Thanks for the all the info and reviews. I have a Ring Doorbell and a Nest Thermostat. It seems as a stand alone the nest cam is a better choice. But at $100/year seems a bit steep. Adding a Ring Spotlight cam will put me at $60/year (doorbell and cam). Seems like the Ring cam is a no brainer for my situation. Am I missing something? I dont mind upgrading my doorbell (Ring or Nest), but even with the new 5 day plan from Nest Aware, Ring just makes more financial sense.
Ring’s Alarm, which is finally shipping to customers starting today, is the latest in these new, do-it-yourself home security systems. It’s most similar to the Secure system that Nest released last year, and uses a variety of motion, entryway, and fire / carbon monoxide sensors, along with Ring’s other home security cameras to monitor your home for emergencies and intrusions.
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.
Contact sensors come in two pieces, a large sensor part and a smaller magnet part, and both pieces must be aligned within 1/4 inch of each other when the door or window is closed. One piece goes on the door or window while the second part goes on the frame, but it doesn't matter which part goes on which side. When the door or window is opened, the two parts are separated, and the sensor triggers.
The keypad measures 0.91 by 5.87 by 3.94 inches (HWD) and has numeric keypad buttons (0-9). It also has an X button and a button with a check mark on it: pressing and holding both of these buttons puts the system into Panic mode, which sounds the siren and sends an alert to the professional monitoring service so that police can be dispatched. To the right of the numeric keypad is a round dial with three buttons for putting the system in Home, Away, and Disarm mode, but you'll first have to enter your unique access code. Other LEDs include network and battery indicators, and a faulted sensor LED that tells you if a sensor is open before you arm the system.
The biggest disadvantage to many IoT/smart systems is the lack of an API. They are closed source and in reality are designed to lock you in to their products and offerings. If you’re happy with only buying say Ring products for everything and areas that they don’t have an offering you can’t integrate other products in, then you stuck with only what they offer.
The battery version of the camera can only use a battery. You can’t plug it in. According to Ring, the batteries should give you six months of life before needing to be recharged, but that wasn’t my experience. After testing the battery for three weeks, my battery level dropped from 100% to 47%. It was depleted before the two-month mark. If you plan to use a battery, I suggest buying two. As mentioned in the installation guide, Spotlight Cam ships with one battery, but it supports two. This configuration will improve your camera’s uptime. When one battery dies, you can charge it while battery two kicks-in to power your camera. Ring sells additional batteries for $29.
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When you say, “a service like Ring,” do you mean the ecosystem itself? As in, you’re looking for a doorbell and outdoor camera that work under one app? Or do you mean something different? Short answer is no, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. Long answer: Ring Elite, as you said offers PoE as does DoorBird Video Doorbell, but I do not recommend DoorBird. Regarding security cameras, Arlo Q Plus (no doorbell, but it does work with IFTTT). EZVIZ Husky offers PoE (no doorbell camera, poor quality IMO, works with IFTTT). OCO Pro Bullet offers PoE as does their Pro Indoor camera (no doorbell, but it does work with IFTTT). In order, I like Arlo Q the best (it’s got a strong lead in this three-way race), followed by Oco, and EZVIZ. I have tested cameras from all three companies.
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.
The white base station is the brains of the system. It measures 1.4 by 6.6 by 6.6 inches (HWD) and has a 1.5-inch LED ring and a speaker on top, and a USB port and a LAN port around back, joined by a pairing button, a reset button, and Wi-Fi and power indicators. The base contains circuitry that supports numerous wireless protocols including dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth 4.1, and LTE cellular as a backup if you subscribe to the Ring Protect Plus plan (more on this later). It also has an internal backup battery that will provide up to 24 hours of power in the event of a power loss, and a loud 105dB internal siren.
Nest Cam Outdoor’s temperature range is limited to -4° to 104°F. In the same breath, the Nest team warns of placing the camera in direct sunlight to avoid overheating the device. So if the device can only handle 104° and it might heat up in the sun, is it really ready to live outside? Perhaps it’s not that the device isn’t ready to live outside, but that it’s more suited for temperate zones.
Ring suggests that the motion detector should be placed in a location with a good view of a high-traffic area likely to be passed by any intruders, with the detector placed about seven feet off the floor. Motion detection sensitivity can be adjusted in the app if you find you're getting too many false alerts such as from a pet. The detector can be mounted using either adhesive or included screws that attach a bracket to the wall for easy removal of the detector itself.
Multi-Camera Discount Price Includes Shared Storage for 10 Cameras (Free Plan Supports 5.) Price Includes Shared Storage for 10 Cameras (Free Plan Supports 5.) $10/month or $100/year for Unlimited Ring Cameras $10/month or $100/year for Unlimited Ring Cameras Each Additional Camera Costs $2.50/month or $25/year Price Includes Shared Storage for 5 Cameras (Free Plan Supports 4)
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.
The Ring Alarm is controlled using the same mobile (Android and iOS) and web app as other Ring devices, such as the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, the Ring Floodlight Cam, and the Ring Spotlight Cam, but at the time of this review, the Alarm system does not interact with these (or any) Ring devices, nor can you pair it with just any Z-Wave or Zigbee device unless it is part of the Ring network, which is quite limited at this point.
Once these motion-activated cameras pick up on movement, they’ll turn on their built-in floodlights, start recording, and send an alert to your connected mobile app. From there, you’ll be able to see and hear what’s going on via the camera feed, as well as speak through the cameras to whoever is on the property. You can also customize alert zones to narrow in on the most important areas for motion detection. All of this can be done from anywhere, which means you can keep an eye on your home even while you’re away.
Aside from the app and the keypad, there isn’t currently another way to set the system. In comparison, Nest’s system can be set via key fobs, which are quicker and easier than punching in PIN codes or opening an app, or voice through the Google Assistant. Ring says that integration with Alexa will come down the road, but it is not available at this time.
Most of my setup time was spent testing the position of the three contact sensors I received. The magnetic sensors consist of two parts. One part goes on a door or window frame, the other part goes opposite it so that when the door or window is opened, the magnetic connection is broken. If the two pieces aren't close enough, roughly half an inch, the sensor doesn't work.
As you set up each piece, you're able to give it a name (like Front Door, Office Window, Main Hallway, etc), and then a location of where it is in your home, as well. Within the app, the devices are grouped by type, and the names that you give each piece is displayed to help you know what is what. While setting up the keypad you'll be asked to create a PIN number that you'll use to engage and disengage. If you have additional family members, once you share the new equipment with them in the app, you can set PIN numbers for them as well.
All plans, including the freemium plan, offer access to the same security features and provide a semi-decent way of sorting through historical footage. Through the app’s “Library” section, you will have access to a timeline feature. You can view all recorded events by day. You will also be able to favorite an event, download, or share it. You can also filter recorded footage by favorites, motion events, audio events, manual recordings, or recordings triggered by IFTTT.
Do it yourself can be a really good option, but you need to make sure this is right for you before you jump in. There won’t be any technicians or professional installers to make sure everything is installed and working correctly. Ring does claim that the system is effortless to install but that obviously doesn’t guarantee that you won’t run into issues, especially if you don’t have experience with security systems. In this case, you just need to know yourself to know if this type of installation and maintenance is right for you. If you tend to hire out for most of your home projects, this extremely important project probably isn’t the one you want to start with trying on your own.