In our extensive experience rating and reviewing security cameras, we’ve journeyed through a steady stream of installation challenges and tech hiccups to help our readers make the best decisions possible about their home security needs.
This time, we’re pivoting away from the highly popular security camera brands we all know and trust. For this hands-on review, we got acquainted with Reolink, a lesser-known global security brand with a big, bright, impressive menu of products1.
Join us as we delve into the technology, features, highs, lows, and in-betweens of five of Reolink’s security cameras: Argus 2, Argus 3, Argus Eco, Argus 3 Pro, and E1 Outdoor.
Let’s get started.
When we set out to choose the cameras we would purchase for this review, we had plenty of options: battery-powered cameras, wireless/Wi-Fi cameras, PoE IP cameras2, and solar panel cameras.
All of the Reolink cameras we tested run on Wi-Fi, work indoors or out, and are compatible with a Reolink Solar Panel – except for the E1 Outdoor, which is wired. But it’s important to note that there are many differences among the three cameras we chose – differences we really wanted to dive into and understand.
It’s also important to understand the differences we found between Reolink and its high-profile competitors, like Ring, Arlo, and the artificially intelligent3 Google Nest Cams.
And, as with any security camera we review, we’re also looking for drawbacks – things we encounter that might harm the user experience, or bugs within the camera’s software that the company hasn’t fixed yet – to learn exactly what it’s like to live and interact with these cameras day to day. So without further ado, let’s kick things off with the Reolink Argus 2.
First in the lineup: the Argus 2. This clean, round, modern-looking sharpshooter appeals to us for several reasons: We’re big fans of modern design, so we knew we’d like how it looked in our home. And, since it lacks wires, lights or other hardware, we can put it basically anywhere we want – inside or out.
FYI: To see an even more in-depth look at this camera, check out our full hands-on Argus 2 review.
Oh, but there is one thing to note about placing this camera outdoors: the Argus 2 has a stretchy silicone cover that serves as an extra layer of protection from the elements. We just slipped the cover on, made a few adjustments, and decided our camera now looks like a marshmallow wearing a hat. In some ways, it reminded us of the SimpliCam Outdoor Kit. You can read more about that device in our latest SimpliCam review.
Our second impression of this battery-powered camera was that it would look quite nice in someone’s garage or shed, as an outdoor camera where one might not have a power outlet available.
But, for now, we decided we were going to place our Argus 2 inside our home, and admire it from the couch, where we seem to frequently find ourselves lately.
For that, all we really needed to do was remove it from the box, turn it on, peel off the protective seal, sync it with our home Wi-Fi, and add it to the Reolink app on our phones using the QR code on the back of the camera. That process, we calculated, only took about five minutes. That’s the beauty of DIY home security products these days: Nice and speedy.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have Wi-Fi, we recommend the Reolink Go cam, which is 4G LTE-enabled and can stream and record videos from virtually anywhere.
Once it was all set up and ready to go, it was time to watch and learn. Check out the image resolution below!
Not a bad view, eh? This camera’s field of vision is 120 degrees, providing us with clear, sharp views in industry-standard 1080p HD resolution.
As we set up our camera and pulled up the live view on our phones, our initial thoughts were: Wow, the picture is fantastic! We saw video and image quality that falls right in line with Reolink’s major-market rival cameras like Google Nest, and is light years better than the picture produced from brands like Wyze or Blink (but Blink is a decent little starter cam, too).
From there, we fiddled around with our playback options for a moment. That’s when we discovered a cool thing about Reolink: We can adjust the playback speed on our videos to 1, 2, or 4x, for a quick, in-and-out look at our activity on the app. We think you’ll like this feature.
We don’t recall ever having the option of adjusting playback speed in any other security camera we’ve reviewed. But we definitely see where this could come in handy! For instance, need to catch some details of a porch pirate? Slowing the playback speed will help with gathering crucial evidence.
Then, we began testing out the notifications we were getting from our camera. We wanted to see how long it took for the app to display our camera’s view once we tapped on the alert, as this usually tells us a lot about how the camera will function overall.
