Most people don't have their wifi routers right near the front door so it can be a challenge getting a strong wifi signal to the Ring Doorbell. The other challenge is that the wifi signal must extend beyond the inside of the house and through building materials like bricks, siding, insulation and wood. So even if you have a strong signal inside your house it doesn't mean that your going to have a strong wifi signal outside your home. 
Just like with Wi-Fi, the Ring platform is at the mercy of smartphone conventions it can’t control. I can’t tell you whether the video screen delays are due to poor coding in Ring’s app, performance problems with my LG G4 smartphone, or hiccups in my phone’s Wi-Fi or 4G connectivity. But the bottomline is that simply getting to the video chat screen can be a long, frustrating experience. In a perfect world, I’d be able to launch the video chat display directly from the notification shade—and do so quickly. But Ring doesn’t have actionable notifications access.
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro improves on the Ring Video Doorbell 2 and is well worth considering if your porch faces an area that’s likely to have lots of traffic, people walking by, or trees swaying in the wind. The extra $50 could make you a much happier owner, even if you need to bring power to that location. But if the area around your front door is calm and quiet, save the cash and go with the excellent Video Doorbell 2 instead.
Unfortunately, there’s no video-on-demand (VOD) feature that lets you view the outside world whenever you want. Instead, you have to wait for someone to approach the door. VOD appears to be on many users’ wish lists, and Ring says it’s working on adding that feature. With VOD built-in, the doorbell would instantaneously turn into a full-featured security camera, so let’s hope we see this addition soon.

Each piece of Ring's kit is designed to protect a different part of your house. The contact sensors detect when windows and doors are opened or closed; the motion detectors use infrared beams to sense movement and heat in a room; the keypad lets you arm and disarm the system; the base station keeps the system online, and has a 110-decibel siren that sounds when motion is detected; and the range extender keeps the sensors connected to the base station. Both the base station and range extender have a 24-hour battery backup that will keep the system online in case of a power outage.
I mentioned a cat sitter. It was kind of awesome to be able to see that she came by every day. In fact, the first day she didn’t come by until 11:00pm and I worriedly texted her to see if she was going to come. Every other day I took solace in knowing that she had already stopped by without having to text her or fear her shed forget. I was able to see when the lawn service came by and did their thing. I was able to see when packages were delivered and when my mom brought the nephews up to use the pool. I also got to scare the crap out of our friend as they were leaving our empty house and I wished them goodnight. That was worth some money right there. I even caught a few people using my driveway to turn around.
Ring Alarm hits nearly all the right notes for a basic DIY home security system. I’ve already touched on a couple of its shortcomings—including an absence of support for smart speakers—but tighter integration with Ring’s own cameras would be another welcome development. When an alarm is tripped, the cameras should begin recording to perhaps capture a glimpse of what triggered it—potentially valuable forensic evidence you could provide to the police investigating a break-in. And if Ring Alarm could control your home’s smart lighting, it could turn on all the lights if the alarm is triggered after dark, which might convince an intruder to make a hasty retreat.
Setting up a smart security system requires you to consider the size of the space you want to protect, the tech capabilities that are most important to you, as well as the tech stack you want to use. Ring’s products are all Alexa-enabled, meaning they can be easily integrated into your existing smart home set-up. Plus, the company offers Protect Plus 24/7 Professional Monitoring for $10 per month. (Compare this to Nest’s similar service, which will ding you $19-29 over the same period.)

With the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, I managed to almost eliminate false alarms, so that just about the only thing that set off an alert was an actual person at my front door. I occasionally got an evening alert when a car with exceptionally strong headlights went by—I presume because it illuminated the lawn and that was interpreted as movement—but the level was much lower.
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.
Ring’s sensors operate on battery power, the keypad and base station come with AC adapters, and the Z-Wave range extender plugs directly into an AC outlet. All three of those components have battery backup, so the system will continue to operate in the event of a power outage. The base station connects to your home network via hardwired ethernet or Wi-Fi. A Ring Protect subscription activates an LTE module in the base station that will keep the system connected to the internet if your broadband connection goes down. You can even run the keypad on battery power full time if you choose, since most homes don’t have AC outlets right next to doors. An LED will tell you when the battery needs to be charged.

It would have been convenient to have a device like a key fob for the Ring Alarm, as running to find the keypad or navigating the app to turn off the alarm takes a few seconds too long, but one does not currently exist. However, arming and disarming the system is relatively straightforward.  I just had to dig through the paper manual to figure out how to correctly enter my PIN to change modes.

Just like with Wi-Fi, the Ring platform is at the mercy of smartphone conventions it can’t control. I can’t tell you whether the video screen delays are due to poor coding in Ring’s app, performance problems with my LG G4 smartphone, or hiccups in my phone’s Wi-Fi or 4G connectivity. But the bottomline is that simply getting to the video chat screen can be a long, frustrating experience. In a perfect world, I’d be able to launch the video chat display directly from the notification shade—and do so quickly. But Ring doesn’t have actionable notifications access.


