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When you press the doorbell button a chime sounds, the camera begins recording, and a push alert is sent to your phone. As with the Ring Floodlight Cam, you have to subscribe to a service plan to view, share, and download recorded video. The Protect Basic Plan is $3 per month or $30 per year and gives you 60 days of cloud storage per camera and full access to all of your videos. For $10 per month or $100 per year, the Protect Plus Plan gives you everything from the Basic Plan for an unlimited number of cameras, and you get a lifetime warranty (the warranty period is normally one year). By way of comparison, the August Doorbell Cam Pro subscription costs $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year for access to 30 days worth of video.
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Ring is a Wi-Fi connected doorbell and exterior lighting security system that was recently purchased by Amazon. They don’t offer any type of home automation features; however, their system is compatible with many third-party smart home systems. However, Ring has announced that they will soon be adding interior home security and environmental protection features to their current lineup.
Like the hardware, Ring’s Protect Plus service is significantly less expensive than other options. It costs $10 per month and has no long term contract commitments. Nest offers a similar service, but it starts at $19.99 per month with a three-year contract and jumps to $29.99 per month if you opt for no commitment. ADT, one of the largest traditional home security services, has plans that start at $28.99 per month and requires a three-year commitment.
When you arm or disarm the system, the keypad and the base station play a female voice that informs you of the system’s status (the keypad’s speaker is unfortunately subdued). LEDs on both devices provide visual feedback as well, although only the base station gives you a constant visual cue as to the system’s status: Blue for unarmed, red for armed.
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Despite our internet running at 300mpbs or faster, our Ring struggles to pick up a solid signal from our router, which is no more than 15 feet from the RING. The several times I've contacted the Ring support team they've been very friendly. They even sent us a signal boosting Chime Pro for free to help with the signal problem. Unfortunately this only made the signal worse according to the support team.
The beauty of all Ring products is that they’re free of long-term contracts and completely integrated with the user’s everyday tech. In other words, this ain’t your grandpa’s home security system. For no additional cost, the online home base will alert any selected users and devices when there’s unwanted movement in and around the house. For an additional $10/month, Ring users are upgraded to unlimited video recording (should they add a Ring doorbell or floodlight cam) and 24/7 professional monitoring from the Ring HQ.
Installing the actual ring was even easier. I was able to drill into grout lines between stones so I had that going for me. The hook up was super easy, two wires from the house connect to the two connectors on the Ring – doesn’t even matter which is which. Nice and easy. I will have to work out something to cover the shimmed side, but I’ll work something out.
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.
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 picture isn’t quite as rosy if you’re also looking for a full-fledged smart home system. Ring Alarm is positively capable of being a great smart home controller. But it’s not that today. And to be fair, Ring isn’t promising that it ever will be—at least not officially. But they wouldn’t have built in Z-Wave, ZigBee, and whatever that third mystery radio is if they didn’t intend to go down that path.
It’s worth noting that my Wi-Fi network is based on a Linksys 802.11ac router that’s connected to a Linksys Wi-Fi range extender located about 10 feet from the Ring doorbell (albeit separated by a thick exterior wall). I spent a significant amount of time with Ring’s operations director to fix connectivity problems in the early stages of testing, but even this wasn’t enough to solve all the performance issues. My Wi-Fi is dual-band, supporting both 2.4- and 5GHz, but Ring uses the 2.4GHz band via 802.11b/g/n support.
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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