Security without wires.
Living in the woods is really fun, until you realize how secluded you are.
We’ve been at our new place for about a month now, and although we love seeing trees all around us instead of houses, there’s something about all of this privacy that tends to give you the heebie jeebies (is that a word outside of the South?).
After falling in love with our Ring Video Doorbell, the folks at Ring were kind enough to send over one of their Stick Up Cam security cameras to put through the paces. Is this the camera you should buy to keep a watchful eye over your backyard? Read on to find out!
What Does It Claim to Do?
The Ring Stick-Up Cam is a wireless HD security camera that claims to let you see, hear, and speak with visitors/intruders from anywhere.
- Motion detection
- Night vision
- Two-way audio
- Cloud video recording
- Weather resistant for outdoor use
- Bank grade encryption
- 80 degree field-of-view
- Optional solar panel accessory available
Look and Feel
The Stick-Up Cam is essentially the same device as Ring’s hit video doorbell, just in a black body with the button removed. You probably wouldn’t by any security camera based on its looks, but the Ring devices are handsome and minimalistic; I put mine in the corner of the patio, and it looks great up there (if you even notice it).
You’ll spend most of your time with the camera in Ring’s app itself, which is very mature and easy-to-navigate. The app opens to a running tally of all of your recent recording/motion events, and basic settings and status updates on your devices are only a few taps away.
I want to emphasize the quality of the app and software experience here, because when you’re tempted to go with a cheaper or off-brand camera, where you’re really going to feel it is the software. Ring’s app and user-experience is top notch, making it a security product you’ll actually use.
Performance and User Experience
There’s a lot to talk about in this section of the review, so I’ve broken it up into three categories.
If you’ve let a complex installation process turn you off from getting a security camera, then the Stick Up Cam is for you. There are a few different ways you can set things up, but the easiest (and way I chose for this review) is to go completely wireless.
First, I charged the unit itself with a simple USB cable, and then paired it to my wireless network/Ring account through a simple 2-minute process in the Ring app. Next, I found a location on our back patio where I could see the most of our back yard, and used the included mounting bracket and screws to put the mount on the wall and clip the camera on.
After that, I just used the camera’s live view to adjust the angle to the perfect fit, and I was off to the races. Like the Ring Doorbell, the Ring app allows you to tweak a number of sensitivity settings for your camera, and even how much battery you’re willing to burn off in exchange for higher sensitivity and responsiveness with the live view feature.
That last bit is important, as you can choose to plug the camera into the outlet, or even power it with renewable energy in conjunction with Ring’s solar panel accessory. I’ll probably find a way to switch to solar down the road, but I went battery-only at the outset to give the Stick Up Cam a thorough test.
In practice, the Stick-Up Cam is a really great security camera.
When it detects motion, the Stick Up Cam fires off an immediate notification to your phone (within 1 second on average). If you open the notification, a live video will open within 1-2 seconds, giving you a really good view on what’s going on, and even the ability to talk with whoever is out there. If you don’t respond to the notification, Ring will still save the video clip in the app, which you can access up to 30 days later (depending on the subscription plan you’re using).
About a week ago, Lauren locked herself out of our house (we just moved in, so we’re still getting the hang of things). As she walked up on our patio to check the door, I received a notification at work and immediately opened a live video chat with her; she could hear me loud and clear, and I was able to tell her where I had stuck a spare key. It’s very cool.
Video quality isn’t amazing, but it’s more than adequate. The 720p video feed looks to be about 15-20fps to my eyes, and it can get a little pixelated depending on the quality of your internet connection; it has been very clear most of the time for us.
Highs and Lows
Beyond the obvious security uses, the Stick Up Cam is great to have around for a variety of reasons. My son is a mischievous 3 year old, and I love getting an instant notification is he decides to sneak outside. Living in the woods, it’s fun to spot deer in the yard and try to catch the pawed culprit thats messing with the plants. In the daytime, I’d say the Stick-Up Cam responds to motion about 95% of the time, and nearly instantaneously.
Night has been a different story for us. I don’t know if it’s because our back patio/yard is so dark (there’s no ambient light out there), or if it’s because I’m running the Stick Up Cam on battery power, but its night vision mode barely seems to work for us. This is especially puzzling since our Ring Doorbell does extremely well on our front porch; it’s as if its infrared lights are 5x brighter.
Unless I’m standing within a few feet of the camera (which is mounted in the corner about 8ft off the ground), it probably won’t even know that I’m there. That’s a pretty big bummer as night is the time when you really want to feel protected. Most folks won’t live as dark of an area as we do, but if you do, you may want to consider leaving a light on nearby (or finding a way to get something like the new LIFX+ infrared bulb outside).
Battery life is something I’m still evaluating too. After using the camera for a month, my battery is sitting at about 50%, which is honestly a little better than I expected given my high-drain settings and the amount of times I’ve activated live view (due to the novelty). Since it’s easy to take down, I don’t mind charging the camera every few months, but it’s worth noting if that’s a concern for you.
These issues aside, we’re really enjoying having the Stick-Up Cam as part of our security arsenal.
Compatibility with Other Platforms
Ring has been around for a few years now, and they’ve made some great strides in opening up their API to other partners in recent months. The Stick Up Cam supports some great integration with partners like the Kwikset Kevo and the Wink smart home hub, though support for other popular platforms like SmartThings isn’t there yet (though the Ring Doorbell is supported). Those integrations are a great start, though, so hopefully there are more to come down the road.
Like I mentioned above, in daylight or great lighting, I would say that the Stick Up Cam immediately responds to motion about 95-97% of the time, which is pretty stellar for a WiFi connected battery-operated camera that you can put almost anywhere.
Night time has been a different story for us with our super dark back patio, where I would say it will detect motion about 60-70% of the time; again, having a light on back there (or just living somewhere with street lamps or other ambient light) would fix that issue entirely.
The Stick Up Cam retails for $199, and the solar panel accessory is only $49 more. For the value offered, I think that’s a very fair deal that makes for an inexpensive upgrade to your family’s home security setup.
With the exception of its night vision performance in our specific usage, I’ve loved having the Stick Up Cam as part of our home security network. Combine it with the outstanding Ring Video Doorbell, and you have a dependable way to keep your home safe before the bad guys ever make it inside.