Getting this much capable home security hardware for $199 is an absolute bargain (the system became available for purchase today). Adding door/window sensors for $20 each and motion sensors for $30 is an absolute bargain. Paying $10 a month for professional monitoring and video storage in the cloud for an unlimited number of Ring security cameras is an absolute bargain. Ring Alarm will be a huge hit with people looking for a straightforward, easy-to-use home security system.

What sets Nest Guard apart from the abode and Ring’s base station is its intuitive nature. First of all, the integrated keypad is a smart choice because let’s face it; phones get lost. In addition to a keypad which accepts a numeric passcode, Guard has several buttons. You can press a button to quickly swap between modes (alarm off, home and guarding, and away and guarding) or you can press for immediate help using the panic button which is found on the back of the device.
If you think about it, all of these cameras are magnetic meaning that anyone can steal them or knock them offline. The only way to stop this is to mount the camera high enough that an average person cannot reach them. In doing this, it means the battery cameras require you to get out a tall ladder to replace or recharge the battery where with the nest, once you run the power cord and its plugged in, you for a lack of a better phrase, “you set it and forget it.”
The Nest Aware 5 day is $50 per year. If you add a second camera, it would be $75 per year for both so the difference isn’t as vast since you get 50% off subsequent subscriptions. My suggestion is that you dig in deeper as there are pros and cons to both so pick the one which has features that best align with your goals. A couple of bonus tips, which you may already know…1. I’ve owned both combos (Ring + a Nest Thermostat) and (Nest Hello + Nest Thermostat). To me, the only advantage is one app, and using two apps wasn’t a big deal IMO. If you use Nest’s Home Away/Assist, you might feel differently, but I don’t take advantage of that feature. 2. I’ve also tried Ring Spotlight and Ring Doorbell together. Again, the only advantage is that you will have one app. You can’t use them to trigger each other. For example, you can’t say, “When someone rings my doorbell, tell Spotlight to record.” I thought that was kind of interesting…
Once the base station is online and your account set up for monitoring, the rest of the devices in your starter kit are automatically identified in the Ring app and you can set them up one by one. With each one, you can provide a name and room location to help identify the accessories in notifications and the app. With the keypad, you'll set up an access code that lets you arm and disarm the alarm, and you can set up different codes for different people. As you set up each motion detector and contact sensor, the app will have you test each one to ensure that they're probably detecting events.

Nest Indoor or Nest Outdoor? There are pros and cons to both. The Nest Cam Outdoor might be slightly more accurate, but that’s probably more to do with positioning – it has a better vantage point. The fact that it is more accurate, has sound, and night vision made me want to switch, but I could not deal with the way it looked once installed. In the end, Nest Hello provides CVR with the clean aesthetic that’s important to me.
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.
I’ve been considering the Nest Cam IQ outdoor. I see that you did not think the price justified the upgrades. I do agree that it is quite pricey. However, I’m looking for an outdoor camera that has good zoom capabilities. I want to place a camera on my front porch that would show most of the front yard, front door, kitchen door, & the driveway. The driveway is long and mostly shaded during the day and quite dark at night. Someone could park their car in our drive and still be far from the house. If the car was in the line of sight from the camera, say 75 feet, do you know if the Supersight 4k would be better at zooming in on a license plate than the regular 1080p? Any input on cameras for a scenario like this would be great. Thanks!
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.
My gate is too far from my router so I would prefer to hardwire the doorbell. I would rather not use an extender. I ran CAT5 when I installed my old doorbell (which is now outdated and does not have software to use on my iphone). Is my only option the Ring Elite? I have the Arlo set up indoor, but I was not sure if Arlo was going to make a doorbell. Any thoughts?
As of this writing, there are only a handful of add-on devices available that will work with the system, and for now, it doesn't support integrations with other Ring devices or third-party Z-Wave and Zigbee devices. That said, integration with Ring doorbells and cameras is on the way, and interoperability with third-party devices is also in the works.

