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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.”

Hats off to Ring for the smooth-as-silk installation process. This system was easier to set up than anything in my experience. Although there are no installation videos integrated into the app, as Ring provides with its other products, I didn’t miss them at all. The app takes you through each step with pictures and a brief explanation, just enough information so you don’t feel like you’re learning the system by rote. A printed instruction manual is also provided.
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.
Ring's $199 Z-Wave-enabled Alarm Security Kit is so simple you might overlook it at first. The system includes a base station, a keypad, a door/window sensor, a motion sensor and a Z-Wave range extender. It's all basic hardware with basic functionality -- you won't find any fancy features here -- but the Security Kit is super simple to set up and monitor in the Ring mobile app. 
For doors especially, I much prefer sensors that can be embedded into the door and doorframe, so they’re completely hidden. As I mentioned earlier, Nest really innovated on this front, embedding pathway lights and secondary motion sensors into its Nest Detect sensors. Ring sensors have an LED that lights up when activated, and the base station (but not the keypad) will chirp when a sensor is activated, but that’s about it. But it’s worth noting that a basic Nest Secure system costs $499 to the Ring Alarm’s $199, and Nest Detect sensors cost $59 each where Ring’s cost just $20 (extra Ring motion sensors are priced at $30 each).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ring Neighborhoods is a service that lets you share videos with other nearby Ring users or anyone who has downloaded the Ring app. The service ties into another feature called Ring Locations. Ring Locations allows you to attribute your different Ring devices to different locations and customize user access for the same. For example, you might have your Ring Doorbell at one location where your kids have Homeowner user status, while you have Ring Alarm at another location and limit their access to Neighbor.
Like most security systems, Ring Alarm has two armed modes: Home activates the door/window sensors, but leaves the motion sensor turned off. This allows you to walk around inside your secured home without triggering the alarm. Away mode arms all the sensors, so if intruders break in through an entry point that isn’t protected by a sensor, the motion sensor will trigger the alarm when they walk within its range. One motion sensor can do the work of many door/window sensors.
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).
Ring also doesn't currently offer any additional security accessories, but it plans to add a leak sensor and other devices at some point. And while your Ring security cameras and video doorbells ($250 at Amazon) live in the same app as your Ring Alarm Security Kit, there aren't any direct integrations between them today. I'd like to see something like, "If the Ring Alarm Security Kit's front door sensor notices that the door is opened in Home or Away mode, then tell my Ring Video Doorbell Pro to record automatically" -- even if the Video Doorbell Pro itself hasn't detected motion yet. 
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.
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.
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The company’s latest product, the $199 Ring Video Doorbell 2, was released earlier this summer, and it improves upon the original product in a number of ways. It provides higher-resolution video output — 1080p verses the 720p of the original — and makes it easier to recharge the unit’s internal battery if you don’t have it hardwired into your home’s electrical system.

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Since the Security Kit only comes with one detector and one sensor, you’ll likely need to invest in more sensors if you’re looking to cover any space with multiple access points. The advantage of the Ring contact sensors is that they work on both doors and windows, meaning you can easily swap them from one location to another as you configure your set-up. When triggered, the sensors will send instant alerts to your phone, letting you react in real time. While a little bigger than traditional sensors, these come in a bright white color, blending in with most door and window frames.

I mentioned a cat sitter. It was kind of awesome to be able to see that she came by every day. In fact, the first day she didn’t come by until 11:00pm and I worriedly texted her to see if she was going to come. Every other day I took solace in knowing that she had already stopped by without having to text her or fear her shed forget. I was able to see when the lawn service came by and did their thing. I was able to see when packages were delivered and when my mom brought the nephews up to use the pool. I also got to scare the crap out of our friend as they were leaving our empty house and I wished them goodnight. That was worth some money right there. I even caught a few people using my driveway to turn around.

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.


Hats off to Ring for the smooth-as-silk installation process. This system was easier to set up than anything in my experience. Although there are no installation videos integrated into the app, as Ring provides with its other products, I didn’t miss them at all. The app takes you through each step with pictures and a brief explanation, just enough information so you don’t feel like you’re learning the system by rote. A printed instruction manual is also provided.
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.
By default, Ring Alarm offers three modes: Unarmed, Home and Armed, and Away and Armed. You can use the keypad to change modes, or use the mobile app, which also offers access to any Ring cameras you might have set up in your home. The app also provides status updates on any connected devices you have in the house, a separate history log for the alarm system and the cameras,  a settings panel for configuring professional monitoring and what each mode does when activated.

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.


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.
You have 2 alarm modes: home and away. Using the app you get to chose which sensors will trip home mode and away mode; to be a little more specific, in the app you can select a sensor and check a box next to away and a box next to home if you want it to trip the alarm even if your alarm is active in “home mode” such as when you’re sleeping at night, where motion sensors inside won’t trip the alarm, but doors or windows opening will do so. You can also select a motion sensor and select a lower sensitivity level in case you have pets. You can do all this from the app even away from home.

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.
Once your trial of ring video recording ends, you can no longer access past events without a paid subscription. That's not such a big deal until you realize what counts as a "recent event". If you don't press the button within about 5 seconds of getting a motion alert, you missed your shot and now it's a past event. Say the UPS guy comes, presses the doorbell and walks off immediately. Your phone properly notifies you that somebody is at your door, but you've got something in your hands, or your phone is in your pocket or any other distraction is going on that takes 5 seconds to finish. By the time you hit the notification banner and go into the app, it will take you to a screen that says you need a paid subscription to see past events. Earlier today I got a notification WHILE holding my phone, clicked it immediately, but the live video loaded slowly and by the time it did load, the "event" was considered done and it took me to the screen saying I needed to pay. I have no problem paying to record everything and be able to pull up events from hours, days or weeks ago, but needing to pay because 5 seconds went by and the app loaded slowly is a rip-off. This is a $200 item which replaces a $5 hardware store doorbell, and the ONE thing it's supposed to do (show you live video of rings or motion events at your door) doesn't work about half the time without paying extra. There needs to be about a 30 second window at minimum where you can see what's going on without having to pay extra.
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