spent some time on chat with customer service going through all the troubleshooting when they eventually agreed to send another replacement unit.