Reolink Argus 2
If you are interested in improving your home security, there has never been a better time to do it. There is a huge range of options including totally wire-free, POE and mobile data enabled; there is also an option for all budgets.
Reolink have come along with another option with the Reolink Argus 2, priced at £130 it comes in cheaper than the Blink XT and uses a built-in battery for power. Depending on how you set it up they claim to have 180 days battery in standby or 960-minutes lie view.
Reolink themselves are not a new company, in fact, they are quite popular among the DIY home security world, they have a huge range of cameras and their wired IP cameras are a popular budget option that will rival Hikvision or Ezviz.
The Reolink Argus 2 hardware is quite impressive for the price. It is very similar to the Arlo in that you have a camera unit with a built-in battery that is then mounted to a magnetic mount. With Arlo, you can make it more outdoor friendly with an optional screw mount, but with Reolink, they provide one of these in the box free of charge. To improve your mounting options, the Reolink also has a nylon strap which feeds through the base of the screw mount. This will allow hassle-free installation on certain objects, such as a tree branch or post.
You can extend the battery life by purchasing the optional solar panel which costs just £29.99. I was sent this to review, and while I have used it, I can’t say how effective it is. Blackpool is not particularly sunny at the moment, nor have I had it for an extended period of time
The camera is rated as IP65 weatherproof – and that classification official states “Protected against water spray from all directions.”
You also get a rubber skin included in the pack, and I opted to use this for peace of mind, my Ezviz died due to liquid ingress from heavy rain, so the rubber skin will provide an additional layer of weather protection.
Unlike the Arlo and Blink XT, the Argus 2 requires no base unit; it connects to your WiFi directly.
To avoid expensive subscription costs this camera stores the videos locally on a microSD card – this is my preferred option as it reduces costs considerably.
The set up is quite straightforward, and if you have ever used another security camera, it will be quite familiar. You need to charge your camera, download the app, sign up and follow the set-up instructions. The camera itself provides vocal prompts which is a little more useful than random blinking lights. You will need to be connected to the WiFi channel you wish the camera to connect to, you then need to point a QR code at the camera, this passes the SSID settings over and allows the camera to connect.
I found that the camera didn’t want to connect to my 5GHZ network, but it connected straight away to 2.4GHz. In theory, this might be a better option as the slower network should have a longer reach allowing for more flexible mounting options. I mounted the camera on a window ledge outside my office window pointing down to my front door; this put the camera just a few metres away from the router it was connecting.
As I used the Mate 10 Pro as my primary phone, my review is restricted to the Android App. I am pleased to say it works well and navigating all the options in intuitive.
The main screen shows all your cameras, in my case just one. Then within the camera you can enable live view, I found establishing the connection to be within a reasonable amount of time, it took maybe 1-2 seconds. I was also able to reliably establish remote connections when needed. During the live view, you can optionally take a screenshot or start a recording.
The camera has a speaker built in so you can also optionally speak to people. Due to the placement, I didn’t test this extensively, but the speaker during setup was loud enough and clear. This would be a great feature if the installation is close to your front door, you can then speak to delivery drivers if you are not in.
You can manage the PIR settings and have it set up on a schedule if you choose. There are three sensitivity options, and you will need to play with this to get reliable recordings. I tried the high setting, and even a slight shadow would trigger a recording. Within the PIR settings, you can have the camera enable a siren and/or email you.
If you want to improve storage capacity you can also option tweak the video settings, I chose to leave these as default, but you can lower things down to 720P and lower the FPS down to as low as 5.
If you click on the playback button, you can then view all the recordings from the camera and optionally download them. I found to access the recordings very simple, and the media started its stream quickly. My PIR settings triggered a lot of recordings due to shadows, but it was usually simple to work out which ones to ignore, the default length appears to be 8 seconds, any recording over this seems to be recording something moving. Playing with the settings will improve reliability. Downloading the videos has some issues, I would occasionally get a download error when the video does download the app appears to break on my phone. The video file is still downloaded though, and I have Google Photos auto-upload them, but you can also just pull them off manually.
The most important part of a security camera is good quality and reliable videos, and the Realink manages this well. During some of the daytime recordings, there appears to be some overexposure as the video starts recording but it settles down and the quality of the video is excellent, and it is easy to make out features of the people it records.
Night time performance is equally as good; again it was easy to make out details of any person the camera picked up.
I would say the overall performance is not quite as good as the Blink XT, downloading videos can be a little temperamental, and the PIR isn’t as accurate.
However, this is £20 cheaper, uses rechargeable batteries, has a built-in speaker, and the overall build quality is much better. In particular, the mounting options are fantastic compared to the Blink.
For a budget wire-free security camera this performs very well indeed. Video quality is superb, the accessories make it stand out from the crowd, and the overall performance should be more than adequate for anyone wanting some simple security improvements.
Reolink Argus 2