Ring Floodlight Cam Review|
June 5, 2017 -- Version 1.2a -- (updated June 16, 2017)
UPDATE July 1, 2017: Ring has pushed a custom firmware to my three Ring Floodlight Cams
and forced a minimum video bitrate of 5 Mbps on one cam and 3 Mbps on the other two cams.
This fix has dramatically (and instantly) improved the quality of videos from my Cams
-- showing that Ring indeed does have a firmware problem to fix regarding the 'auto detect video
bitrate to use' and that the problem was never with my wireless nor with my internet.
Hopefully Ring will fix the low video bitrate issue for the general public as soon as possible.
UPDATE 2017/09/26: Ring now has a new 'beta' firmware that addresses some of the
problems (adaptive bitrate and should not hang as much). I am now testing. If you want to
test, ask Ring to place your device(s) on the beta test program.
But see far below (bottom of this review) -- Ring also has a LOT of other very annoying
bugs they need to fix.
UPDATE 2017/08/16: The most serious remaining problem with the Floodlight cams is that they
go offline ('hang') and refuse to come back online until electrical power is reset.
The Ring product The
Ring Floodlight Cam
is a cloud based security camera -- with floodlight, siren, and two-way talk.
Ring Floodlight Cam press photo
I installed and tested three Ring Floodlight Cams at three different homes. The first was
installed on May 6, a second was installed on May 21, and a third was installed on May 22.
This review documents my first hand experience that I had with
the Ring Floodlight Cams for over a month of extensive testing...
The bottom line: The Ring Floodlight Cam is a great product idea
and has a TON of potential, but
the Cam is NOT ready for prime time due to poor video quality
and significant reliability problems, and the numerous other bugs encountered.
The Floodlight Cam 'mostly' works, but it is sure frustrating that the Cam does NOT
produce "1080p HD video" out of the box, as is claimed.
If Ring fixes all of the bugs disclosed in this review,
the Floodlight Cam will in fact be a great product that I could then highly
recommend to everyone.
On May 25, I noticed that I could no longer view recorded/cloud videos from all Cams.
The 30-day trial for cloud video recording stopped working.
The response from Ring was: "we have just been informed there is an issue with the recordings
where some are recording and some aren't registering. However our engineers are working on the
situation as we speak". As I was doing extensive testing, I could not wait -- I got off
the trial and signed up (paying) for cloud recording (which fixed the problem). Not a good impression.
Hey, this is NOT "1080p HD video" quality! What sold me on the idea of this product was that the Cam
was advertised (see product box right) as a security camera that takes "1080p HD video".
Ring Product Box promises "1080p HD Video"
I've installed true high end 1080p security systems before. I know what video quality
to expect from a "1080p" system.
However, the reality is that the video quality of the Cam 'out of the box' is nowhere near
"1080p HD video", and Ring tech support actually acknowledged that in writing! See further below.
The Ring videos ARE 'sized' to 1080p HD size (1920×1080), but
the quality of the resulting videos are NOT HD (the bitrate is too low / compression
is too high). Here is an example of the very poor quality I see -- notice the significant
'blocking' and ghosting (blue jeans leaves a blue trail):
650×440 crop from Ring video - notice bad blocking/ghosting - NOT 1080p HD quality
A great comparison: Watch
this YouTube video
fullscreen on a large 1080p HDTV (not your phone) --
but set the YouTube video quality to 144p,
and that is around the video quality I got from my Ring Floodlight Cam!
And the YouTube video at 480p is WAY better quality than what I see from Ring Floodlight Cam.
The gritty details: One 63 second MP4 from the Cam was 6.3 MB (or 868 kbps).
The 480p YouTube video above uses 770 kbps. Now set the YouTube video to 1080p HD quality.
The video now looks fantastic, but it also dramatically increases bandwidth to
2358 kbps (3 times more bandwidth)!
Ring's problem: Ring states in product documentation 'in the box' that they only need 1 Mbps
upload bandwidth for the Ring Floodlight Cam. 1 Mbps is 1000 kbps. But that 1 Mbps limit
dramatically limits the quality of videos that the Cam will produce!
