Nest, Canary, Ring, and Arlo all have advantages and disadvantages. Nest has an advantage in that it can capture footage 24/7. Canary has an advantage in that it offers person detection for free. Arlo Pro and Ring Spotlight have an advantage in that the cameras can run on battery power and they wake up for both motion and live streaming faster than Canary Flex. If I were to rank them, I would rank Nest and Arlo Pro the highest and also add that a video doorbell is a must. You can read my video doorbell compare here.
For the Ring Alarm to function properly, you'll need to subscribe to Ring's Protect Plus plan, which is $10 a month or $100 if you prepay for the year. It includes 24/7 professional monitoring, video recording, reviewing, and sharing for unlimited cameras, 10% off purchases made at Ring.com, and an extended warranty on all of your items as long as your subscribed.
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.
The camera uses the same Android and iOS mobile app as the Ring Floodlight Cam and all of the Ring doorbells, and you can access it from a PC using the web console. The Spotlight Cam appears in the list of installed Ring devices in the app: tap it to access its dashboard screen where you can turn motion alerts on and off and check the battery level. Tapping the Live View button launches a live video stream in landscape mode with buttons for turning the spotlight on and off, sounding the siren, recording and sharing a clip with neighbors, push-to-talk (two-way audio), muting the sound, and ending the stream.
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From the app, you can control and manage your Nest Secure system. Of course, you can arm and disarm your system, but you can also see sensor status as well as sensor history. For example, you can see if your door is open or closed and you can see when it was last opened and last closed. You can also use the app’s Remind Me feature to remind you to arm your system if you forget to do so.
The Ring Floodlight Cam gives you the maximum amount of illumination when activity is detected. You can purchase this device at $249 for 1, $448 for 2, $649 for 3 and $849 for 4. The two LED floodlights make it impossible for someone to sneak around without getting a clear view of them. The Floodlight Cam uses two sensors for detecting people and objects, with an ultra-wide angle field. You can zoom and pan with the camera for a closer look if you’re not sure what you’re seeing.
Was Ring too quick to announce the launch of this new product? They have launched their security cameras without any bumps but they are being sued by ADT and halted by a judge from selling their security system until the court has reached a verdict (story here). ADT is claiming intellectual property violation. Since they are the largest company in the industry surely they want to slow down Ring anyway they can, and this is sure doing a number on them at the peak of their launch.
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Motion detection was responsive and accurate with the default settings, which placed the sensitivity midway on a scale between “people only” and “all motion.” You can adjust this to your liking with the slider, or use it in combination with customizable motion zones. With each alert, Chime Pro simultaneously emitted a digital Ring. This ensured I was kept aware of detected activity even when I was home, as I don’t usually carry my phone around the house. You can change the chime’s sound and volume and “snooze” it for periods of time in the Ring app.
After I finished installing this device I found myself having issues with it for the first 3 days where sensors will go offline for no reason almost every day; suddenly after day 4 maybe, all of the issues disappeared and the system was now working like a well-oiled machine. I reached out to Ring support team and they informed me that there was an automatic update that the brain device was going to perform on its own and that would solve all of the issues I was experiencing. They were indeed 100% correct, after just a few days the system was doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing all along. No issues, no dropped devices, a happy customer here now. If you end up choosing this system and experience issues during the first 3-4 days, please wait a few days for your system to automatically update itself to the latest software and you’ll see the issues magically go away.
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.
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)?
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.
Through Works with Nest, abode works with Nest Protect, Nest Thermostat, and Nest Cam. Using this integration, you have the option to sync your abode modes with Nest modes or keep them separate. The abode system also offers deep integration with the Nest Thermostats. From the abode app, you can access and control your home’s temperature and create temperature thresholds. The same is true for ecobee users.
The camera connects to the included wall mount using a ball socket. If you’re installing on brick or another hard surface, you’ll need to drill and insert wall anchors. If you’re installing your camera onto a wooden surface, you can use the included screws and screwdriver to secure the mount. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep Spotlight Cam so both options seemed like rather permanent solutions. I decided to create the most unattractive, temporary solution.
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.
