The Spotlight Cam comes with 30-day free trial of Ring’s cloud storage for recorded video. At the end of the period, you have the option of upgrading to one of a pair of Ring Protect plans: Protect Basic allows you to store, review, and share video for up to 60 days for $3 per month or $30 a year per camera. Protect Plus provides the same for unlimited Ring cameras—including the Ring Video Doorbell—and adds a lifetime warranty and discounts on Ring products for $10 per month or $100 a year.
So what happens if an Alarm is triggered? If an event is detected, you will get an email and an instant push notification to your phone which you can swipe to open the Nest App. From the Nest App, you can see which sensor triggered the alarm, and you will be presented with two options: call the police or turn the alarm off. If you have a Nest Cam, you will be able to view footage from the event simultaneously. If you have multiple Nest Cams, you can swipe through to a view a live feed from all of your cameras. If you’re subscribed to Nest Aware, the Sightline feature will bookmark the event so next time you access your camera’s timeline, you’ll see a red bar. Tap on the red bar to review the footage of the event. Of course, while all of this is happening, your siren will sound.
I'm a Ring user, with a Video Doorbell 2 and a Floodlight Cam already installed at my house, but I don't have any prior experience with home security systems. That made for a bit of a learning curve just in terms of figuring out how I wanted to set things up and remembering to arm/disarm the system at the appropriate times. But Ring Alarm is intended as a simple do-it-yourself system that makes it easy for even novice users to get up and running, so perhaps I'm an ideal candidate for testing things out.
Although this looks intriguing, my experience with Ring products is that they work about 75% of the time on our two cameras. And the problems are definitely with Ring, not our network - as sometimes our iPhone / iPad won't connect, but an Android device right next to it on the same network will connect just fine to the video. Occasionally it is the other way around, but sometimes nothing will connect to the Ring camera even though my home network is up and working fine. That's annoying for video alerts... but for a home alarm, I don't think I would trust them based on my experience with our Ring cameras.
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
In home mode, the default setup is for motion sensors to be ignored while door/window sensors will trigger the alarm to activate. This mode is obviously intended for when you're moving around inside your home but want to be protected if someone enters the house through a monitored door or window. Finally, away mode arms all sensors so that any opened monitored door or window or movement within the house will set off the alarm.
A Canary Membership provides 30 days of video history, full-length video clips, social sharing, custom Home mode, two-way audio, desktop streaming, and unlimited downloads for $9.99/month for up to five cameras. It also provides access to a Safety Buton feature backed by Noonlight, formally SafeTrek. If you have more than five cameras, Canary charges an additional $4.99 per camera per month. You can use an unlimited number of cameras in a single location with a Canary Membership.
It's a good replacement for those looking to lower monthly cost for professional monitoring. The system is easy to set up and there are lots of options. I'm not sure the set up could be any easier. Here is what I don't like, but not a deal killer. The sensors for the doors are huge! They are literally twice the size of the previous sensors from my old company. I also don't like that you only get one contact sensor in the base option. I have three doors to my house and 7 first floor windows. So, you have to buy quite a few additional sensors to cover them all. So, the initial cost can add up fast. But, since monitoring is cheap, it pays for itself after a few months. I have integrated a door bell camera and a spotlight camera for the yard. Those are both battery powered. Both are fairly bulky compared to some of the competition. I'm hoping it's durable though. The thing to remember if you get any battery powered devices is to get extra batteries. The batteries take a LONG time to charge. I have 4 batteries and each took about 8-10 hours to charge. If you have an "extra" charged battery or two around, then you don't have to take your cameras offline for a half day to wait for the batteries to charge. Just swap in the extra one and recharge the other and leave it waiting for the next time something dies. All in all, it's a good system, but not cheap to get setup properly initially. The intro price is good, but by no means a complete system. Unless you live in a one door apartment with no windows, you are going to need to buy additional stuff to complete the system. Hopefully, with the money i'm no longer paying to my old monitoring company, I can make up the upfront cost of setting this up.
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.
