Also, Ring thinks it can do more than others in this space because of its overarching mission, which has focused much of its product development to date: Creating a so-called “Ring of security” that extends across the home and into the neighbourhood. Protect is a big part of that plan, because it deepens the relationship that Ring has with its customers, and allows it to gather data to help truly hone and personalize its alert system and monitoring services.
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.
Biggest problem though is the ‘wake up’ time. You reported on it, but I didn’t really take the time to really consider, “Hey, if I want to catch the kids driving by banging mailboxes, by the time they drive by and the camera wakes up, they’re gone!’ Well, that’s just what I learned as I set everything up, had the ap working and started getting notifications when people drove by. I thought AWESOME! it works! Well, not so much. Unfortunately, the car is never seen on the video, so the purpose is pretty much defeated.
I haven’t had any issues with Arlo Pro, but I called their support team to get a feel for support quality. As Netgear owns Arlo, phone tech support is managed by Netgear, and they offer offshore support. It was the stereotypical experience you think of when you think of tech support. I called into a phone queue, waited a little bit (not long), got transferred to someone who struggled to understand my question, she put me on hold, she came back to clarify my question, she put me on hold, and then she came back with an answer. While it wasn’t a bad experience, it was sub-par compared to the tech support experiences provided by Nest, Canary, and Ring.
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.
The second issue I have for the system is that there is no quick exit feature. For the entire six years that I've had a security system, I have been used to being able to press a button that will give me one minute to quietly exit the house. This is important when I am leaving for work a few hours before my family wakes up for their day. The Ring system doesn't have this feature at all. When the system is armed, it has to be disarmed (which it announces) and rearmed before exiting with a delay that can be set up with your phone (it will announce this as well and will make a sound while it counts down) or can be armed from your phone after you leave (again, it will announce this with the countdown sound). You either have to chose if you want the system to count down or not. Not counting down will immediately arm it and you will have to arm from your phone if you leave and arm it on the "Home" setting while others are still there. You can adjust the sound that is emitted from the panel so that it isn't loud, but it will also make your door and window chimes use the same volume all of the time. If you have your system armed while you’re home, and the volume is down, you might not hear the system telling you that it needs to be disarmed if you forget and open a door. There is no in-between here. If you have to leave while others are still sleeping, this may be a problem for you.
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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.
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.
Swann Smart Security Camera is an indoor/outdoor battery powered security camera that works without a base station. It’s most similar to Reolink Argus and Canary Flex. The camera records in 1080p FHD, offers a 120° field of view, night vision, and is IP65 rated for outdoor use. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with any third-party devices and it lacks intelligent features to reduce false alarms. The camera boasts a feature called True Detect™, but that’s just a fancy marketing term for PIR motion sensor. The camera’s best feature is free local and cloud storage. From the app, you can playback seven days worth footage stored locally. The camera also includes two days of cloud storage.
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You can set motion zones for the lights, too. In this case, the app shows a graphic representation off the motion sensor’s 270-degree range, and you can define where you want movement to turn on the lights by tapping up to three preset zones and then expanding or reducing coverage in those zones using a slider. Depending on your settings, the light will stay on for one to 15 minutes.
I’ve stayed away from all Ring products as their API is only accessible by large entities they approve of. You are also forced to use the cloud. If they have an outage, it impacts you. In my smart home setup, I’m not reliant on the cloud for many aspects. There are some exceptions, like Nest thermostats and Protects. Alarm system is locally controlled, Z-wave devices are locally controlled as well. If my Internet is down, then remote access and the Nest products is not possible. The rest of the devices continue to work. My video doorbells are locally controlled; no need for the cloud nor their monthly/annual fees. I want to capture images, I can do it locally but also review it remotely.
It’s not ideal, but it’s not terrible. I just went out there and stood sideways to the camera and you could still see me. The farther back I stood, the better the picture. Take a look at the article and scroll all the way to the bottom. I put two pictures up temporarily. Let me know once you see them as I’m going to take them down. I suggest buying it and testing it out using the battery by placing it where your current doorbell is BEFORE you actually install it. If you think it will work, go for it. If not, send it back.
However, traditional home systems typically require the assistance of a professional installer. They also mean monthly subscription fees and long-term agreements that keep you locked into their service for a certain period of time. Additionally, if you move, it’s nearly impossible to take your home security system with you, and they don’t make much sense in an apartment complex.
Ring's updated app (which will roll out to everyone in the coming weeks) brings lots of improvements for those invested in the ecosystem. You have quick and easy access from the main screen to the alarm features, as well as a glimpse of what your cameras are seeing. Things can be a little slow to load, depending how much equipment you have, but most of the time it works great.
This is something we remind our four-year-old son of often, as he’s prone to leaving doors open because, well, he’s four. That means that the Disarmed mode comes in handy when he’s awake and running in and out of the house. It’s nice to have three options instead of just the typical “armed” or “disarmed” features that don’t take into account movement that is occurring just by living in the house.
To test all the professionally monitored security systems out there would too expensive due to the high monthly fees so I usually keep up with them at CES when I can, and Vivint attends CES. I’ve seen all of their cameras including the doorbell in Vegas, but it’s not the same as living with something for months and experiencing the quirks that often come along with longterm ownership. You can read my Vivint review here, but I doubt it’s going to help with the issue you are experiencing. Vivint processes motion events in the cloud. I believe they recommend that customers have a minimum upload speed of 2MBPS.
And that is its job, to keep the camera charged. However, I noticed during testing that it does charge the battery too. When I installed the camera, the battery level was at 40%. Soon after connecting the solar panel, that percentage jumped to 50%. The next day it rained, and the percentage climbed from 50 to 52%. Day three was overcast, and yet the battery level crept up to 56%. Day 4 was a beautiful sunny day, and the battery level jumped to 78%. By the end of day 4, I was at 100%.