First, full disclosure. I have no involvement with any product and receive no compensation for my views. I’m basically a tech-junkie and love home automation products and services.
I did a lot of research on security camera functions and features before buying and installing a RING solution. I looked extensively at Ring, Nest, Arlo, D-Link, Blink and TP-Link with an eye towards 1) creating a multi-tiered security solution and 2) giving me the ability to watch over both my home/family and both of my elderly in-laws homes. The functions and features I evaluated included, (not an exhaustive list) doorbell function, two way communication via the camera, alarm capability, manual and scheduled lighting control, motion-detecting lighting control, security camera resolution (1080p) , night vision, accuracy of and variability in motion-sensing zones, wireless capability and range, live view from cameras, stored and recorded video from cameras, both battery operated AND hard wired power source, battery life, ease of setup and maintenance, compatibility with ALEXA, and solar charging capability for battery operated systems.
Everyone is going to have their own opinion on each of these brands and the importance of the functions evaluated, but for me, Ring won out in most (almost all) categories. Arlo would have been my second choice. It missed the mark in a just a few areas, whereas the Ring products seemed to provide just about everything I wanted across the product line and provided some features and functions that just blew me away.
Even 6 months after installing 2 Doorbell Pros (wired), 3 Indoor cameras, 3 Floodlight Cams (wired), and 3 Spotlight Cams (2-battery/solar charged) on three different properties, and linking them into my Ring Account and Alexa environment, the system still works almost flawlessly and keeps both me and my wife fully informed about what’s going on around our house, at her parent’s home and at their vacation home. When someone comes to the door at the in-law’s place, we both get an ‘alarm’ on our phones and via Alexa indicating that someone has rung the doorbell at their house, which then allows us to open the Ring app and ‘answer the door’ for them because they can’t get down the stairs to the door as quickly as they used to. (We gave them an Echo Show to answer the door with, but unfortunately, remembering the phrase, “Alexa, show me the Front Door camera” seems to be beyond capability on some days. It works great when they can remember it though…)
The Ring Spotlight and Floodlight cams will turn on the lights at night when someone comes into the motion-sensing ‘view’ of the cameras. If I’m wondering who (or what) it might be, the security light is sufficient to light the area in color at 1080p resolution (at night!). If I want to look at a secured area in a low-light situation, the night-vision cameras give a good enough resolution to let me see my cars, the bushes, wild animals (we live in a wooded area), our cats, and just about everything else.
Speaking of the cats… That is the ONLY complaint I have about any of the Ring products. The motion-sensing controls are supposed to be adjustable so that the camera will be able to distinguish between small animals and humans at anywhere from 3 to 30 ft. away, but despite trying several settings, focal lengths and angles, none of the cameras seem to be able to tell the difference between a moving 3lb cat and a 150lb person, let alone a flag or a bush moving in a light breeze. I’m sure the technology exists to do this accurately… whether we would be willing to pay the added price might be the real issue. Until they get that worked out, I just turn off the ‘motion alerts’ for cameras where I know I’m going to get constant alerts and leave the ‘light alerts’ on, so if it is a person, they know they’ve been seen. The cats, dogs and bears… they couldn’t care less. Turning on a light due to movement burns more battery, but the solar panels always seem to bring the power back quickly to 100% even on cloudy days, so it hasn’t been much of an issue.
My wife and I also like that all video (with audio) is recorded and stored in the Cloud (added cost feature, but well worth it and not that expensive in my view). She finds it comforting to know that her parents have gotten back home from their daily outing and made it safely back in the house in real time, but she can also check on the history of who has come and gone at any time, day or night. Did their grocery delivery come today as scheduled? Ring can tell her.
If you have a second home in another state, as long as you leave the electricity on and internet access available, you can monitor the place inside and out from wherever you are, turn on and off security lighting, talk to ‘visitors’, record any activity, and set off an alarm if necessary. It’s the poor man’s version of 24/7 monitored security.
If you have simpler needs or are just starting out with home automation/home security I still believe Ring is a great choice for a starter, and it’s easily expandable. Just taking security camera solutions into consideration, Ring does everything that the others do and provides some features that others simply don’t, like the built-in motion-enabled security spotlight or floodlight, or the free replacement guarantee if one of your cameras gets stolen. Expanding the scope into other capabilities, Arlo didn’t get to 1080p until Arlo Pro 2, only recently came out with a security doorbell, and their cameras still don’t have security lights. And Arlo, in many cases, is just more expensive than Ring.
The only 2 things Arlo Pro 2 can do that Ring cannot are 1) record 24/7; and that will only happen with a wired camera, not a battery operated version, and 2) store video to a USB storage target. But since I am not using these security cameras in a traditional security setup, I don’t care. (In a traditional security setup, multiple cameras do 24/7 recording to a computer system that stores multi-track video for a set period of time. If that is what you need, you either have to go with Arlo or a dedicated security cam setup.
Bottom line: Both Ring and Arlo are capable solutions. As an overall security package, nothing else even came close. For me, Ring edges out Arlo as an ‘entire package’ because I wanted something that had a doorbell option and security lighting included. (Arlo’s doorbell is a recent offering, but their cameras still lack lighting) The ‘free replacement if stolen’ guarantee and the Ring Community put them over the top in my estimate. (The Ring Community allows Ring owners in a common geographic area to share captured video to ask questions about events, warn people about various situations or just show funny stuff caught on camera. No owner or their exact location is identified, although a map of the general area is provided to orient yourself to the events being reported.
Ring is fully functional, continually growing and expanding its product line in really useful ways, it’s competitive in cost, and easily expandable. And, Ring is owned by Amazon, which really can’t hurt its future competitiveness. For me, Ring was a natural choice.