My Wi-Fi problems notwithstanding, both the doorbell and chime accessory were easy to pair with my wireless network. Just a word of caution: If you’re using a Wi-Fi range extender, make sure to pair the doorbell outside your house, right on your doorstep. This will ensure that Ring finds the extender, and not your router. If you pair the doorbell inside your home, you run the risk of pairing it with your main Wi-Fi router, especially if your router and range extender have different names.

Setting up a smart security system requires you to consider the size of the space you want to protect, the tech capabilities that are most important to you, as well as the tech stack you want to use. Ring’s products are all Alexa-enabled, meaning they can be easily integrated into your existing smart home set-up. Plus, the company offers Protect Plus 24/7 Professional Monitoring for $10 per month. (Compare this to Nest’s similar service, which will ding you $19-29 over the same period.)


In fact, some of my neighbors might testify to this. After Ring sent me the review unit, they also seeded some 20 of my neighbors with Rings of their own. The goal was to turn my neighborhood into something of a test bed for measuring how the doorbell can be deployed to reduce crime (or at least give homeowners more confidence in their own home security). Using the NextDoor social network, I asked neighbors for reviews.
Aside from the obvious value proposition, Ring’s big pitch for the Alarm system is its simplicity. Though it has all of the features necessary for a proper home security system – professional monitoring, battery and cellular backup for the event of a power loss – installing the Ring Alarm in my home took less than 20 minutes and involved following the app’s instructions to get the base station on my Wi-Fi network and register each included piece. Cleverly, Ring presets the included motion detector, contact sensor, and range extender to pair with the hub that’s in the box, so getting them set up is just a matter of pulling the battery tab to wake them up and waiting a moment for the app to find them.
How To: Wemo Light Switch Installation No Neutral Wire. We teach you what you can do if you don’t have a neutral wire in your existing switch boxes but still want to install a Wemo light switch. There are four alternative options for installing a Wemo light switch with no neutral wire. We tell you how you can add a neutral wire to your existing switch box so you can install a wemo lights switch or use another smart light switch that has all of the same features as the wemo light switch but does not require a neutral wire. If you don’t want to do any wiring in your home and you don’t have an existing neutral wire you can also you smart light bulbs like the phillips hue light bulbs instead of the wemo light switch. We teach you how you can connect any of your smart light switches to Amazon Alexa for full voice control of your home.
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

The Ring Alarm has the electronics required to do all of that now, and Harris said those features will be turned on at some point. “You’ll see all of those things,” he said. “We’ll support color-changing lights, so that in a smoke situation, the lights will turn to a darker color to make it easier to see at night. You’ll see door locks with [Z-Wave’s] S2 security that will disarm the security system when you use the keypad to unlock the door, because we know you’ve done that in a secure way.”

Setting up a smart security system requires you to consider the size of the space you want to protect, the tech capabilities that are most important to you, as well as the tech stack you want to use. Ring’s products are all Alexa-enabled, meaning they can be easily integrated into your existing smart home set-up. Plus, the company offers Protect Plus 24/7 Professional Monitoring for $10 per month. (Compare this to Nest’s similar service, which will ding you $19-29 over the same period.)


Throughout testing, I liked how I could verify the comings and goings of our dog walker simply by listening for the sound of the chime. The motion alert feature is ultra-sensitive, so I had to decrease its range to reduce false positives. I also found that it doesn’t begin recording video until someone has been at the door for a few moments. For example, the doorbell recorded a video of a delivery person leaving my door step, but I didn’t get video of him approaching and leaving my package.

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Both systems offer exceptional protection and support, so the choice really comes down to your unique needs. For someone who wants their home to be fully automated and for their devices to talk to one another, Nest is the easy choice. While more expensive, the system offers excellent connectivity and added products like the Nest Tags and connected lock.
I went with the Ring Pro over the Original Ring because I was going to be wiring it in place anyway. I also like the slender profile and the possibility to use wireless 5.0 in the future if I desire. Plus I live on a very busy road and wanted the advanced motion detection zones on the pro. Since I did my research, I was aware that the Ring Pro has a 160 degree field of view compared to the 180 degree view of the original. For this reason, I purchased fiberglass shims to angle it more towards my large 6 foot doors when I installed it.
The door/window sensors (also called contact sensors) work pretty well, but the same cannot be said about the motion sensors; they will detect motion after there’s been plenty of movement (if I walk the hallway and enter a room it will not detect, but if I sit for a few seconds moving in the hallway it will detect it then). This is still not a show stopper for me, as I have a dog and don’t plan on buying any more motion sensors, it will be all contact sensors.
Update 3/24/16 - Ring has added “Live View” to their feature set. It allows you to access your Ring Doorbell any time you wish. This solves the problem with #3 as long as you are not on battery power. Obviously, it also lets you “dial in” any time you wish to check out your front or back yard (where ever your doorbell is). This is a feature that I like as every once in a while I just like to see if its raining or foggy at the house.
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