Just think about it. If what Ring claimed were actually true -- "1080p HD Video" in under 1 Mbps --
that blows away what Netflix or YouTube can do by a LOT. But we know that Ring videos use
H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, which is a well known industry standard -- So, no, not true.
How YOU can calculate Ring MP4 bitrates: Download a Ring video, multiply the file size
(in bytes) by 8 and divide that by the number of seconds in the video to obtain 'bps'.
Divide the answer by 1000 to get 'kbps'. Or divide the answer by 1000000 by get 'mbps'.
Note that this is a combined audio+video bitrate.
The result: 'blocking' and significant 'ghosting' on moving objects:
Notice the significant 'blocking' in the first video frame
(click on image to zoom in and see the blocking -- especially the palm trees in the background against
the blue sky):
Click to zoom in -- Ring Floodlight Cam 868 kbps quality -- notice significant 'blocking'
Ring tech support blames wifi (RSSI): Ring technical support is both amazing -- for being available 24x7 via phone
and chat (which I prefer so I have a written record) --
and sometimes amazingly wrong.
When I contacted Ring support about the poor video quality, they blamed wifi RSSI for the poor video
quality and asked for the RSSI (wifi Received Signal Strength Indicator) value in the
"device health" screen, and stated "RSSI needs to be at a level of -44 for the device to function"
(RSSI has a scale from 0/best to -100/worst; see table right).
Source: Netgear app
However, a RSSI of -44 dBm means a signal strength of 100% (5 out of 5 bars) -- it is not realistic for
Ring support to ask for this. To get -44 dBm, I needed to be within 10 feet line-of-sight to my Netgear
R6250 access point.
[Source: "Netgear WiFi Analytics" app; a great tool in this regard; see table
right generated from this tool; also this resource]
Ring sent me a "Chime Pro" (a wifi extender) for free, but when I tried to set it up,
all I got was a cryptic "Setup didn't complete" error message. Even Ring tech support
could not get the Chime Pro set up and working!
UPDATE: Ring admits that their own internal (daily!) 'iperf' performance tests
from my Cams to their servers shows a 6 Mbps upload path to the Internet and that the
Cam should be using a bitrate nearer to 2 Mbps, not the 1 Mbps that is seen. Ring
Install wireless APs to fix RSSI: My quick fix to get past Ring support blaming my wifi was
to install a wireless access point right next to the Floodlight Cams. Finally, with
a great RSSI (-32 to -40), tech support would now listen to me (and the quality of videos did not change).
My prior RSSI was -66 and the Ring Floodlight cam was communicating with the wireless network just
fine. It was just that the video quality was really poor. After I installed an access point 2 feet
from the CAM, RSSI is now great, but the video quality from the Cam remains unchanged.
Ring HIDES the video quality setting! Long story short, with good wifi, I complained
to Ring tech support that their video bitrate (less than 1Mbps) "is not high enough to support 1080p". The Ring tech's answer
was "You're right, it's not"! This same tech
admitted that the Floodlight Cam has an internal "auto/720p/1080p" video quality setting that
was hidden from customers, but that it was a setting he could change (not me). So he
changed it from 'auto' to '1080p' and the bitrate of videos increased immediately, but only
A slight jump in bitrate: Now 63 second MP4's from the Ring Floodlight Cam were around
8.4 MB (or 1118 kbps).
This proves that (1) the poor video quality problem was NOT my wifi, and that
(2) 'out of the box', the default 'auto' video quality is not 1080p!
There was a slight increase in the
quality of videos (click on image to zoom in):
Click to zoom in -- Ring Floodlight Cam 1,118 kbps quality
Once in a while, Ring videos are much better: Once in a great while, Ring Floodlight Cam
MP4's are around 13.5 MB (or 1798 kbps). These videos look MUCH better
(click on image to zoom in):
Click to zoom in -- Ring Floodlight Cam 1,798 kbps quality
THIS is the video quality that I should be getting ALL of the time. My internet upload
speed at the time was 3000 kbps. I upgraded it to 6000 kbps, but that made NO difference.
