Rapid Security Company Changes:
Consumer-based security cameras continue to evolve and get better year after year. Many of us can remember back when we were excited seeing 0.3mp (yes that is point 3 not 3mp) black and white grainy images from security cameras requiring a computer and loads of power to make it all run. These were often featureless and expensive units. Than we saw advancements in sensor and power requirements allowing for web cameras and the like, but they still required the system to be tethered to a computer for storage. This grew into Ethernet attached security cameras which evolved into POE (Power over Ethernet) connected cameras. From here we moved to battery operated cameras which did not perform well in high traffic areas or very cold regions of the world, but they did a decent job of capturing high resolution 1080p video to an embedded SD card. One of the newer steps forward was to not only power the cameras with a battery, but also have the ability to recharge the battery while operational via a solar panel. All of these innovations in security camera design have happened at a rapid pace when you look backward several years. Well, this ever-changing camera technology has moved into it latest progression, and Reolink has done it again with a new and exciting camera.
A few Scenarios:
I’m not sure how Reolink does it, but this is one company does not sit back and relax when it comes to their security camera lineup. What started as a solid outdoor bullet camera back in 2009 has grown into a whole suite of cameras and accessories meeting nearly every use case one could think of; yet they have solved the biggest issue with this new camera. Let me first lay out a scenario and see how you would best meet the need. You have a large piece of property that is not fully covered by Wi-Fi access points, nor do you have the ability to chain multiple POE or Ethernet repeaters to reach your intended destination. Often this leads to come form of security compromise. You may be surprised how often this type of situation arises. I have a brother-in-law who has a set of beehives he wants to monitor for health and to protect from predators (bears), yet today there is no wireless coverage and running an above or underground ethernet cable is not practicable. The distance exceeds that of both the POE and Ethernet specifications requiring some external power source that can be installed outside in the elements. I have another friend who has a cabin in the woods again without constant wireless, Ethernet range, or cabling, installing a security camera is limited at best. Some people may turn to wildlife cameras which can record to an SD card but can only be viewed when someone has physical access to the unit. Again, these situations are more frequent than most would think.
The Reolink Go is the Solution:
Reolink saw this consumer need to place security devices and have recently released a new camera which is currently available on Indiegogo
(https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/reolink-go-wire-free-4g-mobile-solar-security-cam#/) for ordering. What is this new and unique device? It is the Reolink Go. The campaign has already exceeded its goal by 262% and has only 15 days remaining at the time of this review. It is one of the first and only battery-operated wireless (not Wi-Fi) 4G-LTE cameras with remote access and streaming capabilities. Reolink took the best parts of its bullet camera shape (although this one is a bit bulkier then the RLC-410 model), used the optics and sensors of the latest Reolink Argus 2, and gave us a new fully rechargeable and solar compatible security camera that does not require Wi-Fi or Ethernet to access; ever. This camera can literally be placed anywhere there is cell (4G-LTE) coverage and it does not require any servicing or physical access once it is deployed. In my opinion, that makes for quite an amazing and slick device.
Reolink Go Overview:
Let me say up front as a disclaimer, Reolink provided me with a prototype version of the Reolink Go security camera. The details and specifications provided in this review may be slightly different when the camera is in its full production cycle. The prototype seems like it is quite far along and close to what one can expect in the final product.
As stated earlier, the Reolink Go is the latest 100% battery (solar optional) operated security camera that is directly connected to cellular-based services such as 4G or LTE for live streaming, configuration modifications, and even video playback. In the United States, the camera can be used with the major cellular carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.) by simply setting up either adding to an existing data plan or establishing a pay-as-you-go (prepaid) plan.
Although I have not taken the camera apart to validate, I’m saving that for a later teardown review, but based on the cameras specifications and my time playing with it, the foundation is built upon the quite successful and well-received Reolink Argus model. Many of the improvements and innovations that went into upgrading the original Argus to the Argus 2 are also available in the new Reolink Go security camera.
With the Reolink Go, you get so many features it is quite amazing they are able to put them all into such a small profile. Here are a few of the highlights of this Go camera:
- Bullet shape and modern design look
- Heavy-duty construction for even the harshest environments
- 1080P and 720p Hi-definition video
- Connects to 4G – LTE cellular services (no Wi-Fi or Ethernet required)
- Battery operated (rechargeable via Solar or micro-USB)
- Starlight Night Vision up to 33 feet
- Wide angel lens (130 degrees)
- Built-in IR sensor for motion recording and alerting
As you can see from the short list above, this camera packs a punch and is feature rich for the price.
