There is a Ring Car Cam that checks all the boxes
A Low-Rate, High-Fidelity, Low-Interesting Dash Cam for the Younger Cars (Extended Version)
But these can run to well over $400, like the recently released Garmin Dash Cam Live. This cam has many of the Car Cam’s features (but no interior view or two-way talk) and adds removable storage, 1440p recording, and a built-in screen for on-device control and video viewing. Plus, you can download an entire drive with a neat time-lapse feature. You’ll pay more for it, as with the Owlcam, which does not have an interior view. Monthly fees are $10 for Garmin and $20 a month for Owlcam, compared to $6 for Ring.
The Car Cam is also the most subtle dash cam I’ve encountered. It’s a svelte device that fits snugly between your windshield and dashboard and sticks to the glass with preinstalled adhesive. It is still visible but is not as obnoxious as the large black rectangles that hang from the mirror in cars.
The Effect of Motion on the Live View of the Ring Car Cam and the Ring Alarm App – My First Experience with an Autonomous Vehicle
The video quality from the cameras is better than the live views, but only at 540p. Only cloud recordings and downloaded videos can get “up to” 1080p, according to Ring’s website. Live video quality didn’t provide the detail I was looking for to see the license plate of the car in front of me. Once downloaded, it did become possible to make out that type of detail. But you have to pay for the ability to download videos.
The first time I viewed a recorded video clip, I was surprised at how clear and crisp the video looked. I expected to see a dash cam-like video clip that was lacking in depth and color. I would expect clips from a Ring Video Doorbell or Spotlight cam to look similar on the car cam. Even at night, the video clips give me enough information to make outwhat a person is doing, or if there is a car off in the distance.
Within live view clips and downloaded clips there is a form of pixelated movement from the interior camera, such as as the car moves in the background. The camera with a field of view that’s full of movement has some detection, but that should be expected from that camera.
Ring’s first hit product was its Video Doorbell, not only because it started recording once someone pressed the doorbell’s button, but because it would also send alerts when motion was detected near your door. The alert system allowed you to quickly know if someone was approaching your door, even if they didn’t ring the bell.
If I did happen to catch the notification, I could turn on any other Ring cameras or any Ring lighting directly from the live view of the Car Cam in the app as an extra deterrent. But there is not a way to integrate with Ring Alarm, an omission that is odd.
When viewing a Ring Car Cam clip or live view, you can quickly switch between the inside and front-facing cameras by tapping on the camera icon at the top of the screen. The icon was instantly familiar to me because it’s the same icon I’ve seen smartphone makers use in the camera app to switch between the rear and front-facing cameras.
When viewing the camera’s timelines, events are labeled like company doorbells or floodlight cameras. Live view sessions are orange and motion is blue, but there’s a new category labeled “Driving,” which, you guessed it, indicates that the car was in motion and being driven. It is easy to find a specific clip, thanks to the new category.
The video is being recorded to the device. To download clips, the Car Cam needs to be connected to Wi-Fi or have a strong LTE signal. You can see live views from the cloud, where you can use the app, if you want to. When you download a driving video, it goes to the cloud for processing. You can only download clips of 20 seconds at a time. All other clips can be downloaded in full.
As the camera already records while you’re driving or if it detects motion when the car is off, the feature feels more like a safety net to make sure it’s recording. The main difference between it and regular recording is the command initiates 20 minutes of continuous video regardless of motion and sends the beginning of the video to the cloud — useful in case someone nabs the camera. As mentioned, it’s also possible to download the whole video after the event rather than just 20 seconds at a time.
If you are in the car with a recording, you can make a recording by using the Ring app or saying, “Alexa, record.” This feature allows you to see and talk to anyone in the car, so you can scare off would-be thieves.
Inside the Ring Car Cam’s box is everything you need to install. The arm with the camera wedged between it and the dashboard is already attached. There is an ODB-II accessory that plugs into your car’s diagnostics port, as well as a power cable you need to use on the right side of the camera’s base, which is included in the box.
The OBD-II port on most cars made before Jan. 1, 1996 can be found in the manual, but I suggest you check the manual for its location. If you’re not careful the cable that is run from your port to your camera may be a safety hazard. (In fact, during installation the app asks where your car’s OBD-II port is located, and if it’s in the middle of your console, you’re instructed to return the Car Cam for a full refund.)
Using a Camera to Monitor the Motion of an OBD-II Vehicle Using the Ring Protect System – a First Look at a Case Study
The blue stick that can help wedge the cable between the dash and the windshield is included in the box. I spent maybe 5 minutes going through the installation process as I was told by the app. I think cable management is an issue.
Ideally, the power cable should be tucked down, between the dashboard and the windshield, out of sight. And at first, that’s exactly how I had the cable routed. The cable came out when I wedged the base of the camera between the dashboard and the windshield. I tried to push the cable down, but it wouldn’t come out. I eventually figured out that the pressure being put on the dashboard but the arm that’s holding the camera was causing enough separation, there wasn’t anything there to hold the cable in place.
I would most likely use some of the included clips to hold the cable in place and deal with the effects of the sun on the skin. But even then, there’s probably a good 2 to 3 feet of excess cable that I’d have to deal with.