UPDATE: I just discovered a 63 second Ring video from my Floodlight Cam that was 18.8 MB
(or 2506 kbps)!
Clearly the Ring Floodlight Cam is capable of higher bitrates, so
why the Cam almost always uses a bitrate less than 1 Mbps on a 6 Mbps (up) internet
connection is a serious problem for Ring to immediately fix!
My internet connection: And for the record, the internet connection at all three
locations is fantastic. The speeds at each house (down/up) are: 120Mbps/6Mbps, 75Mbps/6Mbps, 75Mbps/6Mbps.
I have been testing Internet speeds at each location a lot lately, and I never obtained a bad result.
I always see full download/upload speeds from reliable speed test websites.
My Test Procedure: (1) Make sure no one else is using the Internet. (2) Run a speed test.
(3) Cause the Ring Cam to capture a video. (4) Run another speed test. In all cases, both speed
tests results are great (show 6 Mbps upload speeds), but the Ring Cam video is poor quality.
I have even gone so far as to monitor the bytes transferred statistics in my router -- which verifies
nothing else (besides the Ring Cam) is using the Internet.
Problem verified with a third party: I contacted a friend with a Ring Floodlight Cam, and
a 63 second Ring MP4 was 5.8 MB (or 771 kbps). They are having the same problem!
ISSUE: Ring's reliance on 2.4 GHz wifi ONLY was a mistake:
The Ring product should have been dual band -- also supporting 5 GHz.
The Ring website states that
the reason the Cam does NOT support 5 GHz and only supports 2.4 GHz is because 2.4 GHz
has more range. While that may be 'technically' true, in reality, that ignores MIMO
benefits, and Ring tech support requires
such a ridiculously good RSSI (100% signal quality), that you actually can't get
any 'increased' range -- And how close you need to be to the router (less than 10 feet for a
Netgear R6250) anyway means that 5 GHz actually works MUCH better at 10 to 30 feet.
ISSUE: The Cam fails as a security camera:
"The world's only motion-activated HD security
camera with built-in floodlights, a siren alarm and two-way talk."
So, the Ring Floodlight Cam is firstly, a security camera. However, if your Internet connection
is down for any reason, you will have NO record and NO video of the security incident
-- because the Cam is NOT capable of buffering and uploading the video
when the Internet comes back on. Failing to record a security incident is an outright FAIL
for any security camera!
MIMO: And range is only half the story. The other half of the story is actual
usable bandwidth. Because MIMO is very common in the 5 GHz band, actual
usable bandwidth in 5 GHz with MIMO (and low signal strength) can be MUCH better than
2.4 without MIMO (and high signal strength).
My laptop at 30 feet connects to my Netgear R6250 at over 500 Mbps with a
RSSI of -60 (88% signal strength) and works great -- at over 500 Mbps!
5 GHz has much better speeds
5 GHz capacity: 2.4 GHz has only 3 non-overlapping channels,
whereas 5 GHz has 24 non-overlapping channels (8 times as many channels). The 2.4 GHz band
is quite simply way too crowded.
2.4 GHz range is a HUGE disadvantage if you live close to neighbors:
There are just too many devices using 2.4 GHz, and with close neighbors,
increased range is actually a huge disadvantage, because you see all of
your neighbors wifi devices -- and you all must SHARE the same 2.4 GHz band!
At one summer vacation townhouse, I see 30 wifi radios/BSSID in the 2.4
GHz band. It does not matter if 2.4 GHz has increased range, because in the middle
of summer, the 2.4 band is so crazy busy, you can't get bandwidth to actually
transmit a MP4 wirelessly to your router (and then to the cloud) fast enough.
2.4 GHz is plagued by non-wifi interference: And worse of all, 2.4 GHz is is
plagued by non-wifi interference. Just using a microwave can kill the 2.4 wireless band.
How I tested this: I disconnected the wireless AP from the Internet (so Floodlight cam
was still connected to wireless AP, but not to the Internet), walked in front of the Ring Floodlight
Cam, reconnected the AP to the Internet, and there was NO video recorded in the cloud.