Our takeaway was that aside from a few momentary blips in our home Wi-Fi, everything worked pretty smoothly. Of course, do keep in mind that in a camera that relies this heavily on a Wi-Fi connection, as Argus 2 does, you’re probably going to see occasional buffering and video loading delays. But in our tests, we found that those slowdowns usually rectify themselves in a matter of seconds.
We should note that a big part of our recent hands-on review of Ring’s Wi-Fi security cameras involved investigating those same occasional slowdowns – and there, we observed a similar pattern.
As an example, while testing the Ring Stick Up Camera, which shares some similar characteristics with Reolink Argus 2, we found that it took four seconds on average to pull up its live feed in its app. But on a particularly busy time of day, when the kids are out of school and begin running blindly toward the closest available electronic device, we did see some buffering there. Again, these were brief, minor hiccups, and they did not affect the overall performance of the camera.
All this is to say: There are many factors involved in camera connectivity, and if you experience slow response, keep in mind it may have nothing to do with the camera itself.
Plus, you can always visit Reolink’s customer service page to ask questions and request tech support help to find out what might be going on.
What we don’t recommend, however, is trying to get help through Live Chat. We tried this several times. It’s all bots, plain and simple. Not a human in the bunch. Their answers point to links to other help pages and FAQs on the site. Save your time and send a help desk request instead.
Did You Know: Our Reolink Argus 2 uses PIR Motion Sensing, which means it’s triggered by “heat signatures.” That’s supposed to cut down on false alarms, but this camera still had a few of them in our tests.
Connecting to our Amazon Alexa device was another no-sweat task with our Argus 2, thanks to the app’s Smart Home tab. When we started hearing some peculiar pitter-patters above us, we told our Echo Show, “Show me the Reolink Argus 2.” We were greeted by this adorable but very naughty face:
This spaceship-esque camera of ours had a lot going for it! In our tests, we ooh-ed and aah-ed at the crystal-clear resolution. We appreciated its sleek design and contemporary appeal. And we loved how easy it was to customize our motion, push notifications, and other settings in the Reolink app.
And boy, did we enjoy the lack of wires. We’ve seen the downsides of other battery-operated cameras, like having to wait for the battery to recharge, or having to use a screwdriver (or – the horror – a drill!) to remove it. But one thing’s for sure: Reolink does make installation a breeze.
Do we recommend Argus 2? That depends. Are you the perimeter-checker type of homeowner, where you spend significant amounts of time pulling up your cameras and checking out the view several times a day?
Or do you follow more of a set-it-and-forget-it mantra when it comes to home security, where you’re checking out the app once in the morning, once at night, and whenever you get an alert?
If you’re the latter, we can recommend Argus 2 with fervor.
If you’re the former, we’d refer you to a faster-performing camera like the aforementioned Ring, Google Nest, or Arlo Pro 3. For instance, while testing and reviewing the Arlo Pro 3, we discovered that it’s pricier than the Argus 2, but it performs better in most categories.
Before we dive into our next review, the Reolink Argus Eco, we want to pivot for a moment. Both of our Reolink cameras gave us two options for video storage: a subscription to Reolink’s cloud plan, or an input for a Micro SD card4. We chose the standard subscription model, for a breezy $3.49 per month, for 30 days of video storage for up to 5 cameras.
Keep in mind, though, that in order to use these cameras day to day and monitor our home from our phones, we were not required to buy any storage plan at all. Like several other camera brands we’ve reviewed, Reolink offers a basic cloud storage plan for free. We like free!
Also, another thing we liked: no contracts and no long-term commitment. This is par for the course in DIY security cameras these days, but worth a mention.
|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||$4.99 per month||$9.99 per month||$14.99 per month|
One more thing to note before we introduce you to Argus 3: Reolink’s cloud subscription only works with some Reolink camera models. They are Argus 3, Argus 2, Argus Pro, Argus PT, Argus Eco, Reolink Go, E1, E1 Pro, E1 Outdoor, and E1 Zoom.
