Hi and thank you for the exhaustive review. I like the option of Ring Doorbell Pro. However, my existing doorbell is on the side of the house, facing parallel to the door across the front steps. If I mounted the Ring there, the camera would capture a profile of the visitor as they approach the door. It would not capture their face head on, would not (likely) capture them them as they approach the steps, which is where delivery people often leave packages (my interest in Ring, Arlo, etc., came out of the neighborhood social app conversation about a rash of package thefts), and would not capture the car they drive as it would face parallel to the street, not into the street. My question is: what would the installation of Ring look like on or near the front door, where there is no existing wiring? Is my existing setup enough to steer me away from Ring and toward a battery powered option?

Hi Rose, I’m intrigued that you have a traditional alarm system but also one of these new wireless versions. Are they integrated? Can they be? I haven’t looked at the Ring, abode, and Nest systems because I have am old-fashioned standard system that came wired into my home. I’d love to integrate it with my Ring cameras and doorbell cam, or even get one of the new wireless voice-activated bases or keypads. Can that be done with any system today?


First of all, I live in a very cold winter climate. (Sometime up to – 35) Also, I’m looking for a outside cam with great night vision. I wan’t to be able to get alerts on my phone. I’m not interested to pay for cloud. I want to be able to save motion detected video on my computer or phone. A plus would be be able to talk to the person outside and an alarm would be a plus. (looking for Wi/Fi and battery operated.)


I installed a motion sensor inside a shed in my backyard (shed has a tin metal roof) and I kept getting a false alarm daily usually around 1 or 2pm; Ring informed me that their motion sensors use infrared technology and that excessive heat could cause a false trigger. They told me a contact sensor at the shed’s door should do the job and that’s what I will be doing next.
If you already have a Ring doorbell or security camera, the integration is quite seamless, and the value becomes even better on the annual costs. Ring charges $30 a year per camera on the regular subscription, so if you've been holding out on adding to your system, this may push you over the edge. The company has plans to offer additional sensors in the future, like smoke and CO sensors, water sensors, and more, which will only help make it even more robust.
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 Ring Video Doorbells and Security Cameras, it lets you control your entire home security system from one simple app.
Amazon announced its takeover of Ring back in February, so I wasn't surprised that Ring's new Stick Up Cam Wired and Stick Up Cam Battery indoor/outdoor security cameras -- both $180 -- were among the dozens of things Amazon announced during its September product release event. The Stick Up Cam Wired starts shipping Oct. 18, with the battery-powered model following later in December.
Nest will intelligently alert you, within reason. For example, you can have the street set as a zone, but turn off notifications for the street. Nest can also tell you when it sees a person or thinks it sees a person. In fact, you can choose to only receive alerts when it sees a person, which virtually eliminates false alarms. Better still, you can turn on person detection for the entire frame or from select activity zones.
When you say, “a service like Ring,” do you mean the ecosystem itself? As in, you’re looking for a doorbell and outdoor camera that work under one app? Or do you mean something different? Short answer is no, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. Long answer: Ring Elite, as you said offers PoE as does DoorBird Video Doorbell, but I do not recommend DoorBird. Regarding security cameras, Arlo Q Plus (no doorbell, but it does work with IFTTT). EZVIZ Husky offers PoE (no doorbell camera, poor quality IMO, works with IFTTT). OCO Pro Bullet offers PoE as does their Pro Indoor camera (no doorbell, but it does work with IFTTT). In order, I like Arlo Q the best (it’s got a strong lead in this three-way race), followed by Oco, and EZVIZ. I have tested cameras from all three companies.
If you opt for the rechargeable battery, you have to either disable the device every time it needs a charge or buy an extra battery. The battery is also a pain in the you-know-what to get out. Ring uses special screws that require a specific screwdriver head to remove. It comes in the package with the camera, but even so, you have to track down that one specific screwdriver every time you need to remove the cam.
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
** Information used for home security alarm system comparisons was obtained November 2016 through telephone and online research. ADT prices: based on total out-of-pocket expense to obtain services; installation based on fees for similar home security equipment packages; "Monitoring" price listed includes the additional "warranty" or "extended service plan".
In fact, just this week I had the power go out at my home, which is also where my office is. I had deadlines to meet, so I decided to go to a coffee shop where I could work and fill up on caffeine. It wasn't until I walked into my garage that I remembered I had to manually open the garage door, disconnecting the door from the chain drive. My particular garage door opener wouldn't let me reconnect the door and the chain drive, locking it in place, so I was stuck with a garage door that anyone could lift open with ease.
The base station is also wall-mountable and can be installed on a Wi-Fi network or connected directly to your internet router over Ethernet. It has a 24-hour battery backup plus the ability to connect to an LTE network in the event of a power outage. (The LTE connectivity is available when you subscribe to Ring’s Protect Plus monitoring service and uses AT&T’s network.) Both the keypad and the base station feature colored LED rings to signify if the system is armed or disarmed and have built-in speakers to sound the alarm in the event of an emergency or intrusion.
Tap the three-bar icon in the upper left corner of the Dashboard to access the Alarm settings where you can enable/disable email and push notifications, change your location, enable/disable specific sensors while in Home and Away mode, change the Entry and Exit delay timers (30 to 180 seconds), and allow additional users to control the Alarm and other Ring devices.

