The IoT age means that all sorts of devices can be easily connected to the Internet. The Reolink Argus security camera is one such device. Unlike many other cameras, it can operate totally wirelessly - four 3V batteries take care of power needs and it communicates wirelessly. I've been testing it for a week or so and here's what I've found.
The initial set-up process used QR codes on the back of the camera and in the app to pair connect the device to my wireless LAN. Interestingly, the app picked up my 5GHz network (I assume from my network settings) but only works on 2.4GHz networks. As you run through the set-up process, there are audio cues broadcast from the camera's integrated speaker so you know what's going on.
Overall, other than the network frequency issue, getting the camera working was straightforward.
There are two mounting options in the box. There's a metal mount with a standard tripod screw-in that you can screw into a wall - the Argus can be used indoors and out. The other option is a heavier base that uses a magnet to hold the camera in place. Both mounts come with screw holes and there are screws and mounts in the box.
The camera captures video at 1920 by 1080 at 15fps using H264 encoding. When I watched what was going on using the app - I ran it on an iPhone 7 Plus running iOS 11.0.3 and iOS 11.1 - the images were crisp and clear over both WiFi and cellular connections when I was out of the office.
The camera's viewing angle is 130 degrees which I found was enough to over all the rooms I tried it in. There's also IR mode so it can detect movement and capture images in the dark at a range of about 10m.
As well as streaming, you can have video saved to an SD Card using the slot on the right side of the device or you can save images and video to your mobile device.
Cellular access is mediated through the Reolink app - you can disable cellular access if you prefer.
As well as the expected motion-activation you expect from a security camera - when the camera detects movement it sends an alert to your device it can also sound an alarm and automatically record what it sees - pictures can also be sent to your email so you can easily see what's going on before calling the cops.
You can also broadcast a message using your phone's microphone that plays out through the Argus' speaker (as an aside, this is a great way to annoy your partner and children when they're home).
While the Argus is quite feature rich - particularly for the price - I did find the app's UI a little confusing. There's a combination of dropdown menus, buttons and other controls that make the app challenging to navigate. But I suspect this is the sort of thing that will be refined over time.
And, while wiring is a collassal pain in the butt, having a totally wireless camera means it can be easily stolen.
I've just moved house and am in the process of trying out a number of different "smart home" devices. The other challenge that comes with the Argus is that it relies on its own app. Being able to easily integrate it with other devices would be really useful. For example, if I lock my house with my connected door lock, I want the security camera's motion sensor and notifications to activate automatically and then turn off when I unlock the door.
That said, if you're looking for a low-cost security camera that is dead easy to set up then the Reolink Argus is a solid choice at US$99.