Ring Spotlight Cam Wired review

Packed with features, the Ring Spotlight Cam Wired makes home security a breeze

Smart, simple, and packed with features, the Ring Spotlight Cam Wired makes home security a cinch.
Smart, simple, and packed with features, the Ring Spotlight Cam Wired makes home security a cinch.
Smart, simple, and packed with features, the Ring Spotlight Cam Wired makes home security a cinch.

Highs

  • Robust, compact, and weather-resistant
  • Integrated spotlight, siren, and motion detection
  • Simple installation
  • Ring controller app offers lots of features

Lows

  • Video recording requires subscription
  • Delays when editing motion zones

Announced in August of 2017, the $199 Ring Spotlight Cam Wired is one of three outdoor devices that build on the Ring Floodlight Cam. As the name suggests, this fixed camera requires a wired power connection, while a battery-operated variant, cunningly named Spotlight Cam Battery, is also available at the same price point. Accompanying these devices is a $229 Spotlight Cam Solar bundle, which combines the battery-powered camera with a solar panel for charging. Those familiar with the Ring Floodlight Cam will find the Spotlight Cam’s proposition quite familiar. It enhances home security by combining a motion detector and a high-definition, 1080p video camera with powerful LED spotlights (rather than 3K floodlights on its predecessor) plus a 110-decibel siren for scaring-off would-be intruders.

On paper, the Ring Spotlight Cam certainly appears to offer greater intruder detection and protection than its Video Doorbell, but it’s also up against stiff competition. At the bottom of the market, a barrage of budget cameras offer bargain-basement prices (and performance to boot), but smart home stalwarts like the Nest Cam Outdoor and Netgear Arlo Pro 2 are more serious contenders. We’ll get hands on with those devices another day. For now, let’s get started with our Ring Spotlight Cam Wired review.

Compact, robust security device, packed with all you need to get up and running

Available in black or white, the Ring Spotlight Cam Wired has a well-built, sturdy construction, which is what you’d expect from a device that’ll be exposed to the elements. An IPX5 rating ensures that the camera has suitable protection from rain, and even a light dousing from a hose.

Terry Walsh/Digital Trends

No-one’s going to be swooning over its form, but its upright, rectangular shape and curved corners differentiate it from traditional cameras, giving the Spotlight Cam a clean, modern look. At five by 2.72 by three inches, this model’s proportions are similar to the body of the Ring Floodlight Cam. But with no need for large, overhanging lamps, the Spotlight Cam is far more compact overall and competes well with Nest and Arlo on dimensions, considering the additional kit crammed inside.

The camera arrives already connected to its 20-foot power cable, which plugs into a regular power socket. Thankfully, it can be unhooked for installation, courtesy of a robust, twist-to-lock rear connector. Also included in the box is a reasonably comprehensive product manual (a rare luxury in 2017) and an installation kit, including a mounting bracket, screwdriver, drill bit, screws, anchors and cable clips – everything you need to get up and running.

Simple installation, even for home improvement novices

As with most smart home devices, you set up the Spotlight Cam using the Ring app, which is available for iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices. It guides you through the basics of creating an account and then gets on with the business of configuring the camera. You power on and set up the camera indoors before heading out to install it. Pro Tip: Don’t look directly at the front of the camera when you first plug it in – the spotlights fire up really quickly, and you’ll be seeing stars for the rest of the day.

As installation experiences go, it’s up there with the best.

Configuration is super-slick. Not only do you benefit from a step-by-step tutorial with video clips through the app, the camera itself offers supporting commentary through its speaker. It’s a simple addition that certainly makes life easier. The camera politely lets you know when it’s connected to your Wi-Fi network, when it needs to update its firmware and more.

Connect the camera to your Wi-Fi network and you’re ready to install. The app includes videos covering exterior installation of the device, and you can even have instructions emailed to you. As installation experiences go, it’s up there with the best.

Mounting the camera itself isn’t difficult, but you’ll need to know one end of a drill from the other. Finding the right position may be awkward, depending on your home. You’ll obviously want to mount the camera in a location where you can monitor access to your property, but the camera also needs to be within reach of a power outlet and within range of your wireless router.

ring spotlight cam wired review box
Terry Walsh/Digital Trends
Terry Walsh/Digital Trends

Fortunately, the long cable (which can be painted to match the exterior of your home) helps greatly, but you could also take advantage of the Ring Chime Pro Wi-Fi Extender (or set up a mesh network using Google Wi-Fi, Netgear Orbi and others) if your wireless signal needs a boost.

