Hands on: Ring's iPhone-ready, self-running Spotlight Cam Solar

Posted:
in iPhone edited August 2018
Amazon's Ring is omnipresent in smarthome security, and the Spotlight Cam Solar is an attempt to further cement that position among picky iOS and Android users.

Ring Spotlight Cam Solar


As it turns out, the Solar is essentially Ring's existing Spotlight Cam Battery, but bundled (at a discount) with a solar panel accessory that fixes the original's main weakness: maintenance.

On its own the Battery needs to have its DSLR-style battery pack periodically recharged. This isn't just an inconvenience -- you may temporarily lose coverage unless you have a spare battery, and in any circumstance you'll have to mount the camera in a reasonably accessible place, making it more vulnerable to tampering. Because the Solar recharges its battery pack independently, you can put it anywhere your initial installation allows, then forget about it.

Ring Spotlight Cam Solar


The installation process takes about an hour, but is relatively straightforward thanks to video-enhanced guidance provided on Ring's YouTube channel and in an official iPhone and iPad app. The company supplies all of the necessary tools including bits and screwdrivers, though you might still want to bust out a power drill, especially if you're working with anything tougher than wood.

The iOS app is, as it turns out, a highlight of the Ring package. It's extremely well-organized, making it very easy to toggle settings and track alerts and power status. There's even built-in access to Ring's Neighbors platform, where individuals and police share footage of suspicious incidents. Some posts tend to be a little paranoid, but it's at least good to be aware.

One thing we had to do right away was narrow the focus of the Solar's motion zones. The camera has a wide field of view, and by default triggers push notifications for a good portion of that. Even with a narrower cone, detection seems sensitive -- we would get notifications and scan footage only to discover that it had been set off by something like a distant bird.

Ring iPhone app


Saved footage (or the lack thereof) is one of several issues we'll go into later, but right now we should note that the camera does not support Apple HomeKit. You'll be relying primarily on first-party notifications, since there isn't even a Web portal for viewing video.

The camera does of course support Amazon Alexa, meaning that if you have an Echo Show or Echo Spot, you can ask Alexa to show you a live feed at any time. Just be warned that the camera's namesake spotlight comes on if you watch at night, which could be annoying to neighbors.

Keep following AppleInsider for a full review later this month.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    "On its own the Battery needs to have its DSLR-style battery pack periodically recharged. This isn't just an inconvenience...".

    Sounds like a deal killer! I give this 2 snaps down! 

    BTW: with all the negatives it would have been nice if this article had included pricing, sourcing & look at the option of not using the solar bit and providing power 
    from within the house (since it would make the device a bit less noticeable - and less of a target for thieves and vandals).
  • Reply 2 of 6
    Roger_FingasRoger_Fingas Posts: 148member, editor
    "On its own the Battery needs to have its DSLR-style battery pack periodically recharged. This isn't just an inconvenience...".

    Sounds like a deal killer! I give this 2 snaps down! 

    BTW: with all the negatives it would have been nice if this article had included pricing, sourcing & look at the option of not using the solar bit and providing power from within the house (since it would make the device a bit less noticeable - and less of a target for thieves and vandals).
    This is specifically the Spotlight Cam Solar kit. Ring also sells standalone Wired and Battery versions.
  • Reply 3 of 6
    stanhopestanhope Posts: 160member
    I have loved Ring products since the beginning.  I have seceral across 3 homes.  My only quarrel is that they need to figure out to speed up engagement of the video.  Often the car or person triggering the video is out of view by the time Ring kicks in...and no it is not the speed of my wifi (which is their default response) as my wifi is blazing fast.
  • Reply 4 of 6
    stanhopestanhope Posts: 160member
    "On its own the Battery needs to have its DSLR-style battery pack periodically recharged. This isn't just an inconvenience...".

    Sounds like a deal killer! I give this 2 snaps down! 

    BTW: with all the negatives it would have been nice if this article had included pricing, sourcing & look at the option of not using the solar bit and providing power from within the house (since it would make the device a bit less noticeable - and less of a target for thieves and vandals).
    Well you could have done some research rather than expect the writer to do everything but wipe your chin after your chocolate milk.
  • Reply 5 of 6
    peteopeteo Posts: 400member
    I have one of these and it goes off any time a car goes by even with the motion settings and zones at the lowest but when I walk by it it does not go off. So its pretty much crap.
    Also the time it takes for the camera to come on when It senses motion is a problem and a lot of times it can not connect to it even though I have an AP 10 feet away, sometimes it takes 3 to 4 tries.
    Their door bell is better
    edited August 2018 airnerd
  • Reply 6 of 6
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 693member
    peteo said:
    I have one of these and it goes off any time a car goes by even with the motion settings and zones at the lowest but when I walk by it it does not go off. So its pretty much crap.
    Also the time it takes for the camera to come on when It senses motion is a problem and a lot of times it can not connect to it even though I have an AP 10 feet away, sometimes it takes 3 to 4 tries.
    Their door bell is better
    If it is like their doorbell, did you drag the motion zones around to limit it from catching the street?  I have my doorbell field limited to exclude the street and then the sensitivity set to medium and don't get any false alerts anymore.  used to get he mailman every day until I figured that out.  

    If the spotlight doesn't ahve that function, that is great info to have.  I've been holding off buying a couple of spotlight cameras because of their refusal to align with HomeKit, but this is just another reason to justify me waiting.
    edited August 2018
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