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.
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.
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.
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.
In terms of larger home integration, Nest is the very definition of a smart device. Its Works with Nest program automatically instructs connected products (such as smart lighting and thermostats) to perform their tasks without you having to tell them what to do. It’s an exceptionally hands-off solution, though you can still tweak it with custom preferences.
We gave the Ring Floodlight Cam 3.5 stars out of 5, noting that it’s a great addition to the Ring system and that its strong video quality and personalized motion zones make it a solid pick for outdoor security. Speaking of the Ring ecosystem, Home Depot has also slashed prices on its Ring Doorbell bundles. You can get a Ring Video Doorbell Pro with a Chime Pro Wi-Fi extender and speaker for $199 or the standard Ring Video Doorbell 2 with a Chime Pro for $169.
It doesn't work with the Amazon Cloud Cam indoor home security camera, either. Here's what a Ring spokesperson had to say about it: "Ring Alarm does not work with Amazon Cloud Cam at this time. While I can't comment on the roadmap at this time, what I can tell you is that we will make product decisions based on what will best empower Neighbors with an affordable, effective way to monitor their homes."
Thinking of battery-powered original Ring, I don’t think opening up the mount and recharging a battery every 3-6 months would faze me. Having two doorbells (the “real” one on the side and the Ring on the door frame) probably would bug me more than a little. It did not occur to me to move the existing doorbell, just to install the Ring in the new location on or near the door.
The system was quite easy to install. Having six sensors to place seems like a lot, until you realize you can’t cover everything though you can certainly cover enough. I found the system to be very responsive whenever it was armed or a sensor was set off (both the app and e-mail notifications were received mere seconds after an event). This is in marked contrast to a non-Ring security camera I use to monitor the entrance that can take several minutes or longer to send me notifications. The siren too was fairly loud, as I found out one early weekend during testing.
You can also disarm the system from the app, but in a break from convention, Ring does not offer a key fob for arming and disarming the system. Geofencing that would automatically arm and disarm when you leave and return isn’t supported either. Harris said those were conscious design decisions. “What it came to was security,” Harris said. People said ‘Hey, I want this to automatically disarm my security system when I get close.’ The question then becomes: How close? And is it really you with your phone? Or did someone pick it up at the park, find your address, drive to your house, and let themselves in?”
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.
The keypad includes a reversible mount that can be attached to a wall as a bracket or flipped over and used as a tabletop stand at a slight incline. Ring includes a micro-USB cable and an adapter to power the keypad, but it also has an internal rechargeable battery that can last up to a year depending on your settings, so it's handy to be able to set it up wirelessly on a table or mounted to the wall, only recharging periodically as needed.
The Ring Video Doorbell 2 and Ring Stick Up Cam provide easy and effective ways to set up a pretty strong security perimeter around the outside of your home, but it could be made considerably stronger with the addition of the now-Amazon-owned company’s Spotlight Cam. This outdoor camera/porch-light hybrid, illuminates the area and records video when its motion sensor is tripped.
The square wireless base station is the main component of the Ring Alarm system. It's 6.7 x 6.7 x 1.4 inches in size, and though it lay flat on a bookshelf for this review, it can be mounted on a wall. The base station has ZigBee and Z-Wave antennas, and while the latter is available to use with compatible third-party accessories, anything that isn't Ring-certified won't work with security monitoring.
Installing Spotlight Cam Solar wasn’t that simple, which I expected since it requires drilling, but the process was made even more complicated by two issues. First, the box design would have Steve Jobs rolling over in his grave. In fact, I’m not one for exaggerations so know that when I say it’s one of the worst box designs I’ve ever opened, I mean it. On a more serious note, there’s a discrepancy between the instructions found on the app, those printed on the included quick start guide, and those found online.
The base price of the Nest Secure will set you back $399. Included in that cost is one alarm, two Nest Detects (a sensor that keeps tabs on doors, windows, and rooms), and 2 Nest Tags (an arming/disarming device that doesn’t require a passcode). As for the Ring Alarm, it will cost you $199, and the price includes one base station, one keypad, one contact sensor, one motion detector, and one range extender. The Ring Alarm is definitely the more affordable option, and you get more components — and thus, flexibility — for the price.
At two months, Arlo’s battery lasted longer than Canary’s. Arlo also sent both an email and push notification encouraging me to charge the camera. I tried to time how long it took to recharge the battery, but it took five hours to reach 87% and then stopped. Even the next day, the camera’s battery did not charge beyond 87%. Also, like Canary, Arlo’s battery life was impacted by activity more than weather. The camera I placed in a lower traffic zone had 37% battery life remaining after two months and several sub-zero days.
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.
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!
All three systems require that you purchase the hardware upfront, and they all offer some services for free including free app access as well as third-party integrations (though many of Nest’s and Ring’s integrations have yet to launch). However, they all offer paid plans too. Nest and abode have three options: self-monitoring, self-monitoring with cellular backup, and police dispatch with cellular backup. Ring has two options: self-monitoring and police dispatch with cellular backup.
Ring Neighborhoods is a service that lets you share videos with other nearby Ring users or anyone who has downloaded the Ring app. The service ties into another feature called Ring Locations. Ring Locations allows you to attribute your different Ring devices to different locations and customize user access for the same. For example, you might have your Ring Doorbell at one location where your kids have Homeowner user status, while you have Ring Alarm at another location and limit their access to Neighbor.
Would it be better than 1080p? Yes. Would it be good enough? I don’t know. I only tested the indoor IQ, not the outdoor. I didn’t think Supersight was that fabulous. Here’s a link to a section of my video that shows the Supersight in action (https://youtu.be/BIWchrX27fU?t=2m28s and also here https://youtu.be/BIWchrX27fU?t=56s). On the white table that’s on the right side of the frame, there are a few books stacked up. You can’t even read the titles on the bindings, but maybe a license plate would be different?
There is a problem with the Alexa skill if it requires the user to say “(whispers) Alexa, show me the front door” when someone is at the front door. As is, without Alexa – people already try to hide, turn the lights off, etc. – lol. “ALEXA!!! SHOW ME WHO IS AT THE FRONT DOOR. OH THAT PERSON I DO NOT WANT TO OPEN IT, I DO NOT LIKE THAT PERSON THEY ARE NOT HOLDING PIZZA! SO I WILL NOT OPEN IT. I HOPE THEY DID NOT HEAR ME.”
Being a cautious optimist, I first followed the app instructions; this was a mistake. Unfortunately, the app instructions are incomplete and leave out important details. Next, I moved on to the included instruction manual where I learned that the first step of the installation process is to fully charge Spotlight’s battery. Unfortunately for me, it was too late for that. The app also skipped another essential step found in the instruction manual: mounting position.
Ring Protect retails for $199 for the basic hardware, which is also less than Nest Secure’s $399 entry price. The system also works with all of Ring’s existing products, and will be rolling out support for third-party connected devices over time, too. On its own, it operates as a self-monitored connected security system, sending you alerts while you’re away. The Protect plans starting at $10 monthly include 24/7 monitoring by professionals, as well as unlimited cloud storage for recording from an unlimited number of Ring devices, as well as a 10 percent discount on future Ring hardware purchases.
If you do have smart lights and want to control them with a contact sensor or motion detector, you will need to install separate ones in addition to Ring’s, which can make your front door look like it’s grown barnacles with all of the sensors installed. Another simple integration would be to set a smart thermostat to its away mode when the Alarm is set to away, and then switch it back to its home mode when the Alarm is disarmed, but that’s currently not possible either.
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.
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!
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!
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