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.
The Spotlight Cam performed well in our tests. Daytime video was highly detailed with rich colors, while black-and-white night video showed good contrast and appeared sharp out to around 25 feet. The motion sensor always generated a push alert and followed my schedule without issue. Recorded video was just as sharp as the live feed, and two-way audio communications were distortion-free. The internal siren was certainly loud enough to scare away any would-be intruders, and the spotlight did a great job of lighting up an otherwise dark area in my backyard.
Although SimpliSafe's basic monitoring service goes for $14.99 per month for 24/7 monitoring, you have to pay an additional $10 more a month to control the system from your phone and to receive email and push notifications. Tack on another $4.99 per camera per month to record, download, and share video, and you're up to around $30 per month, which is three times what you'll pay for a Ring Protect Plus plan.

The Spotlight Cam Battery has an IP55 waterproof rating, comes in white or black, and measures 4.9 by 2.7 by 2.9 inches (HWD). It has a short removable mounting arm with a ball on the end that can be clamped on to the included mounting bracket. The bracket can be mounted on a wall or upside down on a soffit. There's a setup button on the top of the enclosure and a 160-degree (horizontal) motion sensor on the bottom that covers the battery compartment.

If you're set to Home and Armed and you trigger an entry sensor that's fitted anywhere but your front door, the base station will sound a piercingly loud 104-decibel alarm until you can get to the keypad, or to your phone to deactivate it. If you're Away, both the motion and the entry sensors will trigger the alarm — unless, again, the entry sensor is affixed to the front door, in which case it will start a 60-second countdown until you enter your PIN (you can adjust the timer as you need).

The Spotlight Cam Battery has an IP55 waterproof rating, comes in white or black, and measures 4.9 by 2.7 by 2.9 inches (HWD). It has a short removable mounting arm with a ball on the end that can be clamped on to the included mounting bracket. The bracket can be mounted on a wall or upside down on a soffit. There's a setup button on the top of the enclosure and a 160-degree (horizontal) motion sensor on the bottom that covers the battery compartment.
3) a brand with the best wifi connectivity record (I HATE when it loses connectivity), this is actually the most important thing to me – the wifi connectivity must be seamless, I’ve had terrible experience with bad wifi connectivity. I want to be able to pull out my phone anytime and instantly be able to see live video. zero tolerance for bad wifi connection:)

Use the Device Health button to view signal strength, firmware version, and the current Wi-Fi network you are connected to, and the Linked Chimes button lets you enable motion settings for any Ring Chime devices you may have installed. Motion Settings lets you adjust sensitivity using the slider, create detection zones, and set up schedules for enabling/disabling motion alerts, and Motion Snooze lets you temporarily turn off alerts. Tap the Shared Users button to invite friends and family to view video clips, and the App Alerts Tones button to assign one of a dozen sounds to play when motion is detected.


My indoor Canary is self-sufficient, and that is exactly what I want in a home security camera. Flex has yet to provide that same experience. I’ve had to physically interact with the device multiple times to get it to reconnect to my internet. Also, the geofencing feature is inaccurate, often marking me away while home and vice versa. As for power loss notifications? They’re hit or miss.

3) a brand with the best wifi connectivity record (I HATE when it loses connectivity), this is actually the most important thing to me – the wifi connectivity must be seamless, I’ve had terrible experience with bad wifi connectivity. I want to be able to pull out my phone anytime and instantly be able to see live video. zero tolerance for bad wifi connection:)


2) many users have not come up to speed on the functionality fo this system. thats not their fault.its really easy to set up quickly and with basic functioning, But the more you fool around/experimenter/learn about the system the more functionality it has. Ring really needs to come out with a comprehensive instruction manual and/or video-once you understand take keypad you will grasp it actually has more functionality and is easier to use than most legacy hard wired systems people are replacing.
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 an indoor camera, a flood sensor (coming soon), and a glass break sensor, it might just become the system to beat.
The other major part of the Ring Alarm kit is the 5.9 x 3.9 x 0.9-inch keypad, which can also be laid flat or hung on the wall. The keypad has 12 backlit number buttons, as well as three other buttons for quickly arming and disarming the system (though it's also possible to do so from the Ring app for iOS and Android). The buttons are plastic and easy to clean, and by default, they chime when pressed. I like that the keypad is handheld, but I still much prefer the rubberized remote keypad offered by SimpliSafe.

2) many users have not come up to speed on the functionality fo this system. thats not their fault.its really easy to set up quickly and with basic functioning, But the more you fool around/experimenter/learn about the system the more functionality it has. Ring really needs to come out with a comprehensive instruction manual and/or video-once you understand take keypad you will grasp it actually has more functionality and is easier to use than most legacy hard wired systems people are replacing.

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.


