NEWS: Just posted a review of the new Reolink Go. If interested, you can find details here: Reolink Go Security Camera Review
The Reolink Argus was one of the first fully battery operated and wireless IP security cameras on the market. It has often gone head-to-head with many of the better-known brand name cameras and comes out of the competition a winner. All of that may have just changed because a new competitor has stepped into the ring and is ready for a fight. What makes this fight even more interesting is that the camera competing for the battery operated and one-hundred percent wireless category is another newly released Reolink camera. Reolink has recently announced the release of their Reolink Argus 2 IP security camera, and where the previous version had a few weaknesses (such as battery life and operating cost), the Argus 2 fixes these and improves in many other areas.
In this review, I will be reviewing the Argus 2 along with the optional solar panel add-on. There is much to like about this camera and if you have been on the fence about picking up one of these types of camera, let me say up front, the Reolink Argus 2 is nearly perfect and checks off most of the requirements people want to see in a battery operated and wireless security camera. If you are interested in reading my earlier review of the Reolink Argus (1) camera, you can find that HERE.
Also, if you would like to see my unboxing of the Argus 2, you can find that link HERE.
Some may be disappointed that Reolink has released an updated version of their very successful Indiegogo campaign in such a short time. As those on the bleeding edge of technology know, innovative companies are always bettering their products to make them more feature rich and easier to use. I see this rather quick upgrade cycle as Reolink’s desire to listen to their customers and improve one of their products while continuing to support the older model.
If there has been one complaint that has stood out with the previous model Argus, it would be the lack of a rechargeable battery or the ability to plug the unit into power if an outlet was close by. All of these issues were addressed in the latest model with the Argus 2. One needs to keep in mind that it is no small effort for a company to retool its machinery and upgrade internal components without incurring significant costs for R&D. Do not think of this newer Argus as a means of forcing existing customers to upgrade to the Argus 2, not at all. It is important for any company to continue to innovate so they can differentiate their products from all the others in a quite crowed space. I see this more that Reolink has listened to their customers and improved upon the initial design by releasing the Argus 2.
So, the Argus 2 is packed with quite a number of new and improved features that I believe will make even the biggest skeptic take a second look before buying any IP security camera. Let me talk about a few of the more noticeable options available on the Argus 2 below.
- Rapid Wake – One complaint I heard about the Argus 1 camera was its inability to wake from sleep fast enough and capture motion that was occurring quickly. The Reolink Argus 2 fixes this problem by incorporating a new “Rapid Wake” feature without impacting the life of the battery. In future tests and updates, I will provide some numbers around the differences between the two cameras for those interested.
- Rechargeable Battery – If there were only one new feature added to the Argus that would make me purchase one, it would the ability to utilize rechargeable batteries for extended stays outdoors or in hard to reach serviceable places. The Lithium batteries in the Argus 1 were costly to replace, and depending on the environment being captured, needed to be replaced every month or so. Replacement required you to service the camera which could be time consuming.
- More Mounting Options – The previous Argus model came with a fixed mounting bracket and the magnetic base for both indoor or outdoor use. The Argus 2 adds an additional mounting options which the company calls a tree or pole mount. This special bracket allows for secure and quick mounting of the Argus camera, via the provided bracket, to a pole or other round object. This is really a nice option to include. Pictures of this will be included in my unboxing review.
- Starlight Night Vision – With the inclusion of a Sony Starlight CMOS sensor, the Argus 2 has greatly improved its night vision over the Argus 1. Both cameras still have a 33-foot night vision viewing distance, however the Argus 2 improves the image quality of night recordings; which are what I often capture with my Argus 2. I will provide samples and side-by-side comparisons in a future review.
- Solar Charge (Optional) – One of the nice optional accessories is the ability for the Argus 2 to connect up to a solar panel. This panel keeps the battery charges during sunny days and will maintain or charge the battery if you live in areas where less sun common. What is more important is that the connection to the solar panel will be completely weatherproof on the shipping production models. The unit shipped to me was a preliminary one where the connection is not fully weathertight. The solar panel has a rather long cable allowing the camera to be mounted a distance from where the panel is positioned. I like that the cable is provided with the panel.
Stayed the same
If you already have an Argus 1 camera, the below will seem familiar as they are found in both models. For those who are torn between the different models, hopefully the items listed below will help you to make an informed decision.
- 100% Wireless – Like its predecessor, the Argus 2 is completely wireless giving the places it can be installed nearly limitless. If the location you want to put the camera is covered by wireless, you can put the Argus there. In reality, you only need wireless if you want to connect to the camera remotely. Wireless access is not needed if you want to place the camera in a location to simply capture events which you can later go and review on the micro SD card.
- 100% Battery Operated – The Argus 2 is also fully battery operated, but as stated above, this camera comes with a rechargeable battery pack. Be aware that the rechargeable battery pack is designed to only work with the Argus 2 and it will not work with the Argus 1 camera. You will see from the photos in the unboxing review that there are special connectors on the Argus 2 camera body which are not available on the Argus 1.
