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For the last few years, Reolink’s Argus line of home security cameras has offered an affordable alternative to high-end systems from the likes of Arlo. With the release of the Argus 3 last year, the camera even started mirroring the design of the wireless Arlo cameras with its white pod-like body and black face.
Not surprisingly, its latest camera, the Argus 3 Pro, looks uncannily like the Arlo Pro 3, but with slightly more squat dimensions. It can be set into a stand bracket for indoor use or screwed into a security mount for outdoor use. A loop strap is also supplied for securing the camera to a tree or fencepost if that better serves your needs. The camera is well protected against dust and water ingress with an IP65 rating.
The camera has an integrated 6,500mAh battery. That means you must remove the camera from its mount to recharge it, which will get old fast if you have the camera secured to your home’s siding. Fortunately, you can keep the battery topped off by connecting it to Reolink’s optional solar panel ($25).
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best home security cameras, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.
All the coveted tech specs are on board, including 2K video, intelligent motion detection, infrared and color night vision, two-way communication, and dual-band Wi-Fi. The camera also supports Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands.
You get a free Basic cloud plan with the purchase of the camera that provides 1GB of video storage with a seven-day history for a single camera. You can upgrade that to the Standard plan, which gives you 30GB of storage with a 30-day history for up to five cameras, for $4.99 a month. That’s probably adequate for most home users, but Reolink offers two additional multi-camera subscriptions: the Premier plan gives you 80GB of storage with a 30-day history for up to 10 cameras for $9.99 per month, and the Business provides 150GB of storage with a 60-day history for up to 20 cameras for $14.99 a month. Currently, Reolink is offering 30 percent off all paid plans. You can also store up to 128GB of video locally, but you must provide your own microSD card.
Setup is a snap. After downloading the Reolink companion app and creating an account, you just scan the QR code on the bottom of the camera. The app takes over from there, prompting you through the steps to connect the camera to your wireless network. The process worked seamlessly for me, and I had the camera operating in just a few minutes.
The Pro 3’s 2K video is razor-sharp and retains plenty of detail even when using the camera’s 16X digital zoom. Night vision, which activates automatically in low light, provides excellent clarity and illumination up to about 33 feet. You can choose to view and record night vision video in black and white courtesy of the camera’s half-dozen infrared LEDs or in color using the 230-lumen LED spotlight.
Smart detection, which differentiates between people and cars, was accurate right out of the box. The camera pushes notifications to your phone whenever it detects motion by either. The default recorded clip length is a paltry 8 seconds, but even the 30-second max duration is still too short to capture many motion events in their entirety. That missed action could leave you without important evidence in the event of a crime.
The Reolink app puts all the camera controls front and center on the live feed screen. From here you can toggle audio on and off, activate the two-way talk system, manually capture video and still images, and toggle the camera’s resolution. At the bottom of the screen is a playback button that accesses a timeline of locally recorded videos, and there’s a clip feature that lets you zoom in on particular areas of the video image.
The Pro 3 has several settings and features that you can customize, most of which can be easily understood by looking through the settings menu. Some of these will greatly impact your user experience, such as push notification scheduling and the sensitivity of the camera’s motion sensor. Tailoring these to your liking will help ensure you’re not bombarded with a lot of trivial alerts. Other settings, like what kind of night vision to use or whether or not the camera’s siren should go off when motion is detected are more a matter of taste.
The Argus 3 Pro is a solid home security camera for anyone wanting to monitor kids, pets, package deliveries, or suspicious activity around their home. The only nitpick I had is the short battery life; by the end of the first week of use, it was nearly depleted. That makes the solar panel a necessity if you plan to use the camera outdoors. It’s an easy fix and well worth the modest expense to take advantage of this affordable 2K camera.