Since their rollout of the game-changing video doorbell camera in 2013, Amazon-owned Ring1 has grown by leaps and bounds in the DIY home security industry. Their selection of high-quality, inexpensive cameras has allowed even the least tech-savvy homeowner to outfit their home with top-notch security technology, without breaking the bank.
Which is where we come in. We’ve been reviewing and testing security equipment for over a decade, but at our core, we are also average, middle-class American homeowners who have a very real interest in keeping our families safe.
With that in mind, we’ve gotten our hands on four Ring security cameras for our next review: the battery-powered, highly versatile Stick Up Cam; the compact, plug-and-play Indoor Cam; the super-powerful outdoor Floodlight Cam; and the trustworthy Spotlight Cam.
Read on for our expert advice and recommendations on Ring.
As longtime fans of Ring, we’ve consistently ranked the brand high in several categories, including best overall security camera. We’ve done this because we know these cameras excel in all the areas that matter: high-quality 1080p HD video resolution, night vision, easy DIY installation, and motion-triggered notifications.
But we also know that not everyone can afford to invest in a house full of security cameras. With all those high-tech features, you might expect to spend a small fortune, which is not in the cards for many of us.
What sets Ring apart, in this case, is that with all the powerful features we’re discovering as we interact with these cameras, they’re still quite affordable. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to save some hard-earned cash?
We also don’t want to get too far into these hands-on reviews without mentioning Neighbors2. We like to affectionately call this feature a “neighborhood watch on steroids.”
In all seriousness, Neighbors is unique to Ring, and it can be a really helpful tool in your security belt. We’ve grown to depend on it as a robust community of Ring users that helps you stay in the loop on suspicious activity, missing pets, or crime near your home3.
Of course, none of this means these cameras are without flaws. We found some room for improvement here and there. But we’ll tell you all about the Ring Cam advantages and disadvantages as we dive into the nuances and intricacies of each of the four cameras we tested.
First things first … it’s the Stick Up Cam.
Since it’s made to be versatile, we can use our Stick Up Cam indoors or out and install it basically anywhere. For our tests, we used our battery-powered Stick Up Cam, but you can actually choose three power sources for this camera when you buy: battery, plug-in, or solar.
|Ring Stick Up Cams||Camera Type||Price|
|Stick Up Cam Battery||Wireless, battery-powered||$99.99|
|Stick Up Cam Plug-In||Wired, constant power||$99.99|
|Stick Up Cam Solar||Wireless, solar panel + battery pack||$148.99|
|Stick Up Cam Elite (2nd Edition)||Power over Ethernet (PoE)||$199.99|
As we lived with the camera for a few days, we frequently commented on the Stick Up Cam’s aesthetically pleasing design. We like that it’s available in black or white; we bought a white model, but all of Ring’s cameras are available in both colors – except the Indoor Cam. We’ll touch on Ring Indoor in just a moment.
With our newly acquired Amazon Echo Show, we stood back and watched as our Stick Up Cam seamlessly integrated with Amazon Alexa for smart home automation. After syncing with all of our cameras, the Echo pulled up our Ring dashboard. There, we used voice commands like, “Alexa, disarm my driveway camera,” or, “Alexa, show me my front door.”
Right off the bat, we could see that installation would be a breeze. We could choose to set up our camera on a flat surface and forgo the included mounting plate and screws, which is great if you’re the type who might get bored with your camera’s initial location and want to move it around.
We really wanted to test the camera’s range of motion, and hoped it would cover a good portion of our open layout in the living room/kitchen. What we found, though, is the Ring Stick Up Cam’s range was only 130 degrees. Keep this in mind when placing it, as you’ll probably need to spend some time playing with angles and positions to maximize its range.
We discovered that, despite the more-than-adequate hardware Ring provided us to mount our Stick Up Cam on the exterior of our house, the camera isn’t fully waterproof. But for our purposes, we didn’t have a great spot to place it outside without fully exposing it to the elements anyway. We’re still holding onto that exterior mounting hardware, just in case we have a use for it later.
While we enjoyed the camera and its features, we couldn’t help but reminisce about another camera we reviewed recently: the Google Nest cams. Those cams sure did woo us, with their package detection, facial recognition, and motion tracking – none of which are included in Ring’s security cameras.
We also know that Nest cams are significantly pricier than our Stick Up Cam, so this is something to consider when looking for the perfect camera. Once we understood the limitations of the Stick Up Cam as well as its advantages, it didn’t take long for us to appreciate this camera for what it was: a versatile, dependable, no-frills security camera that easily taps into all of Ring’s well-loved technology.
Minor drawbacks aside, Ring Stick Up Cam did an excellent job monitoring areas of our home where lots of little feet go pitter-patter… like our stairway, which we focused this camera on first.