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When we tested out the accuracy of the motion and contact sensors, we were impressed with how quickly our app registered movement. Opening the door meant that our app automatically showed the “faulted” icon indicating movement – in fact, it was almost instantaneous. Same for the motion detection sensor – the notification on both the hub and the app appeared almost immediately. This was the case whether we were in the house or not. With some devices we’ve tested, particularly with security cameras, there’s often a lapse with notifications. It doesn’t appear to be the case here.
For all the things that the Ring Alarm system does well, there are still some areas in which it can be improved. One of my biggest annoyances with the system is that there is an audible alert for when a contact sensor is opened, but there is no alert for when it's closed. I have a sensor on each of the three doors that lead into my house and while it's great to hear a noise that they've been opened, it would be awesome to hear a confirmation that they've been closed as well.
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.
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.
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 Rign Video Doorbells and Security Cameras, it lets you control your entire home security system from one simple app. Even if the power goes out at home, your property will still be protected by the complimentary 24-hour backup battery. And for only $10 a month, you can upgrade to Ring Protect Plus and enjoy 24/7 professional monitoring with cellular backup, unlimited video recording for Ring Doorbells and Cameras at your home, extended warranties, exclusive discounts and more! The Ring Alarm Security Kit includes one Base Station, Keypad, Contact Sensor, Motion Detector and Range Extender. You won't be locked into any long-term contracts. You don't need professional installation. You don't even need any tools. It's that simple.
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).
Ring also sells several cameras including the Ring Video Doorbell, the Video Doorbell 2, Ring Elite, and Video Doorbell Pro. They also sell a Floodlight Cam, Spotlight Cam, and two versions of their Stick Up Cam. Most of the cameras are geared toward outdoor use with the exception of Stick Up Cam Wired and Stick Up Cam Battery. The two cameras can be used indoors or outdoors.
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!
I am using Wyze Cam on my front porch right now in addition to Nest Hello. I actually have all push notifications turned off, I just use it to check in on things. I’ve had it out there since June I believe, and it’s still kicking. Of course, my porch does provide added protection. I have a friend who mounted his under an eave using the same casing and his is still kicking too, even though it’s more exposed.
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.
Check out this video at second 0:19 vs. 1:13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdM9HV1PoUs&lc=UgzO67pS8VXEX-xurdh4AaABAg. I took this video in January and compared the indoor Nest Cam to Arlo Q, which would be similar to Nest Outdoor and Arlo Pro 2. All-in-all Nest is better, especially at night (skip to minute 1:46 and 2:11). Nest also performs better in mixed lighting environments.
All the components in the Ring Alarm system use Z-Wave Plus radios and support Z-Wave’s S2 security framework, but Harris told me there’s also a ZigBee radio onboard as well as some other surprises that aren’t discussed in the user manual. “You’ve got Wi-Fi, you’ve got LTE, you’ve got Z-Wave, you’ve got ZigBee….” Harris said. “I’m sure people will open it up and see there’s another radio in there that’s not turned on yet. There’s an awful lot going on in there.”
I want good coverage of two exterior doors and below a deck, but after seeing that Y1 cameras (not mentioned here) sell their data to third parties and can even share clips of customer video, and with the security concerns that go along with baby monitors being viewed on the web from weak passwords, I’ve realized that my main priority is preventing anyone other than my family from being able to view my footage. It looks like my only option is the Argus since it does not include cloud storage, but I’m wondering if use of the Argus mobile app also means that the company’s employees can view our footage. We’re not doing anything illegal, heh, but I really value privacy. Do you know of any cameras that can only be viewed by the customer?
Right now, abode reigns supreme due to the number of integrations they offer, the variety of security sensors, and the fact that it’s an open platform not tied to Google (Nest) or Amazon (Ring). I would give Ring second place due to cost, and it’s bumped iSmart off of my list of recommended self-monitored security systems. My only gripe is that it doesn’t integrate well with its own camera system. Nest takes third, but I would still recommend it. It’s a beautiful system, easy to use, and thoughtfully designed. That said, if Ring raised the bar on their camera integrations, launches a flood sensor (coming soon), and a glass break sensor, it might just become the system to beat.