Say hello to one of the most flexible cameras we’ve ever used: the Reolink Argus 3. This unprecedented and very much appreciated nod to flexibility is brought to us by the following: a built-in rechargeable battery, an integrated spotlight, and solar power compatibility.
That flexibility is especially apparent as soon as we opened the box and saw no power cord in sight. For smart home geeks like us, this is pretty neat: All we needed to install our camera was some simple hardware, two mounts (one magnetic, the other ball-joint), and its faithful companion, our Reolink Solar Panel.
Indeed, we were excited to try out our newly purchased solar panel with all of our Reolink cameras – they’re all compatible, by the way – but we started with Argus 3.
Now, here’s where the fun begins. Anyone who’s even minimally aware of solar technology knows that somewhere in the installation process, you do have to plug in the solar panel to the camera in order to harness its power. That, friends, is just one of those unavoidable realities of most smart home technology.
Pro Tip: In what may come as a slight disappointment for you, not all solar panels will work with Reolink cameras. For their Argus line, you can pick up their Solar Panel 2 (a slimmer, prettier version of their first release) for $29.99. The company has stated that those cameras will work only with the Reolink Solar Panel, so we wouldn’t recommend any cross-breeding here.
So installing Argus 3, for us, involved some drilling, mounting and ladder-climbing. But the reward was far worth the effort; this configuration can stay put for as long as we’d like, without the need to climb back up and dismount the camera to recharge the battery. This is the kind of fix-it-and-forget-it installation process that really speaks to busy people like us.
With installation locked down, we proceeded to pull up our live feed and see what kind of picture this camera produced.
As we were doing this late in the day, our first live view allowed us to see the performance of our Argus 3’s integrated spotlight – a feature absent from previous Reolink cameras – as night fell.
Evidently, our daughter had been walking within range of the camera, triggering the light – and, in turn, nearly being blinded. OK, that’s a bit dramatic, but that light is super bright, isn’t it?
We’ve seen this sort of glare issue before, namely when we reviewed the Ring Spotlight Camera. Powerful spotlights are all well and good, but if they’re causing that much glare, it might be worth looking at moving your camera to a higher location. Or, you could keep it there, because that “blinding light” is a good thing in some circumstances.
Let’s say a would-be intruder was lurking out there in our backyard. It’s very possible that said intruder would be swiftly scared off by the spotlight (surprise, you’re on camera!). We’ve found that lights work as an effective crime deterrent, so we were glad to see Argus 3’s integrated spotlight.
Turning back to the app, we took a moment to put our Argus 3 in context with the rest of our home, thanks to Reolink’s four-panel live display option. We like to call this our own private command center. This is the kind of real-time security insight Reolink does very well; the kind that can give you a truly comprehensive view, in full HD, day or night, at the touch of a button.
After a few more deep dives into the app, we turned our attention to the design of the camera itself. Immediately we were reminded of Arlo’s selection of cameras that we happen to have extensive experience testing and reviewing.
While almost identical to one another in design, we did find a few key differences between Arlo and Reolink. Both delivered high-quality 1080p HD and night vision video, but with Arlo, we did have a more reliable motion detection experience. Just another thing to keep in mind.
Of course, that extra dose of smart motion sensing does mean you’re going to pay a bit more per camera. Specifically, you’ll pay around $200 for an Arlo Pro 3, as opposed to $109.99 for Argus 3 (again, solar panel not included). So if you’re trying to keep your budget well below that $200 threshold, we found Reolink to be a viable, easy-to-use alternative to Arlo, which is generally a pricier brand. You can also check out our up-to-date list of the best “cheap” security cameras for more affordable options.
The feature-heavy Argus 3 made clear, to us, that Reolink is swiftly becoming a viable competitor in the security camera space. From the integrated spotlight and battery to the sleek design and superb video resolution, we think this camera handily holds its own among its closest rivals, including Blink camera system.
