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.
haha. Don’t do anything that will make you sad :). I upgraded my internet package and purchased three Google Wifi routers to create a mesh network. Though this upgrade did nothing to improve Flex’s overall performance, it did help with connectivity a touch. Flex’s performance improves when plugged-in and it’s possible that the battery experience will improve over time. Canary has already proven their ability to make a product better – just think about where they started with the original Canary.
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.
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.
After using Flex unplugged for a little over two weeks, the battery fell critically low before getting to the point where the camera would no longer turn on. I don’t blame this on the weather as much as I do the wind. Continued tests showed a battery life of 2-4 weeks. Per a reader request, I retested the camera in August. The weather is warmer here in August, it’s less windy, and Canary has since made several adjustments to help extend Flex’s battery life. This time, the battery lasted a full seven weeks.
On the downside there is no way to enable/disable video motion detection clips in sync with the armed status. I only want certain cameras to record when armed stay or away. They really need the option to tell the cameras when to record and when not to record. Other than that the 2-way camera communication is spotty at best, but not really a feature that’s important to me. Adding live video to the online access would be a BIG plus too (currently you can only access the cameras through the app).
2. If you want monitoring of video, check out SimpliSafe. They won’t monitor your motion events, but rather your sensors. If your sensors show an alarm event, they can log into your camera to gather video evidence. They offer what’s called ‘video verification.’ The downside to SimpliSafe, when compared to the options presented in this article, is that it lacks home automation. The system does support Nest Thermostats, Alexa, Google Assistant, and the August Smart Lock Pro, but it doesn’t offer an automation engine. Also, integrations are not free, which is in contrast to what abode, Ring, and Nest offer. Finally, SimpliSafe does not have an outdoor camera though they did recently release a video doorbell and have plans to launch an outdoor camera. abode, Nest, and Ring all lack professional monitoring of video and the cameras are not tied to the alarm as motion sensors. Camera motion activated events are self-monitored.
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.
As a Contributing Editor for PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networking and smart home gear, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for almost 20 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine's Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of t... See Full Bio
Where Nest Wins: Nest has a better design, fantastic cameras, and cheaper cellular backup. Their multi-purpose sensors may cut down on the number of sensors you need, though they are more expensive than abode and Ring sensors. Also, Nest Guard is the most intuitive with LED lights, a keypad, and voice feedback. Finally, Nest Secure offers a 2-year warranty where abode and Ring offer 1-year warranties. However, there are areas where abode and Ring win too.
As is the case with the Nest Secure system, the Ring Alarm does not support IFTTT applets or react to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands. A Ring spokesperson has confirmed that support for voice commands and many other third-party devices is in the pipeline, and will include support for the soon-to-be-released new Ring Stick Up Cam, as well interoperability with other Ring devices.
Installing the Ring Alarm system is easy thanks to the well-written getting started guide. I already had a Ring account, but if this is your first ring device, start by downloading the Ring app and creating one. I opened the app and tapped Add a Ring Product, selected Alarm from the list, and confirmed my location. I plugged in the base station and pressed the pairing button, which started the blue LEDs spinning, indicating that the station was in pairing mode. I tapped Find My Base Station in the app and selected Wi-Fi as my internet connection method (you can connect via Ethernet or Wi-Fi), selected my router's SSID, and entered my Wi-Fi password. The LEDs flashed white momentarily before turning solid blue and the Wi-Fi indicator turned green, indicating a successful pairing. The app also confirmed the connection.
Second, Ring sells a contact sensor. The two-piece sensor can be placed on doors or windows and will notify you of open/close movements. Third, they sell a pet-friendly motion detector. Fourth, they sell a range extender. The range extender is the only sensor that requires AC power, but it also includes 24-hour battery backup. The Range Extender is used to boost the signal emitted by your Base Station to help eliminate dead zones.
The Spotlight Cam works with IFTTT , applets so you can have it work with other IFTTT-enabled smart home devices such as sirens, smart switches, and lights. It also works with Kwikset Kevo and Lockitron locks, the Wink Hub, and Wemo devices, and you can use Amazon Alexa voice commands to view video on an Echo Show display or other compatible device.
Ring doesn’t have any contracts or other subscription-related requirements, but you do have the option of adding one of the video recording packages mentioned above. However, they do offer exclusive discounts and an extended warranty if you choose to purchase the upper tier package. Ring’s equipment comes with a one-year warranty, and if your doorbell is stolen, Ring will replace it for free.
You can add additional Ring door/window sensors and motion sensors to scale up the system as needed; the kit also works with a FirstAlert smoke and carbon monoxide detector. But that's about it, for now. Ring plans to add additional sensors at a later date and has hinted at upcoming partnerships with major third-party platforms like Alexa and Google Assistant. But considering Amazon bought Ring back in February, this system should really already work with Alexa and the Amazon Cloud Cam (it doesn't).