For a long time, I used my indoor Nest Cam to film through my window. It was a makeshift outdoor camera supplemented by my Ring Video Doorbell. So it should come as no surprise that when Nest Cam Outdoor launched, I jumped at the opportunity to buy it. Since then, my search for an outdoor solution has continued to Canary Flex, Ring Spotlight Cam, Arlo Pro, Arlo Pro 2, Blink XT, Nest Hello, Reolink Argus, Argus 2, and a few that did not make the honorable mention list.
Using a Family Account, you can share access with nine other people. However, Nest’s sharing feature is problematically one-size-fits-all. All members will have full control over your account, including all cameras and connected devices such as thermostats and smoke alarms. As an example, I gave my family access to a camera placed at my grandmother’s. They can now view the camera at my grandmother’s and also the camera at my house. There is no way to limit their access. Also, they can’t set their own notification preferences, so they either have to put up with all the notifications from my house, or I have to turn off my notifications.
In addition to sharing camera access, having multiple users will make geofencing even more intelligent. The cameras will arm when everyone is away and disarm when at least one person is home. You can also see who is home and who is away using the mobile app and set up Presence notifications to alert you of the same. Finally, it brings everyone in on the action. If an event is detected, an alert will be sent to all users. If one user responds to the alert, other users will be able to see how that person responded. You can also leave a comment on the event and chat with other users directly within the app.
The kit comes with a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, and range extender. Since Ring is pre-packaging all of this, all of the pieces are designed to automatically talk to each other, which makes setting them up easier, but could lead to some confusion when things go wrong. You won't be able to take any of these parts and integrate them with another Ring Alarm system, just the one they come with.
What happens if your home Wi-Fi goes out? Luckily, both the Ring and Nest systems offer cellular connectivity, so your alarm will stay online even if there’s a power outage or your Wi-Fi disconnects. Nest charges an additional $5 per month or $50 per year for cellular connectivity, while Ring offers the feature when you purchase the Protect Plus plan. Both systems also incorporate battery backup. While the Nest device will continue running for 12 hours without an external power source, the Ring will last for 24 hours.
At this point you have to verify your address if you choose to sign up for professional home monitoring, otherwise, just agree to the Terms of Service to continue. The next screen gives you the option of adding the included devices, all of which are pre-paired. I removed the battery tape from the contact sensor and it was added immediately. Here you can choose how the device will be used (door, window), give it a name, and assign it to a room (or choose No Room Assigned). I used the double-sided tape to install the sensor on a window, tested it, and moved on to the keypad.
Ring's $199 Z-Wave-enabled Alarm Security Kit is so simple you might overlook it at first. The system includes a base station, a keypad, a door/window sensor, a motion sensor and a Z-Wave range extender. It's all basic hardware with basic functionality -- you won't find any fancy features here -- but the Security Kit is super simple to set up and monitor in the Ring mobile app.
You have 2 alarm modes: home and away. Using the app you get to chose which sensors will trip home mode and away mode; to be a little more specific, in the app you can select a sensor and check a box next to away and a box next to home if you want it to trip the alarm even if your alarm is active in “home mode” such as when you’re sleeping at night, where motion sensors inside won’t trip the alarm, but doors or windows opening will do so. You can also select a motion sensor and select a lower sensitivity level in case you have pets. You can do all this from the app even away from home.
3. Both Arlo and Nest have a lag from time to time. There are moments when I pull out my phone to stream Nest and it just spins and spins. I have to hard close it and then reopen the app. When it’s working, I can usually access footage in about 4 seconds. Arlo takes about 8 seconds to wake. There is also a 4 second difference between what you see on your phone and what’s happening in real life. WiFi will really depend on the speed and quality of your internet connection at home. I would suggest performing a quick test to see your current upload/download speeds.
** 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".
Ring also doesn't currently offer any additional security accessories, but it plans to add a leak sensor and other devices at some point. And while your Ring security cameras and video doorbells ($250 at Amazon) live in the same app as your Ring Alarm Security Kit, there aren't any direct integrations between them today. I'd like to see something like, "If the Ring Alarm Security Kit's front door sensor notices that the door is opened in Home or Away mode, then tell my Ring Video Doorbell Pro to record automatically" -- even if the Video Doorbell Pro itself hasn't detected motion yet.
Though the Ring Alarm system covers the bases for a home security setup, there’s a lot of room for integration with other smart home products that Ring has left on the table. For example, it’s not possible to use the Ring’s motion or contact sensors to trigger lights or adjust a smart thermostat when you leave or come back home. This is despite the fact that the Ring Alarm sensors are based on Z-Wave technology, which is a widely used smart home standard.
Equipment sensor: I have an expensive four-wheeler and zero-turn mower in my backyard, and would like to see some kind of sensor (other than motion, too many plants and wind won’t make it practical) to protect these expensive items as well. This would be a great selling point; maybe like a magnetic plug stuck to a metal part of the bike’s body, that if it’s removed from that metal body it alerts the brain.
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.
Ring's professional monitoring isthrough Rapid Response Monitoring Services, and it's one of the more affordable services available. For $10 a month (or $100 a year if paid up front), you get the benefits of dispatchers on standby, and this includes video storage for any Ring cameras you might have. There's no long-term contract, either, so you can cancel any time you don't need it through the Ring website.
When you arm or disarm the system, the keypad and the base station play a female voice that informs you of the system’s status (the keypad’s speaker is unfortunately subdued). LEDs on both devices provide visual feedback as well, although only the base station gives you a constant visual cue as to the system’s status: Blue for unarmed, red for armed.
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