Outside of using some sort of rechargeable battery pack, I don’t see how Ring can get around the need to route a cable from the OBD-II port — which, by the way, allows the camera to draw power at any time. I wish it were a lot less messy.
That always-on network costs an additional amount. More specifically, Ring Protect Go is $6 per month or $60 per year. It is an additional price if you are already a Ring Protect subscriber.
You can use Ring Car cam without Protect Go, but you won’t receive push alert for motion, the camera will have to be connected to the internet, and live and two-way video can’t be used.
There is a physical privacy shutter you can flip up to disable the interior camera and any audio recording inside the car. (The exterior camera still records the action in front of you.) If you are going to spend $250 on a device, you shouldn’t cut off half of its utility. Audio inside the vehicle can not bedisabled just for video and audio.
It would not be necessary to remember to use or remove the privacy shutter if she only gave a voice command to enable privacy mode for 20 minutes. A hands-free privacy trigger would be a welcome addition.
Personally, I found that having a camera trained on me while driving helped restrict any bad habits I may or may not have picked up in my 30 or so years of driving. When my son is a teenager he’ll be driving on his own, and I wanted to teach him how to drive on his own.
And to be honest, I don’t blame them. It feels like we are all on camera all the time these days, and frankly, it’s exhausting. My car is my sanctuary. Over the years, as a busy working mom, there have been times when I snuck out and just hung out in there, just enjoying time with my family. The camera inside my car is not something I’ve ever felt the need for.
The security camera feature worked well in testing despite my car being parked at the end of my driveway and not having a good internet connection or good cell phone coverage at my home. I could see and talk to my son when I sent him out to test this, and the alert came through within a few seconds of him opening the door. Audio was clear and loud, as it was during driving, but the night vision was a bit pixelated and blurry.
After a few days with the Car Camera staring at me with a blue eye and a blue circles on top that glows in the dim light, I was wondering why this isn’t an echo auto device. Ring is attempting to make this feel less intrusive. It would be nice to have the option to turn on the hands-free voice assistant if I were to put this thing in my dashboard.
Thankfully, I was not pulled over, nor did I witness or participate in a fender bender during my week of testing, so I didn’t have the chance to evaluate a real-world experience of this feature. But I did test the command both while the car was parked and off and while driving.
The command worked in the testing, even though it did not pick up when the car was off. It did record me while I sat in the car, but I didn’t get the 20 minutes of continuous recording.
The camera would often think it heard the radio or aPodcast say “Alexa.” The recordings from the traffic stop didn’t show up in my timeline as the test commands I issued did. So it appears to have realized it was a false alert.
Both cameras have night vision, and the quality here was also mostly just okay — a little hard to make out faces in the cabin at night. The video on the exterior didn’t go very far in my neighborhood. The car moved when it was parked in my driveway at night, but I didn’t see much going on outside of it. It wasn’t aware my son was approaching the car in the video. This would be more noticeable on a busy street but automatic integration of Ring’s outdoor lighting products would make this more useful.
The viewing angle for the exterior camera is smaller than for the interior camera. It’s enough to see across four lanes of traffic when driving, but when stationary, it didn’t pick up a pedestrian crossing until she was right in front of me. The location of the camera between the dash and the windshield has caused nearly half of the video screen in my car to be taken up by the dash.
The Ring Cam Review: Amazon Security Dash Cams for the Hot Out Of The Solar Or In The North Of The USA / WF/Cayley
Even if you already own a Ring product, it is easy to set up the camera and use the Ring app. The live feed shows up on the homescreen, along with any other Ring cameras you have. You can view the video in the same way you would those cameras — the main difference being a toggle that flips between the exterior and interior views.
The cameras sit up just above your dash on the end of a small arm — which blocks less of your view than if it were hanging from the rearview mirror as a lot of dash cams do, but it is still a distraction in your field of vision.
I’m concerned about how well this camera will hold up in hot weather. I live in the South and it can get as hot as 130 degrees and even though the roof is not required for protection, it still won’t be protected from the sun as if it were a mirror. Conversely, there are many places where it’s going to be colder than negative 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the low end of the device’s threshold.
Another potential problem is that the camera sips power from your battery when you’re not driving to keep the motion sensors on. If you own an older or less reliable battery, this could be a problem. Ring says the camera’s power management system will turn itself off before it depletes the car’s battery, and there is a setting in the Ring app that lets you limit the camera to drawing low, medium, or high power. It did not cause any problems while I was testing, but my battery is only a year old, I don’t live in a cold climate.
However, my son’s birthday is in about three weeks. I think I can pick one up because of my fear of him being out on the road. I will probably allow him to use the privacy shutter.
The Number of Times You Have to Hit “Agree” to Use Smart Devices as a Counterexample to Contracts We Cannot Read and Analyze
Every smart device has certain terms and conditions before you can use them, contracts that are hard to read. It’s impossible for us to read and analyze every single one of these agreements. But we’re going to start counting exactly how many times you have to hit “agree” to use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people don’t read and definitely can’t negotiate.