As we tested, we were grateful for this insight, right at the time that our two children prepare to start an all-online school year4 in less than a week – whilst their parents work full-time from home.
You see, we know that security cameras tend to keep people honest; would-be porch pirates have been known to think twice about swiping packages once they notice a camera.
But would our humble Stick Up Camera spark that same degree of honesty in our offspring to complete their assignments, attend virtual class meetings, and stay focused on their work, all with minimal human supervision?
That remains to be seen. It’s only August, after all.
This one is our smallest Ring camera, standing less than 3 inches tall without its support stand. This immediately told us it can fit into tight spaces and can be easily hidden or obscured behind our home’s decor.
For people who like simplicity and minimalism in their security technology, this Ring camera makes the grade for us. But, like the previously mentioned Stick Up Cam, we did come across a few areas for improvement.
Pro Tip: Ring Indoor is easy to use, but keep in mind it is only offered as a plug-in camera with a 6.5-foot power cord and does not contain any battery backup. You’ll need a wall outlet nearby, or an extension cord, if you want to set up the camera at a distance.
Setting up our Indoor Cam took all of 10 minutes, most of which was spent deciding where we wanted to place it for our first round of tests. The rest was just exploring the camera’s settings via our Ring app, getting the view we liked, and making sure the camera was stable and would not fall from its high shelf.
One of our favorite perks of the Indoor Cam is that we have so much flexibility in its location. We can experiment with different areas to get the best view of our living room; or, we can keep tabs on a naughty puppy while we’re away.
The word “cheap” has negative connotations. When we buy a product that doesn’t work right, we often call it “cheap.”
At $60, the Indoor Camera is the cheapest camera in Ring’s lineup. But considering we’re still getting that impressive 1080p video quality in every recording, even at night – among all the other features of this cam, powered by Ring’s powerful cloud-based network – we’re quite fond of the price of this camera.
A Note on ‘Cheap’ Cameras:: Ring is definitely a budget brand, but it’s not actually the cheapest option. Wyze makes two security cameras that are small and lightweight like Ring’s Indoor camera, starting at $19.99. Before you think that’s a steal, though, keep in mind that Wyze doesn’t come with the same customization options and motion settings as Ring’s cameras do. As we like to say, you get what you pay for!
Here’s a low-tech observation about our Ring Indoor Camera you’ll either appreciate or laugh at.
We really don’t like the power cord that’s attached to it. It’s bulky and unforgiving, and it doesn’t bend to our will. (We don’t like things that don’t bend to our will.)
So when we’re doing something as simple as placing the camera on a flat surface, we have to contend with this unsightly wire hanging off of it. And, even more frustrating is that it’s only 6.5 feet long. It’s a minor gripe, we know, but we would love to see either a longer cord attachment or an optional battery on this camera at some point.
It’s worth mentioning that the picture on our Indoor Cam at night is mildly grainy, and in some areas, we find it hard to distinguish objects. Not a big thing, but a thing.
We’ve seen some spectacular night vision images from other security cameras we’ve tested, including Arlo’s Pro 3 lineup. Of course, we’d end up spending more money on one of those babies as we would on this spiffy little Ring Indoor Cam, so we definitely get why they’re not included in a $60 camera. But boy, the things we could see…
Overall, we loved the flexibility this camera gives us. And for $60, we felt a lot less intimidated at the thought of adding on more technology to build that “Ring of Security”: 24/7 coverage where and when we want it, with the superior performance and easy-to-use technology Ring is known for.
Let there be light! Spotlight Cam is Ring’s outdoor camera for all those areas in our home we need extra eyes on. It’s wire-free, which automatically told us it’s not going to be hard to install; and like its siblings, we saw right away that Spotlight Cam is packed with all of our favorite features: 1080p HD resolution, advanced motion detection, wide (140-degree) field of view, and two-way audio with noise cancellation. All of this, of course, was wrapped up between a pair of ultra-bright LED spotlights1.
And bright they are! When we’re up close and personal with this Spotlight Cam, the power of those LEDs really stands out. And once we really dug into the camera’s features, we started to understand why.
We’re well aware that Ring’s 1080p HD video quality already produces sharp daytime images. This is a pretty standard specification in most security cameras in this category, so we weren’t surprised.
But what some of those other cameras in the category lack are those ultra-bright LEDs. Combined with 1080p, the footage we get from our spotlight cam is pretty sharp, and it’s worth noting that we can see farther and in more detail than we expected.
|Ring Camera||Power source||Cost|
|Spotlight Cam Battery||Battery||$199.00|
|Spotlight Cam Wired||Wired||$199.00|
|Spotlight Cam Solar||Solar||$229.00|
|Spotlight Cam Mount||Wired||$249.00|
While Ring’s cameras don’t pan or tilt to track motion like some other brands we’ve reviewed do (think Wyze and Google Nest), we still think it puts those brilliant LEDs to good use. We watched as the Spotlight Camera detected motion, shining those lights far and wide, ensuring that anyone – or anything – in its field of vision would be captured and recorded.