- 1080p Resolution – I fully understand, yet I was a bit disappointed to see that the Argus 2 retained the 1080p resolution instead of utilizing a 5mp sensor in some of the newer Reolink camera models. However, the use of this camera better fits a standard 1080p resolution as there needs to be a tradeoff between functionality and battery life. I can happily live with the decision of sticking with what works and it required less internal changes.
- PIR Motion – A Passive Infrared (PIR) sensor is integrated and use to trigger events neededing to be recorded. If you have worked with any alarm or motion detection equipment, most of them utilize PIR sensors to turn on an alarm, send an alert, or record video, etc. The Argus 2 is able to do all these and more using the PIR sensor as the trigger.
- Weatherproof – This camera is fully weatherproof, so it can be used both indoors and outdoors without concern. Frequently, I use the camera in one place for an extended period and easily move it to another without having to think first if the camera requires any protection from the elements. No worries at all with the Argus 2.
With the many new features along with maintaining the high quality of the first model, I would say this camera is worth the money to upgrade. My plan is to repurpose the Argus 1 to a different role (still as a security camera) but use the Argus 2 as my primary wireless and battery-operated security camera because of the new features it provides.
Setting up the camera (as with the first Argus) was painless and uneventful. That is not often case with many other security cameras on the market. I could see putting a newly opened camera in front of my elderly parents and they would have it connected to the wireless network in no time. The provided quick start guide (QSG) is all of a few simple steps and you are capturing video on your Argus 2 in no time. If you know your wireless password and can scan a QR Code on the back of the unit, you are ready to go.
What I liked were the many (included) options of mounting the camera. If I plan on permanently mounting the camera near a door, I can use the provided mount with the ability to swivel and then lock in place. This is more like a small fixed mini tripod mount. It should be noted that the Argus 2 will also connect to a standard tripod mount like a Gorilla Pod; but one is not provided in your purchase. Secondly, if I know I’m going to want to adjust or move the camera around to various places, I may instead decide to use the provided magnetic base. The magnetic base has holes for securely mounting using screws, but screws are not needed if the base is placed on a firm flat surface because it is well-weighted. You could even place it on a shelf, or a sturdy surface outside such as a brick or flagstone. Lastly, what is new in this product over the Argus 1 is the provided pole or tree mount. With the three provided mounting options, the Argus 2 can go nearly anywhere, and each of these three mounting options are included in the box.
Unpacking the camera and all of its included accessories was easy and the product was packaged very well and secure. As with all of the products I have purchased from Reolink, they all come with custom fit foam inserts so that all the fragile components are protected from crushing and scratching. Even though the provided review product box arrived with a few dents and dings, thanks to the shipping company, the contents of the box were pristine.
Inserting SD Card
One of the first things I did after unpacking the Argus 2 was to insert a micro SD card so that the camera would have a place to record its video. There is no micro SD card provided with the camera, so you will need to purchase one separately or use one that is already lying around the house. Just make sure you have one that has enough storage size for your needs and is rated class 10 or better. You can often find these cards on sale, but make sure they list video recording or streaming as one of the functions. Again, class 10 cards often state this by the manufacture. I use a 32g class 10 card from Samsung in my Argus 2.
Connecting Rechargeable Battery
Connecting the Argus 2’s new rechargeable battery pack to the camera could not have been simpler. In many ways this was way easier than having to insert the Lithium CR123 batteries of the Argus 1. It really is as easy as sliding and clicking and you are done. There is even a small release lever on the top of the camera allowing for easy removal if required. Because the unit is rechargeable, either via the optional solar panel or other power source, you may never need to take the camera down and service it like you did with the Argus 1.
Application setup was a breeze and there were no issues with following the provided quick start guide. If you are used to the application for the Argus 1, you will be happy to know that the Argus 2 is no different. Reolink has always been good at integrating their products into the existing mobile application so the user experience is the same if you have other Reolink products.
As with the Argus 1, this camera is not intended to be viewed continuously like a powered IP security camera. It is not intended to be used (at this time) with a Network Video Recorder (NVR) either. Think of this camera more as a passive system that sits dormant until awaken by some event whereby various actions can be taken. Actions such as record the event to the local mirco SD card, email or SMS, or even sound an alarm on the Argus 2 itself. I do not recommend the last option unless the camera is mounted and secured behind some other protection like a locked glass door or window. If a thief heard the alert, they could potentially grab the camera and take the recording with it. If you require a camera that you can view continuously, I would instead recommend one of the many powered or POE cameras Reolink provides.
Solar Panel (Optional)
The provided solar panel with the evaluation unit does not appear to be the same as the one that ships with the product units. I will not provide any additional details on this accessory until I can get my hands on the one people will receive; sorry. I do have some images that will be included in my unboxing review if you are interested.
Pros and Cons
Let me call out a few Pros and Cons I have found while testing and reviewing the new Argus 2.
+ Rechargeable camera and optional solar panel
+ Improved night vision
+ Rapid wake
+ Mounting options
+ Wireless connectivity for placement nearly anywhere
+ Battery operated making placement easier
– I would have liked a bigger or more powerful solar panel option because of my area get less sun
– A few small tweaks needing to be done in the application which will come with updates
– Not upgrading the resolution from 1080p to 5mp
– No zoom ability