As with all wireless and battery-powered cameras we review, we tend to keep coming back to flexibility. In addition to handling the essentials of home security with ease, we believed Reolink Argus 3’s best asset is its ability to acclimate with almost any outdoor environment, delivering high-quality video thanks to 1080p HD resolution and color night vision.
We do, however, want to harken back to one critical observation: Argus 3’s spotlight gave us some glare in our tests. Our child’s proximity to the camera meant that the spotlight was beamed directly at her. By doing this, we could be inadvertently setting up the camera to blur the face of someone who doesn’t belong there. It’s something we’ve seen before, and it’s a pretty easy fix. But this is definitely something to consider.
For those and numerous other reasons, we’re quite comfortable recommending Reolink Argus 3 as a highly effective, flexible outdoor security camera. We recommend checking out our in-depth review of Reolink Argus 3 camera to learn more about our hands-on experience with the device.
The Argus 3 gets a facelift with Argus 3 Pro, with better video resolution and some extra mounting hardware. Here, we got to view Reolink camera footage in Super HD 4MP resolution, a significant notch over Argus 3’s 1080p video.
Pro, however, comes with a power cord – an understandable omission from Argus 3, since the camera is solar compatible and has an easily removable battery pack. In fact, when we installed the original Argus 3, our average usage of the camera amounted to 10% per day of battery life, which means we’d have approximately 10 days before we’d need to detach the camera from its perch (not hard to do at all) and recharge the battery.
That’s a nice, strong battery pack, in our view – certainly not any weaker than Ring cameras’ battery packs. But with Reolink, we realized we’re going to need some backup for Pro. This is a higher-resolution camera, for one, so it’s going to need more power – which means it’s going to need to be charged more often than its original sibling.
Pro Tip: Higher resolution is nice, but remember that 1080p, the current HD standard most cameras use, is usually more than adequate for home security. Take a look at our comprehensive security camera buying guide for more tips on camera video quality.
Just as above, this cam is also compatible with a Reolink Solar Panel, which was helpful to know. Of course, installing solar panels can be a tricky job for some homeowners, sometimes a bit more difficult than installing security cameras themselves; you’ll still have to plug the panel into the camera, so keep that in mind with this one.
But for the camera itself, all we needed was some simple hardware, two mounts (one magnetic, the other ball-joint), and a safety strap just in case.
In our full Reolink Argus 3 Pro review, we had a bit more know-how going into the installation phase thanks to our previous run-ins with Argus 3. We had the same magnetic and ball-joint brackets for mounting, and they even threw in a simple, plastic surface bracket, too.
As we tested the camera’s might, we noted that the video quality improvements don’t stop at daytime resolution; we were really impressed with our night vision footage on this camera, too.
As the sun set each evening of our tests, we watched the camera record in full color at night, illuminating even the dimmest crevices of our yard without worrying the device could be easily stolen, damaged, or disconnected.
And in another neat upgrade, Reolink Argus 3 Pro gives us person/vehicle detection. It’s a sensible step up from PIR motion sensing, a technology we tested repeatedly in previous Reolink models. Results were mixed, but we’ll just say this: There’s a lot more we, as homeowners, can learn from a camera like this.
With person/vehicle detection, we can learn right away through intelligent alerts who (or what) has entered our space. What’s up with that unfamiliar car that’s been parked out on our curb for hours? UPS says they delivered my package, but where is it? We can check in to make sure nothing goes awry while we’re gone, and if it does, we can take action swiftly and smartly.
Here’s some sample footage you can view:
Of course, with “Pro” in the name, you might be surprised to learn that this Reolink camera is priced exactly the same as the original Argus 3: $109.99. We always find Reolink cameras to be relatively inexpensive for what they offer, and Argus 3 Pro was no different for us.
Enter Eco! Right away, this camera made an entrance: it had that sleek design we noted on the Argus 2, just wrapped in a rugged, durable exterior. This one doesn’t need a cute cover, though. Our Eco stands firmly on its own. We appreciate that flexibility, as well as – once again – freedom from wires.