Our favorite security system for do-it-yourself monitoring and home automation is the $280 Abode Essentials Starter Kit, because not only does it add professional monitoring to your home, but it also works as a smart hub for third-party devices and helps facilitate home automation. But if you're looking for something a little more affordable and dead-simple to set up, Ring Alarm is worth a look.
Along the bottom of the screen are buttons for Event History, Device Health, Linked Chimes, Motion Settings, Motion Snooze, App Alert Tones, and Shared Users. The Event History screen offers a list of recorded activity. Tap any event to play a clip and share it with friends and family or with your neighbors by pressing the Ring Neighborhoods button. Ring Neighborhoods is a feature that lets you share recorded events with neighbors who have downloaded the app and signed up to participate. It is based on the location data entered during setup and allows you to add a comment along with your clip.
The picture isn’t quite as rosy if you’re also looking for a full-fledged smart home system. Ring Alarm is positively capable of being a great smart home controller. But it’s not that today. And to be fair, Ring isn’t promising that it ever will be—at least not officially. But they wouldn’t have built in Z-Wave, ZigBee, and whatever that third mystery radio is if they didn’t intend to go down that path.
For the backyard camera I also installed the solar panel which is packaged separately with its own mounting kit. Once it’s mounted, you plug the connector wire into the back of the Spotlight Cam and secure it with two screws. It fits flush to keep water out of the port. Ring recommends one to two hours of direct sunlight per day to keep your battery charged, and you can angle the solar panel’s mounting arm to ensure it soaks up as much sun as possible. The days I tested the Spotlight Cam Solar were mostly overcast, but I still saw a 3-4 percent charge increase each day, and I’d expect much more on sunny days.
Many alarm systems integrate base station and keypad functionalities into a single unit, but Ring has made an interesting decision to separate the two, recognizing that these don't always need to be colocated. The base station serves best located centrally in the home in order to optimize wireless connections to all sensors and to centralize the alarm sound, while the keypad is likely to be placed close to the main point of entry for easy access.
After receiving Arlo Pro 2, I completed a second battery test in a lower traffic environment. With the same settings, I ran Arlo Pro and Pro 2 side-by-side to see if Pro 2, with its higher resolution, drained the battery faster. It did not. In fact, it held a slightly better charge than Arlo Pro. Of course, I’m assuming this has more to do with the fact that the camera’s battery is newer and less to do with the fact that it’s a different camera. During the second test, both cameras lasted 5 months on a single charge, and it took 2 hours and 30 minutes to recharge the batteries.
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.
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.
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.
I had a sufficiently strong signal from my router to each camera, but results will vary depending on the layout of your home. If you do see streaming issues, such as resolution deterioration or loss of signal, you might need to install the camera closer to your router or use a Wi-Fi range extender, such as the Ring Chime Pro Wi-Fi range extender ($49 at Amazon). Like its cameras, Ring’s range extender is an 802.11n device that operates on the 2.4GHz frequency band only.
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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.
By purchasing this system you’re almost certain that they will come out with upgrades and updates to this product and ways to integrate it with Alexa and smart home devices. If you encounter any kind of issues, they will have someone listen to you and actually give you a solution rather than one of these knock off Chinese products that will give you excuses for faulty behavior but not solutions.
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Press Continue and follow the video instructions to press the button at the top of the device, at which point the LED will begin flashing white. Press Continue again and go to your phones Wi-Fi settings to connect to the camera. Return to the app, select your home Wi-Fi from the list, and enter your password. Within seconds the camera will connect and you'll have the option to view a video tutorial that will walk you through the physical installation, or you can skip this step and use the written instructions. In the final step you'll be prompted to define Motion Zones, but you can come back to this later if you prefer.
The Spotlight Cam comes with 30-day free trial of Ring’s cloud storage for recorded video. At the end of the period, you have the option of upgrading to one of a pair of Ring Protect plans: Protect Basic allows you to store, review, and share video for up to 60 days for $3 per month or $30 a year per camera. Protect Plus provides the same for unlimited Ring cameras—including the Ring Video Doorbell—and adds a lifetime warranty and discounts on Ring products for $10 per month or $100 a year.