Reolink is a Cheap Battery-Powered Security CameraBy - 05/06/2017
If you haven’t already noticed, I’m kind of into battery-powered cameras. I’ve tested Canary Flex, Arlo Pro, Blink, and Blink XT. Of course, there are other battery-powered cameras I haven’t tested, including Butterfleye and Homeboy, for example. What used to be rare in the home security world seems to be the norm these days, and that raises a question: “Is there room in the world for yet another wire-free camera”?
What is Reolink Argus?
Reolink hopes there is room for one more battery-powered security camera. And if they want to carve out their own niche within a niche, they’re going to need to offer the world something different. Currently, what they have is an inexpensive home security camera that works indoors and outdoors. It runs on a rechargeable battery, offers FHD video, night vision, two-way audio, local storage, and motion detection. Does it offer anything new or earth shattering? Not really, but it is slightly different from the competition.
What Differentiates Argus From Other Wire-Free Cameras
|Arlo Pro||Blink XT||Canary Flex||Reolink Argus|
|Resolution||720p||720p, 1080p Capable||720p||1080p|
|Two-Way Audio||Coming Soon|
|Field of View||130°||110°||116°||130°|
|Arlo Pro||Blink XT||Canary Flex||Reolink Argus|
|Works Alone||Requires Base Station||Requires Sync Module|
|Works Outside and Inside|
|Free Mobile App|
|Audible Siren||Sold Separately||Voice Alert|
|Free Storage||7 Days Free Cloud, Pro Base Station Supports USB||7,200 Seconds of Video||1 Device = 24hr, 2 Devices = 12hr Each, 3 Devices = 8hr Each, 4 Devices = 6hr Each||16GB SD Card (Can Support 64GB), Cloud Storage Coming Soon|
|Works With||IFTTT, SmartThings||Amazon Alexa, IFTTT||Wink|
|Battery Life||Tested at 2 Months||Still Going After 20 Months of Use||Tested at 1 Month||Not Tested*|
|Geofencing||Via IFTTT Only|
|Placement||Stand or Optional Wall Mount, Magnetic Surface||Stand or Wall Mount||Magnetic Base, Stand, Mounting Options Sold Separately||Stand or Optional Wall Mount, Magnetic Surface|
*According to Reolink, the battery should last up to 180 days in standby mode. If you are using motion triggered events and recording, the estimate falls to 800 minutes.
What makes Reolink Argus different from other battery-powered cameras is the price. While it doesn’t offer anything new, it does offer most of the premium features found in other cameras, for a smaller price tag.
Like Arlo Pro, it offers two-way audio and a 130° field of view. Like Canary Flex, it works alone and doesn’t rely on a base station.
Reolink Argus for Home Security
So let’s get to the important stuff. How does Reolink Argus protect your home?
Like most cameras, it uses motion detection to monitor for activity. Specifically, it uses a “smart PIR movement sensor”. Also, like most battery-powered cameras, it sits in standby mode until something happens. While a sleeping security camera isn’t ideal, it’s necessary to help the camera conserve battery. In testing other cameras, what I’ve found is that sleepiness can affect home security. Canary Flex, for example, is often slow to wake up, and Arlo Pro takes about 6 seconds to wake whenever you want to check out a live stream. Blink has a leg up here as it has a long battery life and it’s “always-on”. What about Reolink Argus? I don’t know, but according to their Indiegogo campaign the camera does sleep until motion is detected at which point it will “wake up at once”.
Notifications and Storage
Once an event is detected, Reolink Argus kicks into action. It will send a motion snapshot via email, sound a voice alert, send a push notification to your phone, and record a clip to the device’s internal SD Card.
In my opinion, there is both a pro and a con to using an SD card for storage. PRO: Privacy. You don’t need to worry about your family’s private moments being hijacked on their way to some random server. CON: From a home security perspective, an SD card isn’t sufficient. If someone sees your camera and decides to take it, you will have your email motion snapshot, but you will lose all recorded footage.
Reolink Argus is currently smashing its goal on Indiegogo. The campaign ends in 5 days, and they’ve already raised 3,439% of their goal. You can still pre-order one camera for $80. Their MSRP is $100. The camera also ships for free, and they expect to start shipping this month and continue shipping into June. Should you back it?
Not Reolink’s First Rodeo
There is always a risk in backing a campaign. Usually, the greatest risk is that the product that you receive won’t quite match the product promised during campaign funding. The good news here is that Reolink isn’t new to the camera game. They sell other low costs cameras including NVR style cameras on their website. Their cameras also sell on Amazon and are mostly rated 4-stars. However, they’ve called Argus a sister to Reolink Keen, which is currently rated 3.5 stars on Amazon. Their current app is rated 2.5 stars on iTunes, and 3.6 stars on Google Play.
Argus Has Some Missing Features
So am I calling Argus a buy or a pass? I’m NOT calling it a pass, but I’m sort of on the fence here. Other battery-powered cameras win when it comes to three key features noticeably missing from Reolink Argus:
- Cloud Storage (Coming Soon)
- Third-Party Integrations
My main concern is the lack of cloud storage and lack of communication from Reolink to backers regarding security protocols. That said, placing the camera outdoors seems like a safe bet. Outdoors, the lack of geofencing is a non-issue. The small price tag, flexibility of placement, and ability to work without a base station also make it an intriguing option. However, even in an outdoor camera, cloud storage is key. Reolink claims cloud storage is coming soon, but details are scarce. Will cloud storage come free or will it tether owners to a monthly fee? TBD.