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.
However, traditional home systems typically require the assistance of a professional installer. They also mean monthly subscription fees and long-term agreements that keep you locked into their service for a certain period of time. Additionally, if you move, it’s nearly impossible to take your home security system with you, and they don’t make much sense in an apartment complex.
To test all the professionally monitored security systems out there would too expensive due to the high monthly fees so I usually keep up with them at CES when I can, and Vivint attends CES. I’ve seen all of their cameras including the doorbell in Vegas, but it’s not the same as living with something for months and experiencing the quirks that often come along with longterm ownership. You can read my Vivint review here, but I doubt it’s going to help with the issue you are experiencing. Vivint processes motion events in the cloud. I believe they recommend that customers have a minimum upload speed of 2MBPS.
Wow! I’m impressed that you read the whole thing. A mobile hotspot, right? I think they would all tell you that it’s possible, but not something they recommend. The signal isn’t going to be as reliable as connecting to a WiFi network. Arlo sells a 4G camera called Arlo Go, but it’s more expensive upfront and the monthly fee is higher as you’re paying for cellular connectivity.
The square wireless base station is the main component of the Ring Alarm system. It's 6.7 x 6.7 x 1.4 inches in size, and though it lay flat on a bookshelf for this review, it can be mounted on a wall. The base station has ZigBee and Z-Wave antennas, and while the latter is available to use with compatible third-party accessories, anything that isn't Ring-certified won't work with security monitoring.
The Nest Secure and Ring Alarm each clearly have their advantages. The Nest comes out ahead in certain factors, most notably its Works with Nest program that provides easy integration with the broader smart home. But the price point of the Ring system is far more attractive, particularly for those who are just starting to build their smart home. If your priority is smart home integration, Nest may be the better option. But if a more affordable base price — and more components included in that base price — is what you’re after, you can’t beat the Ring.

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.

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Ring suggests that the motion detector should be placed in a location with a good view of a high-traffic area likely to be passed by any intruders, with the detector placed about seven feet off the floor. Motion detection sensitivity can be adjusted in the app if you find you're getting too many false alerts such as from a pet. The detector can be mounted using either adhesive or included screws that attach a bracket to the wall for easy removal of the detector itself.
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.
The aesthetic result of two devices mounted and connected by a wire isn’t overly pleasing. Thankfully, my setup is installed in a spot where it isn’t publicly visible. If it were on my porch, I would probably return the solar panel to use two batteries. That’s right, two! During the install, I was most surprised to find that though Spotlight Cam ships with one battery, it has room for two.
The Z-Wave range extender and the sensors in the kit are pre-paired with the base station, so you just need to enroll them into the app. Ring also sent me a couple of add-on door/window sensors so I could experience the full onboarding process. This simply involves scanning a QR code on the device, verifying that the PIN printed below the QR code matches what’s displayed in the app, and then pulling the battery tab.
Check out this video at second 0:19 vs. 1:13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdM9HV1PoUs&lc=UgzO67pS8VXEX-xurdh4AaABAg. I took this video in January and compared the indoor Nest Cam to Arlo Q, which would be similar to Nest Outdoor and Arlo Pro 2. All-in-all Nest is better, especially at night (skip to minute 1:46 and 2:11). Nest also performs better in mixed lighting environments.

The device’s design causes another issue. In theory, each clip cable needs to be screwed in. I’ve heard others claim this is for security reasons, making the device harder to steal. But I don’t see how this could be true. It’s not hard to walk up and unscrew the camera from the cord and walk away with it. The camera attaches to the base using a magnet, and it connects to the power adapter using a cord that you simply push and twist to disconnect.


The Ring mobile app recently got a facelift that gives it a more polished Dashboard featuring live preview windows. The Alarm controls are at the top of the Dashboard screen and include Disarmed, Home, and Away buttons. Below the buttons is the status of all installed sensors (cleared, open), and below that are tabs for viewing Neighbors posts and Event History.
I’m in the rocky mountain region where it occasionally gets well below -4 and can verify your reader’s quote about cold weather limitations w Nest outdoor. I asked Nest support about this and they suggested that a different product might make sense. Seems like there really isn’t a good DIY option for users that live in cold weather? Arlo pro battery life is impacted, Flex only rated down to 14F and Nest said I should try a different product in cold weather.
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.
Although SimpliSafe's basic monitoring service goes for $14.99 per month for 24/7 monitoring, you have to pay an additional $10 more a month to control the system from your phone and to receive email and push notifications. Tack on another $4.99 per camera per month to record, download, and share video, and you're up to around $30 per month, which is three times what you'll pay for a Ring Protect Plus plan.

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.
UPDATE 16FEB2018: After two weeks, I must downgrade my review... it's become obvious that the Ring Floodlight Cam only detects motion during the day. At night, I can walk through the center of my defined motion zone, but the cam won't record until I'm within 10 feet of it. The defined zone is my driveway which is about 40 feet long and we have 3 cars. As long as the ne'er-do-wells only break into the car parked closest to the Ring cam, they will be recorded. A quick Google search for "ring cam won't detect motion at night" will yield many stories of the Ring product line failing to work in darkness. Apparently, the problem has been documented since September 2017 and Ring has failed to fix it. I must say that I'm beyond disappointed. At least I discovered this in enough time to send the cam back to Amazon for a refund.
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