Yes, keep in mind that our Eco is also battery-powered. We knew, from our experience reviewing similar battery-powered models, that outdoor cameras can get tricky when it comes to controlling battery life. Ambient (a prettier word for unpredictable) noise might trigger a camera hundreds, if not thousands of times a day. That excess barrage of alerts is going to run down your battery, probably a lot faster than you want.
So, remembering this, we made sure to go into our app and customize our camera’s settings before we were inundated with unnecessary notifications and had to climb right back up that ladder and take the darn thing down to recharge the battery.
FYI: The rechargeable battery doesn’t take long to charge. At zero charge when we unboxed the cameras, it took about a half-hour to get to 100%. We’ve reviewed other cameras that take hours to charge, so that’s a nice plus with Reolink.
Through more than a few nasty Midwestern rainstorms indicative of summer’s end, this camera held up like a charm, incurring no damage and requiring no adjustments. So that’s another advantage this camera offers.
There’s also a great deal of customization we could play around with on the Argus Eco. We could choose to schedule our alerts for certain times of the day, we could view our battery’s status, and we could even adjust the sensitivity of our motion sensor to reduce the occurrence of false alarms. We liked the flexibility here.
Pro Tip: Both of our cameras came with a fall-safe strap to attach if we wanted. However, it lost a few eye candy points for us when we attached it, so we took it down. If you’re someone who’s worried about curb appeal, this is something to think about.
And again, because it runs on a battery, you can go fully wire-free. No wires to bury or obscure. And since it’s so easy to pop out the battery and recharge it, we weren’t anticipating big headaches when the battery needed a recharge.
So, we’ll say this: if you can live with a camera that doesn’t always respond to alerts as quickly as other models in its price point, like the Ring Spotlight – but that still stacks up against the competition in video quality and resolution – we think you will get a lot out of the Argus Eco camera, for many years to come.
After a string of Argus experiences, we were happy to welcome a new face in the Reolink review rotation: The durable Reolink E1 Outdoor camera. We’ve had a few brushes with its predecessor, the E1, and we knew that this was a camera with pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) action, which is always the kind of camera we enjoy testing.
You can read our full hands-on experience with E1 Outdoor here. But to be brief, we think you’ll really appreciate the whole-room coverage with E1 that many peers in this category lack, thanks to that PTZ lens. We’re getting 355-degree pan action, which we can control easily through the app in a joystick-like fashion, and poise our camera onto a different zone of our space at any time.
This all looked pretty spectacular when it came time to view footage, too. This E1 has 5MP image quality, which we don’t see every day in a home security camera – especially for under $100.
Check out some of our test footage from the E1 Outdoor:
Like the Argus 3 Pro above, E1 Outdoor camera deciphers between people and vehicles in its motion detection, which we’re seeing more and more as a mainstay. It did so pretty well for us, though we did have to turn down the sensitivity of our motion sensor from the default setting. This one is sensitive, so you might want to check your sensitivity slider in your Reolink app so you’re not flooded with unwanted motion alerts on your phone.
Though we did run into a few hiccups setting up and installing this camera – it is wired, with no battery pack, so you might have a bit of creative wiring to do – in the end, the E1 performed well. If you have a doorbell camera on your front door like we do, we found that using the E1 as a secondary set of eyes on our front porch helped us visualize exactly what kind of package had been delivered, instead of just an alert that we’d received one. Always a nice touch.
Elsewhere, we encountered some momentary confusion about a claim of “auto tracking” in the camera’s packaging, and our best advice there is not to dwell on this too much; it might be a software upgrade the brand plans to add later.
But as we’ve come to expect from previous Reolink cameras, we found the same smart home compatibility, equipment durability, and slightly laggy but overall normal performance between the E1 Outdoor camera and our app.
We’re going to get right to the point. These are good cameras. Reolink’s products are made with solid, durable equipment, and when it comes to features and app functionality, their cameras are top-notch.
