As we continue to test and review cameras in Reolink’s diverse collection of battery-powered, Wi-Fi, wired, and Ethernet security products, we’re seeing a running theme: Freedom.
Freedom from wires, if you choose; freedom from drilling holes or damaging walls; freedom of movement; and freedom from monthly costs.
This is a big selling point for Reolink: Cameras that go wherever we do, that adapt and conform to their surroundings, and that anyone – even the least tech-savvy folks out there – can use. For us, we’ve found Reolink checks all of those boxes, with just a few minor areas for improvement.
Our hands-on review of the Argus 3 camera, for example, covered many of the ways Reolink offers flexibility to users, especially those without much tech experience.
So when we first laid eyes on our Argus Eco (the third Reolink camera we’ve reviewed from the brand’s flagship Argus series), we knew we were in for the kind of experience that wouldn’t leave us struggling with messy cords or a complicated setup process.
We also knew, however, that we’ve run into slight hiccups when reviewing the Argus 2 and other Reolink cams, proving that even the most user-friendly security cameras on the market can still have their flaws.
So with that, let’s get started with our hands-on review of Argus Eco, Reolink’s bullet-style outdoor camera.
True to Reolink’s adherence to simplicity, our Argus Eco box was simple, barebones, and didn’t contain a mess of wires and hardware. In the box we found just the camera, a security mount, a USB adapter for intermittent charging, and some screws.
We also caught sight of a micro SD card slot not far from the QR code. Here, we note another sign of Reolink’s flexibility: we could choose between storing our recordings locally through a (not included) micro SD card, or sign up for one of Reolink’s cloud storage1 plans, which we’ll discuss in detail below.
As we pivoted to installation, we found that the camera attaches to its security mount via a simple screw, so we could mount the camera without having to fuss too much with the drill. And the mounting plate came with handy, straightforward instructions. So as far as DIY installation goes, we were looking at a 4-5 minute job. Pretty fast, right?
But … let’s not forget that these cameras, like many of the top wireless cameras in the industry, connect to an app via a QR code. So before we got that final screw in place, we held the “belly” of the camera up to our phones to sync our code with Reolink’s app. This, again, took just a few minutes, even with the compulsory account linking and entering Wi-Fi credentials. And just like that, our setup was complete.
Pro Tip: Though it’s considered a fully wireless camera, the Argus Eco does require some installation pre-planning. After all, batteries don’t last forever (we really wish they did!), so you’ll need a power outlet nearby for charging. Alternatively, you could connect it to a Reolink Solar Panel, where it would remain fully charged. Those are important points to consider, so be sure to map this out before beginning your installation.
With that out of the way, we finished securing the camera to our exterior wall and began our thorough testing of the Argus Eco.
For a dedicated outdoor camera with a simple bullet design and a basic feature set, we didn’t expect anything glamorous or fancy out of our Eco. After all, Reolink is considered a “modest” camera brand in contrast to cameras with more advanced features and tech.
Google, for one, recently injected their handsome Nest cams with A.I. facial recognition, which learns faces to distinguish who “belongs” on your property and who doesn’t. We recently reviewed Google Nest Cams, and though it wasn’t a perfect experience – the cameras needed time to learn all those different faces – we can say they performed exponentially better with that added dose of technology.
FYI: Many cameras on the market today provide detection for specific objects, like people or animals. So if those premium features sound enticing, it’s possible that a Nest Cam might suit you. Whether it fits your budget – keeping in mind that the outdoor Nest IQ cam starts at a whopping $399 – is a decision only you can make.
Comparisons aside, let’s get into some of our favorite features of the Reolink Argus Eco.
When our Wi-Fi network was at its most stable, we saw crystal-clear images from our Argus Eco. At night, we watched as the camera automatically transitioned from day to night vision, without missing a beat on clarity. And during daylight hours, we thought the picture quality measured up to some of Ring’s outdoor security cameras.
