Thursday, October 18, 2018

Reolink Argus 2 For Jacksonville

I had to bite the bullet and order a security camera. No one had broken into my vehicle, and I actually leave it unlocked (though alarmed). I don't leave a key, garage door opener, or gun in the car, so someone burglarizing it will get some Burger King coupons and empty soda cans. Mainly, I wanted to have peace of mind that if someone did molest my vehicle, I'd be able to post a photo of that person on this website (and send it to my neighbors). Since my neighborhood had two vehicle break-ins over the summer, it seemed like a good time to get the camera. I chose the Reolink Argus 2, and it's been about what I expected: good but not great.

This camera hooks up to your computer via wi-fi, and if you get the solar charger, it's a completely wireless solution. Wireless as in not needing to hook into wires or run new wires. That's what I wanted for ease of use, but I knew there would be some compromises. Some of these are pretty silly, and they are the reason it's not a 5-star camera.

It was a real pain to set up. The camera had trouble taking a photo of my code on my phone, and it's the only way to get things going. I realized later that clicking on the code makes it bigger on the phone, and that was a little better to take the photo.

Once you link the camera to your app, it may or may not attach to the network properly. I had to create a guest network on the 2.4 ghz band rather than 5.0. That's disappointing, but now I have a guest network. Also, even with AT&T Fiber, the signal on that wi-fi network is barely able to handle the speed of the camera link, meaning it wants me to switch out of HD all the time. That may be my router more than Reolink, but disappointing.

Image quality is good, day and night, but it's not a continuous video being sent to a DVR. The camera uses a sensor to detect movement, and it's not a very good sensor. Where I have it, I end up getting people on the camera, but it's probably about five seconds of delay. Basically, if you're using this to monitor a small area that someone could walk past quickly, forget about it. Luckily, someone looking to bust into my car would need several seconds in front of the camera (triggering it) before opening a door. The field of view is nice and wide, so you usually get a decent video of the person once it's triggered.

I like the fact that there's an SD card in the unit that is saving all the videos. After a few months, if there's been no action, I can delete it. I also have a free (for now) account that stores 10 second videos online for me to review. That's kind handy when on vacation, at least. The problem I see here is when it goes to a paid service for cloud storage, then I quit the service, then someone steals my camera with the SD card. I might still get a notification that the camera was triggered, but without at least some cloud storage, it's just all gone if the camera goes missing. Granted, most car burglars don't know all the features of all the cameras, so the assumption might be that there's a DVR or cloud server storing every move, so they might run away when the little recording light comes on.

The camera has a rain jacket, and it's supposed to be weather-proof. After about a month, I'd say it can stand a few rainstorms, but it's mounted under the gutter. Once the solar charger starts to fail, then I would have to plug in a phone charger to the camera while on a ladder once a week or however long it might last. I think the charge not lasting was one of the major complaints, so it's probably a good idea to get the solar charger--my camera has been at 100% since installed.

This is not a professional surveillance system by any stretch of the imagination. However, it's a deterrent that works as long as you accept the limitations. The app will not always connect, and you're rarely going to get a notification in time to actually use the speaker feature (yes, you can talk to people with a really awkward delay), but it captures good video at a really low price.

For the Reolink Argus 3, I'd expect wi-fi on 5.0 ghz, access to the sd card from the app or home computer, and a better sensor to pick up movement. If it had all that, then the camera and solar charger is worth about $200 (I paid about $160 for the two). I figure $160 might save me one headache as a deterrent, and it might catch one bad guy if it keeps working for several years, so it's a decent investment.