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Ring Alarm Pro Review: A Giant Leap for Home Security

Amazon unites three of its biggest brands in one device. The results are stunning.

9.0

Ring Alarm Pro

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Like

  • Security features are reliable
  • Price is reasonable
  • Extra features like backup Wi-Fi and local processing and storage are awesome

Don't Like

  • Setup instructions aren't always clear

Product details

  • Installation DIY installation
  • Contract Required No
  • Voice Assistant Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Additional Fees 24/7 professional monitoring fee, recording fees
  • Service Bundles N/A

The Ring Alarm Pro is one of the most compelling DIY home security systems I've tested, period. It merges an Eero Wi-Fi 6 mesh router with a DIY security system. You'll pay $250 for the router itself, or $300 for the router plus some additional security sensors, which include door and window sensors, motion detectors, a keypad, a siren and optional professional monitoring subscriptions. Ring also adds a few game-changing perks to the mix, including backup Wi-Fi and local processing and storage.

The result is an affordable system with impressive smarts, lots of flexibility for customers and a rock-solid base that will make most happy. Ring even offers admirable data security and privacy options if, like me, you're worried about the company's spotty track record when working with police and subsequently degrading community privacy.

In short, the Ring Alarm Pro isn't just a game-changing device for Amazon; it's a ground-shaking product for the entire DIY home security market.

Ring Alarm Pro basics

If you buy the Ring Alarm Pro system, you'll probably pay $300 to get a router/base device, four door/window sensors, a motion detector, a Z-Wave range extender and a keypad. You can opt for just the base station for $250 -- but then you won't get all the security sensors that make the system work. You can also buy a bigger package for $380 (it adds four more door/window sensors, an extra motion detector and another keypad), or you can buy the individual sensors a la carte, expanding the system beyond these basics to include a wide range of Ring cameras, video doorbells, backup power packs, Eero Wi-Fi range extenders and so on.

In general, the pricing for these devices is middling compared to the competition -- not quite as affordable as Wyze's super-cheap gadgets, but not as pricey as Abode's more expensive ones. Door/window sensors, for instance, cost $20 each and motion detectors cost $30. Ring's prices are close to those of SimpliSafe, one of the best DIY home security systems on the market, which clocks in at $15 and $30, respectively.

As with other systems, the Ring Alarm Pro will have better pricing if you buy one of the packages, then add whatever standalone devices you want on top rather than buying everything a la carte.

To give an example of one possible setup: I got the $300 Ring Alarm Pro package, along with a $100 Ring Stick Up Cam, a $130 Alarm Pro backup power pack, an $89 Eero 6 Wi-Fi range extender (on sale for $62 when I got it) and a $15 microSD card (though you can get one for free by redeeming a code after purchasing the system) for local storage. That brought me to a total bill of about $600.

A similarly scaled build from SimpliSafe might cost $400, but it's important to understand the broader value Ring offers compared to its competitors. Remember, Ring's $250 base station is also a router, meaning you'll get a lot of extra functionality that you won't get with SimpliSafe's $115 base station. Likewise, you probably wouldn't spend $130 on a backup power pack for other home security systems, and you wouldn't for the Ring Alarm Pro if it didn't enable backup Wi-Fi. Ditto for that Wi-Fi range extender and the microSD card, which don't make sense for other systems because those systems don't offer the same features.

ring6

Ring suggests keeping the keypad wired, though its battery should last for months.

Hobie Crase/CNET

Ringing the alarm, pro-style

Before I talk about Ring's unique features, the first big question to answer is, "Is it a decent home security system?" The answer is a solid yes.

Ring's devices did exactly what they were supposed to do in my testing. They were responsive and reliable, even in slightly odd conditions. For instance, my basement's back door is far from the base station, but I experienced no connection issues with the Z-Wave-powered door/window sensor. In addition, some of my house's doors have unique molding around the door jambs, which has given some door/window sensors problems in the past (e.g., registering doors as open when they're not).

Ring's entry sensors give a little more latitude than others, so the two pieces can be about an inch apart before registering a door "open." I appreciated that calibration because it meant no false alarms, but it also wouldn't allow any doors to be even cracked open without sending an alert.

The motion detector, power pack and keypad were similarly reliable, and the Ring Stick Up Cam, which we've reviewed separately, performed as expected.

Installation was mostly a breeze, though I had to check some online guides to activate some of the more advanced features, and performance was consistently great.

The Edge of tomorrow?

Besides the basics, the Ring Alarm Pro introduces a few great new features that many DIY home security systems don't offer: built-in Wi-Fi 6, backup Wi-Fi in case of power outages, Alexa Guard Plus integration and the option for local storage and processing, a feature Ring calls Edge.

A bit of context: Eero was an early pioneer of mesh networking and the first company to deliver mesh routers to the masses, popularizing the approach. Amazon scooped up the company in 2019 and quickly put out newer, more affordable Eero systems -- followed by the Eero 6 and Eero Pro 6, which added support for Wi-Fi 6 in 2020.

According to Ring, "The built-in Eero Wi-Fi 6 router functions like a standalone Eero 6 router … The only difference is that Ring Alarm Pro does not support Zigbee or Thread at this time."