All plans, including the freemium plan, offer access to the same security features and provide a semi-decent way of sorting through historical footage. Through the app’s “Library” section, you will have access to a timeline feature. You can view all recorded events by day. You will also be able to favorite an event, download, or share it. You can also filter recorded footage by favorites, motion events, audio events, manual recordings, or recordings triggered by IFTTT.
The integration with Ring Alarm and upcoming Alexa support are important for Ring. When I tested the Ring Alarm, I lamented that the indoor $120 Amazon Cloud Cam home security camera didn't work with Ring Alarm -- and that the system as a whole didn't work with Alexa (something I'm still waiting for). And since there wasn't an indoor Ring security camera, you didn't really have any options for in-home monitoring.
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.
Finally, unlike abode’s base station (iota does not require Ethernet), Ethernet is not required to use Nest Secure. Nest likes to make things easy and they send everything you need, including batteries, to get your device up and running. Nest Guard ships with a 6-foot cable with a power adapter and CR123 batteries for the sensors. My system already had the batteries installed which made setup even easier.
For customers with Ring Alarm, this means you should be able to set your new Stick Up Cam to record automatically if something trips your security system. Adding Alexa should offer the opportunity for simple voice commands -- hopefully things like, "Alexa, show me my living room camera" that you'd then be able to see on your Echo Show or other screen-enabled Alexa device.
All that said, the biggest flaw with price is that purchasing Nest’s multi-purpose sensors may be forcing you to purchase more equipment than you need. Most homes don’t need three motion sensors, especially if the sensors have a decent range. Remember, Nest’s motion detectors only detect movement within a 10-foot range, the abode motion sensor has a 120° field of view and can detect motion within a 34-foot range so you would need at least two Nest motion-enabled devices for every one abode motion sensor. Ring’s motion sensor’s range is unlisted, but I tested it at 35 feet, and it worked perfectly.
WINNER Nest, Canary, and Ring all provide excellent tech support experiences, but a general word to the wise: When you self-monitor your home security system, expect to do some troubleshooting from time-to-time. It’s an inevitable part of the process. Most of the outdoor devices I’ve tested have had issues, though Nest appears to be leading the way.
Nest Cam Outdoor’s temperature range is limited to -4° to 104°F. In the same breath, the Nest team warns of placing the camera in direct sunlight to avoid overheating the device. So if the device can only handle 104° and it might heat up in the sun, is it really ready to live outside? Perhaps it’s not that the device isn’t ready to live outside, but that it’s more suited for temperate zones.
As you set up each piece, you're able to give it a name (like Front Door, Office Window, Main Hallway, etc), and then a location of where it is in your home, as well. Within the app, the devices are grouped by type, and the names that you give each piece is displayed to help you know what is what. While setting up the keypad you'll be asked to create a PIN number that you'll use to engage and disengage. If you have additional family members, once you share the new equipment with them in the app, you can set PIN numbers for them as well.
On the downside there is no way to enable/disable video motion detection clips in sync with the armed status. I only want certain cameras to record when armed stay or away. They really need the option to tell the cameras when to record and when not to record. Other than that the 2-way camera communication is spotty at best, but not really a feature that’s important to me. Adding live video to the online access would be a BIG plus too (currently you can only access the cameras through the app).
The Ring mobile app recently got a facelift that gives it a more polished Dashboard featuring live preview windows. The Alarm controls are at the top of the Dashboard screen and include Disarmed, Home, and Away buttons. Below the buttons is the status of all installed sensors (cleared, open), and below that are tabs for viewing Neighbors posts and Event History.
The spotlight is provided by LED light strips on either side of a 140-degree wide-angle lens, which activate when motion is detected. The motion sensor, encased in a dome on the bottom of the camera, has a 270-degree detection range. The camera streams and records video in up to 1080p resolution and supports two-way talk with noise cancellation and night vision up to 30 feet.