We Tested The World's First Weatherproof, Wireless Smart Cam
Best For: First-time homeowners new to smart security, and want something simple enough for basic security coverage. Easy installation makes taking up the Argus an effortless experience – even for those who aren’t that tech savvy.
- Easy set-up and installation process.
- User-friendly and stylish design works well with any setting and is inconspicuous.
- Weatherproof design suited for indoors and outdoors, and protects well from water damage.
- Companion app is easy to grasp, and provides ample camera options to get the best video coverage.
- Ability to connect up to 12 cameras at once for complete surveillance capability
- Responsive PIR sensors are quick to alert users of changes in movements.
- Recorded video clips may be difficult to retrieve as they are not named properly.
- Sensors need to be ‘smartened’ up – to be able to recognize homeowners from trespassers, malicious movements to report more meaningful alerts.
- Sound may come off muffled with echoing.
- Inconsistency in connecting for email alerts – some email clients may not be compatible with the app.
- Battery life could be a potential issue. Even though the gadget can hold up for 180 days on standby, in action it's actually much less. Plus, it uses a rather uncommon 123A battery type – which can be hard to find.
- The app only shows the amount of energy consumed per day, not the percentage battery life left.
About Reolink Argus
Security cams are aplenty, but only in the past couple of years have we seen the introduction of smart, wireless webcams. And it’s perfect; now, you can keep watch on your pet, kids, elderly parents or potential housebreakers at just about anywhere, without the messy cables and obvious, Big Brother placement.
While Reolink has been in the business of producing home security devices, its latest offering, the Reolink Argus, is (no pun intended) arguably its most feature-packed. Weatherproof (it can stand rain, shine and –10 degrees Celsius temperatures), wireless and with 1080p HD video feeds, over a million dollars has been raised on IndieGogo for this nifty gadget. But are the fancy features and big numbers all that’s hyped up to be?
1. Opening The Box
Our box included:
- The Reolink Argus Webcam
- Indoor Ball Mount
- Outdoor Security Mount
- 123A Batteries
- A plastic pusher (for opening the device’s battery clasp)
- 4 screws and plastic joints (for wall mounting)
- An instruction booklet
It was thoughtful of the manufacturers to whittle parts down to the essentials, taking away extra stuff like adapters. It looks doable and simple enough to grasp. And it’s great because users can easily put two and two together (like putting the batteries into the web camera to power up) without actually reading the instruction manual.
2. Product Design
Shaped like a mid-sized pebble, we liked that the Argus fit into the palm of our hands and was easy to grasp. Keeping true to its weatherproof promise, the lid on the side of the Argus for covering the Micro SD slot and Reset button is waterproof, and its curved body free from unnecessary crevices prevents water from collecting in.
However, what really stood out for us was its ball and socket mount. The strong magnet at the bottom of the webcam allows the device to simply ‘click’ and attach to the mount when hovered close enough. Acting like a ball joint, the camera can toggle to any angle for customised viewing. For those who aren’t good with handy stuff - it’s a godsend.
3. Installation Process:
Even first timers would find configuring the Argus a breeze - the Reolink app provides clear and interactive steps. Upon booting up the app, the interface will prompt users to ‘Add New Device’. Simply scan the QR code on the back of the Argus camera, and enter your Wi-Fi details to connect the device to your home’s network. Voice enabled prompts and messages on the app will guide you in every step, letting you know that you’re on the right track.
The set-up is complete once you’ve entered a username and password for your camera. Overall, it’s a fairly foolproof experience, though we did struggle to register our device, which would then unlock the video feed. Call it a misunderstanding or bad copy, pop-up messages telling us to set a new password/username were confusing. It took us a few tries to finally realise that we actually had to enter the pre-set ‘admin’ username with no password to setting a new one.
4. Features and Performance
High Definition Video Quality
Once you’ve got the video feed connected, your Reolink app works as a control panel/mini CCTV surveillance center. Users can connect up to 12 webcams at once, and place each video feed side by side in a grid for an overview.
In terms of video, the Reolink Argus definitely lived up to its high-definition standard, with sharp 1080p video on its ‘Clear’ mode. Of course, better visuals result in more data, so unless you’d really want to distinguish the faces of trespassers down to the very pixel, the default, 720p ‘Smooth’ mode is sufficient. In general, colours are on the duller end, and visuals tend to look grainy on the phone. But the device’s Night Mode (which automatically comes on when it senses low light) works well, providing clear night-vision images.
Do note that the video has a tendency to lag by 2-3 seconds – most likely due to your wifi connection – which can be rather annoying.
Video Recording Function
With an SD slot, users can insert an SD card to store recorded videos for playback. If you don’t have an SD card inserted, recorded videos can also be manually saved into your phone’s video album instead. However, the app’s interface for tracking recorded videos needs improvement. Though the app features a timeline, videos weren’t sorted according to it, and recorded videos saved straight onto the phone did not show up in the timeline, which made it difficult for users to locate the right video on the app.
Two Way Voice Function
One of the Argus' highlights was it's ability to support two way voice - allowing homeowners to speak to whoever's at home via the webcam. We were excited and impressed by the initial clarity of the pre-recorded set-up voice overs. However, don’t be expecting surround sound or speaker level quality. In practice, voices spoken over the webcam were more walkie-talkie quality; and if you're speaking in the house, reverberating echoes could disrupt the sound quality as well.
PIR Sensor Technology
The 130-degree wide angle lens helps to give users a fish-eye view of things at home – usually enough to cover a wider area like your living room. This gives the Argus’ in-built PIR sensor technology more room to detect when someone (or something) moves, or is moving toward the camera. It’ll then send an alert if you’ve turned push notifications on.
In this aspect, the Argus is highly sensitive, responding almost instantly with an alert when we moved towards its visual field. However, the fact that it isn’t smart enough to recognize the usual faces from the unwanted or distinguish between movements means that your phone may be bombarded with a flurry of unnecessary alerts – even for something as minute as casually walking past it.
Push Notifications and Email Prompts
In terms of push alerts, the Reolink Argus is highly responsive, albeit a little unrefined as mentioned previously. Another feature of the Argus was the capability to email screenshots of the video feed if you’re unable to access the video through an alert. However, it took multiple tries and poking around before we were able to sync to our Microsoft Live Mail or Gmail account.
5. Our Verdict - Is It Worth The Hype?
For US$99.99, the Reolink Argus provides decent features and design for a wireless smart camera. Its 1080p capabilities, built in PIR sensor and two-way voice functionality definitely helps it rise against the competition for being a quality, value-for-money option.
Also, its ridiculously easy installation process will prove to be a big draw for homeowners who just want something simple and quick to get the job done. However, some areas need refinement. In particular, its video recording and tracking function, sound quality and connectivity to email clients is still a hit-and-miss.
Features: 4/5 | Ease of Use: 4.5/5 | Performance: 3/5 | Value for Money: 4/5
Hey there - just so you know, all products listed in this article are independently curated and reviewed by us. Do note that prices listed are accurate as of 8 September 2017.