This is huge, as video quality is one of the biggest determining factors in choosing a security camera. Since our Argus Eco is considered to be in the “affordable” price range, we were expecting to see a grainier picture equivalent to some of its competitors in that price range, like the 1080p outdoor cam from Zmodo, a brand we reviewed not long ago. While that’s a decent camera overall, it did sometimes struggle to deliver that optimal 1080p resolution in our tests.
So we were pleased to find a better visual result with our Argus Eco. Day or night, we’re confident it’ll pick up plenty of detail if a porch pirate or burglar were to target our home.
Not every outdoor camera has two-way talk, so when we see one, we tend to view that as a plus. Why? Because using this feature is a great way to scare away would-be intruders who might be lurking outside. Note that the audio quality was fine, but it didn’t stand out as anything truly special. You’ll find the two-way talk feature inside the app. Press and hold the microphone to speak, and let go to listen. It’s a straightforward feature, and one that we use often.
Active deterrent features like a siren are not included in every security camera, so when we see one built into the camera itself, we breathe a little sigh of relief. Not only because we know sirens are highly effective at scaring off potential criminals, which is super important to us, but also because Halloween is upon us, and on one rainy evening, our suburban Ohio neighborhood was teeming with trick-or-treaters, and we had a few … ideas.
One of those trick-or-treaters belongs to us, and while he was sitting in the front yard, minding his own business, his parents decided to test out the siren. Don’t worry, he was sitting far enough away from the Argus Eco camera, so we knew it would only cause a little fright.
And, lo and behold, it works – and our “trick” portion of “trick or treat” was a success!
True to form, Reolink houses all of our Argus Eco’s controls in a simple, well-presented app, which we downloaded with ease on both an Android phone and iPhone. We found most of what we needed from the app’s home screen, which might not win any awards for sophistication but definitely delivered on intuitiveness.2
Did You Know: The Argus Eco is really adept at recording motion as soon as it happens, which is obviously crucial in security cameras. However, it is important to note that the battery-powered Eco does not support continuous recording,3 and neither does its sibling, Argus 2. If you really want the camera to record 24/7, we urge you to check out Reolink’s E1 series cameras, which support both motion-activated recording and continuous recording.
By clicking on the live feed pane, we were able to capture screenshots, play/pause the live stream, download and share video, adjust camera resolution, use two-way talk, and trigger the camera’s built-in siren.
We were also able to change the order of our camera display, showing all of our cameras on one screen, which we loved.
We appreciate having all of this control in one place, as it could be really crucial in urgent situations. If our camera picks up something suspicious or threatening, for instance, we know we can quickly deploy the built-in siren (which, again, does a great job sending bad guys running. Also dogs.).
In a fairly recent upgrade,4 and to our delight, Reolink now has smart home compatibility with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. This is increasingly becoming a must-have feature in home security, so we weren’t surprised.
But what we did like was seeing a Smart Home5 tab in the Reolink app, which communicated with our Echo Show to discover our camera so that we could use voice commands to pull up our Eco’s display. Echo, meet Eco!
The two made a nice pair, but we do want to mention that we could only display one of our Reolink cameras on the Echo Show screen at a time. So whereas our smartphone let us pull up a four-panel display to look at everything at once, we were, sadly, not able to replicate that with our Alexa device. That was our only downside to using Reolink with Alexa, but it wasn’t a big concern for us.
We’ll keep it short and sweet on pricing on the Argus Eco. It’s cheap!
With basic motion features and industry-standard (but still high-quality) 1080p HD video, we’ll just say this: $63 is a really good deal for a wireless, Wi-Fi-enabled, sturdy outdoor security camera. We’ve found in most instances, you get what you pay for with cameras. But as far as value, Eco definitely has an edge.
