Reolink Argus 2E review:  An affordable security cam with all the essentials

This completely wireless camera makes it easy to monitor what’s happening inside or outside your home.

Reolink’s Argus cameras have ably filled the need for an essentials-only wireless security camera. The Argus 2E is the latest in the family, but where it sits in the lineage is a little confusing. Given its name, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s an update on the Argus 2,  but that model evolved into the completely redesigned Argus 3, The 2E actually replaces the Argus Pro,  which, contrary to its name was not a premium version of the Argus, and even lacked a few of the main model’s features.

It makes sense, then, that the 2E doesn’t sport the new design of the Argus 3 but looks like a slightly modified version of the Argus Pro. Most of the specs are the same, too: 1080p video, two-way audio, and passive infrared motion detection. And like the Argus Pro, the 2E is powered by a 5200mAh rechargeable battery that can be continually charged with an optional solar panel ($25) should you deploy this indoor/outdoor camera outside. Curiously, the field of view has been reduced from 130 degrees on the Pro to 120 degrees here, but the 2E adds a Starlight CMOS sensor for clearer night vision that the Pro did not have (but the main Argus cameras did).

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best home security cameras, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.Battery-powered wireless cameras are ideal for outdoor use where electrical outlets are scarce. The 2E is weather resistant with an IP65 rating indicating it is protected against harmful dust and jets of water, and it has an operating temperature of 14 degrees to 131 degrees F. (You can read more about IP codes in this story.)

Reolink

The Argus 2E is weatherproofed for outdoor use.

Local recording of motion-detected video clips is a hallmark of the Argus line, and it’s available here via microSD card (up to 64GB cards are supported, but none is included). You also have the option of subscribing to the Reolink Cloud service, which will provide a backup of your captured video in the event an intruder damaged or stole the camera. Three plans are offered: the Standard plan provides 30GB of cloud storage and a 30-day cloud video history for up to five cameras for $3.50 a month or $35 a year. The Premier plan bumps the storage up to 80GB and the number of cameras supported to 10 for $7 a month or $69 a year. Reolink also offers a business plan for up to 20 cameras that gives you a total of 150GB of storage and a 60-day cloud video history for $10.50 a month or $104 a year, or the same for up to 30 cameras for $17.50 monthly or $175 yearly.

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Setup and performanceInstalling the 2E follows the typical steps for Argus cameras. You’ll need to download the Reolink companion app and follow its setup prompts to connect the camera to your network. This involves scanning a couple of QR codes, after which the app should find your network automatically and ask you to log in. Then you can install the camera by screwing the mount to an exterior wall and screwing the camera to the mount. Screws, wall anchors, and a mounting template are all included with the camera. A mounting strap is also provided if you’d rather mount the camera to a tree or fence post.

The 2E can be accessed from a master list of devices in the app. Selecting it opens its home screen, from which you can view and manage the live feed, operate two-way communication, and view event detected clips saved on the camera’s microSD card.

Reolink
The Argus 2E can be paired with a $25 solar panel for continuous charging.

The camera delivers a nice, sharp image. Colors are vibrant and accurate, and there’s little fisheye distortion despite the wide viewing angle. Night vision, which is provided by six infrared LEDs and illuminates up to 33 feet from the camera, activates automatically in low light. These images have excellent contrast and reveal plenty of detail in the scene for video evidence.

PIR motion detection works by measuring infrared light radiating from objects. In practice, that means it will pick up humans (or animals) in the camera’s field, of view but won’t be triggered by passing cars or swaying tree branches. It was remarkably accurate in my testing, alerting me only when someone got close enough that I might be concerned. A tap of the push notification on my phone immediately opened the recorded clip so I could verify if it was a legitimate threat or not. In the event it was, I could use the two-way talk feature to find out what the person was doing there or simply ward them off by triggering the camera’s built-in siren, which screams like a car alarm.

If notifications start to come fast and furious, you can manage the flow by scheduling when alerts are active—this can be done on a per-day basis—adjusting the sensor’s sensitivity, or just turning it off. These options are laid out intuitively in the app’s settings menu.

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Michael Ansaldo/IDG
You can control the Argus 2E from its screen in the Reolink app.

In addition to managing the camera from your phone or computer, you can pair the 2E with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to control it using voice commands, something the Argus Pro did not support when we reviewed it. In either case, you need simply ask the voice assistant to show you the camera’s feed on one of the services’ smart displays, or on your TV.

Verdict

Like the rest of the Argus line, the 2E is a fairly basic camera that works reliably with a minimum of fuss. At just $85, it’s a low-risk way to dip your toe into DIY home security and determine if you want to take it further. Even if you find you don’t want or need to expand beyond a single camera, the Argus 2E has all the necessary security features to serve you well for years.

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With all the security essentials and a budget-friendly price, the Argus 2E is makes a great entry-level security camera.

Pros
Completely wireless

PIR motion detection minimizes false alerts

Easy intallation

Cons
No sound detection

Doesn’t support activity zones

Battery cannot be removed from the camera