|Reasonably priced||Does not support voice commands|
|Weatherproof||No sound detection|
|Super easy to install||SD Card not included|
|Truly wireless for flexible placement||Batteries need to be replaced every 6 months|
|Full HD quality|
If you’re looking for a truly wire-free security camera that doesn’t mind the rain and won’t break the bank, then Reolink’s battery-powered device is an impressive 1080p-capable solution.
Reolink has an established range of traditional wired security systems, but the Argus is the most cost-effective proposition so far, boasting a sealed, weatherproof case and Full HD resolution.
The box includes a lozenge-shaped compact camera with inbuilt PIR motion detection, two wall brackets and the four batteries required to get up and running.
There are no cables in the box because the Argus is completely wireless, using your Wi-Fi network to send alerts to your phone and stream video in up to 1080p quality. And with a microSD card slot for recording the action, there’s no additional subscription cost with this one-off purchase.
Design and build
The smooth capsule design and white finish of the Argus make it blend into the background, so much so that you might not notice it – but for the row of LEDs (although these can be turned off). It also means there are no vulnerable parts that could break off, and it feels well-built despite being made of plastic. Most outdoor cameras are metal affairs, but Reolink’s effort doesn’t feel too flimsy at any rate.
It’s smaller than any other IP camera we have tested, fitting easily in the hand, and when you turn it over, you’ll see the watertight cover that hides the microSD card slot and reset button. The PIR motion sensor is barely visible beneath the camera and there’s also a tiny mic and speaker. A hole at the base allows the device to be screwed into the table stand or wall bracket which are included in the box.
Despite the modest price the Argus is a fully featured and well-specified smart camera. It can record and stream in 1080p quality over Wi-Fi and being battery powered, it is fully wireless, so you can carry it and set it down in any location within your Wi-Fi network without having to worry about placing it near a power outlet.
It’s rated as IP65 weatherproof which means it can be used outside because the casing is sealed against the rain and it can operate at minus 10 degrees centigrade.
The field of view is 130-degrees wide to capture as much of the room as possible, while IR LEDs allow you to see up to 10 meters in the dark.
The Reolink mobile app (for Android and iOS) opens to a screen that displays a live stream and has four buttons including a pause/play, snapshot, manual record, and full screen. Below the live stream panel is a microphone button for two-way audio, and below that is a playback button that opens a screen where you can scroll through a timeline bar to view motion-triggered video recordings. Reolink does not offer cloud storage for this camera, so you’ll have to purchase and install your own media (up to 64GB) if you want to record video when motion is detected.
Installation and use
With no wires whatsoever to think about, this must be the simplest security system we’ve ever installed. The process of syncing the camera with your phone and Wi-Fi network is rendered fool-proof by a dead easy-to-use system of QR codes. Scan a couple of these, enter your Wi-Fi password when prompted, and you’re done.
Two alternative mounting brackets are included in the box, one of which is a tall screw-on stalk, and the other a magnetic ball and socket bracket. Reolink has even included a packet of screws. The beauty of Argus is that you can install both brackets in different locations and just carry your camera from one to the other with no interruption in service.
We tried the Argus both outdoors and inside, and found the wide field of view to be clear and well-lit in both cases. Colours are rather muted and the picture is grainy in low light (and very grainy in the dark), but in all cases, faces were crisp enough to identify at some distance.
Crucially, what the Argus can also do is email you a still image from the camera. This means that when an alert arrives on your phone and you are unable to watch the video feed, you can at least see who, or what, triggered the camera. This worked nine times out of ten, although if the intruder is quick, they can run past before the picture is taken.
The compact weatherproof design of this capsule camera has immediate appeal, and the fact that it has batteries instead of a power cable means you really can locate it anywhere, inside or out. The well-designed magnetic bracket makes this especially easy to do.
At 1080p, video quality is good, so long as you have the bandwidth to stream it, and the app is configurable enough to ensure that you receive useful alerts with a snapshot of the action when you’re not in a position to stream video.
The setup procedure is also mercifully easy thanks to the clever use of QR codes and voice prompts.
The downside of a battery-powered camera is of course the limitation imposed by battery life. Reolink claims 180 days of longevity in standby mode, but in real life, that drops to just 800 hours of active use (i.e. continuous live streaming).
The camera takes the more unusual CR123-size (and more expensive) cells, four of which are included, so you will probably want to replace them with rechargeable ones.
With no wires to consider and IP65 weatherproofing, this is a particularly versatile IP camera. Voice prompts and QR codes make it exceptionally easy to set up, and with two mounting brackets in the box, you can get your indoor/outdoor security system up and running in minutes.
Battery life is a limiting factor, but thanks to the configurable alerts that can be set to email a snapshot of the action to your phone, we have no hesitation in recommending the Argus as a simple but effective security solution for any property.