This is simply not acceptable for any true 'security' device. It is so easy to implement
simple buffering of the video (store with no Internet and transmit once Internet comes back up),
that this decision (to drop videos) shows that this Cam is NOT (currently) a true security camera.
ISSUE: One Cam went offline and STAYED offline: One cam went
'offline' (as reported by the Ring app) and refused to provide live view or record
motion events (from May 26 6:35pm until May 31 9:45pm).
But the Cam was still connected to the wireless AP -- the Cam continued
to obtain an IP address from my router every single day, and the Cam provided 'device health'
updates to the Ring cloud.
I gave the Cam five days to see if it would recover on its own and it did not.
Rebooting the AP did not resolve the issue.
I had to eventually reboot (power off/on) the Cam, which instantly was reported
by the Ring app as back online.
The Ring Floodlight Cam IS a great 'tool', but it is NOT a 'security' camera -- because
it can easily miss and not record security incidents.
This 'manual power reset' is totally unacceptable for a security camera, and I think this
demonstrates that Ring rushed the Floodlight Cam out the door -- with critical bugs.
When I contacted Ring support, they replied: "Our latest firmware update 1.6.71 was actually a
hotfix to improve the algorithm for reconnecting Floodlight Cameras that are offline."
-- so Ring KNEW that there is an 'offline' problem with the Floodlight Cam!
UPDATE 2017/08/16: The same thing happened to another one of my Ring Floodlight cams. The cam 'locked up' for days
and would not recover on its own until it was hard power reset.
Other Ring Floodlight Cam 'not ready for prime time' bugs Ring must fix ASAP:
Ring Floodlight Cam fails to capture car leaving driveway
- The Ring Floodlight Cam OFTEN fails to record motion!
At one house, the Cam overlooks a driveway
(with motion triggering on virtually the entire visible frame). I see
the Cam record two people walking and getting into the car (right). The 63 second video ends, and there are
NO other recorded videos -- even though the car then leaves, the Cam fails to capture the car leaving!
I then go into a 'live view' and the car is gone!
UPDATE: This bug now actually happens very frequently, after Ring changed the default
recording time from 60 seconds to 30 seconds. I often see a video of people
approaching a car in the driveway (to leave), but then there is often NO video of
the car actually leaving the driveway.
- Two way talk did not work:
This feature not working is not something that I care
about that much, but when I did test it out over several days, it did not work. Voice
from app to Cam worked, but there was no voice from Cam to app (same result at all locations
and tested on multiple phones).
- Sound in videos is VERY problematic:
Sometimes there is NO sound at all for an entire 63 second
video. Other times, the first few (4-5) seconds of the video has no sound. I can find no video
with sound in the first couple of seconds of the video.
- Inability to set house address:
During install, the app auto-detects your house address. It is impossible to change this
auto-detected address. The app provides a way to set/change the address, but it does not work
AT ALL (not during install, nor after the fact).
Ring Floodlight Cam fails to record videos to the cloud
- Cloud Recording Failure:
All of a sudden, 47 days after signing up for
cloud video recording (and 7 days after charging my credit card for service for 30 days),
on July 11, 2017, cloud video recording for all three cams FAILED
(see right). And worst of all is that Ring's status.ring.com
did NOT show any problems -- which indicates that Ring's 'status' website is not accurate.
This problem went away one day later.
- Blank videos V1:
There are Floodlight Cam videos recorded in the cloud that are 100% black (strangely,
for exactly 40 seconds). Why? What failed? Ring technical support told me to just
be patient and that the videos would eventually appear. I checked a week later and
the videos are still black. I then checked back 38 days later and the videos are still
- Blank videos V2:
There are videos recorded in the cloud that are 100% white. There is sound, but NO video.
- Blank videos V3:
There are Floodlight Cam videos recorded in the cloud that have 25 seconds of no
motion. I can see a person walking, and then that person freezes in mid stride for
25 seconds (the MP4 progress bar continues to advance), and then after 25 seconds,
the person instantly vanishes. Why?