Ring, an Amazon company, also sells several security sensors. First is the keypad. The keypad runs on battery power, and you can wall mount it or place it on a flat surface. In addition to arming and disarming your system, the Keypad Control Panel allows you to choose between Armed Away and Armed Home. When using the keypad to arm your system, it provides a grace period to reduce false alarms. You can customize the grace period using the mobile app. Finally, you can simultaneously press and hold the check and x buttons for three seconds to trigger the panic alarm.
The Z-Wave range extender and the sensors in the kit are pre-paired with the base station, so you just need to enroll them into the app. Ring also sent me a couple of add-on door/window sensors so I could experience the full onboarding process. This simply involves scanning a QR code on the device, verifying that the PIN printed below the QR code matches what’s displayed in the app, and then pulling the battery tab.
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.
I have! That is a white box piece of hardware used by several companies so I actually have that same exact camera from another company. I don’t love it, but for the price, it’s a good choice. Of course, a huge portion of the experience is not just hardware, but user experience. I don’t know how Wyze will deliver on that side of the equation, but I’ve ordered a Wyze Cam for Bethuel to try, another writer on this site, can’t wait to hear his thoughts.
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor will offer most of the same features as the indoor IQ (less the Google Assistant integration). The only difference between IQ and the original Nest Cam is the power cord. Unlike the original Nest Cam Outdoor, you will have to drill a hole to install the IP66-rated Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, unless you happen to have an existing opening. Nest Cam IQ Outdoor will start at $349. And this, my friends, is why I won’t be purchasing Nest Cam IQ. Not only is person detection sufficient and offered via the less expensive Nest Cam Outdoor, but I don’t have an existing opening, and I’m not going to drill. Plus, Nest Hello offers facial recognition and a pretty sweet Google Home integration.
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. 
Hey Scott, sorry about your car. Under shortcuts, you will find the video reviews. For Nest, night vision is shared at minute 1:43 and keep playing for just a moment to see night vision from Ring. During the Arlo vs. Canary video (the third video shown), skip to minute :54 to see night vision from Canary and keep playing to see a side by side comparing it to Arlo. To me, they are all about the same. I’ve found that the best night vision comes when you leave the lights on. I actually have automated lights on my porch, and they turn on at sunset and back off at sunrise. Integrating the cameras with a smart home system: I’ve tested Arlo Pro with SmartThings, I wasn’t a fan of that. It actually changes the mode to a new mode called SmartThings. I prefer geofencing mode. Ring I’ve tested using IFTTT, but I haven’t tested it with SmartThings.
Ring’s sensors operate on battery power, the keypad and base station come with AC adapters, and the Z-Wave range extender plugs directly into an AC outlet. All three of those components have battery backup, so the system will continue to operate in the event of a power outage. The base station connects to your home network via hardwired ethernet or Wi-Fi. A Ring Protect subscription activates an LTE module in the base station that will keep the system connected to the internet if your broadband connection goes down. You can even run the keypad on battery power full time if you choose, since most homes don’t have AC outlets right next to doors. An LED will tell you when the battery needs to be charged.
Since I’m assuming you will want to live stream often to check on your kids, I would recommend a wired security camera. The original Canary is a good option as is Arlo Q. Both will allow you to live stream from anywhere. Original Canary does not offer two-way audio for free, Arlo Q does, something to consider if you want to be able to talk to your childcare provider or children using the camera. Both cameras include free cloud storage.
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.
Regardless of which model you choose, it’s recommended you connect your Spotlight Cam to your Wi-Fi network before mounting it outside. (In the case of the non-wired Spotlight Cams, you’ll first need to charge the battery using the supplied micro-USB cable.) Once you add the camera to the Ring companion app, the camera’s voice prompts guide you through the connection process.
Regardless of which model you choose, it’s recommended you connect your Spotlight Cam to your Wi-Fi network before mounting it outside. (In the case of the non-wired Spotlight Cams, you’ll first need to charge the battery using the supplied micro-USB cable.) Once you add the camera to the Ring companion app, the camera’s voice prompts guide you through the connection process.

Ha! That’s funny. Anywho, Arlo. Yes, Arlo needs the base station. The cameras only talk to the base station which creates its own network. The max range is stated at 300ft between base station and camera, which I assume is direct line of sight. If I had to guesstimate the distance between my base station and camera I would say 50 feet max? I haven’t tested beyond that.
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.

Rose, thanks for the great review! Paul, I have a Video Doorbell Pro and a Floodlight Cam — both are hardwired. Both lag at least seven seconds behind real time and sometimes even longer. During the lag, the would-be burglar is gone or could be in your house. Ring’s ads suggest you see things in real time which is not the case for me. The signal strength and wifi speed both test excellent. I hope this helps you. Nick


The caller from the monitoring service will identify themselves as being from Ring, since that’s who your business relationship is with, but they actually work for a third-party company that Ring contracts with: Rapid Response Monitoring Services. This is a common arrangement for home security systems. Nest, for example, contracts with MONI Smart Security (which is now doing business as Brinks Home Security). Alarm.com is another major third-party monitoring service.