Not simply buying a security camera…
For those of you who are not already Reolink customers, I think it is important that you understand that when you buy a product from them, they are there to assist and support you. I have been a long-term Reolink customer and I have seen them implement features and make modifications to their products based on user feedback. There is also quite an active community forum where you will find people asking questions and others answering them who believe in the products Reolink sells. I have been a fan of their products from the first camera they released to the latest Reolink Go. I have watched them grow and evolve, and this is what is required to be successful in this often crowded security camera space. This is one of the main reasons I have stuck with them as my only security camera provider, because I know they are not only out to make a profit, but they stand behind their products and decisions 100%.
Reolink Go Thoughts:
Below are a list of the various pros and cons I found while working with the Reolink Go security camera. I will continue to modify and update this as more information becomes available.
- Deploy anywhere there is cell coverage (4G – LTE)
- Vendor independent, ability to take the SIM out and replace with another carrier
- Indoor/Outdoor rated and safe
- Two-Way communication (Ability to both talk and listen)
- Integrated Starlight night vision technology and IR sensor for motion detection
- Built-in speaker for audio recording and alert siren (if enabled)
- Uses the same Reolink application for people who have existing Reolink products
- Solar powered and rechargeable battery for continuous operations anywhere
- Will work with the future Reolink Cloud service (coming)
- Because it is on the cellular network, no need to open ports or firewall setting for access
- Based on your provider, monthly costs for data-only 4G-LTE can be high
- Form factor is a bit bulkier than a standard bullet camera, but not overly big
- The mounting bracket is not as flexible as other Reolink cameras (prototype version)
- No way of using the camera without an active SIM card
- No Pan, Tilt, or Zoom (PTZ) capabilities with this camera
A Few Images and App Samples:
Below, you can see how the application displays the Reolink Go camera view. The application provides you with details on the cellular service of the camera, and in this example you can see it is connected as 4G with 4 of 5 bars and throughput is at 148.21 kbps (kilobits per second). Like with the controls of the Argus 2, here you also can select the Speaker Icon to listen in on what the cameras audio is picking up.
The icons at the bottom of the picture are from left to right; Pause, Take Picture, Record Live Video, Display Options, Image Quality, and Full Screen. There are also two buttons at the bottom of the screen for Talking (Talk) and Playback of recorded video from the SD card.
As seen in the image below, you can turn the phone sideways or press the Snapshot icon to grab a high quality image.
Some of the various options available for the camera are listed below. Here you can see that the camera is highly configurable and flexible for nearly any use case.
When you click on the “Display Options” icon from the main screen, you are presented with the below options. One can change the location of the various overlay information such as date/time and camera name. These items cans also be toggled off if you did not want them to be shown.
One can also change the cameras rotation by flipping the image either to the right or left (Mirror) or Up and Down (Rotation). At the bottom of this screen shown below, you can also set the camera’s frequency for your country to ensure there is not flicker if recording computer screens, etc.
Looking at the image quality screen, you are presented with a number of configuration options for both the clear and fluent video streams. Each of these items can be configured by simply selecting the option and choosing a different item from the provided list. Make sure you also click on the diskette icon at the top to save you changes.
While looking at the PIR sensor settings, you can see all the items that can also be tweaked in here for your specific needs. One can schedule times the PIR is enabled and watching for any motion, the sensitivity can be set to one of three options (High, Med, Low), and when motion is detected the camera can perform one or more of the below three options.
- Camera Siren – triggers the built-in speaker to sound a siren
- Send Email – If enabled, this open will send an email and a snapshot
- Record – Records the activity to the installed (optional) SD card
In my case, you can see that I have all options disabled except for recording the event for later playback.
Scrolling down in the many options of the configuration menu, you will also see a few other items of interest. You have the ability to enable to disable the IR lights (often used for night vision) and Email server settings. I like that the camera, being that it could be deployed a distance away, can be setup to auto update itself with the latest firmware. There is also a notification showing if an upgrade is available or not.
Lastly, there are some more general options around System Info, Battery, Date/Time, etc. I found the interface and flow to be well thought out even for a beginner.
Most of the setting for the user can be left in their default state allowing the camera to be setup and running in a little as 10 minutes; including download the application.
The last screen I wanted to show was the battery information. Reolink knows the important of a good battery state to main connectivity and security. So the details provided from the application provide some good statistics on the state of the battery. What would be even better for most of us would be to use the optional solar panel making sure the battery is recharged by the power of the Sun. Boy, we have come a long way from the early days of security cameras.
More Samples Will Be Added Shortly! Check back for updates.