Home security has never been more important. A study by Xfinity and August Home cited that security was the number one reason for people wanting to buy smart home products. Protecting your home and family should be the top priority for anyone looking to invest in smart home upgrades.
With so many choices on the market these days, it’s hard to figure out what the best Wi-Fi security camera system you should get is. There’s a few big options to considers, like if you want battery powered verses wired, or 720p vs 1080p. Until now, there hasn’t been a choice for a wire free 1080p Wi-Fi camera, but now there’s the Reolink Argus which is a full-featured wireless Wi-Fi security camera.
I got a chance to see first hand how this camera does and listed what I found important below.
Disclosure: The good people at Reolink wanted our opinion so much that they sent me a review unit. I played with it a lot and found out how it stacks up against a field full of competition.
The App & Installation
Reolink includes a QR code in their Quick Start Guide for downloading their app for Android and iPhone. It installs quickly and connects to your Wi-Fi quickly as well. Adding a camera is as simple as using the app to scan a QR code on the back of the camera. It was the quickest app install for a security camera that I’ve ever done.
There are two bases that come with the camera. One magnetic for quick removal which seems great for indoors, and one bolt mounted for permanently affixing it outdoors. The magnetic mount is of course great for replacing batteries in seconds, but the bolt mount will take you a minute or two. Both will require a drill and bit, but they come with the required hardware to mount.
Once you install a camera, you realize how full-featured it is. To be honest, it took a while to find everything as there are just so many options. The app is visually well designed, but unfortunately, finding all of the settings is not particularly intuitive. For example, the only way to access a camera’s options is through a small icon on the main screen. Once you’ve clicked through to the camera, there is no direct way to access options.
Also, for Android users, using the ‘Back’ button exits the app. There is an, “Are you sure?” warning, but since you’re more than likely used to using the back button to go back in the menus, finding and using the apps’ back button takes a but to get used to.
My kitchen in both day and night mode.
Video & Sound Quality
In short, it’s great. The 1080p resolution with 120 degree viewing angle gives great clarity so you can see faces and even license plates at reasonable distances. The camera is limited to 15 frames per second, so while it won’t give you smooth cinema quality, it can give you a great view of what’s going on a is perfect for presenting evidence. I moved the camera around to several places in my home, and found the
The night vision also works surprisingly well. With all the lights off in my house, I could still make out faces across the room. This feature comes in super handy for the outdoors as the motion sensing can alert you to burglars or animals.
The microphone on the camera is excellent, and I was able to hear activity near my camera very clearly. However, the speaker on the camera which is for two-way communication is very weak and barely audible even up close. When mounted to my garage, you had to be directly underneath to hear, and it’s definitely not loud enough to scare anyone away.
Installation was very easy.
Storage and Access
The big blessing and curse of Reolink’s system is that there are so many options. First, you can record locally on a Micro SD card. I used a 16GB Micro SD card, which can store 2 months of normal motion activated clips. You can upgrade to as big as a 64GB Micro SD card if you like so that you can store probably more than half a year’s worth of activity. That would push your recording capability well past what the four 3V batteries can record. The Micro SD card storage option is great for when you need to put a camera someplace outside of Wi-Fi range, and can come back later to swap batteries and retrieve the card.
Also, if you’re on the app, you can choose to download whatever clips you want directly to your phone. I think that this is the option that most people will use on a day-to-day basis. Reolink has also told me that they are developing a cloud storage service as well. With so much on-board storage and the capability to download directly to your phone, I’m not sure that this would be necessary. But it’s nice to know that Reolink is thinking of it’s customers and providing every way possible to access video.
Features & Options
As mentioned earlier, there’s just so many features that it’s a welcome, but slightly overwhelming delight compared to some established brands. My favorites are of course the 1080p recording, night vision, and recording options. However, there are a bunch more worth noting.
I particularly liked the ability to hang the camera upside down. I mounted this using the same holes as my current camera looking at my garage. Unfortunately, mounting it upright meant I got a really good shot of the underside of my eaves. With the mount being able to swivel down, I chose the option to flip the view, and voila, I could see my driveway.
The motion sensing, which they call PIR, has three sensitivity settings, audio warning, push notifications to the app and email, and records. You can also schedule when you want motion sensing, which I found incredibly helpful. For example, I don’t need have a notification during the morning rush out of my condo complex, so I turned on the notifications for only late night and early morning so I can be aware of abnormal activity.
For those that are looking for a system, buying into the Reolink family allows you to view 16 cameras at once through the app. Although I only have one to review, the option in the app is quite clear and seems like it is easy to manage a large system.
- Great quality 1080p video in daylight or night mode
- Tons of storage, waterproof, and other features
- Great price point, especially when buying multiple Reolink units
- Using the Back button on Android exits the app
- Uses uncommon 3V batteries
I found the Reolink Argus to be an incredible camera, especially at the low price of $90 at the time of writing. If you buy multiple, the price drops pretty quickly as well. It’s definitely something to consider when the name brands in this space, which don’t offer wire free 1080p, are all asking over $100 for theirs.
The Reolink Argus is on pre-order for now, and scheduled to ship in July.
Have you pre-ordered the Reolink Argus? Let us know in the comments!