The Spotlight Cam performed well in our tests. Daytime video was highly detailed with rich colors, while black-and-white night video showed good contrast and appeared sharp out to around 25 feet. The motion sensor always generated a push alert and followed my schedule without issue. Recorded video was just as sharp as the live feed, and two-way audio communications were distortion-free. The internal siren was certainly loud enough to scare away any would-be intruders, and the spotlight did a great job of lighting up an otherwise dark area in my backyard.
The Ring app will automatically detect the rest of the items that came pre-packaged with the base station once its initial set up is complete. You'll need to pull plastic tabs on each piece so that they can power up, and you'll want to do this one at a time. If you pull all the tabs at the same time, the system tries to connect to multiple devices at once and slows down the setup process.

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Regardless of whether you go the adhesive or hardware route, Ring provides everything you need right in the box, with installation kits for each component of the system conveniently boxed and labeled to make it easy to find what you need. All you'll need if you want to use the included screws and anchors for hardware mounting are a screwdriver and a drill.

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.
Nest will intelligently alert you, within reason. For example, you can have the street set as a zone, but turn off notifications for the street. Nest can also tell you when it sees a person or thinks it sees a person. In fact, you can choose to only receive alerts when it sees a person, which virtually eliminates false alarms. Better still, you can turn on person detection for the entire frame or from select activity zones.

Like most security systems, Ring Alarm has two armed modes: Home activates the door/window sensors, but leaves the motion sensor turned off. This allows you to walk around inside your secured home without triggering the alarm. Away mode arms all the sensors, so if intruders break in through an entry point that isn’t protected by a sensor, the motion sensor will trigger the alarm when they walk within its range. One motion sensor can do the work of many door/window sensors.
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.
But let’s go over what it can do today, first. The very affordable ($199) starter kit includes a wireless base station, a keypad for arming and disarming the system, one door/window sensor, one passive infrared motion sensor, and a Z-Wave range extender. You can monitor the system yourself, but at the price Ring is charging for professional monitoring—just $10 per month ($100 per year if paid annually) with no long-term contract—it would be foolish not to sign up for it. That goes double for people who already have other Ring devices, because it includes video storage in the cloud for an unlimited number of Ring cameras.
I tested the Spotlight Cam Wired and the Spotlight Cam Solar separately. The Wired is a great option if you have easily accessible outdoor power outlets. The 4.96-inch-by-2.72-inch-by-2.99-inch camera has a 20-foot power cable attached at the back as well as a built-in wall mount, and unlike with the battery powered models, you won’t have to worry about dead batteries or too many overcast days interrupting your surveillance. I’m guessing, however, most folks will need one of the battery-powered cameras.
In the end, the best camera depends on what you want to accomplish. There is no one-size-fits-all solution regarding home security. I want to use my camera to help my neighbors. I’ve found that continuous recording is crucial. After all the testing, I went back to Nest Cam indoor supplemented by my Ring Video Doorbell before finally swapping to Nest Hello. Currently, I use Nest Hello with the $5 per month plan backed by a WyzeCam 2 (on my porch). WyzeCam 2 is an indoor camera, but it’s $25 so I’m not overly concerned about it giving out. It offers free cloud storage and CVR to an SD card. However, for my backyard, I feel Arlo Pro is ideal. I don’t need continuous recording, I don’t want more wires, and it wakes up faster than Canary.
Person Detection was the first feature launched under the Canary Vision project, a project that aims to add AI-powered intelligence to Canary devices. The second Canary Vision feature is Package Detection, which lets users set up notifications for when packages are delivered to their homes. This feature is exclusive to Canary Flex, and it can only be accessed if you have a Canary Membership.
As for the base station, you can hardwire it to your router or connect to it via Wi-Fi. I opted to hardwire it, in hopes that it would provide a more stable connection, considering the importance of it. There is an AT&T SIM card inside of it as well, which is what the system uses as a backup for when your internet connection goes down. The cost of this SIM card and its service is covered in the monitoring plan. Once the base station is powered on and hooked up to your router, you can add it your account.
The Nest Guard motion sensor can detect motion within a 90° field of view up to 10 feet away. It also includes tamper detection as well as a proximity sensor (wakes on approach) and will let you know if it’s moved or if someone tries to jam your signal. However, in testing, I found that none of the promised tamper sensors worked. I did not test jamming detection.
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.
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Finally, you can add third-party Z-Wave and Zigbee devices. abode has a list of compatible devices on their site. The list includes products by Aeon, Aeotec, Enerwave, Fibraro, First Alert, FortrezZ, GE, Linear, Kwikset, Leviton, Schlage, Iris, Sensative, ZooZ, and Netvox. abode also sells their own Home Automation Power Outlet & ZigBee Extender. The device will turn any outlet into a smart outlet, allowing you to control plugged-in devices and include them as part of your automation recipes. The switch also acts as a ZigBee range extender.
There’s not much that can match Ring’s price point and quality. Nest Secure is an excellent system, but will set you back $399. The Abode Starter Kit is cheaper than Nest at $299, but still lacks the finesse and quality of Ring. Samsung SmartThings and ADT have partnered on a home monitoring system, but it costs $389, and several features are missing to make it an integrated, comprehensive system.
I’m leaning towards Arlo Pro 2 over the Arlo Q, due to the portability – however, since the portability is only a plus for me and not a must, is there any advantage that the Q has over the Pro 2 that I may want to consider before making my final decision. [I tried finding differences between the Arlo Q and Arlo Pro 2, and, aside from the design & portability, I was unable to find any.] If you know of any can you please share with me, and then I’ll be 100% certain in my decision:)
I’ve heard others say Arlo is the perfect outdoor camera. I disagree. The original Wire-Free camera had more latency than Arlo Pro. Also, Pro includes a wider field of view, a rechargeable battery, a siren (built into the hub), and it adds sound with two-way audio, all features the original Arlo lacked. Arlo Pro 2 bumps up the resolution to 1080p and adds three features if the camera is plugged-in: CVR, Motion Zones, and Look Back.
Ring,  maker of one of the original (and still likely the best) connected video doorbell, has launched a comprehensive home security system called Protect, which retails for $199 and includes a base station, keypad (for arming and disarming) a contact sensor for a window or door, a passive infrared sensor for detecting motion and a Z-Wave extender for adding range to smart home devices that use the standard.

