Our favorite security system for do-it-yourself monitoring and home automation is the $280 Abode Essentials Starter Kit, because not only does it add professional monitoring to your home, but it also works as a smart hub for third-party devices and helps facilitate home automation. But if you're looking for something a little more affordable and dead-simple to set up, Ring Alarm is worth  a look.
Each piece of Ring's kit is designed to protect a different part of your house. The contact sensors detect when windows and doors are opened or closed; the motion detectors use infrared beams to sense movement and heat in a room; the keypad lets you arm and disarm the system; the base station keeps the system online, and has a 110-decibel siren that sounds when motion is detected; and the range extender keeps the sensors connected to the base station. Both the base station and range extender have a 24-hour battery backup that will keep the system online in case of a power outage.
The bottom half of the screen contains a historical list of all events (rings, motion triggers, and live view requests). Tap any event to view the associated video clip, share it, delete it, or save it. Tapping the Ring Pro button takes you to a screen where you can enable and disable ring alerts and motion alerts, view live video, and access the doorbell settings. When you tap the Live View button it launches a live stream presented in full-screen landscape mode and has buttons for two-way audio, speaker mute, and neighborhood sharing.

Once you're logged in, follow the straightforward prompts to connect each accessory. This was one of the easiest security system setups I've ever encountered; literally pull the battery tab on the battery-powered door/window sensor and motion sensor and plug in the base station, the keypad and the Z-Wave range extender, and they automatically connect to the app.
Aside from the obvious value proposition, Ring’s big pitch for the Alarm system is its simplicity. Though it has all of the features necessary for a proper home security system – professional monitoring, battery and cellular backup for the event of a power loss – installing the Ring Alarm in my home took less than 20 minutes and involved following the app’s instructions to get the base station on my Wi-Fi network and register each included piece. Cleverly, Ring presets the included motion detector, contact sensor, and range extender to pair with the hub that’s in the box, so getting them set up is just a matter of pulling the battery tab to wake them up and waiting a moment for the app to find them.
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.

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.
So far my experience with this system has been good. I am giving this product 5 stars because of the customer service experience I had when my alarm went off and the future potential I see for the whole Ring product line. However, I would like to see a couple things addressed. 1) The app needs to be easier to use, especially the cancel option, that cancel option should be there immediately and very easy to find. 2) With my old 42$ a month system I was able to control my lights, door lock and thermostat. Please please Mr. Siminoff, can we get this feature added to the system? I think adding in those features will take this from a very good low cost option to a GREAT overall option for security and home automation.

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.
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.
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.
The beauty of all Ring products is that they’re free of long-term contracts and completely integrated with the user’s everyday tech. In other words, this ain’t your grandpa’s home security system. For no additional cost, the online home base will alert any selected users and devices when there’s unwanted movement in and around the house. For an additional $10/month, Ring users are upgraded to unlimited video recording (should they add a Ring doorbell or floodlight cam) and 24/7 professional monitoring from the Ring HQ.
Given the plethora of user-friendly and accessible security systems out there, there’s no shortage of good options. One of our favorite systems comes from Ring, a global home security company owned by Amazon. While its offerings may not be as flashy as those from Nest, which was acquired by Google’s parent company Alphabet in 2014, Ring is a relatively simple and affordable home security option. Wi-Fi-enabled, it easily mounts on walls or flat surfaces and can be set up in less than an hour. Pair this with the company’s diverse product line and excellent customer service, and you have a system that will work hard for your home (without you having to work too hard yourself).
Even if the power goes out at home, your property will still be protected by the complimentary 24-hour backup battery. And for only $10 a month, you can upgrade to Ring Protect Plus and enjoy 24/7 professional monitoring with cellular backup, unlimited video recording for Ring Doorbells and Cameras at your home. You won’t be locked into any long-term contracts. You don’t need professional installation. You don’t even need any tools. It’s that simple.

All that said, the biggest flaw with price is that purchasing Nest’s multi-purpose sensors may be forcing you to purchase more equipment than you need. Most homes don’t need three motion sensors, especially if the sensors have a decent range. Remember, Nest’s motion detectors only detect movement within a 10-foot range, the abode motion sensor has a 120° field of view and can detect motion within a 34-foot range so you would need at least two Nest motion-enabled devices for every one abode motion sensor. Ring’s motion sensor’s range is unlisted, but I tested it at 35 feet, and it worked perfectly.
Finally, you can add third-party Z-Wave and Zigbee devices. abode has a list of compatible devices on their site. The list includes products by Aeon, Aeotec, Enerwave, Fibraro, First Alert, FortrezZ, GE, Linear, Kwikset, Leviton, Schlage, Iris, Sensative, ZooZ, and Netvox. abode also sells their own Home Automation Power Outlet & ZigBee Extender. The device will turn any outlet into a smart outlet, allowing you to control plugged-in devices and include them as part of your automation recipes. The switch also acts as a ZigBee range extender.

As far as actually using the Video Doorbell 2, my experience was largely positive. The video that’s streamed live from the doorbell is bright and has decent resolution, and the IR sensors around the camera make it possible to see visitors at night, too. Connecting to the camera through the smartphone app was quick, even if I wasn’t home and had to use LTE, and the two-way microphone and speaker made it possible to talk to visitors directly. I was even able to view the camera’s feed on Amazon’s Echo Show — though it doesn’t support two-way audio, and I had some trouble connecting to the camera at times.
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.

