Ring Car Cam is a simple way to add security and peace of mind to your car.
At $250 plus an optional subscription, it’s more expensive than a standard dash cam but also has some advantages.
The device was announced at CES 2023 and has a unique, minimalistic design that sticks between your dashboard and windshield.
It’s almost like adding a video doorbell to your car – complete with notifications if there’s movement near or involving your vehicle.
HD cameras face front and back and have a wide-angle point of view.
Installation was easier than I expected. The toughest part is running the USB-C power cable to what’s called the OBD-2 port. Not every car is compatible with this setup and there is currently no other way to do the installation. You can’t run the power cord to an alternative power supply.
Ring Car Cam records to internal memory several ways.
First, every time you drive, it’s recording a continuous loop of the front and back cameras.
Second, the camera records when it senses movement. You can adjust the degree of sensitivity that triggers a recording.
Third, you can trigger a manual recording when your car is stopped by saying the phrase “Alexa, Record.”
Just like the video doorbell, you can take a look inside or outside of your car at any time.
If you do, there’s an audible chime to let those inside know you’re watching. You can even talk back and forth.
A status light appears when the camera is in use. There’s also a flip up privacy shutter that immediately stops all video and audio.
Camera quality is fine to good. I noticed that license plates are easiest to read the closer they are.
Just like the video doorbell, you can use the Ring app to view video clips and get notifications.
But here’s the thing: Unless you subscribe to the optional $6 dollar a month or $60 dollar a year cellular plan, your videos are locked to the device. There’s no way to download them, even on Wi-Fi.
Also, clips won’t go to the cloud unless you pay.
You also won’t get any notifications when your car is outside your home Wi-Fi area, aka your driveway (if your Wi-Fi reaches that far).
This means that if you drive your car to the movies and leave it in the parking lot and there is some activity, your camera will record but you won’t get a notification until you get back into Wi-Fi.
Cellular is essential to the true usefulness of this dash cam, so if you get it, be prepared to subscribe. Sadly, you can’t bundle the subscription into an existing Ring subscription plan.
The camera has GPS built in as well so you can see where your car is on a map, but again, this feature is really only useful if you have the cellular plan.
Bottom line: I really like the Ring Car Cam. It gives you peace of mind at home and on the road but to really get the most out of it you’ll want to subscribe to unlock the best features.