An increasing percentage of homes have varying levels of home security installed these days, and there’s an increasing number of home security cameras available for people to fit around their homes. We’ve seen cameras from Netgear, Swann and more, but a common complaint is low quality or reliability. I’ve been taking a look at a camera from Reolink called the Argus 2 for a couple of weeks, and it’s a cost effective, scalable option out there.
What is it?
The Argus 2 by Reolink is a stand-alone, app controlled security camera that can also be built into a suite of cameras over time as you find need or perhaps make funds available to increase your security arsenal for your home or business.
What’s in the box?
The camera, battery and the charging cables you’ll need are included, but there’s more. This is where the Reolink package takes a leap forward when compared to some of their competitors though because they supply two mounting bases: one is the magnetic mount the other a screw in mount which makes the camera far more secure but as a by-product harder to get back down and charge at a later date if required.
Reolink have also included a weather cover for the camera to prevent dew from covering the lens and a hook and loop (velcro for those of you inclined to use brand names) strap to couple with the outdoor mount and improve the physical security of your camera.
What does it do well?
It does a lot very well, particularly when you take into account the cost of the unit. Starting with the setup which is really simple and provided you’re connecting to 2.4GHz wifi, really quick to get the camera streaming to your mobile devices.
Connecting to Wifi
The process was far simpler than I actually envisaged after you download the app and plug in the battery, follow the voice prompt instructions given to you by the camera and you’ll be running in about 2 – 3 minutes depending on how quickly the camera gets an IP from your routers. It was a case of putting your Wifi Password into the app and holding the generated QR code in front of the camera for it to acquire the wifi credentials.
The video quality is really solid at 1080p and smooth enough that you can see clear details on and can be tweaked to lower frame rates if you want to which allows you to extend the battery life of the device if they need to be brought down for charging on a regular basis. Personally I’d rather catch as much detail about what people are doing if they’re in my house or yard and charge more often.
Setting up cameras
Once you’ve got the camera connected and streaming successfully, you need to set them up in their intended physical location – in my case, the back yard. Where the camera is mounted has a good view of the intended surveillance area, but can’t be accessed easily without being seen first by the camera, I’ll get into that more shortly.
The other contributing factor in setup is the optional accessories that are available, as part of this review Reolink sent us a solar charging panel which allows you to setup the camera and forget it in terms of not needing to recharge the batteries on a regular basis. Even in the lower sunlight month, based on my calculations (rough numbers) there should be enough daily sunlight to maintain a charge level at least – so there should not be any need (provided you setup the solar panel in a north facing position) to ever take the camera down to charge it.
What’s it not so good at?
There’s a few issues with the camera I found in my time with it. One is relatively minor, the second is potentially far more serious depending on your intended setup location.
Let’s start with the minor issue
I discovered when setting up the camera that it won’t connect to 5GHz wifi, only 2.4GHz. For most users, not a big deal but for anyone who hasn’t tripped over this in the past and knows to try connecting to the 2.4GHz option on their network – this would be a major frustration, timewaster and potentially creating unnecessary RMAs for lack of connection.
The second issue is my main concern with the Argus 2 camera, the physical security. Much like the Arlo cameras we reviewed a few months ago – you don’t need tools to mount them on metallic surfaces and the supplied base is screwed onto a surface then the camera simply attaches via magnets in the base of the camera. Easy to setup and place also means easy to move or remove from your chosen location. A security camera won’t do you any good if it’s pointing the wrong way or simply isn’t there because someone has stolen it. So if you do purchase this little beast, use the proper mounts and secure the device somewhere people can’t simply walk up to.the storage of video footage if you’re only using one camera with no base station.
Finally as a flow on from this is the fact you need to store your footage on an installed SD card in the camera to allow playback for anytime you’re not streaming to a device where you can trigger recording to your mobile device. This is all well and good but if your camera is disabled or removed by someone without you noticing immediately, retrieval of the footage and therefore the usefulness of the camera is very low.
For the cost involved with the Reolink Argus 2, as a stand alone camera or perhaps even a pair of them to cover your property with some extra security is a really sound, financially viable option. As previously mentioned, there are a couple of design issues that can be overcome by ensuring the camera is mounted soundly and your choice of location is solid.
The quality of image and video streaming is excellent, so much so that you facial features are clearly defined as is movement around the camera and the alerts are easy to customise as you setup the camera. Overall I’m really impressed with the build quality, image/video quality and ease of use for the Reolink Argus 2. If you’re after a one or two camera setup on a budget, this is an option with seriously considering.
You can find out more, or even purchase on the Reolink Website.