If you have signed up for 24/7 professional monitoring, you may need a permit to dispatch emergency services. After signing up for Ring Protect Plus, you’ll get an email from our dedicated Permits Team so you can have everything you need to apply for your permit. In some cases, our team will handle the entire permitting process, but for others, we’ll walk you through every step to help you get your permit as quickly as possible.
Put whole-home security in your hands with Ring Alarm. When the system is armed, it sends instant alerts to your phone and tablet whenever doors or windows are opened and when motion is detected at home, so you can monitor your property from anywhere.  Ring Alarm is fully customizable and expands to fit any home or apartment. And with Ring Video Doorbells and Security Cameras, it lets you control your entire home security system from one simple app.
Arming the system Away starts a 60-second countdown, delaying the armed state to give you time to exit the home without tripping any of the sensors. Opening a protected door while the system is armed also triggers a 60-second countdown, this one is to give you time to reach the keypad to disarm the system. If a sensor installed on a window is tripped while the system is armed, the alarm will go off instantly. That’s sensible: No one should be entering or leaving the home through a window while the system is armed.
Thanks Rose for this update! Not familiar with Kuna and will check them out via your link. Have been continuing to research the best outdoor option. Surprised that none of the major brands in your side-by-side can be used in colder regions – seems like that eliminates a lot of potential customers. Glad I found your review and keep up the great work in this space – very helpful!
Installing the sensors was similarly easy: I used the included double sided tape to mount the contact sensor to my front door and the motion sensor to the corner of the downstairs living room in my home. Ring also includes the necessary screws and wall fasteners for a more permanent installation, but the double sided tape was sufficient for my needs. For this review, I added two extra contact sensors (available as $20 add ons) and mounted them on a window and second door in my home. Syncing these with the existing system was just a matter of scanning a QR code on the back of the sensor, which triggered the app to search for it. Ring says that it will preset any additional devices you order at the same time as the Alarm starting kit, which would make setting them up as seamless as the in-box sensors.
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.

Nest, Ring, and abode all sell cameras. Nest works with Nest Cams including the indoor and outdoor cameras, Nest IQ both indoor and outdoor, as well as Nest Hello. When Nest Secure detects an alarm event, it will trigger your Nest cameras to take a snapshot. If you have email alerts turned on, the cameras will email you a snapshot of the event. It can also send a push notification to your phone.
** Information used for home security alarm system comparisons was obtained November 2016 through telephone and online research. ADT prices: based on total out-of-pocket expense to obtain services; installation based on fees for similar home security equipment packages; "Monitoring" price listed includes the additional "warranty" or "extended service plan".