During the day, we saw similarly impressive results. After the camera detected motion on our driveway and sent us an alert, we popped into our app to watch the live-stream view.
From there, we were able to decide whether we wanted to keep getting alerts for that kind of motion.
In the case pictured above, “that kind of motion” was a car driving past our home, which happens about a gazillion times a day.
Seeing this, we did two things: We went into our Motion Zones settings and blacked out part of the view so that it would avoid detecting motion there. We also adjusted our motion sensitivity slider to a lighter setting. Those two combined, thankfully, did the trick.
Pro Tip: Infrared night vision is a great feature in security cameras, especially outdoor security cameras. Depending on where you live, it can be pretty hard to see at night. If you’re in the market for a new security camera, we highly recommend getting one with infrared night vision.
As we know from reviewing the other Ring cameras, the Spotlight Cam doesn’t require much day-to-day upkeep or maintenance. This camera runs on battery power and needs to be changed at regular intervals. In our tests, those intervals varied greatly depending on how we customized our notifications.
We’ll be honest: When we first installed our Spotlight Cam, the alerts were constant, and we didn’t change our settings right away. We just muted the notifications on our phones.
But that was not wise, we soon learned, because after only two days, we had a dead battery. We needed to climb up our ladder, detach the camera from its mounting plate, pop out the quick-release rechargeable battery, and plug it into our wall outlet to charge. So you’ll definitely want to customize your alert notifications.
Unfortunately, that meant our Spotlight Camera was out of commission while the battery charged. So, after that, we adjusted our alerts so that the only motion we were alerted to was the human kind. That way, our battery lasted longer. Phew!
Glitches and delays in security camera footage are all too common; in fact, we can’t remember reviewing a security camera that didn’t glitch out at least once or twice during our tests. But we did find it mildly troubling that our live video feed to our Spotlight Cam failed to load several times.
Was it just the desktop app and not the mobile version? We never did get a clear answer, but we definitely grew tired of seeing this screen pop up over and over again:
It’s possible that our home Wi-Fi was malfunctioning, or perhaps the app itself is faulty. It’s worth noting that we didn’t experience this failure in the mobile app, and it didn’t occur in any other Ring cameras we tested at the time. We might have encountered a delay or two here and there, but never a complete failure to load.
Hopefully later versions of Ring’s app will correct this glitch. Otherwise, we’d have to stop using the desktop app altogether.
Our battery-powered Spotlight Cam cost $199, and we also had the option of buying a solar panel-Spotlight Cam package for $229, or a wired version for the same price as the battery-powered cam.
We also liked being able to choose the color; we chose white, but if your decor demands it, black is an option, too.
In our tests, the Ring Spotlight Cam performed very well, helping us to round out our “Ring of Security” with a powerful LED display and a generous menu of features.
Nestled firmly between two super-powerful LEDs, the Ring Floodlight Camera was the almost-perfect fixture to complement our outdoor decor. Aside from its slightly intimidating design, we also appreciate the benefits of a camera-floodlight combo.
We do want to note, though, that Ring is not the only company to make one. When it hit shelves in early 2020, Arlo’s floodlight model became a solid contender, but we immediately noticed a key difference between Arlo’s floodlight and Ring’s: it’s battery-powered, while Ring’s floodlight camera is wired.
Speaking of differences, we think it’s worth mentioning that the floodlight camera is the same price as Ring’s wired Spotlight Cam ($249), but it’s not quite as versatile as the Spotlight Cam when it comes to power sources and positioning.
|Ring Camera||Power source||Cost|
|Spotlight Cam Mount||Wired||$249.00|
For our home, however, Ring’s hardwired setup worked best. It was the perfect opportunity to replace an old light fixture that was a little past its prime, with a shiny new floodlight-camera-in-one.
After that, it was back to watching our camera do its work.
Sometimes, we don’t know what a lovely view we’ve been missing until we see it in floodlight vision. Seriously, was our grass always this green?
When it comes to audio on the Floodlight Cam, all was well with one exception: some minor interference caused by background noise, usually on the outdoor end of the conversation.
It’s not the first time we’ve encountered this issue. Ambient noise – you know, the kind that happens outside that you can’t control or predict – tends to produce glitches like this in lots of telecom technology. But frankly, the issue is minor. We’re not deterred!
