While Ring may have its hands full fighting an intellectual property lawsuit surrounding the announced Ring Protect security system, the company continues to manufacture popular devices like the Ring Video Doorbell (now in its second generation) and a range of security cameras for the home.
Announced last Summer, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Thankfully, the Spotlight Cam Wired hasn’t been embroiled in the current intellectual property argument raging between Ring and ADT, so it continues to be sold and supported. Once a verdict is reached in those proceedings, it’s unclear if and how it’ll affect Ring’s ongoing operations, but it’s something that’s worth considering before you jump in.
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.