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
If you have a dog or a cat, getting a home alarm that won’t be constantly triggered by Fido or Fifi’s movements is a real question you have to consider. The Ring Alarm claims that it won’t detect pets weighing under 50 pounds if the alarm is mounted above seven feet, while pet-friendly motion detection is already integrated into the Nest base station and door sensors.
I’ve stayed away from all Ring products as their API is only accessible by large entities they approve of. You are also forced to use the cloud. If they have an outage, it impacts you. In my smart home setup, I’m not reliant on the cloud for many aspects. There are some exceptions, like Nest thermostats and Protects. Alarm system is locally controlled, Z-wave devices are locally controlled as well. If my Internet is down, then remote access and the Nest products is not possible. The rest of the devices continue to work. My video doorbells are locally controlled; no need for the cloud nor their monthly/annual fees. I want to capture images, I can do it locally but also review it remotely.
What I like is the ease of setup. Very user friendly and quality components. The battery powered cameras offer a level of flexibility that our old wired cameras did not. Video is generally good to excellent (if you have a strong wifi router) and quite simple to customize the system to your particular needs (I don’t mind lack of 3rd party integration). And the $10 monthly price for monitoring and video storage is AMAZING (was paying almost $50/mo before).
The original Ring has a battery option. I don’t know how I would feel about that because you do have to remove the doorbell to charge it. Ring claims it will last 6-12 months on a charge. If that’s true, that wouldn’t be so bad; however, I would expect it to last like 3-6 months. In my experience, when a company gives a top end battery life range, that’s how long it will last if you never use the device. All that said, I don’t know how hard it would be to move a wired doorbell to the front of your door.
It would have been convenient to have a device like a key fob for the Ring Alarm, as running to find the keypad or navigating the app to turn off the alarm takes a few seconds too long, but one does not currently exist. However, arming and disarming the system is relatively straightforward.  I just had to dig through the paper manual to figure out how to correctly enter my PIN to change modes.
Nest, Canary, Ring, and Arlo all have advantages and disadvantages. Nest has an advantage in that it can capture footage 24/7. Canary has an advantage in that it offers person detection for free. Arlo Pro and Ring Spotlight have an advantage in that the cameras can run on battery power and they wake up for both motion and live streaming faster than Canary Flex. If I were to rank them, I would rank Nest and Arlo Pro the highest and also add that a video doorbell is a must. You can read my video doorbell compare here.

Wow, thanks for putting such a great article together. I knew about Ring – for some reason their marketing got to me, and started to consider, which lead me to this article. But, after reading this I might have to revisit purchasing it. Looks like some people are thinking Nest after reading it, but it’s leaning me toward Adobe. Thanks again for all the details!
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Well, I have not had any problems. This product works as advertised. Video freezes up occasionally but recovers quickly. I did move my router inside the house and went from -61 to -48. Camera resolution is acceptable and the IR emitters work well up to about 20 feet at night. Customer service is good (at least the one time I called them). I recommend this product. ADT installed our system and stand behind their work.


With Canary, you can also adjust motion sensitivity, and the camera includes a PIR motion sensor, which works when the camera is plugged in or when running on battery. But even with these added features, Flex has trouble sorting true events from false ones. On windy days, false alerts are common, and sometimes Flex misses events. Worse, if you use Flex as a battery-powered camera, you must wait for it to wake up. I had problems with the camera sleeping through events. In general, the camera performs at a much higher level when plugged in.
If you have a dog or a cat, getting a home alarm that won’t be constantly triggered by Fido or Fifi’s movements is a real question you have to consider. The Ring Alarm claims that it won’t detect pets weighing under 50 pounds if the alarm is mounted above seven feet, while pet-friendly motion detection is already integrated into the Nest base station and door sensors.
Nest, Canary, Ring, and Arlo all have advantages and disadvantages. Nest has an advantage in that it can capture footage 24/7. Canary has an advantage in that it offers person detection for free. Arlo Pro and Ring Spotlight have an advantage in that the cameras can run on battery power and they wake up for both motion and live streaming faster than Canary Flex. If I were to rank them, I would rank Nest and Arlo Pro the highest and also add that a video doorbell is a must. You can read my video doorbell compare here.
For the Ring Alarm to function properly, you'll need to subscribe to Ring's Protect Plus plan, which is $10 a month or $100 if you prepay for the year. It includes 24/7 professional monitoring, video recording, reviewing, and sharing for unlimited cameras, 10% off purchases made at Ring.com, and an extended warranty on all of your items as long as your subscribed.
Friend access allows users to view live streams, view recorded clips, and favorite clips. If you want to share more, grant access rights. In addition to the rights already discussed, those with access rights will be able to record video footage, mute the speaker, enter full-screen view, zoom and drag video footage, access and change modes, manually record, take snapshots, favorite, and share or delete video footage. Finally, Arlo does allow you to control which camera or cameras other users can access. For example, you can give them access to your outdoor camera, but not your indoor camera.
We went with SimpliSafe instead. I don't have any experience with their newest version, but their "version 2" which is still for sale has been flawless for the ~4-5 years we have had it. Never a false alarm and more importantly, NEVER a "can't connect to base station ..." error. It is $15/month for monitoring through SimpliSafe, but I'll gladly pay $5 more a month for reliability.
Tapping the Spotlight Cam icon in the Ring app opens a dedicated screen with all the camera’s controls laid out. The Ring app is one of the best in this regard, as it doesn’t require you to go hunting through nested settings menus to find what you need. At the top are on/off toggles for the camera’s lights and motion alerts. Using a selection of buttons below these, you can open the camera’s streaming feed, event history light settings, and more.
Arlo Pro is preprogrammed with four modes: Armed, Disarmed, Schedule, and Geofencing. Most of the modes are customizable, and you have the option of adding your own customized mode. You can even create different rules for different cameras. For example, armed mode on camera A might mean that if it detects motion or audio, it will record, while armed mode on camera B might mean that if motion is detected, it sounds the siren, but doesn’t record. You can also decide if you would like push alerts, email alerts, or no alerts.

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.

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.


With Canary, you can also adjust motion sensitivity, and the camera includes a PIR motion sensor, which works when the camera is plugged in or when running on battery. But even with these added features, Flex has trouble sorting true events from false ones. On windy days, false alerts are common, and sometimes Flex misses events. Worse, if you use Flex as a battery-powered camera, you must wait for it to wake up. I had problems with the camera sleeping through events. In general, the camera performs at a much higher level when plugged in.
And that is its job, to keep the camera charged. However, I noticed during testing that it does charge the battery too. When I installed the camera, the battery level was at 40%. Soon after connecting the solar panel, that percentage jumped to 50%. The next day it rained, and the percentage climbed from 50 to 52%. Day three was overcast, and yet the battery level crept up to 56%. Day 4 was a beautiful sunny day, and the battery level jumped to 78%. By the end of day 4, I was at 100%.
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.

Nest Cam’s software (Nest Aware) can’t be beat. Better yet, they continuously launch improvements to the software for all users. One of their more recent updates granted a limited amount of free snapshot access for both Nest Cam AND Dropcam users and recently, they dropped the entry price of Nest Aware. Nest Aware comes in three flavors: 5-days for $5 a month, 10-days for $10 a month, and 30-days for $30 a month.


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.
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