In today's gadget review, writer Chris Schulz keeps a watchful eye on his own abode through the wizardry of Ring's security cam. So is it worth stalking your own house when you're not around or is it another example of tech hype with little actual reward?
What is it?
Security cameras have exploded in popularity in the past year, with brands like Nest, Netatmo and Ring all entering the market to give security-conscious homeowners eyes on their home 24-hours a day. I've tried them all, and I find Ring to be the best brand: their cameras are simple to set up, easy to install, and a breeze to use. The app is great too: it won't send you notifications about your cat all day, the alarm doesn't go off randomly, and the battery lasts a very long time. The Stick Up Cam is their latest release, an adaptable wireless camera that can be used indoor and out.
How does it work?
First, choose the spot you're going to mount it. I put mine under an awning out the front of the house, under an eave, out of the sun, but with a full view of the area in front of the front door and down our driveway. After screwing in a few screws, and adding the device to the app, I was done. Once you've got the app on your phone, you can tune into a livestream from wherever you are, use a microphone to talk to couriers at your front door, or, if something dodgy is going on, set off the alarm. Thankfully, that hasn't happened to us yet, but Ring's website is full of videos of those who've caught crooks in the act.
What's its best feature?
The battery, by far. The last security camera I used needed charging every seven to 10 days. The Stick Up Cam has been going for four weeks, and still isn't done. That's great if you're going away for a while. Better yet, you can buy a solar charging panel - sold separately - and you won't need to worry about plugging it in at all.
And what's the worst?
Unlike Ring's Spotlight Cam, the Stick Up Cam doesn't come with a floodlight. That can be useful for nighttime arrivals if you don't have outside lights installed already - luckily, we do. The Stick Up Cam only comes in white, and its cylindrical shape means it isn't as obvious a deterrent as Ring's Spotlight Cam.
How much is it?
Ring's Stick Up Cam retails for $319.99. You can install as many as you like - most people seem to like having one inside, and one out. The solar panels are $85 and a good buy if you take long trips overseas and don't want to worry about yet another gadget that needs charging up. Either way, it's a good way to say goodbye to crooks.
Pros: Long battery, streamlined look, easy-to-use
Cons: No spotlight, doesn't look instantly like a camera