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 $199 Spotlight Cam (£199/AU$329) beats out Netatmo's Presence, the Kuna Light Fixture (now called Maximus) -- and even Ring's own Floodlight Cam -- for my favorite outdoor camera with integrated lights.
That's partially due to its comparatively easy installation. Screw in the baseplate, attach the camera and plug it into a nearby outlet -- no hardwiring required. Its 1080p HD resolution and integrated motion sensor, LEDs and siren make it competitive in terms of specs. And, bonus: It works with Alexa and Google Assistant.
The Spotlight Cam is a strong option if you want a motion-activated outdoor light with a built-in high-definition camera. Just be prepared to pay $3 per month for cloud storage; you can't view saved video clips otherwise.
A better Ring?
The Spotlight Cam performed well throughout testing. I received swift motion alerts when I walked in view of the camera, and the built-in LEDs turned on as well. Its motion zones feature allowed me to customize exactly where I wanted it to detect activity -- and it successfully ignored everything else.
I like that you can adjust the brightness of the LEDs and even how long the lights should remain on after a motion event. You can "snooze" the motion sensor from 15 minutes to up to 2 hours if you want to it to stop tracking activity for a short time. But you can also adjust the motion sensitivity if you're receiving too many alerts -- or create a specific motion schedule to specify exactly when throughout the week you want the camera to monitor activity and send you alerts.
Ring's Spotlight Cam comes in a black and a white finish, as well as in wired and battery-powered models (both cost $199). I tested the wired option in black, which comes with mounting hardware and a 20-foot weatherproof cord. The Spotlight Cam is a streamlined version of the pricier Floodlight Cam. It basically takes the main camera body from the Floodlight Cam and adds LED panels on either side -- and leaves out the two awkward-looking floodlights.
Download the Ring app for Android, iOS or Windows and follow the step-by-step tutorial to set up your Spotlight Cam. It prompts you to plug in your camera, press the button on the top (if the bottom of the camera isn't already flashing). Search for and select the Ring Wi-Fi network on your phone, navigate back to the app and enter your home's Wi-Fi info. The app will ask you to confirm your camera's location and then you're done.
Installing it is easy, too. It isn't a hardwired model, so you only have to mount it with the included hardware and slide the camera over the baseplate to attach it. If you don't like the look of the power cord, Ring provides clamps so you can try to hide it out of view.
The Spotlight Cam versus...
Curious how the Spotlight Cam's specs compare to the Floodlight Cam, the Netatmo Presence and the Kuna/Maximus? Here's a nifty chart to help:
Comparing outdoor security cameras
|Ring Spotlight Cam||Ring Floodlight Cam||Netatmo Presence||Kuna|
|Color finish||Black or white||Black or white||Black||Black or bronze|
|Power source||Plug-in or battery-powered||Hardwired||Hardwired||Hardwired|
|Resolution||1080p HD||1080p HD||1080p HD||720p HD|
|Local storage||No||No||Internal microSD card||No|
|Mobile app||Android, iPhone and Windows||Android, iPhone and Windows||Android and iPhone||Android and iPhone|
|Alerts||Motion||Motion||Motion (person, car or animal)||Motion|
|Third-party integrations||Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT||Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT||Apple HomeKit, IFTTT||Amazon Alexa|
The Spotlight Cam is priced the same as the Kuna/Maximus, but Ring's camera has a better resolution, night vision, activity zones and more smart home integrations. Enable the Ring skill and you can ask Alexa to show you your camera's feed on your screen-equipped Amazon speaker or on a Fire TV.
Netatmo's Presence camera has local storage, person alerts (the Spotlight Cam doesn't offer person alerts) and works with Apple's Siri-powered HomeKit smart home platform, but it also costs 100 bucks more than the Spotlight Cam. The Spotlight Cam and the Floodlight Cam are essentially identical when it comes to features, with the exception of their lumen outputs.
The Spotlight Cam puts out 700 lumens of lighting (roughly comparable to a 60W replacement LED bulb). It is designed to cover a smaller space and only turn on the LEDs when it detects motion. The Floodlight Cam, in contrast, puts out 1,800 lumens (roughly comparable to a 100W LED replacement, but a little brighter) and can cover more ground than the Spotlight Cam. The Floodlight Cam's LEDs can also be used continuously -- not just when it picks up motion. It's the difference between a motion light and a true floodlight, as the names suggest.
Ring, annoyingly, doesn't offer a free cloud storage option. Instead, you have to sign up for one of Ring's "optional" Protect plans to view saved motion-related video clips. Otherwise you're stuck watching the live feed 24-7 or being ready to click on motion alerts ASAP to make sure you catch whatever activity is taking place.
Ring charges either $3 or $10 per month for 60 days of saved footage. The pricier plan includes additional features, like a lifetime warranty and 10 percent off future Ring product purchases. Read more about Ring's Protect subscription plans.
The Spotlight Cam's simple installation, solid performance and easy-to-use app make it a favorite among the outdoor security camera-light fixture hybrid devices I've tested. I don't like that you need to pay for the monthly service to access any saved video clips, but $30 per year isn't bad.
Keep in mind that a spotty Wi-Fi connection can cause interruptions in your live feed or cause it not to work at all; test out the quality of your network where you plan to install your camera beforehand. The Ring app has a "Device Health" section, too, where you can check in on the status of your Spotlight Cam's connection at-a-glance.
Overall, Ring's $199 Spotlight Cam is a great option if you're looking for a reliable outdoor camera with integrated motion-activated LEDs.