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Ring takes on Nest with a much cheaper home security system

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Ring Protect hub Photo: Ring

Ring is announcing a major new product today that ties together its existing security cameras, lights, and doorbells: a full home security system, meant to monitor the inside of your home.

The announcement comes at an interesting moment. Just two weeks ago, Nest — which makes its own line of home security cameras and a still-unreleased smart doorbell — announced that it was getting into the home security system market, unveiling a $499 package that included a keypad and enough sensors to monitor two doors or windows.

Now Ring is announcing its own product, called Ring Protect, and it’s deeply undercutting Nest on price. The base unit costs only $199 and includes a single door / window sensor and a motion detector. Additional door / window sensors will sell for $20, and additional motion sensors will sell for $30. That means you could outfit 10 windows and five rooms for the price of just getting started with Nest’s system.

Ring’s subscription monitoring service is relatively cheap, too. You can choose not to pay, in which case, alerts will be sent straight to your phone. But for $100 a year, Ring will provide a monitoring service so that someone can call your home if an alarm goes off. Nest hasn’t announced how much its subscription monitoring service will cost, but RIng’s compares favorably to something like ADT, which at the cheapest costs over $450 per year.

Ring Protect keypad Image: Ring

What we don’t know yet is whether Ring can do this kind of monitoring better (or at least as good as) other companies in this field. ADT and other security companies have been offering similar services for decades, without much innovation. Ring and Nest are now trying to upend the space, but they haven’t changed the game all that much just yet.

Ring CEO and founder Jamie Siminoff seems to admit that to an extent, saying that this first product will help Ring build an increasingly smarter home security system down the road. “I hate to compete on price because I think price is a terrible way to differentiate yourself,” Siminoff says. “But in this particular category ... there’s companies like ADT that has been just absolutely blasting their customers with high prices and [have] really been marketing companies, not true technology companies.”

For now, Ring isn’t offering much in the way of smart features. Its security system and sensors will work together with Ring’s existing cameras to monitor your house, and they’ll all be accessible through a single Ring app — but that’s it. It’s all still pretty much the same as an ADT system. In the future, Siminoff suggests that Ring will be able to do a lot more, because its sensors and cameras will know when you’re at home and when you’re away.

Siminoff didn’t say what kind of features will be added over time, but he said that the additional data an in-home system provides is “part of the reason Ring is getting into this.” Whatever Ring is working on seems to involve computer vision, which means the biggest upgrades will be for people who have Ring cameras installed. The security system also comes with a hub that supports low-energy smart home standards, which could allow Ring to release additional sensors over time.

Ring’s start may be relatively simple, but it’s beating Nest to market (Nest’s option goes on sale in November), and seems to have already dramatically undercut the market leaders — on price, at least. This is ultimately a field where reliability is what matters most, and Ring will have to prove that it can handle being the core security system in people’s homes. The Ring Protect system is available for preorder today and is supposed to launch later this month.