As far as affordable, no-fuss smart security goes, Reolink is a name that deserves a lot of respect. Balancing a very attractive price point with quality is hard no matter which tech sector you’re prying open, and it’s clear the designers behind this smart home company know a thing or two about value propositions.
This is especially important in the world of smart security, either for the office or for the home. It’s a sector which inevitably requires expansion. Depending on how many access pathways you’re looking to cover, it’s completely reasonable to expect to have to buy a few of these devices and get a true ecosystem going if you’re going to milk the most out of each.
That ongoing expense, topped with the usual subscription service to access all features, can hurt a lot. When you’re looking at high-end options like Ring, Arlo and Google Nest. Reolink is a healthy alternative, and with a camera as satisfying as the Argus 3, one that just makes sense.
Reolink’s build quality isn’t too different from more expensive cameras, which is a good thing. It’s a solid white body with a black face carved out to host the camera. Night vision is boosted a great deal by six infrared LEDs on the front, as well as a spotlight that’s rated for 230-lumens. A daylight sensor, microphone, and a PIR sensor for motion detection. The camera, capable of a 120-degree field of view, is capable of recording video in 1080p and zooming in on detected motion up to 6x.
The specs are almost half of what you’d get with something like the Arlo Pro 3, but considering the massive price difference, you’re in good hands with Reolink. As mentioned above, it is much more cost efficient to build an ecosystem with multiple Argus 3 cameras and other Reolink products.
The speaker is located at the back of the camera, along with a microSD slot towards the bottom for local storage (up to 64GB cards are supported), a power switch, and reset button for easy troubleshooting. An issue with that location is that the 2-way audio isn’t as strong on some competing models, particularly when you’re speaking into a phone and expecting your voice to be heard clearly on the other end. It won’t be.
I advice shelling out for the very inexpensive Reolink Solar Panel to supplemented the camera. The Argus 3 has a built-in battery that cannot be removed, so in order to charge it – and you will regularly if you don’t have a solar panel – you have to detach it from wherever you’ve placed it outside, and bring it inside to charge it up. The Reolink Solar Panel eliminates this issue, and keeps the battery continuously topped up so that’s one very significant thing less to worry about.
Although if you did need to constantly detach the camera, it won’t be much of a hassle. Reolink has made it easy to mount their new flagship Argus, providing a magnetic mount for easy removal (for anyone, mind you), or a more secure mount which requires you to screw and lock the camera into its base. Obviously the latter option is better for security as no one can walk up and simply remove the camera, but it also makes it more annoying to remove for those who don’t have a solar panel. The decision is on you, but I’d suggest the secure mount plus a solar panel.
Notably, Reolink supplied a strap with the Argus so you can position the camera on a tree or other organic structure without having to screw anything in. It’s something other brands should consider.
Like all other smart security brands, Reolink offers a cloud-based subscription service for anyone who wants easy access and sharing of recorded videos and motion events. The Basic level of this plan is free and allows enough for cloud storage up to 1GB for a single camera, while the pricier options include support for multiple cameras. Given the camera was so affordable, you’ve saved a bit of money to be able to justify some of the top-tier options, but that really depends on whether you need them or not.
As I’ve stated in other smart security reviews, I live on a fairly quiet street in an uneventful suburb, and while break-ins are on the rise, my street is largely safe. Though who live in busier areas would be wise to look into the subscription service.
Thanks to the LEDs, night vision is solid if not slightly noisy. Day streaming is also similarly lacklustre when it comes to quality, but at least the colours are rich and accurate and movement is tracked fluidly. There should be no issue distinguishing facial features during the day, but it’s a bit harder at night unless the person is closer to the camera.
Motion detection can be quite sensitive, so I’d suggest toggling it via the app, but is noticeably not as overzealous as some other Ring products I’ve tested.
Notably, the app also has an option to trigger the camera’s loud on-board siren and toggle the spotlight on/off, so any potential intruders are put off in an instant.
Sadly there’s no support for Apple HomeKit, but the camera works fine with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Verdict & Value
The key to Reolink is scalability. Right now you can pick up an Argus 3 for A$155 from the official website, which makes adding multiple cameras that much easier on the wallet. For offices or houses in busy areas, this is a no brainer, as you’re going to want multiple devices covering different access points.
Although there are compromises. Arlo, Ring and Nest offer substantially better quality and more features, but obviously at a higher cost. Reolink’s subscription service is basic, but does the job, while the higher-end brands offer things like face recognition and pre-roll. First you need to decide how much you need, but if the answer is that you can make do with the basics, Reolink is a shoe-in for the wisest choice.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Inexpensive and scalable; easy mounting; loop strap can be attached to a tree; very inexpensive to purchase a solar panel; very responsive app; satisfying quality both day and night.
Lowlights: Poor two-way audio; weak zoom; in-built battery kind of forces you to shell out extra for that solar panel.