We have to admit, for a company we never heard of until recently, Reolink puts out some nice cameras. The Reolink Argus checks in as a solid outdoor wireless camera. It’s 100% wireless which means no power cable. The wireless feature comes in real handy on an outdoor camera where an A/C outlet may not be available.
(Disclosure: Unlike most of the cameras reviewed on HomeCamCafe.com, this one was free from the manufacturer. The review is our honest unbiased opinion of the product and not influenced in any way.)
This is the second Reolink camera reviewed on our site. The Reolink Keen was reviewed a few weeks back. It’s totally different from the Argus in that it’s a pan and tilt indoor model. The Reolink Argus is a fixed lens outdoor camera. The only things in common are battery operation and a shared smartphone app.
We have looked at a few other outdoor cameras on HomeCamCafe. Two outdoor competitors for the ReoLink Argus are the Canary Flex and Arlo Pro HD. We will differentiate this camera from the competition where warranted within this review.
You will access the Reolink Argus Wireless Outdoor Camera with a smartphone using the ReoLink app for iOS or Android. The smartphone app is easy to use. Multiple Reolink cameras can be supported from the app. Different models are ok as long as they are from Reolink.
The app is the only way to access the camera and all setup is done from here. There is a small pamphlet included that walks you through the setup process. The setup is facilitated by scanning UID codes from your phone, entering the wireless password, then scanning a UID code on your phone by the camera.
This setup process is done on each device that will access the camera so get it out of the way now before you have the Reolink Argus set way up high somewhere outside. You see, the Reolink cameras lack an account on a central server that controls access. It’s done via the camera itself. So figure out which devices will access your Reolink Argus and get it out of the way now.
The manual is fairly brief. Fortunately Reolink technical support is responsive and they answered several questions for us. Their response was within a day and they can be reached using the Reolink Support Page.
Motion detection is setup using the Reolink app which supports time schedules for notifications. Notifications can be emailed or pushed to your device. Before using email, you need to set it up through the app. This requires entering the name of your SMTP server and port plus the user and password for the email account. The SMTP fields are pre-filled for a gmail account. We recommend establishing a secondary email account with an SMTP server to avoid entering your primary email password into the application. Ideally, it would be better to have the option of using the manufacturer’s email system for this purpose, but this type of setup isn’t all that unusual.
Like the Reolink Keen, there are no motion zones to reduce the field of view for motion alerts. The low setting of the PIR controls yielded the best results in our tests. However, the on-board PIR sensor did run into challenges differentiating a blowing tree branch from a human and issued a few false alerts.
Video quality selection is done via the settings. Reolink uses the term “Clear” in the settings to mean 1080p. Lower settings are available such as “fluent” which is Q720p. You can also select frame rate and transmission rates. Transmission rate selection is great for minimizing bandwidth or maximizing when there are no restrictions.
Here is a distinct and noticeable difference between “Clear” and “Fluent” video. Use the “Clear” setting if your network can handle it.
This is a battery operated camera so the application provides a means to monitor battery usage. Using the Battery selection under System Settings brings up a calendar and summary of battery usage by day. The last 28 days of use are shown. Current battery strength is shown on the primary screen display with the usual shaded battery icon.
No cloud storage with the Reolink Argus however the camera does support use of an on-board SD card. According to Reolink, a future cloud offering is in the works. However, many times the on-board micro SD card will work just fine. Obviously, if the camera is stolen from the mount, you will wish you had some cloud storage as the on-board card walks with the camera. The competitors mentioned for this camera do include a cloud storage option. We will await Reolink’s cloud offering and hope it’s coming soon.
There is no integration with third party apps like IFTTT. Being able to set other events in motion when movement is detected would be a nice feature to have in the future.
The Reolink Argus measures 4.4 x 2.5 x 2.1 inches and weighs 9.2 ounces (batteries included). That’s about the same size as the Canary Flex but larger than the Arlo Pro.
The Reolink Arugus differs from the Arlo Pro in the way it connects to the router. We prefer the Reolink Argus method. The Arlo Pro provides a separate hub which connects to a wireless router. The Reolink Argus has no additional hub as it connects directly to the wireless router. That’s one less piece of hardware to worry about.
This is a 100% wireless solution. That means no wires whatsoever. No A/C power plugged into the wall. It’s powered by batteries.
These cameras are rated as IP65. That means the Reolink Argus is protected against low pressure water jets from all directions, limited ingress permitted. That’s the official meaning of IP65. So it’s ok to attach to the outside of your home.
Reolink includes four lithium CR123A batteries with the Argus. There’s a battery life indicator within the app. The manufacturer predicts a battery life of 500 minutes of recording and up to 180 days of standby time. Your results will vary depending upon the amount of camera use. The more it’s used, the less the batteries will last. The batteries aren’t overly expensive but it’s something to be aware of.
When it’s time for new batteries, we always recommend sticking with brand names such as Energizer or Duracell. Consider the Energizer 10-pack CR123A Lithium Batteries. It’s got more than enough for a complete change out of the four batteries in the camera. Since lithium batteries have a very long shelf life, it’s safe to buy them in quantities and store them away for later use.
Audio is fully supported. A two-way conversation can be held by pressing the microphone in the Reolink app. It was a bit difficult to hear the other party when the camera is mounted outdoors. Victims of the law of physics combined with a small speaker on a camera mounted about ten feet off the ground.
The Reolink Argus features a 130 degree wide angle lens. Generally speaking, it’s enough to cover the front of the house and somewhat off to the side.
The 1080p lens delivered an extremely clear video quality during the day. When we coupled the 1080p video with the maximum 2048kbs stream size, the Reolink Argus delivered one of the clearest video streams we have seen on any camera. That’s saying quite a lot given the extensive list of cameras we have reviewed on HomCamCafe.
Acceptable night vision is provided with 850nm IR LEDs. Reolink claims a night distance of up to 33 feet.
Recording to a micro SD card is provided with an on-board slot which will hold up to a 64 GB card. Use this feature to record video history. Since no cloud service is available with this camera, this represents the only way to record video history.
Connectivity to the router uses the 2.4 GHz band using 802.11b/g/n. The 5 GHz band is not supported.
The Reolink Argus Wireless Outdoor Camera has two mounting options. The bottom of the camera has a 1/4″ – 20 threaded hole similar to that found on a tripod. This opens mounting options to a variety of universal camera mounts. Even better in our opinion is the magnetic concave found on the bottom which pairs with the included metal dome mount. Place the metal mount high up using a ladder to dissuade potential thieves. While it’s a strong magnet, it can be easily pulled off. Not a lot you can do about that.
Fun and Different
Features controlling video quality, frame refresh and transmission rates are among the most flexible we have seen on a home security camera. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the controls found on Sling TV for bandwidth limitations (for those familiar with the streaming service). If bandwidth isn’t an issue, crank it all the way up to 2048 kbps for the clearest video. Conversely, move it down for a lesser quality but lower bandwidth use.
The Reolink Argus is an excellent outdoor camera. It’s well priced and as we mentioned, if bandwidth is no issue, this camera will deliver one of the clearest videos we have seen. It exceeded our expectations for a battery powered camera. This will be a nice addition for those wanting to keep an eye on what’s happening outside.
|Video Quality||Field of View||Cloud Support||SD Support||Night Vision||Mobile/Web App||Alerts||Outdoor|
Manufacturer Link: Reolink
All of these articles are written by someone (me) that figured out how to do this stuff the hard way. I have owned and tested dozens of cameras. Manufacturer support varies. There are a few good companies that provide timely answers when you have questions. There are several that sell you the camera and seem to have little interest in post sales support (which leads me to finding out stuff the hard way).