But let’s go over what it can do today, first. The very affordable ($199) starter kit includes a wireless base station, a keypad for arming and disarming the system, one door/window sensor, one passive infrared motion sensor, and a Z-Wave range extender. You can monitor the system yourself, but at the price Ring is charging for professional monitoring—just $10 per month ($100 per year if paid annually) with no long-term contract—it would be foolish not to sign up for it. That goes double for people who already have other Ring devices, because it includes video storage in the cloud for an unlimited number of Ring cameras.

The Spotlight Cam performed well in our tests. Daytime video was highly detailed with rich colors, while black-and-white night video showed good contrast and appeared sharp out to around 25 feet. The motion sensor always generated a push alert and followed my schedule without issue. Recorded video was just as sharp as the live feed, and two-way audio communications were distortion-free. The internal siren was certainly loud enough to scare away any would-be intruders, and the spotlight did a great job of lighting up an otherwise dark area in my backyard.
After testing indoor Nest IQ Indoor and Nest Cam Outdoor, I’ve decided to pass on Nest IQ Outdoor. Plus, it sounds like this version will require drilling, and I’ve found that Nest’s facial recognition feature doesn’t add more value than their face detection feature. I also don’t have a place for Ring Floodlight. However, I will buy Ring Spotlight. I have six devices in my office waiting to test, so I can’t promise that it’s going to happen quickly, but it will happen! 🙂