1. Nest can record continiously which eliminates the problem of sleepy security cameras. As far as Ring cameras, Ring Pro offers a pre-buffer. As far as their other cameras, I’ve only tried Ring Spotlight wireless. It’s a battery-powered camera and does not pre-buffer. I believe I heard that the wired version does pre-buffer, but I haven’t personally tried it.
Regardless of whether you go the adhesive or hardware route, Ring provides everything you need right in the box, with installation kits for each component of the system conveniently boxed and labeled to make it easy to find what you need. All you'll need if you want to use the included screws and anchors for hardware mounting are a screwdriver and a drill.
With home and away modes, you're able to customize entry and exit delays up to two minutes before the alarm goes off, giving you enough time to leave the house after arming and enter the access code on the keypad upon returning home. When an event is detected, you'll get a notification on your phone, and the Ring app will display a countdown giving you the configured period of time to disarm the system before the alarm goes off. If you fail to enter the keypad code or disarm from the Ring app within the allowed time, the base station will emit a very loud beeping sound, and if you are signed up for professional monitoring, authorities will be notified.
When you say “full coverage” I’m assuming you mean continuous recording, is that right? Arlo and Nest can record continuously, but only if they are plugged in. Also, the outdoor power cord for Arlo is new and it’s on a pretty long lead time right now. It’s sold separately from the camera. If you could confirm that your new is continuous recording, I’ll dig in a little more, but I don’t want to assume anything before making a recommendation.
The door/window sensors (also called contact sensors) work pretty well, but the same cannot be said about the motion sensors; they will detect motion after there’s been plenty of movement (if I walk the hallway and enter a room it will not detect, but if I sit for a few seconds moving in the hallway it will detect it then). This is still not a show stopper for me, as I have a dog and don’t plan on buying any more motion sensors, it will be all contact sensors.
** 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".
Nest Secure’s monitoring service is provided by Brinks Security. Originally, service was offered by MONI before MONI, LiveWatch, and Brinks merged to form the Brinks brand. Monitoring of Nest equipment through Brinks is $29.00 per month plus the cost of equipment. If purchased through Brinks, equipment is only $299 for Nest Guard, two Nest Tags, and two Nest Detect Sensors. If you want a discount on Nest Secure services, your only option is to sign a contract. With a three-year contract, you’ll pay $19.00 per month; equipment remains at $299.

