Camera/floodlight combos are terrific because they provide home security via both lighting and video surveillance. But you’ll find better executions of this concept than the Momentum Aria.

Selling for less than $170 at Amazon and Home Depot, the Momentum Aria is a bit cheaper than more established competitors like the Maximus Camera Floodlight (our current top pick in this category) and the Ring Floodlight Cam, but that doesn’t make it a strong value.

First, the device is made almost entirely of plastic. Many devices in this category use copious amounts of plastic in their construction, but Momentum uses plastic for virtually everything. Ring, in contrast, uses metal in the base of its Ring Floodlight Cam, as well as in the arms and hoods for its LED floodlights. I also found the Aria more difficult to install than either of the Maximus or the Ring.

momentum aria screenshot daytime Michael Brown / IDG

The Aria’s camera delivers 1080p video with a 140-degree field of view.

But Momentum’s design choice is most problematic in the ball joints that connect the LED lamp hoods and the camera to the unit’s base. These joints rely on friction to hold them in position. They are very difficult to adjust and they don’t move far. I also would venture to guess that years of exposure to sunlight will loosen these up to the point the lights and camera won’t stay aimed where you point them.

If you’re considering incorporating the Aria into your smart home, you’ll want to know that Momentum currently doesn’t offer an Alexa skill and it’s not compatible with Google Assistant either. If you want to manually turn the floodlight on or off or view a live video feed or recorded clips, you’ll need to pull out your Android or iOS smart device.

Buggy software

You’re supposed to be able to program the app with rules for when the floodlight comes on and when the camera records video, but creating anything but the simplest of rules is an exercise in frustration. Unless you’re at home 24/7, you probably want the camera to record video every time something moves in front of the camera. That’s easy enough, just create a rule with one element that says (essentially) when motion is detected, record video and send a notification to the app; a second element that indicates you want this rule to be in effect Monday through Sunday; and a third element that indicates this rule should be in effect all day.

momentum screenshots Michael Brown / IDG

The Momentum app’s home screen is in the center. The screens on either side illustrate how rules are defined.

In most cases, you’ll want the floodlight to be turned on when it’s dark, but creating a rule to accomplish that goal is much more problematic. First, you can’t create a rule that turns on the light when motion is detected. You can only program it by the day of the week and the time of day. In most parts of the country, it’s dark twice each day: At night and early in the morning. But the Momentum app relies strictly on clock times, there is no dusk-to-dawn setting.

The app won’t allow you to set a time range that spans from one day to the next—say, from 8:00 at night to 6:00 the following morning. It does allow you to create two time ranges for each day—6:00 am to 7:30 am, and then 8:00 pm to 11:30 pm, for example—or at least it’s supposed to. This absolutely did not work for me. No matter what times I set for the second time range, the app would change it to something else when I saved the rule. My work-around for this problem was to create two separate rules, one for the morning and a second for the evening. It’s a kludge, but it worked.