There is currently no support for controlling the system with voice commands, but it should come as no surprise that Ring is developing an Alexa skill. Once you can arm your security system using a voice command, you won’t want to do it any other way (disarming it that way is whole other question). Harris was slightly more circumspect about supporting Google Assistant. “We remain committed to being open to all of the different pieces that are important to our customers. We’ll continue to march down the path of trying to support everything we can.” I got a similar answer when I asked about support for Apple’s HomeKit technology: “We’ve given it a lot of time. Again, we remain focused on bringing HomeKit support across the product line, but it won’t be available at launch with the Alarm products specifically.”
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.
I would go beyond resolution and consider what you want the camera to do. My favorite outdoor camera is Arlo Pro, but a battery-powered outdoor camera will come with its own challenges. In my front yard, I need 24/7 continuous recording which is Nest, but I can’t deal with the way the giant wire looks on Nest Outdoor so I used Nest Cam Indoor filming through a window for a couple of years, which also has its own challenges, until I swapped out my Ring Doorbell for Nest Hello. Nest Hello is Nest’s video doorbell and it can record continuously.
1. Correct. Geofencing is a free feature. I’m not sure what abode uses specifically, but generally, geofencing does require GPS or location services to be enabled. I know the system doesn’t use Bluetooth. My dad is using the system right now and he’s had problems with multi-user geofencing. I asked abode about it, but they just wanted to troubleshoot instead of discussing general performance. If I were to guess, I’d guess that it’s only using GPS to detect presence and not a combination of data like GPS and phone presence (Wifi).
The backing plate is designed to mount on wood, brick, concrete, stucco, and aluminum siding, and the kit includes installation parts, like screws and a drill bit, to provide everything you’ll need. Unfortunately, using my cordless DeWalt drill, I couldn’t penetrate my home’s concrete, so I opted for heavy-duty double-sided tape. It works marvelously, and there’s a failsafe even if someone steals the doorbell: Ring will replace stolen doorbells free of charge, as long as you provide a police report.
The motion detection provided a better experience than I saw with Nest’s Cam IQ, and it would only alert me if someone was actually in front of my doorway, not down the driveway. The Ring app lets you control the motion detection’s range and set up schedules to disable the alerts. The motion alerts were useful when a delivery person would come and not bother to ring the fancy new doorbell I installed, but I ended up turning them off during the day so that I wouldn’t get a ping each time my family went in and out of the house. The scheduling system reenabled the motion alerts for nighttime so I would be alerted to an unwanted visitor at odd hours.
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.
Just like with Wi-Fi, the Ring platform is at the mercy of smartphone conventions it can’t control. I can’t tell you whether the video screen delays are due to poor coding in Ring’s app, performance problems with my LG G4 smartphone, or hiccups in my phone’s Wi-Fi or 4G connectivity. But the bottomline is that simply getting to the video chat screen can be a long, frustrating experience. In a perfect world, I’d be able to launch the video chat display directly from the notification shade—and do so quickly. But Ring doesn’t have actionable notifications access.
I opened the app, tapped Set Up Device, selected Doorbells, and selected the Pro from the list of choices. I named the device, entered my address (optional), and hit Continue. At this point you can play an instructional video if you're having difficulty. Next I was asked what type of bell my existing doorbell uses (mechanical, digital, none) and was prompted to press and release the button on the side of the Pro, at which point a voice informed me that I was entering setup mode. I hit Continue and was prompted to navigate to my phone's Wi-Fi settings and connect to the Ring network. I returned to the app and selected my home Wi-Fi SSID, entered my password, and waited around 20 seconds before the doorbell was connected. I attached the faceplate and was finished.
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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 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 Alarm doesn’t support smart lighting controls, door locks, thermostats, garage-door openers, or other common smart home products today, and there’s a very short list of supported third-party products. But it lacks nothing needed to support those and similar devices down the road. And in an interview with Ring Solutions president Mike Harris earlier this week, I learned that’s exactly what Ring intends to do.
There's also a Motion Snooze button that lets you temporarily disable motion alerts for 15 or 30 minutes or for 1 or 2 hours. The App Alert Tones button lets you select one of 20 sounds to play when the doorbell is pressed, or one of 16 sounds to play when motion is detected, and the Shared Users button lets you add users who can view video and receive alerts. Use the Ring+ button to link the Ring app to one of Ring's partners such as Wink, Kevo, LockState, and Wemo. Once linked, you can access a partner app from within the Ring app.
When you add the keypad, you’re asked to come up with a four-digit PIN that you’ll use to arm and disarm the system. If you opt in to professional monitoring, you’ll also need to come up with a verbal passcode that you’ll use to identify yourself as an authorized user when the monitoring service calls (so be sure to provide this information to your secondary contact, as they’ll need it as well).
The Ring Alarm has the electronics required to do all of that now, and Harris said those features will be turned on at some point. “You’ll see all of those things,” he said. “We’ll support color-changing lights, so that in a smoke situation, the lights will turn to a darker color to make it easier to see at night. You’ll see door locks with [Z-Wave’s] S2 security that will disarm the security system when you use the keypad to unlock the door, because we know you’ve done that in a secure way.”
Installing the sensors was similarly easy: I used the included double sided tape to mount the contact sensor to my front door and the motion sensor to the corner of the downstairs living room in my home. Ring also includes the necessary screws and wall fasteners for a more permanent installation, but the double sided tape was sufficient for my needs. For this review, I added two extra contact sensors (available as $20 add ons) and mounted them on a window and second door in my home. Syncing these with the existing system was just a matter of scanning a QR code on the back of the sensor, which triggered the app to search for it. Ring says that it will preset any additional devices you order at the same time as the Alarm starting kit, which would make setting them up as seamless as the in-box sensors.
Despite this, we now pay the $3 a month required to save our online footage - when it captures. We're out of the return window due to our many attempts to fix the device through Ring support. If I could do it over, I'd be tempted to send it back and try another brand. Everything else in our house gets a killer signal, so why this device can't get a signal from our router that's only 15 feet away is beyond me.