Ring’s installation kit includes a mounting bracket (with integrated spirit level) that screws into the supplied wall anchors. The camera hangs securely on this bracket with a locking screw to prevent removal. Position the camera as required, tighten everything up, and then tidy up your cables. Again, clips are supplied that screw into the exterior face of your home for a neat finish. If you’re uncomfortable with basic home improvement tasks, you may want to ask a friend or neighbor to help you. But for most people, installing the Ring Spotlight Cam shouldn’t be a problem.

Strong security features that are simple to get along with

With the camera hooked up, you can get hands on with the Ring app, which allows you to view a live feed or recorded clips, review motion alerts, and use the camera’s integrated microphone and speaker to communicate with the outside world.

Upon enabling the live feed, we were a little concerned to see some condensation misting up the camera lens, but this cleared within a couple of minutes to unveil a crisp, high-definition (1080p) view of the premises. A 140-degree field of view ensures you can survey all but the largest driveways and gardens – while there’s a definite fish-eye effect in-play, distortion isn’t too distracting.

Simple, smartphone-style icons allow you to easily activate the camera’s speaker to talk to (or warn-off) anyone in-sight of the camera. The speaker itself isn’t overly loud, but is sufficiently audible and clear for short conversations.

The app also includes manual controls of camera lights and activation of the 110-decibel alarm, which is certainly loud enough to scare intruders and wake up your neighbors in case of an emergency. The camera’s integrated LED spotlights are bright enough to illuminate a medium-sized garden or driveway when activated at full brightness, but you can dim the output if required.

Another useful tweak is the ability to adjust the camera motion zones for the lights. You can disable areas to the left and right, or directly in front if required, with a slider reducing detection distance and a dropdown menu dictating how long the lights remain illuminated post-activation. It’s all very simple.

If you want the ability to record, you’ll need to subscribe to one of Ring’s monthly service plans

The camera’s motion settings are also configurable. Multiple motion zones can be created within the camera view, while sensitivity can be adjusted to alert you only to people crossing into a zone rather than all movement. Handily, you can activate motion alerts on a user-defined schedule, disabling them at certain hours, on certain days, or both.

If we were being tough, we’d say that there’s nothing unique here in terms of functionality, but few competitors incorporate such a wide array of security features in a single device. Better still, the Ring Spotlight Cam presents its wares in a simple, well-organized management console that anyone can get along with. In a category that’s drowning in “me-too” security solutions, that’s a great selling point.

The Ring Spotlight Cam supports live video streaming but has no local storage for on-board recording. If you want the ability to record, you’ll need to subscribe to one of Ring’s monthly service plans, which include cloud storage and playback.

The $3 per month ($30 per year) Protect Basic plan includes 60 days of cloud storage, video reviews of missed events, and the ability to share video with family, friends and law enforcement agencies. At $10 per month ($100 per year), Protect Plus extends coverage across all of your Ring devices and bundles “exclusive discounts” and a lifetime warranty, covering your devices in case of damage or theft. A 30-day trial Protect Plus plan is activated when you set up the Spotlight Cam.

In use, we found the Ring Spotlight Cam to be mostly reliable. Your main concern will be ensuring a strong wireless connection to the device. We did experience some minor connectivity issues in our test house, which has a brick exterior, but these were intermittent.

Daytime output from the camera was crisp and clear. Night vision, less so, as you’d expect, but even without support from the integrated spotlight, you can clearly detect potential intruders crossing the line of vision. Ring recently color night vision for all its wired devices, allowing for clearer, better visibility for both live view and recorded motion. This feature works well, providing crisper images.

The camera’s motion detection was very good indeed.

The camera’s motion detection was very good indeed, firing the spotlight up immediately as soon as we entered the detection zone. However, we did notice that the Ring app was very slow to respond when attempting to change the Motion Zone, with a delay of almost a minute when accessing the menu.

Outside of these core features, we were also pleased to see that the Ring app includes helpful tools like Wi-Fi signal strength monitoring and testing, device health and system status reports, and more. You may not invest a lot of time in them up front, but they’re invaluable support tools if your camera feed goes down.

Warranty information

The Ring Spotlight Cam is backed with a one-year parts and labor warranty, while Ring subscribers also benefit from lifetime purchase protection, which covers the device in case of damage or theft. Ring also offers a 30-day refund policy, which protects your investment in case you’re dissatisfied with the camera’s performance.

