Review: Ring Spotlight Cam Pro battery-powered security camera has great features for an annoying monthly fee

Ring Spotlight Cam Pro battery.
Photo credit: supplied/Ring

The latest battery-powered security camera from Amazon's Ring company is now available to New Zealanders.

The Ring Spotlight Cam Pro records fabulous HD video, has a light and siren feature and is a competitor to the likes of Google's Nest Cam with Floodlight and the Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight.

It's easy to set up with a few tools like a power drill and a screwdriver, then connecting to the Ring app on your phone is also simple - I had it all hooked up and was watching its live video feed in less than half an hour.

I really like how crisp the images are. The video is 1080p with very sharp HDR, giving a nicely detailed picture that makes it easy to do things like make out a license plate from a distance or get a decent pic that could be useful for the police.

It gives a 140-degree field of view, which is broad enough without being distortedly stretched like some fish-eyed cameras look.

At night, it uses four infrared LEDS for black-and-white night vision. The camera can also deliver a solid coloured night vision using whatever ambient light it can, defaulting back to black and white if there's not enough.

Ring Spotlight Cam Pro video screenshot showing night vision.
Photo credit: Newshub.

I found both types of night vision to be good enough, but of course neither gives as clear and detailed imagery as that taken in the day.

There also has an impressive 'bird's eye view' feature, which gives you a top down view of the area it's filming and shows where someone has been and is currently in that view. This is cool, but I'm not sure how useful it would actually be.

I guess if you have a repeat intruder, it could be handy to map their movements as well as take footage of them. I also only used it with the one camera - if you have multiple set up around a large property working in tandem, I imagine the bird's eye view feature could be really good. 

Ring Spotlight Cam Pro birds eye view.
Photo credit: supplied/Ring

It's easy to set schedules for the light and motion detection, so they'll turn on or stay off when you want them to. The motion detection appears to be very accurate, with a sensitivity scale you can slide up and down as well as the ability to make it ignore some areas. If you don't want it activated by cats or rodents, or cars driving past on a road that's in view, you can organise that. Of course, if you do want to peek at what your furry friend is doing out there when they think no one's looking, you can do that too.

The pre-roll feature is also great. This shows you what triggered a motion event with up to six seconds of extra video from before it.

I prefer the lights on the Nest Cam with Floodlight, which are much bigger and brighter, but these still emit enough light that it's helpful for getting your key in the lock when it's dark.

There is also a two-way chat function if you want to communicate to someone through the camera, as well as the siren, which isn't as loud as most house alarms but would probably alert next-door neighbours.

The Spotlight Cam Pro works with Alexa voice commands and supports IFTTT applets, but it doesn't work with Apple HomeKit or Google voice commands. When 'Matter' finally gets cranking that might change, but if you have other smart-home kit already, you should check if this will integrate with it. 

Ring Spotlight Cam Pro battery review by Daniel Rutledge on Newshub.
Photo credit: Newshub.

I love the quick setup of the battery version of this camera, but of course that means taking the battery out and recharging it every few weeks or so, depending on what settings you use that drain the battery quicker.

There's space in it to put a second battery, if you want to spend $50 or so, which means you could always have one in there while charging the other.

Speaking of price, in New Zealand at the time of publishing, a retailer has the Ring Spotlight Cam Pro listed at $369, while on the Ring Australia site they're AU$329.

I think that's a very fair price for what you get in this advanced device, but what I don't like is what you don't get if you don't then pay the monthly subscription - namely, recorded videos.

Without paying monthly, you get all the live features of the camera and I guess you could screen record it if you needed to. But it's so much easier to have it automatically record to the cloud, which they charge you AU$5 per month for. 

Not all smart cameras charge you for this service, but features the Ring Spotlight Cam Pro offers - like the bird's eye view, 3D motion detection and pre-roll - don't come with other cameras either.

The verdict? It's a matter of weighing up those options and deciding which are most appealing to you, then going with that camera over the others.

Newshub was supplied a Ring Spotlight Cam Pro (battery) for this review.