On another note, I really like this article. It has a lot of good information that I’ve added to my personal research. One thing I like about Abode is that the Chris Carney (a founder) has many years of experience in the security industry. It is open source and seems like it protects user data better. After Google purchased Nest, one can only imagine how they are combining all of that personal data with all of the other personal data they have on us. The on-demand monitoring seems really valuable–I only really need 3rd party monitoring when I’m out of town.
The Nest Guard motion sensor can detect motion within a 90° field of view up to 10 feet away. It also includes tamper detection as well as a proximity sensor (wakes on approach) and will let you know if it’s moved or if someone tries to jam your signal. However, in testing, I found that none of the promised tamper sensors worked. I did not test jamming detection.
While fairly similar to the Ring Stick Up Cam, the Spotlight Cam is built for the outdoors. That means it comes with a few added security features, such as a siren that you can activate remotely to scare away anyone who triggers its motion detector. The camera is also built with infrared night vision, meaning you’ll be able to check in on your home and your surroundings when you need to the most.

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 Ring Alarm starter kit is one of the most affordable security systems available. For $200, you get a wireless base station, a keypad for arming and disarming the system, one entry sensor, one motion sensor and a Z-wave range extender. I would have liked the kit to include at least two entry sensors since there's typically more than one point of entry to every dwelling, but you can purchase additional entry sensors for $20 a piece.
The Ring Pro delivered very sharp 1080p video in testing. Daytime video was clean with rich colors, and night vision video was well lit with good contrast and remained sharp out to around 20 feet. There was noticeable barrel distortion around the edges, but people and objects appeared normal. Two-way audio was loud and clean, unlike the original Ring Doorbell which would become garbled on occasion.
From what I understand, it’s not so much a matter of just buying a device, but also programming it to the exact frequency that matches your alarm system. (Which makes an interesting case for not using a security sign, but that’s another debate.) That said, a really good signal jammer can cost upwards of $1,000, and as CNET pointed out, they would still have to smash a window or break down your door. The guy who wants money for his addiction isn’t going to spend the money and effort needed to pull off a jamming heist. Of course, if you are a public figure or might be the target of a more complex attack, I would suggest looking into a wired alarm system.
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.
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.
What sets Nest Guard apart from the abode and Ring’s base station is its intuitive nature. First of all, the integrated keypad is a smart choice because let’s face it; phones get lost. In addition to a keypad which accepts a numeric passcode, Guard has several buttons. You can press a button to quickly swap between modes (alarm off, home and guarding, and away and guarding) or you can press for immediate help using the panic button which is found on the back of the device.
Ring Protect retails for $199 for the basic hardware, which is also less than Nest Secure’s $399 entry price. The system also works with all of Ring’s existing products, and will be rolling out support for third-party connected devices over time, too. On its own, it operates as a self-monitored connected security system, sending you alerts while you’re away. The Protect plans starting at $10 monthly include 24/7 monitoring by professionals, as well as unlimited cloud storage for recording from an unlimited number of Ring devices, as well as a 10 percent discount on future Ring hardware purchases.
abode also sells their own line of cameras. They sell an image sensor, which will take three snapshots if it detects motion, and two streaming cameras. I’ve tested two of the three. The two cameras I tested were unfortunately unimpressive, and I found Nest cameras to be vastly superior. abode’s newest camera, not tested, offers two major benefits: FHD 1080P resolution and two-way audio. Of course, there’s also abode iota which offers the same camera specs as the newest abode streaming camera. The benefit of using abode cameras over Nest cameras is free cloud and local storage. abode’s streaming cameras support a microSD card and include three days of free cloud storage. Nest supplies just 3 hours of snapshot storage for free. As described above, if you want more Nest storage, you will need to pay for Nest Aware.
Once you're logged in, follow the straightforward prompts to connect each accessory. This was one of the easiest security system setups I've ever encountered; literally pull the battery tab on the battery-powered door/window sensor and motion sensor and plug in the base station, the keypad and the Z-Wave range extender, and they automatically connect to the app.
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.

The bottom half of the screen contains a historical list of all events (rings, motion triggers, and live view requests). Tap any event to view the associated video clip, share it, delete it, or save it. Tapping the Ring Pro button takes you to a screen where you can enable and disable ring alerts and motion alerts, view live video, and access the doorbell settings. When you tap the Live View button it launches a live stream presented in full-screen landscape mode and has buttons for two-way audio, speaker mute, and neighborhood sharing.
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.
Once devices are added, you can create rules through abode’s built-in automation engine which they call CUE. CUE works similarly to IFTTT in that you can create rules in an ‘If This Then That’ format, but it takes things a step further by allowing you to create an optional condition. For example, if the front door is closed, lock the front door, but only if it’s dark outside.
After I installed the second Ring I noticed I was not able to connect as quickly and sometimes not at all to the doorbell. I watched a few YouTube videos for troubleshooting and BOOM! I found the issue (I can not fault Ring for this). My current doorbell transformer was only max 16V of power. I went and purchased a max 24V transformer and a plug-in WiFi extender (approximately $50 total for both). This solved the issue and we were able to connect to both doorbells with no problems. Since July of 2017, and the upgrades, we have had no issues. We had temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit and they were still working.
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.
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