Our Take

The Ring Spotlight Cam Wired is a great device for home protection. While it takes a little extra work to install than a battery-powered device, its integrated spotlight provides a significant deterrent to opportunistic burglars, and it’s super simple to get along with, thanks to clear, high-definition video output, night vision, and responsive motion detection.

Is there a better alternative?

While the $150 Nest Outdoor Cam and $200 Netgear Arlo Pro offer strong competition (and arguably, better value), Ring’s integrated spotlight and siren provide effective, additional deterrents that give this device the edge.

How long will it last?

The Spotlight Cam Wired, now backed by Amazon and featuring Alexa integration, isn’t going anywhere. You should feel confident that Ring will continue to support their products. In terms of durability, Ring is built to weather the elements and be tamper-proof. The product should last for several years.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The Ring Spotlight Cam is a compact, well-built device with a comprehensive array of features to secure your home. Ring has worked hard to ensure the camera is simple to install and simple to use. If the idea of a wired camera isn’t for you, the battery-powered version will make a great alternative.

Updated February 17, 2019 to note that the device now has color night vision.

Product Review

Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the simplest entry into a smarter doorway

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 may lack the style and sophistication of premium door-dingers, but few can match its simplicity and versatility. The device, available in both wired and wireless configurations, is easy to set up and adds instant…
Smart Home

The Nest Secure included a microphone no one knew about — except Google

The Nest Secure home security system has had a microphone this entire time that no one knew about, except Google. The company claims the mic was never turned on, but customers are outraged.
Product Review

From tables to porches, Ring's Stick Up Cam watches wherever you want

Ring’s latest home security camera offers more versatility than ever before, with the ability to mount it, set it on a table, or put it inside or outside. We got a chance to test it out. Here’s how it went.
Smart Home

Ring adds color night vision to wired security devices and HDR to wireless ones

Ring rolled out color night vision to its wired security products with cameras such as the Spotlight Cam Wired. At the same time, Ring added HDR control to its battery-powered security devices including the Video Doorbell 2.
Smart Home

Researchers are once again trying to science the gluten out of bread

If you've ever found gluten tough to stomach, help may be on the way. Researchers and farmers are exploring solutions that include gene-edited bread, as well as alterations to carbs and fiber.
Smart Home

Frigidaire goes for ‘wow’ factor with new Gallery ranges, fridges, and more

Electrolux's Frigidaire brand is going all out at KBIS 2019. The appliance manufacturer's introductions this year include new ranges with gas, electric, or induction heating; a new refrigerator; and a new dishwasher in its Gallery line.
Product Review

Kwikset Kevo Convert Review: A simple route to a smart lock

While it lacks the features and overall value of the August Smart Lock, Kwikset’s Kevo Convert offers a simple and friendly route to upgrade your front door’s deadbolt. Learn more in our full review.
Smart Home

Say so long to silver. Samsung brings new colors to household appliances

Samsung introduced two new appliance colors, Tuscan Stainless will be available for several kitchen appliances starting in May and for the Family Hub in August. New Samsung washers and dryers will be offered in Champagne Finish.
Deals

Instant Pot prices have dropped on these 5 models by up to $30

Whether you're an Instant Pot beginner or Instant Pot veteran these popular multi-cookers are worth the hype. There are so many Instant Pot models on sale right now, it might be hard to choose. We've rounded up all the deals here so you can…
Smart Home

Qualcomm goes all-in on Amazon Alexa voice control with a new development kit

Qualcomm is releasing an early valentine for smart home device manufacturers. The new development kit for its Wi-Fi networks integrates the Amazon Alexa Voice Service to enable voice control in more devices.
Smart Home

Miele stuns KBIS 2019 with wireless probe, self-descaling java pot, and more

Miele rocked KBIS 2019 with waves of new appliances and features. The annual Kitchen and Bathroom Industry Show is all about product launches and Miele's appliance reveal was like New York Fashion Week with a single designer.
Smart Home

Amazon’s wall clock is back on the market after Bluetooth snafus

Amazon's Alexa-enabled Wall Clock was a minor disaster when it was finally released in December because of widespread Bluetooth connectivity challenges. After some tweaks, it's now back on sale for $30.
Mobile

From folding phones to 5G -- here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked

Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event treated us to a real parade of technological excellence, from folding phones to new fitness wearables. Here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked on February 20.
Smart Home

Leviton’s Wi-Fi Load Center and Smart Circuit Breakers give your home a brain

Is your home ready for a brain transplant? Adding individual smart plugs is quick, easy, and inexpensive, but the benefits are limited to one plug at a time. Leviton's Load Center and Smart Circuit Breakers can give your home a brain.