Reolink Argus: Extended test of a clever wireless outdoor camera

Reolink Argus: Extended test of a clever wireless outdoor camera

small_Reolink Argus product shot.jpgI’ve written a lot about various kinds of remote cameras, especially for how they can be useful for security and monitoring. There are plenty of models for indoor use, and for outdoor use with wired power, but not very many choices for completely-wireless outdoor cameras. In particular, I wanted one that didn’t require a paid monthly subscription to a cloud service. So I was excited when the folks at Reolink contacted me about their new Argus model.

Deer feeding near the Reolink Argus.jpg
Cameras aren’t just for security. We often put food out for the birds, and are curious which ones show up.
In this case, it was quite a bit larger bird than we normally get.

Bargain-priced 1080p and truly-wireless

While the Argus doesn’t have any of the fancy features of expensive outdoor cameras from Ring and Nest, it is a great value at $90 (current discounted price) for a truly-wireless 1080p camera that can survive outdoors. We’ve had ours in fairly busy areas for the last couple months, and it has performed flawlessly. It uses four CR123A batteries, which are a little less common than AAs, but give it excellent battery life. Even with night time motion detection enabled, our first set of batteries is just running out after two months, with several thousand motion events during that time. There isn’t a power switch (you just stick the batteries in and put the cover back on), which means when you are messing with it you keep getting motion alerts, but that doesn’t matter once you have it set up somewhere. The camera also offers 2-way audio.


We found the motion detection on the Argus to be very sensitive. It picked up passing vehicles, people, and animals. If it has a flaw in that area, it also picked up some moving shadows when the clouds and wind were combining to create changing lighting conditions outdoors. I set it up to send alerts to my Android smartphone, which were in turn forwarded to my Sony Android Wear smartwatch. Once you get an alert, you can log in to the app and watch the current stream or have the camera replay the video clips it recorded when detecting motion. It offers two settings for playback, 720p and 1080p, so you can tune it to your network performance. I also liked the magnetic dome mount, that allows you to position the camera in any direction on its base. That’s a huge improvement over some of the competition’s very limited directional flexibility.

One nice feature of the Argus is that you get a video clip after motion is detected, that you can download to your phone with a single click.


Pure peer operation: Pros and cons

The Reolink Argus is somewhat unique among security cameras as it offers pure peer-to-peer operation. When you access it over the web or from a smartphone, you are looking at the video on the camera – either streaming or recorded. In some ways, that is really nice. There are no cloud services to sign up for, or pay for. It is also very responsive (assuming you have an adequate internet connection). The downside is that the video is not backed up anywhere. That means that if you use it for security, anyone removing the SD card from the camera or simply swiping the camera itself will render its video inaccessible. The camera’s white color makes it stand out, so if you do expect it to survive a break-in, some type of camouflage may be needed. The camera does come with a security mount, but that wouldn’t stop someone willing to break it to steal it.


Summary: A really-fun and practical way to keep your eye on things

Overall, this is a simple, elegant, way to keep a remote eye on any number of locations. Whether you’re interested in what animals are coming to your yard, or want to know when the kids get home from school, it’ll do the job. Its lack of either streaming or cloud support make it problematic for true security use, though, unless you can place it somewhere either inaccessible or invisible. For convenience, I’d also like a power switch, so I don’t have to remove the cover and pull the batteries to stop getting alerts. The app has support for multiple cameras, and multiple simultaneous screens, but I’ve only used it with one camera. The unit’s low price make it an interesting option for anyone looking to scout out locations, or experiment with where they might want to place more expensive or wired cameras before going to all the work of running wiring.

If you want one, you can pre-order from .