In terms of larger home integration, Nest is the very definition of a smart device. Its Works with Nest program automatically instructs connected products (such as smart lighting and thermostats) to perform their tasks without you having to tell them what to do. It’s an exceptionally hands-off solution, though you can still tweak it with custom preferences.
I’ve heard others say Arlo is the perfect outdoor camera. I disagree. The original Wire-Free camera had more latency than Arlo Pro. Also, Pro includes a wider field of view, a rechargeable battery, a siren (built into the hub), and it adds sound with two-way audio, all features the original Arlo lacked. Arlo Pro 2 bumps up the resolution to 1080p and adds three features if the camera is plugged-in: CVR, Motion Zones, and Look Back.
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.
Finally, at times the app is slow to connect to the system. For the most part, this isn't an issue, but I've run into a few situations where my kid opened the door to help me out and the alarm started sounding and it took up to 30 seconds for the app to connect to the alarm system. Luckily, I have had enough time in my entry delay period to get it disarmed before the monitoring company was notified, but I'd like to see the app delay disappear.
Installing Canary Flex was easy. Part of that comes from the fact that I’m a Canary indoor camera user. To add Canary Flex, I plugged it in (Even though it can be battery-powered, Canary recommends starting with a full charge.), turned my phone’s Bluetooth feature on, visited the app, and selected “Add Canary device”. From there, you confirm the physical location of your camera, tap the button on the back of the device, and it begins to pair.
Installing Spotlight Cam Solar wasn’t that simple, which I expected since it requires drilling, but the process was made even more complicated by two issues. First, the box design would have Steve Jobs rolling over in his grave. In fact, I’m not one for exaggerations so know that when I say it’s one of the worst box designs I’ve ever opened, I mean it. On a more serious note, there’s a discrepancy between the instructions found on the app, those printed on the included quick start guide, and those found online.
Unfortunately, Ring doesn’t currently, nor does it appear to be adding any type of home automation features, but it is compatible with many third-party smart home services. Although Ring doesn’t offer professional monitoring services, they do offer live streaming when hardwired to your existing doorbells power supply. Ring Live View does not work when using the internal battery. Since most users prefer to use the Ring internal battery, paying for one of the Ring video recording packages is the ideal option.
What's also important about Ring Alarm is that it sets the stage for future products and integration. The Ring app already serves as the hub to integrate the alarm system with the company's existing cameras and doorbells, but it's easy to see how the alarm can also become the hardware hub for new capabilities and products from Ring and eventually third-party vendors.
But let’s go over what it can do today, first. The very affordable ($199) starter kit includes a wireless base station, a keypad for arming and disarming the system, one door/window sensor, one passive infrared motion sensor, and a Z-Wave range extender. You can monitor the system yourself, but at the price Ring is charging for professional monitoring—just $10 per month ($100 per year if paid annually) with no long-term contract—it would be foolish not to sign up for it. That goes double for people who already have other Ring devices, because it includes video storage in the cloud for an unlimited number of Ring cameras.
Most of my setup time was spent testing the position of the three contact sensors I received. The magnetic sensors consist of two parts. One part goes on a door or window frame, the other part goes opposite it so that when the door or window is opened, the magnetic connection is broken. If the two pieces aren't close enough, roughly half an inch, the sensor doesn't work.
UPDATE 16FEB2018: After two weeks, I must downgrade my review... it's become obvious that the Ring Floodlight Cam only detects motion during the day. At night, I can walk through the center of my defined motion zone, but the cam won't record until I'm within 10 feet of it. The defined zone is my driveway which is about 40 feet long and we have 3 cars. As long as the ne'er-do-wells only break into the car parked closest to the Ring cam, they will be recorded. A quick Google search for "ring cam won't detect motion at night" will yield many stories of the Ring product line failing to work in darkness. Apparently, the problem has been documented since September 2017 and Ring has failed to fix it. I must say that I'm beyond disappointed. At least I discovered this in enough time to send the cam back to Amazon for a refund.