- Live view has issues:
Multiple times "live view" failed (app complained that it
could not connect to the Cam), only to later find that the 'live' video was recorded
and exists in the cloud.
Ring Floodlight Cam Favorites Failure
- 'Favorite's via web browser does not work:
The Ring interface has the ability to
mark videos as a 'favorite'. One day I selected favorites and saw them all.
The next day, I clicked on favorites and not a single video showed up!
Ring instead displayed a "You don't have any favorites. To add a
favorite click the star icon next to an event." This bug was with the web interface,
not the phone app.
- Power outage problem:
After a power outage, the floodlights turn on and STAY on.
Other bugs and problems Ring needs to fix:
- The missing ethernet jack:
Quite simply, the Ring Floodlight Cam is missing an ethernet jack.
Tech support would not listen to my 'video quality' concerns until the RSSI on my Cam was -44.
The only way I could obtain this RSSI was to install a wireless access point right next to
the Cam. Which meant I had to run ethernet cable to the Cam. So I now have the Cam outside, and a
wireless AP inside, less than two foot away from the Cam. That is crazy. Just provide an ethernet
jack on the Floodlight Cam at that point.
Speed Test Problems:
The Ring phone app sends people to bandwidthplace.com to test Internet connection speeds. But
something is very wrong with that site -- as the site reported I had a download speed of 3 Mbps,
whereas two other speed test sites reported a correct 120 Mbps.
- Pulsing in Videos:
When Floodlight Cam videos are played back on a large (non-phone) screen, there is a very
noticeable 'pulsing/stutter' in the video every second. This may be a real issue, or just related
to the incredibly low MP4 video stream bitrate?
- Firmware upgrade:
The steps Ring publishes to upgrade the firmware in the Cam don't work. Why not simply
add a button into the app to do this? Also, there should be a button in the app to
'reboot' the Cam.
- Time gaps:
There is some strange maximum video length of 63 seconds, and motion immediately after that may not
trigger a recording to the cloud. With motion events longer than 63 seconds, I see a 63 second video
recorded, then nothing (no other video). OR, I see a 63 second video, and then another video that starts
many seconds later (a time gap).
2017/07/07 UPDATE: The Ring Floodlight Cam appears to have switched to a maximum video length of
around 31 seconds, which now makes this issue even more pronounced. I now see a lot more
missing time gaps between videos.
- Ignoring 5Ghz:
Ring (tech support, their app, etc) does not understand the 5 GHz wifi exists and is very
common. Support will ask you to run tests against your wireless router, but then they
don't check (verify) to see if you are actually connected at 2.4 Ghz (most devices, when faced with
a dual band router, prefer to connect at 5 GHz instead of 2.4 GHz). So when Ring asks you
to test speeds, you may be testing 5 GHz speeds, not 2.4 GHz speeds, and not even know it!
When I asked tech support if the Floodlight Cam supported MIMO (and if so, should I buy a MIMO
wireless AP), the answer was 'that is proprietary and internal information we can not disclose'.
That attitude hurts Ring customers.
Floodlight Cam product documentation inside the product box states
"For an optimal experience, we recommend Internet speeds of at least 1Mbps", but
the Ring website in the 'Floodlight Cam FAQ' states
"For best streaming performance, we recommend 2 Mbps upload and download speeds".
And yet with a verified 6Mbps up internet connection, the Ring Floodlight Cam refuses to use
more than 1Mbps, resulting in horrible video quality. Something is going on here that Ring must fix ASAP...
- WiFi Roaming:
I just found out that Ring devices are dumb when it comes to multiple wireless access points
with the same SSID (wifi roaming). Ring devices just blindly connect to any random AP with a matching SSID
and do not pay attention to the signal strength (or effective bandwidth) of the AP.
Most client devices (phone, tablets, notebook computers, etc), DO automatically (smartly) switch.
Why this matters: Because Ring devices can connect to a far away weak/slow AP when there
is a strong/fast AP right next to (installed just feet away from) the Ring device!
- Video Size:
Why does this
report that the video stream in Ring Floodlight Cam MP4's
is 1909.89×1080 stretched to 1920×1080?
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