For comparison, we broke out a few of Reolink’s cameras and their prices below.
|Reolink Camera||Type of Camera||Key Features||Price|
|Argus 3||Outdoor Battery/Solar||1080p HD|
Built-In Motion Spotlight
Starlight Night Vision
|Argus 2||Indoor/Outdoor Battery/Solar||1080p HD|
Starlight Night Vision
|Argus Pro||Outdoor Battery/Solar||1080p HD|
|Argus Eco||Outdoor Battery/Solar||1080p HD|
|E1 series||Indoor Plug-in/Wi-Fi||Pan-Tilt-Zoom|
It’s nice having options, isn’t it? With Reolink’s Argus Eco, we were able to store our videos, motion recordings, and saved images on a micro SD card, thanks to a micro SD card slot that’s built right into the camera.
But Reolink’s cloud storage options are also worth checking out, either as a supplement to local storage or as a replacement for it. A standard Reolink Cloud plan costs $3.49 per month, with no year-long contract to sign.
While not quite as cheap as, say, the standard cloud subscription fee for Wyze cameras, which is $1.49 per month, we’ve found Reolink’s cloud storage options to be quite reasonable.
Aside from the affordability points, we also like that connecting to Reolink’s cloud is fully optional. Remember, we’re all about freedom here.
By the way, we chose the standard plan. Not a hard choice for us, as we didn’t happen to have any micro SD cards handy. See below for a more detailed breakdown of Reolink’s cloud storage options.
|1-camera limit||5-camera limit||10-camera limit||30-camera limit|
|7-day storage||30-day storage||30-day storage||60-day storage|
|1 GB of storage||30 GB of storage||80 GB of storage||150 GB of storage|
|Free||$3.49 per month||$9.99 per month||$14.99 per month|
And speaking of monthly fees, we’ve seen several camera brands that charge significantly more per month for the same level of storage Reolink’s standard cloud plan provides. Our recent review of Amcrest cameras, for instance, revealed a $6-per-month cloud storage option that includes a mere 7 days of video history. It’s a small discrepancy – and keep in mind Amcrest makes some nice cameras – but we felt it was worth a mention.
While we had excellent control of the features on our Argus Eco and a great experience overall, we admit we did feel the absence of features we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in many newer cameras these days – things like person detection, 24/7 recording, and automatic zoom. While not essential to us, these features do enhance the overall experience. Just something to keep in mind as you’re narrowing down your choices.
But without all of those fancy enhancements, we were still left with a very well-performing camera, and one that we genuinely enjoyed learning about and interacting with.
And finally, we believe this camera’s greatest assets are its flexibility and affordability. All told, Reolink Argus Eco is a capable, flexible outdoor security option that delivers the essentials beautifully.
To learn more about outdoor cameras that shine in flexibility, check out our list of the best outdoor security cameras.
Yes, you can definitely use Argus Eco indoors. But if you ever need to move it outside, the camera is IP65 rated for weatherproofing. That basically means it will protect from dust, wind and rain.
Reolink’s support page is packed to the brim with videos, tutorials, and Q&A’s addressing pretty much every question we could ever think of regarding security cameras. Beyond that, we had some initial network-related questions answered promptly after emailing customer support.
Yes. There’s a small but recognizable share icon at the lower right-hand side of the app. Once you tap that, you’ll see options to share via email, text, etc.
Yes. As mentioned, it has an IP65 weather rating, which will keep the camera protected from the elements in most cases.
Yes. Reolink’s basic plan includes 7-day storage and covers one camera.
IBM Cloud Education. (2019, June 24) What is Cloud Storage? IBM.
KA, A. (2015, Aug. 1) How to Design Intuitive Mobile Apps. Medium.com.
Hearn, P. (2019, May 3). Motion-Activated Security versus Continuous Recording: Facts to Consider. Corporatehousingbyowner.com.
Reolink Innovation Limited. (2019, June 20). Reolink Works With Google Assistant, Spearheading a New Era of Connected and Smart Home.
Chandler, N. and Edmunds, M. (2008, March 5.) How Smart Homes Work. HowStuffWorks.com.