The Ring™ Video Doorbell connects to your home Wi-Fi network and sends real-time notifications to your smart phone or tablet when someone is at your door. Using our free Ring App which is available for Apple, Android, and Windows 10 devices, you can see an HD Video stream of the person at your door and speak to them using two-way audio communication.
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All of these limitations make the Ring Alarm feel less like a cohesive part of an integrated smart home and more like a bolt-on appendage that requires its own app and accessories. For its part, Ring says that smart home integrations are coming, but it wanted to make sure that it had nailed down the security aspect of the system before adding to it. The company says it plans to add integrations with lighting, door locks, and other smart home gadgets down the road, but it wouldn’t provide a timeline for these options when I asked.
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.
Home security systems have been around for decades, providing a way to have your home monitored for intrusions and emergencies while you’re away or sleeping. But traditional home security systems have required professional installation, costly subscription plans, and long-term contracts that lock you in to the service. They’ve not been practical to move from home to home or for use in apartments.
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.
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.
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.
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But those were only best-case scenarios. Throughout real-world testing with visiting strangers as well as staged testing with friends, I oftentimes experienced very long latencies between the button press and a phone notification. Sometimes the lag would last up to three or four seconds. And sometimes I wouldn’t receive any smartphone notification at all. Case in point: the hapless pizza delivery guy who pressed the Ring button two times before giving up, and calling my phone.
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.
It doesn't work with the Amazon Cloud Cam indoor home security camera, either. Here's what a Ring spokesperson had to say about it: "Ring Alarm does not work with Amazon Cloud Cam at this time. While I can't comment on the roadmap at this time, what I can tell you is that we will make product decisions based on what will best empower Neighbors with an affordable, effective way to monitor their homes."
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.
Great article with lots of useful information. Very comprehensive comparison that really helps people make a wise decision based on their particular needs. FYI, I chose abode for my home security needs because it’s a proven shipping product and it integrates well with other systems. Although the camera quality might not be as good as others, it will suffice for my needs.
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.
Installing the actual ring was even easier. I was able to drill into grout lines between stones so I had that going for me. The hook up was super easy, two wires from the house connect to the two connectors on the Ring – doesn’t even matter which is which. Nice and easy. I will have to work out something to cover the shimmed side, but I’ll work something out.
We paid Ring $30 for each doorbell yearly fee ($60 for both) which allows Unlimited video storage. You also are able to "Share" the recorded video which allows you to email the videos as you wish. I also found the laptop Ring application. While working on my laptop I can receive notifications, watch the live video, and/or answer all from my laptop.
1. Nest can record continiously which eliminates the problem of sleepy security cameras. As far as Ring cameras, Ring Pro offers a pre-buffer. As far as their other cameras, I’ve only tried Ring Spotlight wireless. It’s a battery-powered camera and does not pre-buffer. I believe I heard that the wired version does pre-buffer, but I haven’t personally tried it.
Now, on paper, this doesn’t sound like a frustrating process. And in best-case scenarios, the app would load as quickly as what you see in my video at the top of this article. But oftentimes these ostensibly brief steps would take forever. Sometimes my phone would be in another room. Sometimes I couldn’t quickly get it out of my pocket, or I’d fumble with my unlock code. But worst of all, sometimes the video chat screen would take an eternity to load.
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.
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.
From the app, you can control and manage your Nest Secure system. Of course, you can arm and disarm your system, but you can also see sensor status as well as sensor history. For example, you can see if your door is open or closed and you can see when it was last opened and last closed. You can also use the app’s Remind Me feature to remind you to arm your system if you forget to do so.
2) Install. I was a bit intimidated with the install as I’ve never wired anything up before and our house is new construction. But the YouTube video and pamphlets made it pretty clear to follow. They also emphasize that you can call them at any point for assistance. I had also been told by the security system guy that install was super easy and I could do it myself (he’s also the one who gave me the tip about the fiberglass shims). He also gave me an extra tidbit for those of us with stone or brick exteriors: drill into the grout lines – they drill easy; stone does not.
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 $1,000, and as CNET pointed out, they would still have to smash a window or break down your door. The guy who wants money for his addiction isn’t going to spend the money and effort needed to pull off a jamming heist. Of course, if you are a public figure or might be the target of a more complex attack, I would suggest looking into a wired alarm system.
The caller from the monitoring service will identify themselves as being from Ring, since that’s who your business relationship is with, but they actually work for a third-party company that Ring contracts with: Rapid Response Monitoring Services. This is a common arrangement for home security systems. Nest, for example, contracts with MONI Smart Security (which is now doing business as Brinks Home Security). Alarm.com is another major third-party monitoring service.
If the security device isn’t try to prevent jamming at all (And the protocol is one way – from sensor to main hub), all the thief need is a 10$-30$ device (definitely not close $1,000) which actively send signals and prevent the good signal to pass (the cheap signal jammer can be adjusted to frequency like you turn on a radio. the frequency itself is probably common in all devices or can be found on device manual) [not putting a security sign is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Security_through_obscurity but it may be better than nothing].
In fact, some of my neighbors might testify to this. After Ring sent me the review unit, they also seeded some 20 of my neighbors with Rings of their own. The goal was to turn my neighborhood into something of a test bed for measuring how the doorbell can be deployed to reduce crime (or at least give homeowners more confidence in their own home security). Using the NextDoor social network, I asked neighbors for reviews.
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.
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.
All these new DIY systems pretty much rely on cellular and/or Wi-Fi. It seems that although it makes things more accessible, cheaper and easier to install, that’s where most of the glitches, or inconsistent alarm notifications come from, right? But in general it’s good that these systems have been made available for us all to choose from. Thank you for helping us navigate all the choices.
Ring Doorbell cameras are some of the most popular options on the market today. But, it can be confusing to determine which one is right for your needs (there are quite a few to select from). However, these doorbells are designed to be very reliable, easy to install, and simple to use. They allow you to see, hear, and speak to those people who come to your door. You can access the doorbell camera from your computer, tablet, or through an app on your mobile phone. Here is a look at some of the options.