Nice article. I see from your disclaimer at the top of this article that the site participate in the program that can get fees from linking to Amazon purchases. And I know not every security system is available from Amazon. But could you still review the latest Simplisafe system please? I’m trying to decide what to get, and I have three friends that have the old Simplisafe. The new one looks so much better. I really don’t care about Geo fencing or whether or not I can chat with google or Siri. I’m just interested in getting a security system that works and doesn’t cost way too much. Thank you!
When you say “full coverage” I’m assuming you mean continuous recording, is that right? Arlo and Nest can record continuously, but only if they are plugged in. Also, the outdoor power cord for Arlo is new and it’s on a pretty long lead time right now. It’s sold separately from the camera. If you could confirm that your new is continuous recording, I’ll dig in a little more, but I don’t want to assume anything before making a recommendation.
The decision to separate the system’s brains—the base station—from the keypad is smart: It allows you to place the larger base station somewhere out of the way and put the smaller keypad near an entry door, where it’s easy to access. You can also deploy more than one keypad—one at the front door, one at the back, and one on your bedside table, for instance. Putting the base station somewhere other than near an entry door also enhances the system’s overall security: If burglars can’t find it quickly, they can’t disable the system.
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).
In 2019, Arlo plans to launch Arlo Ultra. Ultra will join Pro 2 as a flagship product. There are several differences between Pro 2 and Ultra including resolution. Ultra will offer a 4K resolution, a new base station, built-in siren, integrated spotlight which supports colored night vision, and an upgraded design. Ultra is still wire-free and weather-resistant, but the mount was redesigned, the battery was redesigned, and it ships with a weather-resistant, magnetic charging cable. I will be sure to provide more details ASAP.
I bought this system to replace the ADT system I had for years. This system along with four Contact Sensors replaced what I had from ADT. The cost of the Ring system and year of monitoring was less than six months of monitoring from ADT. The system comes packaged nice a secure, which I am thankful for since the deliver person wasn't gentle dropping the box on my porch. I had downloaded the app and registered before the system arrived, so that part was taken care of. The included instructions and phone app walk you through the setup. It was painless and completed in about 10 minutes. I set up everything on my dining room table to go through the registration process. Once done, I installed the components where the old hardware was. Ring includes everything you need to mount (double sided tape and/or screws) all the components. Registering for monitoring was very simple too. One thing I learned that I want to pass on. do not remove the little battery tabs until the app tells you to. If you do, just open the cover, pull the battery and reinstall the tab. Just pulling the battery and reinstalling it doesn't reset the device.
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.
While having a couple of power/connection options already provides flexibility, there is even more flexibility thanks to accessories (sold separately). The first accessory is a Secure Mount that locks your device into place. Replacing the magnetic base, it helps prevent device theft. The second is the Stake Mount: Stick the mount into the ground or a potted plant to give Flex a hidden camera effect. Third is the Twist Mount, which can bend and wrap around an object so that you can hang it virtually anywhere. Canary suggests using it to place Flex on fixtures, railings, or even branches.
I installed the Spotlight Cam Wired at the front of my home, where there’s an outdoor outlet within the power cord’s 20-foot range. I put the Spotlight Cam Solar in the backyard, where there’s more unobstructed sunlight. Each camera comes with its own mounting tools, including a screwdriver, drill bit, mounting bracket and screw set with wall anchors.
Ring sells a range of home security devices, from its Ring Video Doorbell Pro to the Ring Alarm Security Kit. It even has a last-gen version of the Stick Up Cam I tested back in 2016. While you could technically put the older Stick Up Cam inside your house, it was designed to go outside your home. It even had an optional solar panel accessory to provide power sans cable.
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.
The motion and door/window sensors can be mounted with screws or with Velcro strips (provided). I’m happy the sensors didn’t come from the factory with the strips already attached. I’ve never seen an adhesive strip that didn’t eventually fail, so I prefer to use screws—and peeling those strips off so you can use screws is a major pain. The sensor batteries come preinstalled, so you just pull out a plastic tab when the app tells you to. This enables the battery to touch the electrical contact inside the sensor, powering it up.
Nest, Ring, and abode all sell cameras. Nest works with Nest Cams including the indoor and outdoor cameras, Nest IQ both indoor and outdoor, as well as Nest Hello. When Nest Secure detects an alarm event, it will trigger your Nest cameras to take a snapshot. If you have email alerts turned on, the cameras will email you a snapshot of the event. It can also send a push notification to your phone.
As a Contributing Editor for PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networking and smart home gear, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for almost 20 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine's Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of t... See Full Bio
At 3.2 by 0.9 by 0.9 inches (HWD), the Z-Wave contact sensors for doors and windows are bulkier than the sensors that come with the Vivint Smart Home system (2.5 by 1.0 by 0.5 inches). They're each powered by a CR123 battery that is rated to last three years and can be installed using double-sided tape or with mounting screws. The motion sensor (3.5 by 2.4 by 1.7 inches) also runs on a CR123 battery and uses a Z-Wave radio to communicate with the base station. The range extender (3.1 by 1.8 by 1.1 inches) plugs into a wall outlet and extends the Z-Wave signal by up to 250 feet, so you can place sensors just about anywhere.
However, traditional home systems typically require the assistance of a professional installer. They also mean monthly subscription fees and long-term agreements that keep you locked into their service for a certain period of time. Additionally, if you move, it’s nearly impossible to take your home security system with you, and they don’t make much sense in an apartment complex.
Enjoy a free 30-day trial of Ring Protect Plus with your purchase! Ring Protect Plus lets you record, save and share all the videos captured by unlimited Ring Doorbells and Cameras at your home. Protect Plus members also get 24/7 professional monitoring with Ring Alarm, exclusive discounts and extended warranties. Activate Ring Protect Plus for only $10 a month, or get video recording and sharing for only $3 a month per each device with Ring Protect Basic.