My final issue with Canary Flex has less to do with the device itself and more to do with the company behind the camera. Over the years, Canary has made a lot of changes to their cameras, and the changes don’t always benefit the customer. For example, they promised free two-way audio, but then started charging for it, and for a long time they provided free cloud storage, now they offer what they call “digestible Video Previews.” Changes such as these are concerning.
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.
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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).
The Ring Alarm system comes in an attractively packaged box that includes a square base station, a keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, and range extender. Unlike the Nest Secure home monitoring system, Ring created the hub and keypad as separate devices to give homeowners more control over where to place them. The products are both lightweight and durable, although the keypad digits do feel a bit antiquated when you press them.
Device Theft Optional Wall Mount Optional Wall Mount Screwed in using proprietary screws, Ring will replace stolen devices. Depends on the Mount – Quick Mount easier to steal, Security Mount is a more permanent solution. Easier to steal. The power adapter twists off and the Nest Cam can be removed from the magnetic base by pulling. Secure Mount (Sold Separately)
While other smart security systems let you arm the alarm through key fobs, unfortunately, the Ring Alarm system does not have this capability at this time. Using a fob makes things quicker and easier than opening an app or punching in a code; however, Ring does have plans to make its system compatible with Alexa in the future, so that will make things a little easier.
The Ring Alarm system comes with a base station, a keypad, an entry sensor, a motion sensor, and a Z-Wave range extender. Also included in the box are installation kits containing mounting tape and hardware for the keypad and the two sensors, an AC adapter for the base station, a USB power adapter and cable for the keypad, a getting started guide, and an alarm kit security basics guide.
Tapping the Spotlight Cam icon in the Ring app opens a dedicated screen with all the camera’s controls laid out. The Ring app is one of the best in this regard, as it doesn’t require you to go hunting through nested settings menus to find what you need. At the top are on/off toggles for the camera’s lights and motion alerts. Using a selection of buttons below these, you can open the camera’s streaming feed, event history light settings, and more.
I'll be the first to admit, the thought of installing the alarm system on my own was a bit scary, and I didn't know that I would be able to get it done. I'm not exactly the handiest person, and my wife doesn't like things to be messy in our brand new house. Ring does an incredible job at making the unboxing experience extremely easy by labeling everything so you exactly what goes with what. In just under 90 minutes I was able to get everything out of the box and set up, including mounting the hardware.
The camera is powered by the same quick release battery pack used on the Ring Video Doorbell 2. It contains a mini USB charging port and is rated to last for six to twelve months between charges depending on camera and spotlight activity. The camera can hold two battery packs and will automatically switch over to the secondary battery when one runs out of juice. Additional battery packs are available for $29 each. If you prefer a wired solution, Ring sells a Spotlight Cam Wired model for $199.
Ring provides 24 / 7 professional monitoring of the Alarm system through its Protect Plus service, which will automatically notify authorities and emergency services if there’s an intrusion or crisis detected. The service will alert you and other emergency contacts you set via phone and then dispatch emergency personnel as needed. Though the Ring Alarm will provide push notifications to your mobile device without the additional monitoring service, having the service ensures that emergency services are deployed automatically whether you see the push notifications or not.
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor will offer most of the same features as the indoor IQ (less the Google Assistant integration). The only difference between IQ and the original Nest Cam is the power cord. Unlike the original Nest Cam Outdoor, you will have to drill a hole to install the IP66-rated Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, unless you happen to have an existing opening. Nest Cam IQ Outdoor will start at $349. And this, my friends, is why I won’t be purchasing Nest Cam IQ. Not only is person detection sufficient and offered via the less expensive Nest Cam Outdoor, but I don’t have an existing opening, and I’m not going to drill. Plus, Nest Hello offers facial recognition and a pretty sweet Google Home integration.
The Ring system offers many different types of cameras; which one (or ones) you choose will depend on your unique configuration needs. The Ring Stick Up Cam is a fairly versatile option, letting you monitor both indoor or outdoor areas in 1080p HD video. It can also rest on a flat surface or be mounted to a wall or ceiling. Like the Ring Doorbell, this camera allows two-way talk, so you can see and speak to whoever’s on the other end of the lens using your phone or connected device.
At this point you have to verify your address if you choose to sign up for professional home monitoring, otherwise, just agree to the Terms of Service to continue. The next screen gives you the option of adding the included devices, all of which are pre-paired. I removed the battery tape from the contact sensor and it was added immediately. Here you can choose how the device will be used (door, window), give it a name, and assign it to a room (or choose No Room Assigned). I used the double-sided tape to install the sensor on a window, tested it, and moved on to the keypad.
The Ring Alarm system has three different modes, which can be set via the keypad or through the iOS and Android apps. There’s the standard disarmed mode that turns off all of the monitoring; an away mode that watches all of the installed sensors for intrusions; and then a “Home” mode, which by default will monitor sensors installed on entryways, but ignores motion inside the house. I’ve used the latter mode as basically a night or sleep setting, since during the day my family moves in and out of the house a lot and would constantly trip the door sensors.
Since the Security Kit only comes with one detector and one sensor, you’ll likely need to invest in more sensors if you’re looking to cover any space with multiple access points. The advantage of the Ring contact sensors is that they work on both doors and windows, meaning you can easily swap them from one location to another as you configure your set-up. When triggered, the sensors will send instant alerts to your phone, letting you react in real time. While a little bigger than traditional sensors, these come in a bright white color, blending in with most door and window frames.
I have tested Reolink Argus and Argus 2. Both are indoor/outdoor, hubless, battery-powered cameras. The cameras do not offer cloud storage. Instead, you can purchase and add an SD card. The cameras record in FHD 1080p, offer night vision, live streaming, mobile app access, and a 130° field of view. However, they lack other features offered by Canary, Arlo, and Nest including geofencing and the ability to connect to third-party devices.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, how did Ring become a giant in home security now worth over $1 Billion? They started out as 'Doorbot' and failed getting an investor on Shark Tank. While this could have been a low blow to the company, they pursued the smart doorbell camera and became the leader of it (Vivint to follow in 2nd). Richard Branson chimed in with a large investment and that really got the company going. Fast forward some years and now they are in thousands of stores and in neighborhoods across the nation.
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.
If a monitored door or window is left open when you arm the system, Ring Alarm will warn you, but give you the opportunity to push an illuminated button on the keypad to bypass that sensor. You’ll get a similar warning and opportunity when using the app to arm the system. The sensor will remain bypassed until you disarm the system again. It’s a convenient feature: If you left the upstairs window open, for example, but are in too much of a rush to run up and close it, you can take a calculated risk and secure the rest of the home.
Arlo Go is yet another Arlo camera. It’s an Arlo Pro plus 4G. The big catch is that a cellular plan via Verizon is needed as it doesn’t work with WiFi. It does come with 15 data minutes to send 15 minutes worth of video to the cloud for free. Once you’ve used those minutes, you’ll need to buy more time. Data plans start at $4.99/month for 15 data minutes and go up to $32.99/month for 225 data minutes. Arlo Go sells for $429.99 on Amazon or 399.99 from Verizon ($349.99 if you sign a 2-year contract).
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