Editors' note, Dec 14: You can find all of our coverage about Ring on this aggregation page, including our reporting about Ring's privacy and security policies. This commentary covers how we factor those issues into our product recommendations.
Ring's $249 (£195, AU$330 converted) Floodlight Cam is a definite improvement over your typical outdoor security light. In addition to being equipped with two LEDs, this Wi-Fi device also comes with an integrated 1080p HD security camera. Sign up for motion alerts in the related Ring app, where you can also set activity zones, create schedules and control the built-in 110-decibel siren. Starting at $3 per month, you can view saved video history on a contract-free basis.
There's clearly a lot of functionality packed into this thing, but I can't give it full marks for the following reasons:
While these limitations make Ring's clever floodlight-security camera hybrid slightly less recommendable, it's still well worth your consideration.
Netgear's Arlo was one of the first products to popularize modern, DIY outdoor home security. Since then, plenty of other manufacturers have followed suit with related devices like the Nest Cam Outdoor and the Canary Flex. Weatherproof security cameras integrated into outdoor lighting is one subcategory that has developed slowly, but is now becoming an industry trend.
Take a look at the Ring Floodlight Cam's specs versus its main competition:
|Ring Floodlight Cam||Netatmo Presence||Kuna||Toucan|
|Color finish||Black or white||Black||Black or bronze||Black|
|Resolution||1080p HD||1080p HD||720p HD||720p HD|
|Local storage||No||Internal microSD card||No||No|
|Mobile app||Android, iPhone and Windows||Android and iPhone||Android and iPhone||Android and iPhone|
|Third-party integrations||None||IFTTT||Amazon Alexa||Amazon Alexa|
Ring's Floodlight Cam costs more than Kuna and Toucan, but less than Netatmo's Welcome. At the same time, the Floodlight Cam has 1080p HD video resolution compared to Kuna and Toucan's 720p HD. The Floodlight Cam's $3 per month cloud storage fee is also less than Kuna and Toucan's. The Welcome camera, on the other hand, has internal local storage so you don't have to worry about a monthly expense at all.
The Ring Floodlight Cam tacks on some additional features like activity zones and night vision (which Kuna and Toucan don't offer). Ring also promises to add Floodlight Cam support for IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings, Wink and even Apple HomeKit soon. (A Ring representative told me Floodlight Cam's are already outfitted with the Apple MFi chips needed for HomeKit, it's just a matter of activating them.)
The Floodlight Cam comes equipped with two 1,500-lumen LEDs, which are each roughly equivalent to a 100W incandescent bulb. That isn't incredibly bright, particularly if you install it high on your roofline like a typical floodlight. Of course, you can also install it lower so it doubles as a porch light.
Ring's Floodlight Cam is a fairly simple DIY installation, but it's a hardwired device. If you have any reservations about setting up a product that requires electrical wiring, hire someone to handle it for you. I enlisted one of CNET's technical gurus, Steve Conaway, to install the Floodlight Cam.
It took Steve about 30 minutes from start to finish, but we ran into an unexpected setback along the way. The width of the Floodlight Cam's baseplate didn't match up with the width of the standard-sized electrical box at the CNET Smart Home. So, we currently have just one screw holding up the whole thing. That workaround has worked surprisingly well for us during testing, but it wouldn't be ideal for a more long-term installation.
Once the Floodlight Cam's installed, download the app and add your local Wi-Fi info to get it online; this should take roughly 5 minutes.
Now you're ready to opt-in to motion alerts, create activity zones and more. One important thing to note is that you have to create activity zones before you receive any motion alerts, even if you've already enabled motion alerts. Once I figured that out, everything worked well. I received prompt alerts tied to motion outside. You can adjust the sensitivity of the sensor, too, if you're getting too many notifications of your neighbor's cat.
The live feed was clear in day and night mode and it was easy to set motion and lighting schedules in the app. The main limitation of this device will likely be your Wi-Fi connection. Out here in the Kentucky countryside, the Wi-Fi is hit-and-miss.
During testing, the area around the Floodlight Cam typically averaged 10 mbps for download speed and 1 mbps (or slightly less) for upload speed. The Ring app says anything above 1 mbps for download and upload is good, but this Ring support page says at least 2 mbps is best. Because of this, we experienced some lag times, pixelated video feeds and a two-way talk intercom that occasionally cut in and out.
Ring's $249 Floodlight Cam goes a long way toward helping you keep an eye on the perimeter of your home. At the same time, I really wish it offered free cloud storage as an entry-level option. I also wish Ring had introduced smart home integrations at launch rather than making us wait. Even so, you should consider adding Ring's LED floodlight and HD camera to your outdoor security setup. It's only going to get smarter with time.