Reolink E1 Pro review: This indoor home security cam delivers a great picture at great price

This 4MP Super HD pan-and-tilt smart home security camera offers amazing image quality and premium features for much less than $100.

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At a Glance
  • Reolink E1 Pro

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Reolink adds another winner to its estimable stable of home security cameras. The E1 Pro is the latest model in the company’s line to feature crystal-clear 4MP Super HD video. It also packs in a host of premium features, but keeps the cost to a modest $55.

The E1 Pro is a tennis-ball style camera that measures about 3 inches wide by 4 inches high. Most of the camera’s hardware—including the daylight sensor, status LED, built-in mic, microSD card slot, and reset button—are located on its glossy black face. The speaker and power jack are located around the back.

The camera delivers video resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, versus the 1920 x 1080 pixels you get with a Full HD camera, or the 1280 x 720 pixels that an HD camera produces. If all that sounds like Greek to you, just know that the net result is a significantly more detailed image. That’s coupled with a pan-and-tilt feature—355 degrees horizontal, 50 degrees vertical—that gives you whole-room coverage.

e1 pro dual band wifi Reolink

The E1 Pro supports dual-band Wi-Fi for better connectivity.

The E1 also comes with essential security features like motion detection, two-way audio, and night vision that provides up to 40 feet of illumination in the dark.

Reolink provides considerable flexibility for saving security video. Motion-detected clips are recorded locally to a microSD card (up to 64GB). You can pair that with a Reolink Cloud subscription for offsite backup, which is a prudent choice as it will preserve any forensic evidence if an intruder compromises the camera. There’s a free plan with purchase that saves up to 1GB of clips for seven days. The Standard plan supports up to five cameras and gives you 10GB of cloud storage for with a 30-day history for $3.49 a month or $35 a year. The Premier plan bumps that up to 10 cameras and 50GB with the same 30-day history for $7 a month or $69 annually. Finally, Reolink offers a Business plan, which supports up to 30 cameras and gives you 100GB of cloud storage with a 60-day history for $10.49 a month or $104 a year.

If you want to enable 24/7 monitoring, you can connect the camera with Reolink’s 8-channel or 16-channel NVR (network video recorder). These are sold separately for $230 and $330 respectively.

reolink e1 pro main Michael Ansaldo/IDG

The E1 Pro’s pan-and-tilt feature allows whole room coverage.

Simple setup, easy-to-use app

Virtually every Reolink camera I’ve used has been a breeze to set up, and the E1 Pro continues that trend thanks to a voice prompt that guides you through the steps. Once you scan the device’s QR code with the Reolink app, it’s just a couple of steps to connecting it to your Wi-Fi network. Once that’s done, you can just set the camera on a table or shelf or mount it to a ceiling or wall with the supplied hardware.

The E1 Pro appears on the app’s device page along with any other Reolink cameras you have connected. A dedicated cog icon opens camera settings where you can tell the E1 Pro how to behave when it detects activity. Motion detection, recording, and notification settings are all here, as are on/off toggles for the automatic night vision and the camera’s onboard alarm .

Selecting the E1 Pro from the device list opens its home screen. The layout is nearly identical to the one used with the Reolink C2 Pro . Under the live-feed pane, there’s a toolbar with controls for the video stream, and a toggle for the camera’s resolution. Pan-and-tilt, push-to-talk, and video-clip playback controls are all on the bottom of the screen.

Performance

Not surprisingly, the 4MP Super HD video is startlingly sharp. In some instances, I could see individual hairs in my dog’s coat. If that sounds like overkill for a lot of throwaway surveillance footage, consider that it can make a world of difference when identifying the facial features or clothing of an intruder.

One of my favorite features of the Reolink C2 Pro has been ported over here. If you want to take a close look at something in the camera’s current live view, you can press a button labeled “Clip.” This opens a screen capture of the live feed at the bottom of the screen, with a small box overlaid on it. Drag the box to different parts of the image, and a zoomed-in view of that crop appears in the camera’s live view pane. It’s great for getting a closer look at anything in the scene that warrants closer inspection.

The app’s pan-and-tilt controls, which include a joystick and directional buttons you can tap, work well for the most part. The joystick allows you to make continuous sweeps of the room, while the buttons are for incremental movements. The camera would often take a couple seconds to respond to input, but once it did, its motion was always smooth and controlled. In addition to manual control, the app offers a marking feature the lets you set and name waypoints, and an “auto” button that rotates the camera back and forth horizontally a couple of times to give you a complete look at the room before returning to its starting point.

reolink e1 pro sensitivity Michael Ansaldo/IDG

You can set different motion detection sensitivity for up to four time frames.

Motion detection was uniformly accurate when I used it keep tabs on my kids summertime comings and goings. The motion sensor has a sensitivity scale that’s adjustable from 1 to 50, and you can customize it to be higher or lower during certain times of day.

You can also establish motion zones to restrict the monitoring area and reduce false alerts. Usually, this is a pretty surefire solution, but I wasn’t crazy about the implementation here. Instead of using the typical grid layout, where you selecte a series of individual squares to block out an area, Reolink has opted for a pen-and-eraser input that has you color in an area to block it from motion detection.

It’s more time consuming and fussier, as it’s difficult to apply uniform pressure for any length of time, and that inevitably results in small missed areas that you’ll need to go back over until the desired area is selected. Erasing a blocked-out area posed the same issues.

The camera works with Google Assistant for hands-free control. Once you add the camera to your Google Home smart speaker, you can say “Hey Google, show me [tje room where the camera is located]” to view a live feed on your Google Nest Hub or Chromecast-enabled TV.

Verdict

The Reolink E1 Pro impresses with its user friendliness and astounding video quality. It was a cinch to set up, and, a couple of nitpicks aside, a delight to use. If picture quality and price are your top considerations, the E1 Pro is a very good choice. If you’re willing to give up its high resolution, consider the Xiaomi Mi Home Security Camera, which delivers 1080p resolution but that has many of the same capabilities—plus a more straightforward motion-zone feature.

Correction: This review previously reported that the the Reolink E1 Pro was the company’s first to support 4MP Super HD Video. Reolink already has several cameras with this feature. We regret the error. 

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At a Glance
  • Reolink's E1 Pro is an excellent security camera if picture quality and price are your top priorities.

    Pros

    • Superb image clarity
    • Pan-and-tilt gives you full room coverage
    • Customizable motion detection and alerts

    Cons

    • Motion zone's pen-and-eraser input can be fussy
    • Pan-and-tilt is sometimes slow to respond
  
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