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 two of Reolink’s security cameras: The Argus 2 and Argus Eco.
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.
We landed on the Argus 2 and Argus Eco, which are both wireless, run on Wi-Fi, and work indoors or out. But it’s important to note that there are many differences between the two cameras we chose – differences we really wanted to dive into and understand.
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.
First up, let’s dive into 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.
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’.
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.
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!
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? Meh.
We know that’s not a technical assessment. But … we just weren’t impressed with the wake time on this camera.
We should note that we have very recently reviewed a full line of Ring security cameras again, and a big part of our reviews was looking at that very issue – and there, we were happy with the responsiveness of all of Ring’s cams. Same with Google Nest, too.
So we couldn’t help but notice that where a Ring Stick Up Camera of the same size and price point as this Reolink camera typically took less than four seconds to pull up the feed in its app, our Reolink Argus 2 took up to 37 seconds.
Thirty-seven whole seconds.
This, in our view, is a bit of a blind spot in Reolink’s otherwise stellar technology.
But don’t forget: a setback for us does not mean you’ll necessarily have the same experience at your home. So many factors are involved in camera connectivity, and if you experience slow response, 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.
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. We loved how easy it was to customize our motion, notification 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.
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 Eco: 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, and E1 Zoom.
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.
Then, it was time to do some response time observations, as we did with our Argus 2.
Take One. We are waiting on a GrubHub food delivery. It is raining. Our Eco triggers motion.
Homeowner 1: pulls up Reolink app on phone to check the live view, to see if delivery has arrived.
Homeowner 1: sees spinning wheel where live view should be.
Spinning wheel persists.
Homeowner 1: is sad.
Homeowner 2: walks in the front door with food in hand.
So, OK. We missed some activity we wanted to see. Since we have cloud storage, we knew we could go back and look at it later. Or, we could simply say, “Hi honey, thanks for bringing dinner in. You look wet.”
Later that day, we did another live view response time test. Our result: 12 seconds.
A few minutes after that: 5 seconds. Not bad.
Two hours after that: 37 seconds.
We have theories. Could it be that “later that day” happened to be quieter, with fewer devices being used in our home? Could it be that we were watching our Wi-Fi connection ebb and flow due to some unrelated force?
Or, was it unrelated to our Wi-Fi network altogether, and possibly related to the Reolink cloud network?
We couldn’t find a definitive answer. Either way, we decided that we weren’t going to stay on this roller coaster anymore. It’s worth mentioning that this wasn’t a dealbreaker for us, and it certainly might not be for you, either.
Because we have good news! Like its sibling, the Argus 2, we watched our Eco produce clear, crisp video during the day, and decent night vision video elsewhere. And high-quality video resolution is one of the main things we look for in a home security camera.
Keep in mind, though, that the Argus 2 camera does not have a built-in light. We already had a spotlight out there, so our night vision didn’t suffer too much. But for folks who don’t have any lighting in the area they’re placing their camera, it might be hard to make out much of anything.
With our Eco in position, we thought our setup looked very stately, overlooking our humble driveway, making sure all who arrived would be monitored, and all who reside would be protected.
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 this camera. 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. A small thing, nonetheless, but a thing.
And again, because it runs on a battery, you’ll find no wires here. Nothing 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 – you will get a lot out of this Argus Eco camera, for many years to come.
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 are talking about seconds here, and sometimes, we could be talking about precious seconds. We could be talking about a crime, an unwanted guest, or some other type of emergency that could be missed. But again, this could be due to factors totally unrelated to the camera itself. From what we’ve seen, most users haven’t experienced this issue.
We also know that both of the cameras, which are part of Reolink’s flagship Argus line of products, fall in or around a mid-range price point as far as DIY security cameras. At $95, we found the Argus 2 to be a fairly good deal for a camera with this much flexibility.
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|
Could the user experience be better on Reolink? Sure. But 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.
In our tests, we had no trouble hearing people through Two-Way Talk, aside from the occasional ambient noise. But we did notice about a 2-second delay in the audio. This is no different than the lag in most smartphone conversations, so we didn’t sweat it.
Our Reolink Argus 2 and Argus Eco cameras do not configure with smart home devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Bummer, right?
No. You can still get 7 days of storage with a basic (free) Reolink cloud plan. You can also spring for a micro SD card, for maximum storage of 64GB. If you want an inexpensive storage plan, we chose a Standard Plan for about $4 per month that has worked out well.
With all motion detection and app support turned off, you’ll likely get around two months of battery life off of one charge. Under what Reolink calls “normal use,” you’ll probably need to change the battery after between one and four weeks.
No. Features like person, animal, or face detection are not available with Reolink cameras. We did find those features in Google Nest IQ cameras when we reviewed them, though.
Reolink Innovation Limited. Cision/PRNewsWire. (2020, March 19). Reolink Launches its First-Ever Outdoor WiFi Spotlight Camera, Reolink Lumus, for Brilliant Protection in Every Home.
Videosurveillance.com. (Updated 2020). Power Over Ethernet.
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.