Like the hardware, Ring’s Protect Plus service is significantly less expensive than other options. It costs $10 per month and has no long term contract commitments. Nest offers a similar service, but it starts at $19.99 per month with a three-year contract and jumps to $29.99 per month if you opt for no commitment. ADT, one of the largest traditional home security services, has plans that start at $28.99 per month and requires a three-year commitment.
All the components in the Ring Alarm system use Z-Wave Plus radios and support Z-Wave’s S2 security framework, but Harris told me there’s also a ZigBee radio onboard as well as some other surprises that aren’t discussed in the user manual. “You’ve got Wi-Fi, you’ve got LTE, you’ve got Z-Wave, you’ve got ZigBee….” Harris said. “I’m sure people will open it up and see there’s another radio in there that’s not turned on yet. There’s an awful lot going on in there.”
The Ring system offers many different types of cameras; which one (or ones) you choose will depend on your unique configuration needs. The Ring Stick Up Cam is a fairly versatile option, letting you monitor both indoor or outdoor areas in 1080p HD video. It can also rest on a flat surface or be mounted to a wall or ceiling. Like the Ring Doorbell, this camera allows two-way talk, so you can see and speak to whoever’s on the other end of the lens using your phone or connected device.
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.
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.
The Ring Doorbell Camera security system was acquired by Amazon. They currently offer doorbell cameras and exterior security lighting cameras. And according to their website product page, Ring will soon be adding indoor security and environmental protection products to their lineup as well. This is great news based on how popular their current products have become.
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.
Quiet Open allows you to bypass an armed sensor simply by touching it. For example, if your system is armed, but you want to check the weather outside, you can press the sensor, and open your door. While I’ve heard only praise for this feature, my initial reaction was that it seems like a security flaw. Your teenagers, for example, can press the sensor and sneak out. Furthermore, there is no identification tied to using the feature. For example, it won’t say, “Rose bypassed the sensor.” Fortunately, you can turn this feature off if you’re concerned.
The biggest physical difference between the Doorbell 2 and the original is the new, slide-out battery. With the first model, recharging the battery required removing the entire doorbell from the frame and plugging it in for five to six hours. The new, removable battery (which looks like something you might find in a DSLR or camcorder) is much easier to charge: you just remove the front panel of the doorbell (a security screw underneath needs to be removed with the included screwdriver first), slide the battery out, and plug that into a Micro USB cable. Charging still takes five or six hours — it’s a hefty, 6,100mAh battery and this doesn’t have any quick charging features you might find on a smartphone — but the modularity of this design means you can buy a second battery and put that in to keep your doorbell functional while the other charges. Ring provides one battery in the box, but you can buy spares from Ring’s website for a reasonable $20.
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.”
You can use the Video Doorbell 2 on its own and it will chime when someone presses the button or it detects motion. It will also send a push notification to your phone: tap it, and you can view the live feed from the camera immediately. But it probably makes sense to use Ring’s $49 Chime Pro accessory with it. The Chime Pro provides a speaker for the doorbell inside your house, which is much easier for everyone to hear, and it works as a network extender to make sure the Video Doorbell 2 is always connected to Wi-Fi. It’s particularly useful if your Wi-Fi router isn’t anywhere near your front door.
On the plus side, the new Chime accessory mitigates some of Ring’s app friction. Even if your phone is in another room, or if you’ve turned its volume down, you can still hear that someone’s pressed your doorbell button. From there you can just go straight to your front door, and talk to your visitor in person. Just like they did in I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show.
In fact, just this week I had the power go out at my home, which is also where my office is. I had deadlines to meet, so I decided to go to a coffee shop where I could work and fill up on caffeine. It wasn't until I walked into my garage that I remembered I had to manually open the garage door, disconnecting the door from the chain drive. My particular garage door opener wouldn't let me reconnect the door and the chain drive, locking it in place, so I was stuck with a garage door that anyone could lift open with ease.
abode uses the abode app. If an event occurs, you will receive a notification on your phone. From the app, you can decide how to respond to events. You can review video footage, notify the police, the monitoring center, or even your family. You can also view sensor history and manage your rules. For example, you can create a “coming home” rule that turns on the lights and unlocks the door. And of course, you can use the app to arm and disarm the system.
Thanks to advances in sensors and other smart home technology, the landscape of home security systems is changing dramatically. It’s now possible to install a professionally monitored system in your home yourself in just a matter of minutes. You can even bring the system along with you when you move to another house or apartment. And the cost for these new systems is far less than traditional home security plans.
Third, Nest Guard has a voice. Of course, it’s no Google Home, but it will provide useful information. For example, when you arm your system, there is an arm delay which allows you to exit your home without setting off the alarm. Instead of an annoying beep that continues until the system arms, Nest Guard uses a friendly voice to tell you how much time you have left.
True. I do feel like I touched on most of my “what’s best” thoughts in the Final Thoughts section. I would take from abode the free and vast integrations which extend to its ability to work with so many security-related devices (glass break sensors, flood sensors, freeze sensors, key fobs, etc.). I would also take their optional on-demand monitoring plans, free cloud storage, and geofencing. I would take from Nest their fabulous camera technology, design, and overall experience (voice prompts, clean app experience, etc.). From Ring, I would take pricing and extended battery backup.
My connectivity issues notwithstanding, I’ve come to appreciate Ring’s motion alert feature, which sends the sound of a wind chime to your phone when someone approaches your door. Once you hear the chime, you can open a video window to talk with the visitor if you’re so inclined. Alternately, you can just let Ring’s cloud-based recording feature ($3 monthly or $30 annually) pick up the video of your visitor, and watch it later.
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.
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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.
The picture isn’t quite as rosy if you’re also looking for a full-fledged smart home system. Ring Alarm is positively capable of being a great smart home controller. But it’s not that today. And to be fair, Ring isn’t promising that it ever will be—at least not officially. But they wouldn’t have built in Z-Wave, ZigBee, and whatever that third mystery radio is if they didn’t intend to go down that path.
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).
When Ring was working without a hitch, the time delay between someone hitting the doorbell and receiving an alert on my phone was almost non-existent. Mind you, sometimes it would take a while to get from the smartphone notification to Ring’s video display (more about that soon), but at least there was very little lag in actually getting the notification itself.
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.