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.
Unlike the other options, Ring cameras don’t integrate with the security system. Sure you can monitor them all using a single mobile app, but there is no “if this, then that” relationship. If your alarm sounds, your cameras will not record. If your cameras detect motion, they won’t trigger your alarm. However, there is one major benefit to using Ring cameras: If you pay $10 per month, you will gain access to cloud storage and professional monitoring with cellular backup.
The base station connects to Ring Alarm devices using Z-Wave Plus. In theory, it could also connect to third-party devices using the same as well as Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth; however, it cannot currently connect to other devices besides the First Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm. Like abode and Nest, Ring’s Base Station includes battery backup, an integrated siren (104db), and a cellular chip which you can activate by paying just $10 per month. Finally, while you can connect to the Base Station via Ethernet, it’s not required.
Quiet Open allows you to bypass an armed sensor simply by touching it. For example, if your system is armed, but you want to check the weather outside, you can press the sensor, and open your door. While I’ve heard only praise for this feature, my initial reaction was that it seems like a security flaw. Your teenagers, for example, can press the sensor and sneak out. Furthermore, there is no identification tied to using the feature. For example, it won’t say, “Rose bypassed the sensor.” Fortunately, you can turn this feature off if you’re concerned.
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.
I agree! This was a great comparison article for me and timely. A neighbor of ours just recently got robbed and led us to upgrade our basic home security features. I am curious if this article will be updated once Abode Iota is launched. I like the al a carte of monitoring with Abode and may end up getting nest outdoor camera with Abode. Thank you again!
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.
The base station connects to Ring Alarm devices using Z-Wave Plus. In theory, it could also connect to third-party devices using the same as well as Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth; however, it cannot currently connect to other devices besides the First Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm. Like abode and Nest, Ring’s Base Station includes battery backup, an integrated siren (104db), and a cellular chip which you can activate by paying just $10 per month. Finally, while you can connect to the Base Station via Ethernet, it’s not required.
The Alarm system does not have as many bells and whistles as Nest’s system, nor does it have some of the conveniences Nest provides. But at $199 for the starter bundle, which includes the necessary hub, a keypad, a motion detector, a contact sensor for doors or windows, and a range extender, plus $10 per month for professional monitoring, Ring’s system is significantly cheaper than Nest Secure (which was just recently reduced to $399 for its starter kit) and is one of the least expensive home security systems you can purchase.
Just one final question if I can, I was looking around a little more at some of your articles and YouTube videos (they are awesome! short and sweet and to the point!), and it seems like the Blink XT would also meet my criteria (the 9 pointers above), is that right? The thing I liked was that it’s much cheaper and apparently I’m getting the same, no? Is there anything I’d be missing out from my list if I go with the Blink camera (and overall do you recommend it)?
The learning curve was pretty quick once I started playing around with it. Immediately following activation, Ring puts you in a seven day trial period, which is great because I set off the alarm a handful of times because I wasn't used to having it. The trial period lets you use everything the way it's intended, except that when the alarm goes off it won't alert the monitoring company. You can end the trial mode at any point if you prefer to just get right into the full monitoring services.
It would have been convenient to have a device like a key fob for the Ring Alarm, as running to find the keypad or navigating the app to turn off the alarm takes a few seconds too long, but one does not currently exist. However, arming and disarming the system is relatively straightforward.  I just had to dig through the paper manual to figure out how to correctly enter my PIN to change modes.
Thanks, Abe. I have a chart that compares Canary and Flex here: https://homealarmreport.com/canary-flex-security-camera-review/. I still prefer Canary All-in-One over Flex. Of course, it’s an indoor only camera so that might be a dealbreaker for you depending on how you want to use it. It has a better picture, already offers two-way audio (if you’re a Canary Member), has motion zones, and multiple air quality sensors.
While setting the system up, my motion sensor got hung up and wouldn't stop detecting motion. I had to reset it, which I did through the app, but since it was part of the kit, the process was a little different than the app stated. This was a minor annoyance, but worth noting that if you ever run into an issue with any of the pieces that come with the kit, you'll need to do a full reset of that piece so that the base station can see it again.
The Spotlight Cam captures video at 1080p and has a 140-degree field of view, but lacks the pre-buffered recording capabilities that you get with Netgear's Arlo Pro 2 camera and the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. It uses four infrared LEDS to provide up to 30 feet of night vision and has a built-in 110dB siren, an 802.11n Wi-Fi radio, and a speaker and microphone for two-way audio. The spotlight itself consists of two strips on either side of the camera, each with four LEDs that provide an overall brightness of 700 lumens with a 4,000K color temperature. The camera comes with one battery pack, a mounting bracket, wall screws and anchors, a screwdriver and drill bit, and a setup guide.
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.

Arlo Pro can be used outdoors only if running on battery or solar power. (While they once sold an outdoor power adapter, it is no longer available due to quality issues.) If you’re using battery power, you will have to charge your camera indoors as the included power adapter is not rated for outdoor use. Furthermore, if your battery is too cold from being outside, you might have to wait for it to warm up before you can begin to charge it. If you don’t like the sound of that, you can invest in the $59.99 Pro Charging Station and an additional rechargeable battery ($49.99). You can use the charging station to charge two batteries simultaneously so that you always have one ready to go when needed. You can also purchase the Arlo Pro UV-resistant silicone skins, which provide added protection against condensation and sun glare.
Third, Nest Guard has a voice. Of course, it’s no Google Home, but it will provide useful information. For example, when you arm your system, there is an arm delay which allows you to exit your home without setting off the alarm. Instead of an annoying beep that continues until the system arms, Nest Guard uses a friendly voice to tell you how much time you have left.
Once you're logged in, follow the straightforward prompts to connect each accessory. This was one of the easiest security system setups I've ever encountered; literally pull the battery tab on the battery-powered door/window sensor and motion sensor and plug in the base station, the keypad and the Z-Wave range extender, and they automatically connect to the app.
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