Motion-activated security cameras with and without lights are a growing trend, and they make a lot of sense when we have to content with porch pirates amongst other worries. Amazon are especially interested since the security of deliveries concerns them and the company also owns both Ring and Blink, smart security firms with ever-broadening product lines. Both firms work via iOS and Android phones, but neither offer extra features vie HomeKit or Google Assistant – oddly they both support Alexa though, and this camera is no exception.
The newest Ring Spotlight Cam Plus was announced in late September 2022 alongside the Spotlight Cam Pro, refreshes to a product line over 4 years old. The Pro includes tech Ring call ‘3D motion detection’ and ‘birds-eye view’, which (in some circumstances) help avoided false alarms triggered by people at some distance. The Plus leaves out this extra to shave a bit off the price, but retains two-way talk, color night vision, live view and a siren, putting it at the higher end of the category. Both new Spotlight Cams, however, have both battery compartments and sockets for USB-C.
Video: 1080P 24fps
Field of view: 140˚ horizontal
Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz
Dimensions: 126 x 76 x 80mm (5 x 3 x 3.2 in)
Weight: 443g with 1 battery
Build and handling
This is a chunky but smart design, in black or white, which places LED lights either side of the camera and sensors. The overall feel is quite plasticky, and the matt white plastic is surprisingly easily scuffed (though since you’re mounting this shouldn’t be an issue! It is worth saying, though, that all the moving parts are of good quality and screws have steel mounts – the packaging was also pleasingly recyclable.
At the rear is a fully removable (so easily lost) rubber cover for a USB-C socket which can be used in powered installs. It can also (with an adapter) connect to Ring’s solar panel which is a low-maintenance way of keeping the battery topped up, albeit somewhat unsubtle.
At the base of the rounded square body are vents through which the speaker, siren and microphone operate, and a rounded inverse pyramid which makes it impossible to rest on its base, but will help water drip off. This camera is meant to be mounted, and the whole base section can be rotated and removed. When it is off, there is access to the battery bay; one (as supplied) or two Ring batteries can be fitted. These have MicroUSB sockets at the top for charging, and indicator lights built in.
The base and the mount also include a screw each to fix them in a tamper-resistant way. Indeed the mount requires 4 screws, and another to tighten the hinge, so the camera is very firmly mounted compared to some.
This is a very flexible camera which captures good quality video (though only at 1080P). It does need a good wi-fi signal; when we tested it outdoors in our usual brick wall spot (i.e. not the best connection) the camera struggled to capture clips without dropped frames, but the issue resolved itself and, to be fair, the app is smart enough to warn it has a poor connection.
Otherwise the video was sharp enough to identify someone at 5m / 15ft, and the sensors detected movement and correctly identified a human form from more than twice that.
Video samples: The app makes reviewing events simple and Spotlight makes the snow’s life here fascinating. In the night test, notice the Ring lights come on virtually immediately, while another sensor light in the garden joins after about 2 seconds.
We were impressed with a number of features on the app, not least ‘Snapshot’ which adds stills every 14 or 60 minutes between the events so when you scroll back you get something like a timelapse video. In general, too, the app provides clear guidance about all the settings, with human-readable explanations of the effect choices you make will have on the battery. There are also subtle touches, like the Apple Watch alert message offered to snooze alerts for a choice of time periods – we’d like to see this on more cameras.
Overall the design is very thoughtful, and we can forgive the camera one or two quirks because overall they provide options, not least the ability to slide the back out and re-position the mounting point.
Given the price, it would have been nice to include a battery for each bay, meaning one can be charged overnight without the camera being out of action. We also understand that Ring has been using MicroUSB in their batteries historically, but since the housing has been modernized to USB-C we do find ourselves asking “Why not do the batteries too?”
We can’t help ourselves from mentioning the $3.99/£3.49 per month per device charge for Ring’s subscription service, though after 3 devices you’ll be able to get a cheaper bundle. The app is very elegant, and the service allows for multiple users as well as making scrolling back to check events easy and simple, especially thanks to the integrated ‘Snapshot’ feature, but there are subscription free alternatives out there.
If you have the budget for it, and especially if you have Alexa devices, then Ring’s camera is both robust and adequate quality. The 1080P video offers only acceptable detail in 2023, especially given the wide angle. It won’t be good with license plates at even a fairly short distance and we’re surprised not to see 2.7K or 4K (especially as you’re certainly paying for the cloud space!) Still, it remains a quality product and (since the Pro doesn’t offer extra resolution) we’d be inclined to recommend this to those building a system, especially if you’ve started with a Ring doorbell.
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