The square wireless base station is the main component of the Ring Alarm system. It's 6.7 x 6.7 x 1.4 inches in size, and though it lay flat on a bookshelf for this review, it can be mounted on a wall. The base station has ZigBee and Z-Wave antennas, and while the latter is available to use with compatible third-party accessories, anything that isn't Ring-certified won't work with security monitoring.
The Ring Doorbell Pro comes with 30 days of Cloud recordings, however, if you would like to record footage after this, you will need to purchase a monthly or yearly Cloud subscription. With the subscription, you will be able to view and download up to 6 months of recordings, and you will also be able to share recordings with friends, neighbors, and law enforcement. Additionally, you can permanently save files that are important to you and delete any unwanted files. The package also includes mounting hardware and a power kit.
If a monitored door or window is left open when you arm the system, Ring Alarm will warn you, but give you the opportunity to push an illuminated button on the keypad to bypass that sensor. You’ll get a similar warning and opportunity when using the app to arm the system. The sensor will remain bypassed until you disarm the system again. It’s a convenient feature: If you left the upstairs window open, for example, but are in too much of a rush to run up and close it, you can take a calculated risk and secure the rest of the home.
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Put whole-home security in your hands with Ring Alarm. When the system is armed, it sends instant alerts to your phone and tablet whenever doors or windows are opened and when motion is detected at home, so you can monitor your property from anywhere. Ring Alarm is fully customizable and expands to fit any home or apartment. And with Rign Video Doorbells and Security Cameras, it lets you control your entire home security system from one simple app. 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, extended warranties, exclusive discounts and more! The Ring Alarm Security Kit includes one Base Station, Keypad, Contact Sensor, Motion Detector and Range Extender. 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.
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.
Ring Alarm hits nearly all the right notes for a basic DIY home security system. I’ve already touched on a couple of its shortcomings—including an absence of support for smart speakers—but tighter integration with Ring’s own cameras would be another welcome development. When an alarm is tripped, the cameras should begin recording to perhaps capture a glimpse of what triggered it—potentially valuable forensic evidence you could provide to the police investigating a break-in. And if Ring Alarm could control your home’s smart lighting, it could turn on all the lights if the alarm is triggered after dark, which might convince an intruder to make a hasty retreat.
Setting up a smart security system requires you to consider the size of the space you want to protect, the tech capabilities that are most important to you, as well as the tech stack you want to use. Ring’s products are all Alexa-enabled, meaning they can be easily integrated into your existing smart home set-up. Plus, the company offers Protect Plus 24/7 Professional Monitoring for $10 per month. (Compare this to Nest’s similar service, which will ding you $19-29 over the same period.)
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I’m confident that if Ring were a closed system—hardwired to my home network, and not at the mercy of Wi-Fi and smartphone connections—signal reliability would be a non-issue. But we’re in the wild, wild west of cloud-connected smart-home devices. The Internet of Things (ugh—that word!) is riddled with weak links, and neither Ring nor its smart-home brethren can control the infrastructure’s frequent unpredictability.
Ring's professional monitoring isthrough Rapid Response Monitoring Services, and it's one of the more affordable services available. For $10 a month (or $100 a year if paid up front), you get the benefits of dispatchers on standby, and this includes video storage for any Ring cameras you might have. There's no long-term contract, either, so you can cancel any time you don't need it through the Ring website.
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.
If the base station is the control center for your Ring devices, then the Amazon Echo Show is the main stage. This 10.1-inch HD screen with built-in speakers was practically made to complement your home security system. Set it up in the kitchen or living room, and you’ll be instantly connected to video and notifications from around your home. Someone at the door but you’re making dinner? Use the Amazon Echo Show to see who’s arrived. In addition to syncing with cameras and alarms, it can even listen for the sound of smoke detectors or broken glass. Talk about a smart security product.
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.
When Ring worked as advertised, it delivered on all its promises. I never had any suspicious characters press the button, but I blew my neighbor’s mind when I communicated with her—quite easily, through the doorbell—while I was on vacation in wine country, 80 miles away. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help her get into her house (she had locked herself out), but it was a striking illustration of what Ring can do.
Where Nest Wins: Nest has a better design, fantastic cameras, and cheaper cellular backup. Their multi-purpose sensors may cut down on the number of sensors you need, though they are more expensive than abode and Ring sensors. Also, Nest Guard is the most intuitive with LED lights, a keypad, and voice feedback. Finally, Nest Secure offers a 2-year warranty where abode and Ring offer 1-year warranties. However, there are areas where abode and Ring win too.
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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.
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.
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 most useful product offered by Nest that the Ring system does not have is a connected lock. This tamper‑proof, key‑free deadbolt connects to the Nest app, letting you lock and unlock your door remotely. Users can also create passcodes for family, guests and people they trust, or give them a Nest Tag programmed to let them in only at certain times of the day.
The rest of the kit remains relatively standard. The Ring Alarm entry sensors are about a quarter-of-an-inch bigger than SimpliSafe's sensors and don't perform double duty like Nest's large sensors, which also sense motion. They're easy to install with the included mounting hardware and 3M-branded sticky tape, but they seem unnecessarily large and were hard to place so that the magnets would meet each other on both my front door and the back sliding door.
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.
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The door/window sensors (also called contact sensors) work pretty well, but the same cannot be said about the motion sensors; they will detect motion after there’s been plenty of movement (if I walk the hallway and enter a room it will not detect, but if I sit for a few seconds moving in the hallway it will detect it then). This is still not a show stopper for me, as I have a dog and don’t plan on buying any more motion sensors, it will be all contact sensors.
One of the first things I did on the Pro was to draw the precise area I wanted the camera to monitor for motion. This process is done in the mobile app, using your finger, and allows you to highlight a sidewalk but ignore the street or an area where, perhaps, you have a wind chime hanging. As you can see above, I highlighted my entire entryway, sidewalk, and driveway. The street is eliminated completely.
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.
Though the Ring Alarm system covers the bases for a home security setup, there’s a lot of room for integration with other smart home products that Ring has left on the table. For example, it’s not possible to use the Ring’s motion or contact sensors to trigger lights or adjust a smart thermostat when you leave or come back home. This is despite the fact that the Ring Alarm sensors are based on Z-Wave technology, which is a widely used smart home standard.
2. If you want monitoring of video, check out SimpliSafe. They won’t monitor your motion events, but rather your sensors. If your sensors show an alarm event, they can log into your camera to gather video evidence. They offer what’s called ‘video verification.’ The downside to SimpliSafe, when compared to the options presented in this article, is that it lacks home automation. The system does support Nest Thermostats, Alexa, Google Assistant, and the August Smart Lock Pro, but it doesn’t offer an automation engine. Also, integrations are not free, which is in contrast to what abode, Ring, and Nest offer. Finally, SimpliSafe does not have an outdoor camera though they did recently release a video doorbell and have plans to launch an outdoor camera. abode, Nest, and Ring all lack professional monitoring of video and the cameras are not tied to the alarm as motion sensors. Camera motion activated events are self-monitored.
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.
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.