In our extensive tests and everyday usage of Reolink’s Argus 2 and Argus Eco security cameras, we did, unfortunately, encounter occasionally serious but mostly minor delays5 between notification and live view.
We also know that all three of these Reolink cameras fall in or around a mid-range price when stacked next to the top DIY security brands. At $95, we found the Argus 2 to be a fairly good deal for a camera with this much flexibility.
With the $109.99 Argus 3, we’re going into the triple digits, which might be a turn-off for some folks. But do consider the added features that make this camera a big player in flexibility, not to mention the design upgrades that give the camera a more modern look and feel. Its stylish appearance made us even bigger fans, and so did its durable, weatherproof build.
We’d be remiss, though, if we didn’t conclude that the $65 Eco is an even better deal. Compare it, say, to the $130 Arlo Essential camera, which can take a few punches but is not nearly as weather-resistant and durable as our Eco is. That’s almost twice the price! Nothing to sneeze at, and with Eco, we still enjoyed really spectacular 1080p HD video that was easily comparable to Arlo Essential.
With that said, here’s a pricing breakdown of Reolink’s cameras:
|Reolink Camera||Type of Camera||Key Features||Price|
|Argus 3||Outdoor Battery/Solar||1080p HD
Built-In Motion Spotlight
Starlight Night Vision
|Argus 2||Outdoor Battery/Solar||1080p HD
Starlight Night Vision
|Argus Pro||Outdoor Battery/Solar||1080p HD
|Argus Eco||Outdoor Battery/Solar||1080p HD
|Argus PT||Outdoor Battery/Solar||Pan & Tilt
Starlight Night Vision
|Reolink Go||Outdoor Battery/Solar||1080p HD
Wireless 4G LTE
No Wi-Fi Needed
|Reolink Go PT||Outdoor Battery/Solar||Pan & Tilt
Wireless 4G LTE
|Reolink Lumus||Outdoor Wi-Fi||1080p HD
Color Night Vision
|E1 Series||Indoor Wi-Fi||Pan-Tilt-Zoom
|RLC Series||Indoor/Outdoor PoE & Wi-Fi||4MP-5MP resolution
Up to 4x Optical Zoom
|$59.99 – $99.99|
|RLN Series (NVR)||Network Video Recording||Multi-Channel Camera Systems||Varies|
|RLK Series||PoE & Wi-Fi||Multi-Channel Camera Systems||Varies|
With an intuitive app, plenty of customization options, reasonable prices, and reliable equipment – all very crucial factors – we think that overall, Reolink is a great option to consider for home security.
Yes, and it’s pretty easy, thanks to a built-in Smart Home tab in the Reolink mobile app. Simply tap that to pair your Reolink camera with your smart home device, and you’ll be able to use voice commands to pull up your camera’s display on an Amazon Echo Show. This works with Google Assistant and its corresponding devices as well.
Thankfully, no. Many Reolink cameras are outfitted with micro SD card slots, so you can view, save, share, and download videos from a micro SD card. But if you don’t have one of those (and don’t want to buy one), Reolink does offer a free cloud plan that offers 7 days of storage for 1 camera.
Reolink provides a 2-year limited warranty, and if you register your Reolink products within 2 years of purchase, they’ll add 6 months to that warranty.
As with most outdoor cameras, we encountered some minor interference and ambient noise in our audio conversations on Reolink cameras. We always test this feature because it’s one of the key active deterrent features that many security cameras offer, and it means if you see or hear something suspicious in your videos, your voice could likely scare off a potential intruder.
We were pleased with the quality of the night vision in all three Reolink cameras we reviewed, but we were particularly fond of the clarity and detail we got from our Argus 3.
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Cassel, D. (2019, June 23). Are We Ready for AI-Powered Security Cameras? The New Stack.
Choudhary, S. (2019, June 27). What’s the Difference Between SD and Micro SD Memory Cards? Medium.
Axis.com. Axis Communications. (2015). Latency in Live Network Video Surveillance.