I couldn't run the Ring Alarm Pro through our usual battery of Wi-Fi tests, but I did perform some basic speed tests and monitor for consistency around my house. As you'd expect, the Eero router performed significantly better than the basic gateway installed by my provider, helping deliver high speeds as far as the back office in my basement (which, without a mesh system, chugs along like dial-up internet from the early aughts).

ring5

An Eero range extender will give you solid mesh Wi-Fi throughout even large houses.

Hobie Crase/CNET

In our review of the Eero 6 router, we were disappointed by faulty band-steering throughout our speed tests. Too often, the router would leave us on the slower 2.4GHz band when it should have connected us through the faster 5GHz band. I noticed a similar pattern when testing the connection speeds, though it never affected them enough to make a significant performance difference with any of my usual internet-dependent activities.

Another cool feature the Ring Alarm Pro brings to the table is backup Wi-Fi. The idea is if there's an interruption to your power or your internet connection, Ring provides an internet connection to your Wi-Fi-enabled devices using cellular data. The monthly data limit for backup Wi-Fi is 3GB, so you won't be able to use it constantly -- though Ring does offer extra data at a rate of $3 per gigabyte.

The backup Wi-Fi worked quickly in my testing, with almost no latency. When I unplugged the Alarm Pro's broadband and power cables to simulate an outage, backup Wi-Fi was up and running in under a minute, and speeds were solid, if a little slower. For instance, in the farthest back room in my basement, the download and upload speeds were 20.7 and 8.03 megabits per second, respectively, versus their typical 35 and 8.5Mbps in that same room. Translation: Even in the remotest part of the house, using cellular data, a brief outage probably won't interrupt your work.

Yet another interesting addition to Ring's new home security system is free integration with Alexa Guard Plus, a feature on Echo speakers and displays that monitors your home while you're away for unusual sounds (like glass breaking, human footsteps and smoke and carbon monoxide alarms sounding). Alexa Guard Plus, which usually costs $5 per month, can also use deterrence measures, like playing the sound of a dog barking if connected devices detect motion outside.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, given Ring's history with police partnerships, its Neighbors app and troubling privacy policies, the Alarm Pro offers local processing and video storage. This doesn't solve all of Ring's problems. After all, the company still enables the worst tendencies in both its customers and the police in their communities -- encouraging a culture of posting footage of public spaces on the Neighbors app (often leading to toxic comments sections) and suspicion among neighbors. Now, with its optional end-to-end video encryption and Edge's new local processing and storage, it also enables some of the best security and privacy practices possible with any major brand in the home security market, rivaling Apple's HomeKit Secure Video service.

Setting up Edge took a bit of searching in device settings -- and a small hiccup that required resetting my Ring Stick Up Cam. But all in all, it was simple enough to do, and within a few short minutes, I had a smart camera with local storage and processing, which was previously impossible with Ring devices.

I still have problems with Ring's company policies, but those policies don't impact the Ring Alarm Pro too much because the core system doesn't depend on a camera. What's more, if the Ring Alarm Pro indicates the direction Ring is moving regarding security and privacy, that's worthy of encouragement.

ring3

The back of the Alarm Pro has a microSD card slot, an extra Ethernet port and a power slot that can connect to backup batteries.

Hobie Crase/CNET

Monitoring comes at a cost

A few hundred dollars for the Ring Alarm Pro is reasonable, but many of its smartest features also require a higher-end subscription. Here's how they break down:

  • Ring Protect Basic ($3 per month or $30 per year): Offers video recording for one camera.
  • Ring Protect Plus ($10 per month or $100 per year): Offers video recording for all video devices in the home.
  • Ring Protect Pro ($20 per month or $200 per year): Offers professional monitoring, Alexa Guard Plus (usually $5 per month), video recording for all video devices, backup internet and Eero Secure (which monitors your network for threats, and usually costs $30 annually).

If you're planning to use the Ring Alarm Pro's best features, it requires a Protect Pro subscription, which isn't cheap. That said, $200 per year, while pricier than the most affordable DIY systems' services (Wyze is only $100 per year), isn't outrageous. SimpliSafe's professional monitoring costs $10 per month, and using its smart home integrations puts that fee up to $28 per month. Abode's professional monitoring starts at $20 per month.

In short, Ring offers much more than the competition for a price in the same range.

Bottom line: Is this a new era?

In 2017, I wrote a column calling for smart home hubs -- then popular devices in the smart home market -- to be killed so that they could be reincarnated as something more: a device that folds together multiple vital components of a modern household. And what's more vital than the internet?

The Ring Alarm Pro, by marrying internet, home security and the smart home (particularly through Alexa and its Guard Plus feature), offers one of the most compelling visions for the future of smart home integration I've seen yet.

It's not a perfect system. Some of the best features aren't clearly explained, meaning I had to dig through settings to get them working correctly. Likewise, a full setup required three different apps: the Ring app, the Eero app and the Alexa app. Since Amazon owns all three, you'd think a more unified experience might be possible.

That said, the setup across the three apps was one of the most painless examples of multi-app installations I've seen. What's more, once the system is set up, you'll rarely need to use the Alexa or Eero apps -- and when you do, they're simple enough to navigate.

In the grand scheme of the smart home, these criticisms are little more than quibbles. Ring has delivered a fantastic home security system with genuinely useful features to help with everything from internet and power outages to break-ins and intruder deterrence. You can even store and process video footage locally -- a first for Ring.

Forget the privacy-degrading Ring drone camera and Amazon security robot Astro: the future of home security is the Ring Alarm Pro, and it's here now.