Reolink Argus Pro review

Wireless, rechargeable, solar-powered… we put this no-plug camera to the test

Reolink Argus Pro
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This Full HD, battery powered, wireless smart security camera costs just $95. I repeat, this Full HD… blah, blah, blah… costs just $95.

We're going to be up front with you. We get pitched a lot of Chinese smart security cameras here at The Ambient. A LOT. And, while a lot of them come with super-cheap price-tags, their feature lists don't really stand out and they look, well, they look like cheap knock-offs of existing smart cams.

Updated: Reolink Argus 3 review

Pro upgrade: Reolink Argus 3 Pro review

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But not the Reolink Argus Pro. Not only is the look pretty unique (if somewhat basic, but I'll get to that) but we were swayed into taking it for a test run thanks to a rich feature list, impressive spec sheet and, of course, that price tag.

Here's how it fared.

Reolink Argus Pro: Design & installation

I'm gonna say it straight away, to save you reading through this whole review. The Argus Pro isn't crap. It's pretty good. It's excellent, in fact, for the monetary outlay. So there – don't be put off by that price tag, the fact you've never heard of the company and, well, the clunky, basic design.

On that – it's clear that Reolink didn't get Yves Béhar or any of his designer buddies in when knocking up the Argus Pro. It looks a bit like a Ring Stick Up Cam, but with extra screws and plastic. It's not great looking but it's not terrible either and the build quality is reassuringly good actually.

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It comes with an outdoor security mount that is easy to use, and allows you to bend and shape the angle in a way that suits you best – you'll see from the pics that I had my review unit on top of a shed at a right old funny angle, keeping an eye on said shed's door and also my side gate.

This camera is good for both indoor and outdoor use and, if you are just thinking of having it inside on a shelf, for example, it will just sit all by itself on its flat bottom. Remember, it's completely wireless so you don't have to worry about mains access, other than for charging – but we'll get to that.

Outside, you're able to mount it to a wall using the mounting template and screws you'll find in the box, or do what I did and just use the nylon strap to attach it to something.

When you stick the battery in for the first time, you'll actually hear the camera start talking to you, advising you to download the app to get everything set up. Setup is a breeze, and it's one of the most straightforward security cameras to get going out of the box I've used – you just have to scan a couple of QR codes to get the camera added to your Reolink account.

Reolink Argus Pro review

Reolink Argus Pro: Features

Some smart security cameras are designed to be constantly on – filming everything all day, every day – while some are there as deterrents and to provide you with a live feed as and when you need it. The Argus Pro is definitely in the latter category.

Its strength is its smart PIR sensor that detects motion events and triggers alerts. A PIR sensor – passive infrared sensor, in case you didn't know – can detect a person, so you won't get false alarms when a tree moves in the wind and so on. It's been spot on for me during testing – you can set it up to send you an alert via your phone, play a warning, record a clip to an SD card, or all three.

Without an SD card attached there's no recording at all – without a cloud account that is – you simply get an alert with the idea being you fire up the app and get a live view of what's set it off. There's two-way audio using the built-in mic and speaker, so if you do see anyone loitering around you can tell them to bugger off.

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Insert an SD card (up to 64GB), however, and you can record clips of a time-length you determine in the app.

The alarm on the camera itself can be a default tone or you can record your own message. I went for a recording of Ray Winstone saying, "Oi, get out of it", for maximum security effect. The times that you get alerts, recordings are made and audio alarms take place on the Argus are all set in the app through the schedule function – which is far more complex than it needs to be, in truth.

If you did want to take your recordings to the cloud using Reolink Plus – US only, for now – it's $2.49 or $4.99 monthly. That gets you 30 days access, 10 or 50GB of storage space and you can add up to 10 cams; you don't pay per device as you would with Nest Aware, for example.

Subscribing to a free beta plan Reolink has will get you 10GB for storing motion clips, with 15 days access.

Reolink Argus Pro review

Reolink Argus Pro: Video quality

In terms of video quality the Argus Pro is incredible tweakable (that's not a word, I don't think, but it should be). In that app you can choose between 'Clear', which is 720p or 1080p HD, or 'Fluent', which brings the resolution down to just 640 x 360.

However, on each option you can also tweak the frame rates, refresh rates and the maximum bitrates. It's a 130° wide angle lens and, while footage – even on 1080p with all the settings maxed out – won't worry the likes of Arlo and Nest, it's still pretty good.

Essential reading: Complete guide to buying and using Arlo cameras

Night vision is okay, though not amazing – it works up to around 10m, which does the job in the side-access test area I was using it in, but it might struggle if you wanted it to cover a whole garden. There is an Argus 2 that is slightly more expensive than the Pro, which has improved night vision.

Reolink Argus Pro review

Reolink Argus Pro: Power options

As mentioned this is a wireless security camera, and I'm not just talking about the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connectivity. The replaceable 5200mAh rechargeable battery can be juiced up using a regular Micro USB cable or you can make use of Reolink's $25 Solar Panel, which plugs straight in for continuous charging.

Reolink Argus Pro
Reolink Argus Pro

Bearing in mind I've been testing the Pro during December in the UK, where we only get about 20 minutes of sunlight a day, I've had no issues with the Solar Panel, nor the battery at all.

Being an outdoor camera at heart, you won't be surprised to hear it's IP65 certified weatherproof and has an operating temperature of 14° to 131°F.

Reolink Argus Pro
The Argus Pro isn't a Nest rival. Nor an Arlo one. It doesn't care for the upper echelons of smart security at all. It doesn't know what an Alexa is, nor does it have any dealings with Google Assistant, HomeKit, IFTTT or anything like that. It's a no-nonsense, cheap-as-chips, indoor and outdoor security camera that basically needs a battery thrown in and then just gets on with its job. Go in with middling expectations and it won't let you down.
  • Super cheap - bang for you buck
  • Easy to setup and use
  • PIR is great for detecting people
  • No wires, no fuss
  • App is a little confusing
  • No smart home integrations
  • Basic design and build
  • Needs an SD card

TAGGED    security cameras

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