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


The Ring Alarm system does not include fire or carbon monoxide monitoring – for those features, you’ll need to add a First Alert Z-Wave Smoke/CO alarm ($40) or Ring’s Alarm Smoke and CO listener ($35) that gets installed next to your existing smoke alarms and “hears” when they go off to trigger the system. I was not able to test these products for this review.
Ring, an Amazon company, also sells several security sensors. First is the keypad. The keypad runs on battery power, and you can wall mount it or place it on a flat surface. In addition to arming and disarming your system, the Keypad Control Panel allows you to choose between Armed Away and Armed Home. When using the keypad to arm your system, it provides a grace period to reduce false alarms. You can customize the grace period using the mobile app. Finally, you can simultaneously press and hold the check and x buttons for three seconds to trigger the panic alarm.
The first step of installation involves simply plugging in the base station and hitting a pairing button on the back to start configuring the system via Bluetooth. The Ring app, which is getting a significant redesign to provide quick access to Ring Alarm and improve functionality for other Ring products, walks you through the entire setup process step-by-step, so it's hard to mess things up. Once the base station starts up, you can connect to your home network via either Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and I elected to use Wi-Fi to minimize wires.
There’s not much that can match Ring’s price point and quality. Nest Secure is an excellent system, but will set you back $399. The Abode Starter Kit is cheaper than Nest at $299, but still lacks the finesse and quality of Ring. Samsung SmartThings and ADT have partnered on a home monitoring system, but it costs $389, and several features are missing to make it an integrated, comprehensive system.
I love the Ring Video Doorbell, but I’m not a huge fan of their other cameras. However, the wired version of Ring Spotlight works in temperatures ranging from -20°F to 120°F, which makes it an interesting choice for you. I also like my Nest Hello. Nest Cam IQ Outdoor can work in temperatures ranging from -40° to 113°F. That said, if you are opening to drilling during your construction project, which I assume you are, I would recommend exploring PoE cameras, which is a category I need to dig into more. If you go this route, you would more than likely have one app for your cameras and another for your doorbell. As a side note, Ring Video Doorbell Elite is a PoE option.
The Home mode monitors only sensors installed at entry points into the home but will ignore any motion or movement that occurs within the house itself. The home mode works great for a night setting, especially if people in your family are prone to moving throughout your home at night. Typically this movement would trip the sensors, but not in Home mode.
Thank you so much for your great review! It’s so thorough and really helps with decision-making. My question is, what would you pick between the Ring Cam Battery and the Arlo Pro (not the 2)? I purchased the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery because I liked the idea of the light and the battery power, but as i read my reviews, I see that the video can lag, and it’s quality is highly tied to the WiFi signal. I also bought the Arlo Pro because it was on sale and it seemed to get really top reviews even though it’s only 720p compared to the Ring Cam Battery. I will be mounting these outside. I noticed that the Arlo Pro 2 way talk is really hard to hear compared to the Ring Cam Battery. Thank you again for all your information!
2. If you want monitoring of video, check out SimpliSafe. They won’t monitor your motion events, but rather your sensors. If your sensors show an alarm event, they can log into your camera to gather video evidence. They offer what’s called ‘video verification.’ The downside to SimpliSafe, when compared to the options presented in this article, is that it lacks home automation. The system does support Nest Thermostats, Alexa, Google Assistant, and the August Smart Lock Pro, but it doesn’t offer an automation engine. Also, integrations are not free, which is in contrast to what abode, Ring, and Nest offer. Finally, SimpliSafe does not have an outdoor camera though they did recently release a video doorbell and have plans to launch an outdoor camera. abode, Nest, and Ring all lack professional monitoring of video and the cameras are not tied to the alarm as motion sensors. Camera motion activated events are self-monitored.
If you just want an indoor and outdoor camera (not a doorbell), I would recommend Arlo Pro or Pro 2 outside and Arlo Pro/2 or Arlo Q inside. However, it would be best if you could place your Base Station in a central location. The Arlo cameras talk to the Base Station and the Base Station connects directly to your router (or Ethernet outlet or range extender).
As of this writing, there are only a handful of add-on devices available that will work with the system, and for now, it doesn't support integrations with other Ring devices or third-party Z-Wave and Zigbee devices. That said, integration with Ring doorbells and cameras is on the way, and interoperability with third-party devices is also in the works.
You will need robust wifi in your house to realize rings full potential/features, but thats true for ANY of its competitors. And for the mechanically challenged they make a plug and play wi fi extender (with a chime for the ring doorbell). NB rings monitoring fees are cheap and it’s hardware warranty very generous . Consider your all in costs over a ten year period -for me came out thousands of dollars less. Ring is owned by amazon so u know they will be there to honor warranty update software technical support etc this is such an easy purchase - no excuse for not having home security system anymore that you control and can customize, take with u when u move
Thanks!! One other question I have: my wife is due this fall and (in addition to a regular home security camera) I’m seeking a good baby video monitor, the best actually. Do you have a chart or column that compares and reviews baby video monitors? (I searched online and there’s an endless amount of options, and there’s also so many articles each one claiming this one is better or that one is better – but no one is nearly as good or trustworthy as you as far, and as far as breaking down each product and giving us the full truth and clarity there’s no equal to the job you have done! Do you have anything on this (baby video monitors)? If not yet, do you plan to? Thanks!
Where abode Wins: abode offers free cloud storage, and they offer the widest range of equipment including glass break and flood sensors which are viewed as essential home security devices. Also, abode uses an open platform allowing more third-party integrations via Z-Wave and Zigbee backed by their CUE automation engine. It’s true that Ring offers Z-Wave and Zigbee too, but details on compatible products are still scarce. Fourth, abode has more home security experience than Nest and Ring.
Continuous Recording No. Records based on event. Yes, but the camera must be plugged-in which requires that you leave it inside. 14 days of 24/7 CVR starts at $9.99/month/camera Coming soon (Spring 2019). Will require a Ring Protect subscription. Coming soon (Spring 2019). Will require a Ring Protect subscription. Yes, will record 24/7 with paid Nest Aware plan. No. Records based on event.
The next step is camera placement, and Arlo Pro offers a few options. It can sit on a flat surface, stick directly to a metal surface (magnetic), or you can use the included plate to mount it to a wall. While you can place Arlo inside or out, the camera’s power cord that ships with the package is not weatherproof so plan to use battery power when placing the camera outside. If you’re willing to spend an extra $25, you can also buy the weather-resistant outdoor power adapter (VMA4900) that works with Arlo Pro, Arlo Pro 2, and Arlo Go. Finally, they also sell an $80 solar panel. The panel works with Arlo Pro, Pro 2, and Go, and can power one camera continuously. Keep in mind, however, that the solar panel only powers the camera. It does not charge the camera’s battery.
Wow! I’m impressed that you read the whole thing. A mobile hotspot, right? I think they would all tell you that it’s possible, but not something they recommend. The signal isn’t going to be as reliable as connecting to a WiFi network. Arlo sells a 4G camera called Arlo Go, but it’s more expensive upfront and the monthly fee is higher as you’re paying for cellular connectivity.
Aside from the obvious value proposition, Ring’s big pitch for the Alarm system is its simplicity. Though it has all of the features necessary for a proper home security system – professional monitoring, battery and cellular backup for the event of a power loss – installing the Ring Alarm in my home took less than 20 minutes and involved following the app’s instructions to get the base station on my Wi-Fi network and register each included piece. Cleverly, Ring presets the included motion detector, contact sensor, and range extender to pair with the hub that’s in the box, so getting them set up is just a matter of pulling the battery tab to wake them up and waiting a moment for the app to find them.

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.
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