P.S. My house was broken once when we was abroad, without breaking a door or a window. In fact, the thieves entered thru the front door without breaking anything – the lock was just magically opened. Because we know we didn’t lose any key, the assumption is that they used lock picking technique or a lock picking gun (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snap_gun) – So I don’t think it’s good to assume thieves are dumb (But i’m not in the USA so maybe you have different kind of thieves ;-] )..
Hi and thank you for the exhaustive review. I like the option of Ring Doorbell Pro. However, my existing doorbell is on the side of the house, facing parallel to the door across the front steps. If I mounted the Ring there, the camera would capture a profile of the visitor as they approach the door. It would not capture their face head on, would not (likely) capture them them as they approach the steps, which is where delivery people often leave packages (my interest in Ring, Arlo, etc., came out of the neighborhood social app conversation about a rash of package thefts), and would not capture the car they drive as it would face parallel to the street, not into the street. My question is: what would the installation of Ring look like on or near the front door, where there is no existing wiring? Is my existing setup enough to steer me away from Ring and toward a battery powered option?
You can also pay $10 per month for professional monitoring, but that’s it. There are no integrated carbon monoxide or fire alarms, and it’s not capable of syncing up with other smart home devices. This means you can’t control your lights, thermostat, locks, etc. The company says these are coming as the system grows and improves, but for now they’ll be missing if you buy the Ring Security System.
Other Devices Image Sensor, Smart Switch, Extra Siren, Temperature, Humidity & Light Sensor, Water Leak Sensor, iota Smart Doorbell, Range Extender, Smart Deadbolt Lock (Nest x Yale) Video Doorbell (Pro, Elite, 2), Spotlight Cam, Floodlight Cam, Stick Up Cam, Chime, Chime Pro, Solar Panel, Solar Sign, Ring Beams, Smoke & CO Listener, First Alert Smoke/CO Alarm, Flood and Freeze Sensor Satellite Siren, Smart Switch, Yard Sign
While having a couple of power/connection options already provides flexibility, there is even more flexibility thanks to accessories (sold separately). The first accessory is a Secure Mount that locks your device into place. Replacing the magnetic base, it helps prevent device theft. The second is the Stake Mount: Stick the mount into the ground or a potted plant to give Flex a hidden camera effect. Third is the Twist Mount, which can bend and wrap around an object so that you can hang it virtually anywhere. Canary suggests using it to place Flex on fixtures, railings, or even branches.
This has to be some of the worst customer service I have ever experienced. The web site is very slick, and the pre-sales information is very well prepared. The product does not work, and my Wi-Fi extender (that I bought just for this purpose) didn’t even get a usable signal from 15 feet away with no obstructions. So, after long chats (and waiting a LONG time to get someone on chat in the first place), I convinced them after several conversations to give me a refund… which never came. Three weeks after they received the product back, there was no refund. I went on chat to find out why, and TWO HOURS of chatting later (after their chat system kicked me out for inactivity while THEY looked up my information), they say a refund was issued, but refused to provide any email documentation stating such. This is absolutely unacceptable. I wish I had come to this site to look at these reviews before I wasted time and money on a product that doesn’t work, and which is supported by an incompetent support staff. RUN AWAY from this company! They pretty much stole $500 from me!
Ring lacks third-party integrations. The Base Station communicates with Z-Wave and Zigbee, and I’ve confirmed those protocols were added for a reason, but they haven’t taken advantage of them. The system supports the First Alert Z-Wave Smoke/CO detector which is also compatible with the Ring Response service. Soon, it will also work with the Dome Siren. But that’s it. Ring currently lacks an IFTTT channel and even an Alexa integration, which is odd as Ring is owned by Amazon.
Thanks to advances in sensors and other smart home technology, the landscape of home security systems is changing dramatically. It’s now possible to install a professionally monitored system in your home yourself in just a matter of minutes. You can even bring the system along with you when you move to another house or apartment. And the cost for these new systems is far less than traditional home security plans.
RING is not a perfect or fully reliable dproduct yet of course. The first alert produced CO/smoke alarm cant hold a candle to nest but its functional and accurate. RING does have small saucer shape microphones that you can co-locate with your current smoke detectors (even NEST as you prefer and I have) but a real simple fix would, esp for thsoe without legacy fire alamsrnm they like, is to simply have first alert make alaRMS FOR RING OR RING sell First alert smoke detetctors with all the ugly lettering and logos removed !
So, where does the professional monitoring come in? When the alarm is triggered, the Ring Alarm central monitoring system calls you and asks for the verbal security code you’ve set up. If Ring doesn’t reach you, they’ll call your emergency contact and ask for the same thing. If either of you forget the code (better choose something you’ll remember!) or if they’re unable to reach either person, then they’ll dispatch emergency responders to your house.
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.
As for the base station, you can hardwire it to your router or connect to it via Wi-Fi. I opted to hardwire it, in hopes that it would provide a more stable connection, considering the importance of it. There is an AT&T SIM card inside of it as well, which is what the system uses as a backup for when your internet connection goes down. The cost of this SIM card and its service is covered in the monitoring plan. Once the base station is powered on and hooked up to your router, you can add it your account.
Once the base station is online and your account set up for monitoring, the rest of the devices in your starter kit are automatically identified in the Ring app and you can set them up one by one. With each one, you can provide a name and room location to help identify the accessories in notifications and the app. With the keypad, you'll set up an access code that lets you arm and disarm the alarm, and you can set up different codes for different people. As you set up each motion detector and contact sensor, the app will have you test each one to ensure that they're probably detecting events.
I can see why you’re confused because really any of these three options will do everything you want and more. Is it important to you that your security system and camera use the same app? If so, maybe eliminate abode from the list. You can use the outdoor Nest Camera with abode, but it isn’t a great experience. If you want an outdoor camera that can record continuously and not just based on motion, that would be Nest Cam. If you don’t mind if the camera only records events and as you said, want a system without “big monthly charges,” Ring is probably the best choice for you. They recently launched an indoor camera, you could then add a video doorbell (ideal) or one of their outdoor cameras to your porch. You will need five contact sensors in total. Ring Alarm will include a mobile app for you to review footage and you can expand the system down the road if needed. As it just launched and based on Ring’s history of product support, the chances that it will be outdated soon are very slim.
I actually bought mine from Home Depot. So Ring has some work to do with this product as it was put out into the market too early with some engineering issues. First off I will say that during the DAY the camera works just as good as the ring doorbell. I get consistent motion alerts in the Daytime in the zones I set up with the camera. However during the night its a different story. I set up the camera on the soffit of my garage which is 8 feet from the ground. Ring specifically says that you CAN mount on the soft (under the roof line) of a house, however when mounting the camera the installation instructions say that the sensor under the camera (the big globe white thing) must be parallel to the ground. Unfortunately Ring poorly engineered the camera where the vertical axis of the arm for the camera would not allow me to adjust the camera angle any higher so that the sensor would be horizontal to the ground. Due to this the camera and floodlights will not sense me during the night until your 5-8 feet away from the thing which is totally counter productive to what I bought the whole camera floodlight combo for. I am still currently working with Ring customer support on this but it might end up with me making another hole in my garage to mount it on the side but I do not want to do this until I get a firm answer from Ring that this will work. As far as connectivity and video quality I have no issues. But to sum this review up DO NOT BUY IF YOUR MOUNTING TO A SOFFIT 8 FOOT OR LOWER. I will update my review when necessary.
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