It’s never been easier to install internal and/or external security cameras to your home. Many now come completely wire-free, with integral rechargeable batteries or even small solar panels to keep them charged. The Reolink Argus 2 ticks both of those boxes and we’ve been trying it out.
- Completely wireless and works via 2.4GHz network
- 1080p HD quality with starlight CMOS sensor (upto 15fps)
- 130degree fixed lens with 6x digital zoom
- Night vision upto 10m (33ft)
- 2 way audio
- Presence detection from upto 9m away
- Customisable voice recorded alerts, email alerts and push notifications
- 5200mAh rechargable battery
- SD card storage upto 64GB or Cloud storage (cost)
- IP65 certified weatherproof
- 2 year warranty included
Within the box you get the camera itself with its associated removable battery, two mounts, one magnetic ball joint and one screw fix arm, a rubber casing, USB charging cable and wall fixings. I got the camera and solar panel bundle, so a separate box arrived with the solar panel and it’s own mounting arm. Full instructions, warranty details and warning stickers are also included.
The camera itself is very sleek, it’s egg-like in shape and sits easily within the calm of your hand. The battery is quite large, it makes up 40% of the camera and it clips in from the top. The battery has a USB port for charging. To the front of the camera is the lens, with the presence detector below it and the speaker below that. Although unclear, the infrared lights are around the sensor. To the bottom, the camera is a dome recessed with a screw inlet within it. This allows for either of the mounts to be used. The ball magnetic ball joint is the easiest, it’s a very strong magnet, looks more discrete but offers less flexibility. While the arm mount sits away from the wall and offers almost endless flexibility on the positioning. Neither are particularly secure, anyone could pull the camera off the magnet or unscrew it. Both mounts can be installed into a masonry or plastered wall via the raw plugs and screws provided. There is a thin, white, rubber cover with a small hood provided too, to help protect the camera from the elements when outside.
As for the solar panel, that comes with a black wall mount and a 4m long, hardwired USB cable which needs to be plugged into the camera. The panel is black, there is very little going on and it’s roughly the size of an A5 piece of paper. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and to get the most out of the panel, you need to position it correctly. How and where to position is detailed in the instructions. If that 4m cable is not long enough, you can purchase an extension lead for an additional 4.5m of length.
Two parts to the installation, the physical install and then the app set up. I chose to set the camera up first via the app, prior to installing it into position. Set up for very simple, it’s a case of downloading the Reolink app on iOS or Android, create an account and then scan the cameras QR code with your smart device. The camera will be picked up and request that the camera then scans the QR code shown on your smart device. After a couple of minutes, the camera was set up, connected to my network and I was able to see footage from my smart device. Oh, don’t forget to charge the battery beforehand!
I then had to install the camera and solar panel in place. Now I knew my WiFi signal was poor in some area of the garden, so I tried a couple of locations, found the signal wasn’t ideal and settled on a spot in the back garden. I then installed the camera via the wall mount into a wooden post, with the solar panel located nearby and directed as best I could to the sun. I used the wall mount over the ball joint, because it was easier to insert the solar panel cable into the rear of the camera, which does mean you the camera sits about an inch away from the wall (not achievable with the ball joint, unless angled down). I plugged the solar panel in and you can see the battery is charging as the battery icon will animate filling up and if you click into the battery options, it will say it’s charging.
Firstly, the app is full of options and settings to fine-tune your set up. You’ve got display settings such as rotating the screen, adjusting the quality (1080/720p, 2-15fps and 256-2048 bitrate), anti-flicker and day/night options. There are also PIR settings, allowing you to adjust sensitivity, set schedules or just turn it off altogether. You can adjust the post-motion recording duration, turn on the alarm sound and customise with your own voice recordings and adjust notifications.
You can live view your feed or playback footage thats been recorded. Recordings can be via a microSD card which can be inserted into the camera or you can save to the Reolink Cloud service (US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand ONLY). When viewing the feed you can take a snapshot, record directly to your smart device, adjust quality, sound the alarm and use the 2 way audio. You can of course view multiple cameras from the app.
I don’t see the point in having a poor quality camera or setting a camera up on low settings, you just won’t get the detail you need in identifying things. With that in mind, I set the quality to it’s highest settings, inserted a 32GB microSD card and left it to do its thing.
The video and audio quality is good and it’s worth watching the below clip of both day and night recordings. The image is clear enough and 15 fps offers a relatively smooth playback, which makes it more than capable of identifying face etc. You will notice near the edges, there is a prominent fish eye effect. Pinch and zoom into the footage via the app and you will begin to see some pixelation. The night vision works well and can identify objects upto about 6-8 meters in front of it quite easily. The audio is clear and will pick up voices from a few meters away quite easily. Overall, one of the better images I’ve seen on a camera for some time.
The solar panel appears to be working well. It’s very hard to test but over the course of a week, I monitored the battery level with and without the solar panel plugged in. I had the camera set up to record/alert upon presence and over that week, daily detection was fairly similar each day and I saw that when the solar panel was plugged it, the battery level decrease very little compared to when it wasn’t plugged in. At no point did I see the battery level increase when the solar panel was plugged it, it just prolonged the battery life and quite considerably. I even moved the panel to a second location to see if I could gain any more sunlight but I didn’t notice a difference. It’s worth noting it is winter while I’m testing this, with poor weather conditions and reduced sunlight hours. That being said, at £24.99, it’s worthwhile getting a panel to reduce the need to take the battery off and charging every 4-6 weeks.
The Argus 2 camera retails at £103.99, while the panel is just £24.99, which is a very good price point. It’s cheaper than the likes of DLink and Netgear, yet the quality and functionality is near on the same. Reolink do offer other camera solutions too, which look very affordable and suggest you check them too.
A discreet little camera, packed full of features, with a top-quality image for the price. For more info, head over to the Reolink website.