Ring Stick Up Cam: Review
Ring.com continues to evolve their 'ring of security' product line by leveraging their effective smart camera technology. We first saw this in the Ring Video Doorbell which I previously reviewed. The follow-up product, known as Stick Up Cam, sensibly takes this same technology (plus some new twists) and deploys it as a dedicated outdoor wireless security camera.
The Stick Up Cam looks very similar to its sibling doorbell product. Basically the body of the device is largely the same, with the doorbell button removed. A key difference is the mounting solution on the rear, and weather-proof covers on the reset button and the micro-USB port. The doorbell has no need of such covers as they are fully enclosed by it's wall mounting bracket, but in this case, the camera is going to be placed at varying angles from the mounting surface, and potentially anywhere in the yard so some protection is warranted. The rectangular design of the unit would seem to present some potential issues with placement in corners, or near horizontal surfaces such as ceilings, but the included mounting bracket can be attached at one of three different positions on the rear (top, middle, and bottom) to allow for optimum clearance from such obstructions. That, combined with the rotation of the mounting joint, provides quite a bit of flexibility to place the camera with minimum protrusion.
The bracket itself clips off to allow for recharging the internal battery, and fear not, the camera is covered by Ring's lifetime theft replacement guarantee. Like the Video Doorbell, the internal battery is rated for up to a year of normal use. This will vary depending on the level of activity the camera (and thus the events to be recorded), and the strength of the wifi signal. Worst case, my tests suggests a battery life of months, which is impressive for such a device. Here, though, is where Ring has provided a twist. For a small extra charge, a small optional solar panel can be purchased and connected to the rear USB port of the Stick Up Cam. The panel comes with it's own mounting bracket, and a decent length of cable, so it can be optimally placed away from the camera if required. Just a few hours of good sunlight will keep the battery topped up indefinitely, which allows for a very reliable wireless operation from anywhere in your yard that can get enough wifi signal.
Another variation from the doorbell product is the camera, or at least the lens. The Stick Up Cam records the same 720p video, but uses a more conventional field of view. Rated to 80 degrees instead of the doorbell's 180. This provides a clearer view of what's going on due to less distortion of the image, and is more suitable for the typical elevated corner placement for security cameras, as opposed to the lower, forward looking doorbell position. 80 degrees is notably less than competing camera products, but it's not a deal breaker.
I found the video quality to be good, and the camera was able to record largely unhindered by the poor signal strength in my test location. The motion detection uses the same claimed thermal filtering of the doorbell, I'm unsure how true this is, but I have noticed events will start not with a car driving into the driveway, but with a person stepping out of the car. This may be due to the device discriminating the heat signature of the car and the person, or it may just be a convenient delay starting the stream to the cloud.
The Stick Up Cam is configured using the same process as the Ring Video Doorbell, by pressing the reset button on the rear and connecting to the local access point that it then creates. This is temporary for the setup process, and simply allow direct connection to the device to configure the desired wifi network settings and associated the device with your Ring account.
Once configured in the Ring app on your phone, you can take advantage of all the same features as the Ring Video Doorbell. This includes the ability to configure motion detection zones and range, scheduling of alerting periods, and configuring the Smart Alerts feature to reduce repeat notifications for similar events. You can also turn off notifications while still having the camera record motion events. This is useful if you have multiple devices covering a similar area as you can have just one of them provide the notification, while getting multiple angles of video.
The app also provides a time sorted list of events, and allows playback of recorded clips if you have opted for a Ring subscription plan. Without the plan, you'll still get live notifications, and can view the live stream. You can trigger this live view on demand as well, with or without a plan, so if you just want to check in on things the Stick Up Cam has you covered.
Interestingly, like the doorbell, the Stick Up Cam retains the microphone and speaker, allowing you to talk to someone on the other end from the app. This can be quite disconcerting as it's not something people expect from security cameras, and has been reported to have scared off intruders on several occasions.
Of course, the app also gives a clear view of the current battery level, and you can get a health report covering wifi strength, power feed, network configuration and when a health check was last run. This also gives you a link to Ring's system status page, which is helpful.
The device itself can be ordered direct from the Ring website. For those wanting to take advantage of the cloud storage offering, there are two options:
A per device subscription for US$30/year called Ring Basic.
A unlimited device subscription for US$100/year called Ring Protect. This one includes lifetime warranty on all devices and a 10% discount on future purchases
Ring has control of their hardware and software platform, which means they can push out updates as required in the timely fashion. The device is also entirely cloud controlled, so no direct connection to the device is required after initial setup. This is actually beneficial as it means we can connect it through a guest or untrusted network without issues, all it needs is an internet connection.
There have been no reported vulnerabilities in the Stick Up Cam to date, and Ring's focus on security design has so far held them in good stead.
The Stick Up Cam is a high quality, well supported, device with a solid feel which has performed well in outdoor conditions for a price on par with comparable connected security cameras. The software provides a good level of configurability to suit various deployment scenarios, and has proven reliable even with poor signal strength. It's worth noting that the cloud service has proven reliable and responsive. This is worth calling out as I've experienced less than speedy performance from some vendors products. Ring's video recording and playback has always been snappy, so while you need to pay for cloud storage, you get what you pay for. The battery and solar panel option also provides a great level of flexibility for placement, which somewhat compensates for the limited viewing angle.
Ring website: https://ring.com/