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Ring Spotlight Cam Battery review: A bright and wide security solution

Posted: 9 March 2018 9:40 am
News

If you don't have the desire for a permanently installed spotlight camera, Ring's Spotlight Cam Battery can keep you secure with minimal installation hassles.

Quick Verdict
Ring's Spotlight Cam Battery takes the features we loved in the Video Doorbell 2, trading the bell for a light beam. The end result is an easy to use, wide angle home security camera, although installation can be a tad tricky.

The Good

  • Doesn't need a sparky to install
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Wide video angle
  • Works well with other Ring gadgets

The bad

  • Can be overly sensitive
  • Proper placement is vital
  • Spotlight isn't super-bright
  • Needs good upload speeds

When I reviewed the Ring Video Doorbell 2 recently, Ring also loaned me a fixed version of its Floodlight camera solution. As the name suggests it's a floodlight, and an incredibly bright one at that, but unlike the Ring Video Doorbell 2, it requires a qualified electrician to install safely.

That's not going to suit every homeowner, or folks who rent, or anyone who might want a spotlight security solution that they can take with them for any reason. The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery is, more or less, the solution for those issues. You can opt for a wired version of the same device, or indeed a solar-powered variant, but it's the battery-backed solution I've tested here.

Design

Ring has a very distinct design style for its home security products, and that style can be best summed up with heavy use of the word "obvious". It's Ring branded, which is fair enough, but it also makes its cameras and spotlights, including the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery, stand out.

That's not accidental, and for most purposes, it's going to be desirable, simply because making it obvious you're monitoring a property can in itself be a significant deterrent to would-be burglars. Obviously, if your taste tends more towards more discrete security cameras, Ring's range isn't going to suit you.

The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery is a moderate sized unit, measuring in at 12.6 x 6.91 x 7.59cm not including the connection plate. The camera lens is very much front and centre, while the spotlight section sits below. Because it's only a spotlight, and not a doorbell, there's no doorbell function. Although, motion events can be "answered" through the app, with an inbuilt speaker for chatting to your visitors, or presumably growling like a hungry hound at any intruders.

Installation

One aspect of the entire Ring experience that I really appreciate is how well detailed the installation instructions are for all of its products, from the installation manuals to a wide range of installation videos that really do take you through every aspect of installation.

As with the Ring Video Doorbell 2, you're also supplied with every single part you should need for installation, including mounting screws if you're going into brick, drill bits and Ring's own custom screwdriver for the security bit that holds the rechargeable battery in place. There are even a few spare screws for if you drop any while installing the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery.

In my case that was quite welcome, because ideally, you want to mount the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery up high, and that's just a little bit more of a challenge than the video doorbell, which quite logically should be placed where visitors can reach it. Your own installation surfaces may vary from mine, of course, but it's a job that's best approached with a helper to pass tools, steady ladders and catch any errant screws when you drop them.

The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery secures to a round socket holder, but there's a very slight chicken-and-egg issue here. It's much easier to pop the camera into the socket before you install, but that fixes the camera into a single position that might not be the ideal for viewing angles. I got around that problem by holding the camera in place and checking visuals on the app itself.

Careful installation is vital because the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery has quite a wide field of vision, and it's going to be most useful if it can scan the right areas of wherever you're trying to secure.

You're also supplied with a microUSB cable for charging up the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery's power source, which, if you hadn't gathered, is a battery. However, there's no supplied plug charger, but any mobile charger should be able to trickle charge the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery's battery quite nicely.

Performance

The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery works via Ring's apps for iOS and Android, and if you've invested in multiple Ring devices, it simply becomes an overall part of the ecosystem. As such, you can set alters, determine whether you want the spotlight to go on when motion is detected, and tell it specific times that you might not want monitoring or spotlight activities.

It's also possible to set motion zones to lessen false positives, although the interface for this is less detailed than for the Video Doorbell 2, with only binary on/off options and a slider for distance.

I struggled with getting the motion zones to work exactly as I'd like in my situation because the spotlight I installed was facing the road, and every once in a while it would fire up simply because of a passing car. That's definitely an issue of placement and sensitivity, and your experience may vary. So be ready to fine tune those motion zones because you're not likely to be happy straight away.

Like the Ring Video Doorbell 2, the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery sends its 1080p quality video over the Internet, and that's a two-way equation that relies not only on the download speed available to your mobile device, but also the upload speed of your connection.

It's no news to many Australians that our Internet infrastructure isn't what it should be, and this can significantly impact the use you get out of the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery.

I'm on a Telstra HFC connection where the upload speed peaks at best at 2Mbps, which is Ring's absolute bottom floor for video upload connectivity. That can mean dropped frames, or in some cases, simply being hit with an error message that the Ring app can't communicate with the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery.

As with all things Internet, it's not always a consistent matter. For what it's worth, while I was overseas at Mobile World Congress 2018, I was able to use the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery to monitor my home fairly well, especially considering I was on the other side of the planet. That could have an impact if you want to use the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery's included siren feature to ward off intruders. It is quite loud, though, so don't be surprised if your neighbours get cranky if you fire it up too often.

By default, the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery doesn't store previous motion events unless you pay for a Ring Video Recording subscription. A trial is available, but after your 30 days, it'll cost you $40 annually per camera, or $150 for the "Plus" plan, which allows for unlimited cameras, as well as a 10% discount on future Ring purchases and a lifetime warranty, including replacement if any of your Ring products get stolen.

The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery's light is supplied by small LED lights, and it's effective enough when the sun goes down, but not exactly brilliant, especially compared to the fixed Ring Spotlight products. Anyone lurking around your home or business will be illuminated, but if you also wanted it to light up a carport or entry fully when you return home, you may find it a little dim.

Verdict

As a single standalone product, the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery works well for basic home security, with a wide and clear camera, good siren and workable illumination in tow.

It's going to work better if you're already invested in the Ring ecosystem, and that's an interesting space right now, as Ring itself has been acquired by online retailing giant Amazon.

It's not currently clear if Amazon will incorporate it into its Alexa smart speaker family for full automation, or if it'll simply use Ring products to add a layer of security to home deliveries. That also does raise the possibility of future decommissioning of Ring products, although given the reported $US1.2 billion price tag Amazon had to cough up to put a ring on it, that seems unlikely.

In any case, for now, it's well enough recommended with exactly the same caveat I put on my Ring Video Doorbell 2 review, and that's around your upload speeds. You can test your upload speeds with our speed test (and if you're not happy with yours, find a new plan in our Internet Plans finder), but if you don't clear that 2Mbps upload hurdle, you'll have to wait for a better connection before Ring makes sense.

Pricing and availability

The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery retails through Ring's website in Australia for $329 outright, not including a Ring Video Recording subscription. The wired variant also costs $329, while the Solar version will set you back $359 outright.

Specifications

Product Name
Ring Spotlight Cam Battery
Camera field of view
140 degrees
Connectivity
802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi connection @ 2.4GHz
Video quality
1080p
Spotlight
Yes
Siren
110db
Battery
Rechargeable battery pack (included)
Dimensions
12.6 cm x 6.91 cm x 7.59 cm
Price
$329

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