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The best home security systems of 2021: Comcast Xfinity, Ring Alarm Pro, SimpliSafe and more

Ring has broken into the top tier of home security systems, joining a handful of fantastic professional and DIY systems.

Home security is continuously evolving and now it's cheaper, more efficient and easier to use than ever before. Over the past 15 years, professional systems such as ADT have been forced to make room for more affordable DIY alternatives from industry disruptors like Ring and Wyze. Meanwhile, internet-connected gadgets -- like video doorbellssmart locks and cameras -- have captured our imaginations, giving rise to the expectation that security will also make your home smarter.

Tech giants such as Apple, Amazon and Google have also been wading into the fray, partnering with established security brands and acquiring smaller security-focused companies. These new technologies often mean new vulnerabilities, too, including the risk of hacking that's come with the proliferation of Wi-Fi connected security cameras in homes.

It's definitely a lot to take in -- and today's home security providers don't always make it easy to comparison shop.

That's where we come in. We're putting security systems to the test -- from top-of-the-line professional systems to wallet-friendly DIY alternatives -- and we'll be updating this article as we go based on our hands-on experience. Keep this page bookmarked and check back as we expand it to include a deep dive into all the best home security system options for 2021.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Comcast Xfinity Home security is a terrific, accessible and affordable service. It could cost you thousands less than comparable setups from direct competitors like Vivint and ADT, it works with plenty of third-party smart home gadgets and it doesn't require a contract. If you can get around Comcast's pressure to bundle with their other services (you don't have to do it!) and the service's limited home automation capabilities, this home security system will treat you well.

Read our full review.

 

Hobie Crase/CNET

Ring's Alarm Pro system has changed the DIY home security game, wrapping a Wi-Fi 6 Eero router into its base device. Not only do you get reliable security performance, but you'll also get access to all sorts of extra features, including cellular-powered backup Wi-Fi, network security monitoring, local processing and storage for all of your Ring devices and integration with Alexa's Guard Plus service (provided you have an Echo speaker or display).

Ring still has a troubling history when it comes to its privacy practices and policies, but the Ring Alarm Pro is undeniably one of the smartest DIY home security systems I've ever tested, and it's still competitively priced in a crowded market.

Read our review.

 

Chris Monroe/CNET

If you're just looking for home security -- without all the extra Wi-Fi and smart home integrations of the Ring Alarm Pro -- SimpliSafe's easy-to-install, easy-to-use DIY system is a great option. It offers a comprehensive set of features, including security equipment like security cameras and a very good mix of battery-powered motion detection sensors, all of which performed reliably well in our tests. Starter kits begin at less than $200, or you can build your own custom alarm system with the exact mix of devices you're interested in. The security company's professional monitoring plan starts at $15 a month, but you'll almost certainly want to spring for the $25-a-month monitoring service plan, which adds in things like mobile app controls and smart home security system voice support via Alexa and the Google Assistant.

Read our SimpliSafe review.

 

David Priest/CNET

Vivint is a lot more expensive than Comcast Xfinity, but if money is less of a concern than smart home integration, it's worth considering. Vivint gives you a super-polished experience with nice third-party device integrations -- and it doesn't require a contract. With monthly monitoring ranging from $30 to $45 a month, it's comparable month-to-month with Xfinity.

Read our full review.

 

David Priest/CNET

Wyze Home Monitoring is ridiculously affordable. The base kit includes two door/window sensors, a motion detector, a keypad and a base station with a built-in siren -- and all that costs $70 (the price has gone up since it first released for $50). Add $5 a month for professional monitoring. Or just sign up for a year of professional monitoring ($60) and get the starter kit half-off. From there, you can add cameras for around $30, sensors for under $10 and a slew of other gadgets for ridiculously cheap prices. The only real drawback: Wyze doesn't have cellular backup in case of power or internet outages.

Read CNET's full review.

 

What (and how) we tested

Besides the systems above, we've tested many of the top competitors, including Abode, Abode Iota, Frontpoint, KangarooRing Alarm and ADT. Abode and Abode's all-in-one security camera Iota were both solid contenders that couldn't quite match Simplisafe's price -- but if you're interested in DIY smart home systems for small spaces or that don't require monitoring subscriptions, they're worth checking out. Ring Alarm is another solid DIY option, but the company's recent problems with police partnerships tip us away from recommending it -- especially when a company like Wyze offers such a strong, budget-friendly alternative.

DIY systems Frontpoint and Kangaroo both had features to recommend them. Frontpoint's system is reliable and its hardware is reasonably priced, but its $45 monthly monitoring fee is just too expensive. Kangaroo, by contrast, is incredibly wallet-friendly, but its doorbell camera is terrible, so Wyze still keeps its edge in the budget category.

ADT, on the other hand, was broadly disappointing. It's too expensive (not to mention that it requires a contract) and the app is clunky. We've tested AT&T Digital Life, too, though we've removed the system from consideration since the company stopped installing it for new customers.

We have yet to test Brinks Home and Cove security -- though we hope to include those in our consideration in the coming months.

For each system we test, we install it ourselves (or have the company install it, in the case of professional systems), just as any customer would. From there, we spend a week at minimum testing the system, device-by-device and as a whole. Our ranking prioritizes value, but also takes into heavy consideration the quality of hardware, service and general user experience. For more thorough information on any of the recommended security systems above, please read the full reviews.

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