During our tests on this camera, we had a pretty intense band of thunderstorms lording over us – you know, just another August in Ohio! But through those howlers, our weatherproof, durable Floodlight Camera performed seamlessly and did not incur any damage. Which is good, because we already threw out the old light fixture.
As we got further acquainted with our Floodlight camera, we tried to focus on the time it takes for the camera to send motion alerts to our phone, and how long it took for it to load on our end.
With a well-performing Wi-Fi network, the communication was pretty impressive, with only rare instances of delay. As soon as our camera detected motion, it sent us an activity alert, just like it’s supposed to.
This allowed us to open the Ring app and check out our now-illuminated backyard, in real-time, and in 1080p HD video.
We know our Ring Floodlight Camera works like a charm in bad weather, and it also delivers brilliant video, and all the other things people value in an outdoor camera.
But should any serious, dangerous threat come across these two super-powerful LEDs, we also feel confident that our camera would steadfastly protect us from the threats we can’t always see with our human eyes. That, to us, is worth the price.
It all started with the Ring Doorbell, now a fixture attached to millions of front doors around the world. In 2015 came the Stick Up Cam, Ring’s first security camera5. Their compact, affordable Indoor Camera followed, and then it was Ring’s turn to step into the light with motion-activated LED Floodlight and Spotlight Cams released in 2017. A Peephole Cam rolled out in 2019.
We don’t review cameras without putting a lot of mileage on them first. After extensively testing four of Ring’s indoor and outdoor security cameras for this review, we can report that the performance and appearance of these cams is easily on par with home security cameras in similar categories.
The fact that it’s all relatively affordable makes it a hands-down, overall favorite. After all, there’s something satisfying about watching the power of our Ring app come to life as we installed, set up, and interacted with each camera.
Keep in mind, though, that you won’t really be able to unlock the power of these cameras, and all the features we mentioned above, without at least a basic subscription plan.
|Included Free||Ring Protect Basic||Ring Protect Plus|
|Instant Mobile Alerts||✓||✓||✓|
|Live Video Streaming||✓||✓||✓|
|60 Day Video History||✖||✓||✓|
|24/7 Professional Monitoring||✖||✖||✓|
|Monthly Price||Free||$3 per month||$10 per month|
|Yearly Price||Free||$30 per year||$100 per year|
Ring is not alone in pushing the subscription model; other DIY brands like Arlo and Blink have them, too, and they’re already standard in hardwired systems like Vivint. But with a basic Ring Protect plan for only $3 per month per camera, it wasn’t a tough decision for us.
We predict that one day, subscriptions will be the industry standard. For now, we’ll enjoy our Ring-protected home for years to come.
Yes. If you have an Alexa-enabled smart home device, you can use it to pull up live feeds from all of your Ring cameras on one screen. If you’ve got an Echo Show, this is a great way to get instant answers to what’s going on in and around your home.
Yes. Ring doesn’t have the option for local storage in their cameras, so you can’t pop in a micro SD card for this one. Luckily, Ring’s $3-per-month basic Ring Protect plan is an easy, inexpensive add-on and gives you a ton of space to store your videos.
Ring’s outdoor models, the Spotlight Cam and the Floodlight Cam, are outfitted with IP65-rated weather protection, which is the industry standard. We’ve watched our Ring cameras endure blustery Midwestern thunderstorms and torrential downpours for years with no apparent signs of damage.
Since Two-Way Talk can be a key tool in “spooking” criminals caught in the act, we always test the quality of the two-way audio in security cameras. For Ring, using Two-Way Talk was easy and yielded quality audio and smooth communication.
Mixed. As with any company of this size and reach, Ring’s phone support can be inconsistent. Live chat can be fruitless. But on the days we could get through to a human, we encountered friendly, helpful agents who made us feel like we were talking to a friend in the same room.
Kim, E. (2018, February 27). Amazon buys smart doorbell maker Ring for a reported $1 billion. CNBC.
Brown, T. Schuster, B., Wilson, R. National Institute of Justice. (2009). What is Neighborhood Watch? https://nij.ojp.gov/topics/articles/what-neighborhood-watch
Brown, T. Schuster, B., Wilson, R. National Institute of Justice. (2009). Preventing Neighborhood Crime: Geography Matters. https://nij.ojp.gov/topics/articles/preventing-neighborhood-crime-geography-matters
Carey, B. The New York Times. (2020, June 13). What We’re Learning About Online Learning. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/13/health/school-learning-online-education.html
Adams, S. Forbes.com. (2018, Feb. 27) The Exclusive Inside Story of Ring: ‘Shark Tank' Reject To Amazon's Latest Acquisition. https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2018/02/27/amazon-is-buying-ring-the-pioneer-of-the-video-doorbell-for-1-billion/#725ad5a5706c