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. 


Installing the Ring Alarm system is easy thanks to the well-written getting started guide. I already had a Ring account, but if this is your first ring device, start by downloading the Ring app and creating one. I opened the app and tapped Add a Ring Product, selected Alarm from the list, and confirmed my location. I plugged in the base station and pressed the pairing button, which started the blue LEDs spinning, indicating that the station was in pairing mode. I tapped Find My Base Station in the app and selected Wi-Fi as my internet connection method (you can connect via Ethernet or Wi-Fi), selected my router's SSID, and entered my Wi-Fi password. The LEDs flashed white momentarily before turning solid blue and the Wi-Fi indicator turned green, indicating a successful pairing. The app also confirmed the connection.

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.
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.
I can see why you’re confused because really any of these three options will do everything you want and more. Is it important to you that your security system and camera use the same app? If so, maybe eliminate abode from the list. You can use the outdoor Nest Camera with abode, but it isn’t a great experience. If you want an outdoor camera that can record continuously and not just based on motion, that would be Nest Cam. If you don’t mind if the camera only records events and as you said, want a system without “big monthly charges,” Ring is probably the best choice for you. They recently launched an indoor camera, you could then add a video doorbell (ideal) or one of their outdoor cameras to your porch. You will need five contact sensors in total. Ring Alarm will include a mobile app for you to review footage and you can expand the system down the road if needed. As it just launched and based on Ring’s history of product support, the chances that it will be outdated soon are very slim.
As part of the Ring Protect Plus plan priced at $10 per month or $100 per year, you'll get 24/7 professional monitoring on your Ring Alarm. When your sensors trip and the base station sounds an alarm, after 30 seconds it also sends a signal to Ring's central monitoring system. A support agent will attempt to call you to see if everything is okay, and then tries your emergency contacts if you can't be reached.
Arlo Smart also adds the ability to use Activity Zones even when your cameras are unplugged; however, if you choose to keep your Arlo Pro 2 indoors and plugged-in, you will have Activity Zones for free. Either way, you can select up to three zones for Arlo to monitor. If activity is detected in one of your zones, you’ll receive an alert. Activity that occurs outside of your set zone will be ignored.
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The base station is also wall-mountable and can be installed on a Wi-Fi network or connected directly to your internet router over Ethernet. It has a 24-hour battery backup plus the ability to connect to an LTE network in the event of a power outage. (The LTE connectivity is available when you subscribe to Ring’s Protect Plus monitoring service and uses AT&T’s network.) Both the keypad and the base station feature colored LED rings to signify if the system is armed or disarmed and have built-in speakers to sound the alarm in the event of an emergency or intrusion.
abode uses the abode app. If an event occurs, you will receive a notification on your phone. From the app, you can decide how to respond to events. You can review video footage, notify the police, the monitoring center, or even your family. You can also view sensor history and manage your rules. For example, you can create a “coming home” rule that turns on the lights and unlocks the door. And of course, you can use the app to arm and disarm the system.
Well, not long after the training mode came to an end, I made a bonehead mistake. I forgot to get my girlfriend set up with the App and when she came over when I wasn’t home, the alarm went off. Unfortunately, I was not able to cancel her mistake due to me fumbling with a rather clunky app interface on my phone. Luckily the Ring representative from the monitoring team called very quickly and I was able to avoid a cop showing up and a possible charge$$. My interaction with the Ring rep was fantastic. They called very quickly and the person I spoke with was extremely professional, kind and knowledgeable! They made me feel like a valued customer for sure.
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