As I continue on my quest to put together a smart home, filled with useful, connected gadgets, I've been focussing a lot of my time on home security. This is because it has any easy business case. You want something that can monitor what's going on when you're not home, alert you if there's something unexpected happening and record the action so you can investigate later. One of the first cameras I looked at was the Reolink Argus. Now, I've had a chance to play with its successor -the Reolink Argus 2.
Set up followed the same process as the original Argus. That used QR codes on the camera and in the app to establish a connection. The camera connected to my wireless LAN on the 2.4GHz frequency.
At first glance, there's not a lot to distinguish the Argus 2 from its predecessor. But there are several key differences.
The Argus 2 is made to be installed outside. It's rated to IP65 which means there's no point of ingress for dust and it can handle being out in the rain. For outdoor use, it comes with a rubber cover that protects the body from the elements.
It also has a rechargeable battery and there's an optional solar panel that you can install with the camera if you're using it outdoors so you never need to worry about taking the camera down to recharge it. The original Argus ran off four 3V batteries which, while readily available from the local supermarket, weren't cheap.
The optional solar panel is a handy feature as it means you can pretty much set and forget the Argus 2 once it's installed.
Video is captured at 1080p HD and you can save to a microSD card. You'll need to spring for a card yourself as there isn't one in the box. I had a spare 8GB card in a drawer and plugged it in. The video stream also captures sound. This is one of the nifty things about the Argus and Argus 2. As well as capturing sound, they have a speaker so it can broadcast audio from the app. That means if you receive an alert about an intruder, you can tell them you've called the cops. Or you can use it to talk to people at home when you're out.
As well as voice prompts, there is an alarm you can enable through the app that is quite loud.
The quality of the video is very good in both daylight and nighttime modes. You can choose between 720p or 1080p at up to 15fps and you can share the camera to other family members. All they need to do is install the Reolink app and scan a QR code from the "master' app that was used to configure the camera during set up.
Room for improvement
However, there are some downsides to the Argus 2.
The biggest issue, in my view, is the lack of integration between the Argus 2 and any of the major home automation platforms. While I wasn't expecting HomeKit, the lack of Google Home or Amazon Alexa support is a let down. And there's now way to use it with IFTTT either. So, being able to create a simple workflow to record video when Nest Protect alarm rings is currently beyond the Argus 2's capability.
One of the neat features about the Argus is that it can be easily positioned and directed on it's magnetic base. However, that can make it pretty easy to steal. And, even if you use the screw-on base, unless the camera is positioned in a very inaccessible location it's pretty easy for a thief to walk away with it.
Price, availability and recommendations
You can buy the Reolink Argus 2 from Reolink's online store for US$129. That's around $170 in local money. And the optional solar panel adds another US$30 to the price tag.
That's a reasonable price for a camera that can record at the quality the Argus 2 delivers but the lack of connectivity with smart home platforms is a significant drawback in my view.