Just as I sat down to begin typing this review, I noticed the unmistakable tremor of my phone’s silent alert. I thought it might be a text message or a new email, but it was, appropriately enough, my Ring app. The FedEx guy was dropping off a package on my front porch.
I’ve been contemplating picking up a Ring Video Doorbell ever since GeekDad Phil reviewed one last year, but I always managed to talk myself out of that particular purchase. I live in one of South Carolina’s many historic mill villages. My home, like those of my neighbors, has seen the addition of many modern amenities in its 90-year history, but its core, its endoskeleton, remains the same, and along with that comes things like irregularly sized doorways and roughly hewn slab—things that, were I particularly sensitive about my abode, I could charitably describe as “quirky” or providing “unique character.”
In short, there’s never been a doorbell at my house because there was never any need of one. As such, there simply isn’t a good place to put one, even a self-contained model like the Ring. Thankfully, that product line has recently been expanded, and the newest Ring, the Stick Up Cam, turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.
Whereas the Ring Doorbell was designed to be mounted on or alongside your door, the Stick Up Cam can be—as the name implies—placed pretty much anywhere. In truth, what attracted me to the original Ring was less the “doorbell” component and more the video features. I tend to receive a lot of parcels, and being able to keep an eye on those related comings and goings was an enticing proposition.
With that in mind, I mounted my Cam on the opposite end of my porch, facing the front door. Installation was a cinch, and everything from an appropriately-sized drill bit to a specialty screwdriver (helpful in making those final few adjustments to the Stick Up Cam’s mount) were included in the packaging.
I chose to go with a hanging bracket installation, which simply involved using four screws to mount the base, and then attaching a quick-release saddle to the Cam itself. The entire process took about five minutes. (Of course, had I properly pre-planned, I could’ve done it while the Cam itself was charging, thus further maximizing my time, but that is neither here nor there.)
The device’s internal 5,200mAh battery recharges via the ubiquitous Micro USB, though a pair of cables are also included. One, a shorter orange cable, is used for the initial charge, while a longer cable with a special weather-proof cap can be used if you plan to attach your mounted camera to a nearby outlet. Ring proudly states that the battery can easily go 6-12 months between charges, but it looks like I won’t have to put that particular claim to the test.
To my surprise and delight, my review unit shipped with the optional solar panel accessory. This, too, only took about five minutes to install… once I had finally settled on where to place it. Since my Stick Up Cam resides beside the screen door, I actually placed the panel outside on the wooden safety railing of my front steps. I was a little concerned that the supplied charge cable—this one comes permanently affixed to the solar panel—wouldn’t quite be long enough to suit this unorthodox positioning. The fear, it turns out, was totally unfounded, and I finished my installation with plenty of slack to spare.
So, in summation: installation is a breeze. Now, on to the good stuff.
Like… well, everything else, the Ring Stick Up Cam is an app-enabled smart device. All it needs is to be configured to your Wi-Fi network, and then you can do any additional fine-tuning via the app itself.
Since the Stick Up Cam uses a fisheye-style lens, you can select from an array of available motion “hot zones,” designating where it should look to monitor movement. You can also select the frequency of the generated Smart Alerts: Frequent (for those hard to see but important to monitor locations), Light (for heavily trafficked areas like the front yard), and the self-explanatory middle ground, Standard.
You can also add additional users, configure partner devices (like Kevo locks, Wemo smart accessories, and ADT security systems), and even add a Ring Chime—so everyone can hear when someone/something moves into the monitored range. Along with the requisite Live View and Recent Activity log, you can easily see the current battery level and quickly turn off Motion Alerts via a handy slider. If, for example, your daughter and her grandmother are hovering around the monitored area deliberating where to place your recently carved jack-o-lanterns, generating alerts the entire time. Or so I would assume. In this totally hypothetical situation.
The camera quality is solid, though, around twilight, images can get a little noisy. After dark, however, the night vision mode kicks in, albeit with an understandable change to its daytime range and clarity. The Stick Up also features two-way talk capabilities—perfect for those moments when someone arrives just as you find yourself otherwise indisposed.
My only knock against the Stick Up Cam is that, out of the box, it only comes with a one-month trial of Ring’s cloud storage capabilities. That means, if you want access to an archive of your house’s goings-on, you’ll need to pay up. Of course, given that the price of Cloud Recording is only $30 per year (or $3 per month), I can’t exactly gripe too much about this particular expenditure.
On its own, Ring’s Stick Up Cam is a smart investment, even at its $199 price point. The overall quality, ease of use, and functionality combine to make it a smart device that can surely please both the tech connoisseur and the smart home newbie. Add to it the optional solar panel—which is only $50 more—and you get a real winning combination with additional flexibility. Best of all, both are rated for outdoor use, so you’re free to place one or more Cam units anywhere you need a helpful, unblinking digital eye.
The Stick Up Cam has quickly become my new favorite piece of smart home tech. I’ve already come to rely on it as a home monitoring solution, and the oncoming barrage of trick-or-treaters and eventual neighborhood carolers (not to mention my continuing deluge of parcel deliveries) make its combination of security and convenience particularly enticing.
If you’re looking to expand your home’s smart functionality, especially in areas where less sturdy devices fear to tread, the Ring Stick Up Cam is a perfect solution for security, automation, and the all-important but oft-neglected cool gadget factor.
Review materials provided by: Ring