Up until recently, security cameras that can automatically pan and tilt were extremely expensive requiring complex installation and maintenance. All that has changed with the newest wave of fully wireless motorized PT cameras. We review the latest PT camera on the market, the Reolink Argus PT 2K.
At the time of writing, the Reolink Argus PT 2K comes in at $125 which is a very competitive price considering the amount of tech packed into this camera. While it may be a little unfair to compare it to wired PTZ cameras, they usually cost $500+ so it’s a nice way to dip your toes into the premium camera market at a budget price!
Note: Reolink provided me with a free sample of the product for the purposes of this review.
1. Power & Data
First up, a look at the camera's power and data. It is a fully-wireless camera so no power or data cables.
That has the advantage of being extremely easy to install with the disadvantage of lacking the reliability of hard-wired cameras.
From a power perspective, to avoid having to climb a ladder every couple of months to charge the battery, you can purchase and install an optional solar panel. I’ve found this very useful as one grows tired of regularly maintaining the camera.
The camera has a 6000mAh rechargeable battery which should give you a couple of months' charge, depending on the number of actions and motion alters triggered.
On the data side, the camera supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi which is a plus. A lot of Wi-Fi cameras only support 2.4GHz. While Wi-Fi is not as reliable as PoE / Ethernet, it should be perfectly fine for most homeowners.
Without trying to state the obvious, you will need decent Wi-Fi signal in your install location. Otherwise you'll have some noticeable delay when trying to adjust the camera position in the app.
2. Camera & Lens
The 4MP camera packs a 1/3 inch CMOS image sensor which is relatively small. Generally speaking, the bigger the image sensor the better the night vision as there is more area to be saturated with light.
The camera resolution could be higher, with a maximum resolution of 2560 x 1440 at 15 frames per second of video footage.
With the inbuilt pan functionality, there is no need for the camera to have an ultra-wide field of view. The ~115-degree horizontal field of view is just wide enough I think.
As the camera is battery-powered, you don’t have the option of continuous 24/7 recording. This is the trade-off between a fully wireless camera and investing in a camera with PoE or DC power.
It does have motion-activated recording which works well with person and vehicle detection to reduce false notifications, which can be very annoying.
The max frame rate at the 4MP resolution is 15 frames per second which could be better but again is likely a trade-off to reduce power and data consumption.
4. Night Vision
The infrared night vision is decent, if not spectacular on the Reolink Argus PT. The camera has 6 integrated infrared LEDs which do fully illuminate subjects close by (Up to 33ft).
The camera doesn’t have a starlight image sensor, or smart IR (which alters the brightness of the infrared bulbs to avoid image washout). At the price point, this is not a surprise as these are premium features.
The camera also does not have an integrated spotlight, so you don’t get full-color night vision.
The Argus PT 2K comes with full-duplex audio which works pretty well. Both a speaker and microphone are embedded in the camera and you can have a full conversation with the subject, via the Reolink app.
There is also an alarm that you can trigger from the app, to scare away intruders. The volume of this isn’t ridiculously loud, again probably to save on battery.
6. Storage & Interoperability
Footage can be stored on the onboard microSD card. The capacity of this is up to 128GBs which you likely will never need as you can’t record 24/7.
While a lot of Reolink cameras can be integrated into other security systems via ONVIF & RTSP, their battery camera range cannot, which is a pity. Therefore it doesn’t work with Reolink NVRs or NASs like Synology. (That being said, you can view the camera feeds on Reolink's desktop app, alongside PoE cameras)
While you can’t integrate with other security systems, the camera is compatible with Google and Amazon products and works with Google Assistant, Chromecast, Echo Show, FireTV, and Google Nest Hub.
This is great as you watch a live view or re-watch motion-triggered footage on your favorite display.
There is also optional cloud storage (depending on the country you are based) which has both a free 7-day plan and paid monthly plans from $3.49p/month.
Unlike Arlo and Ring cameras, the camera's features are not dependent on signing up for this service which is a positive.
False motion alerts are a total pain as you can get hundreds of notifications for leaves moving in the wind. The Argus PT solves this problem with smart person and vehicle detection along with the configuration of motion sensitivity and zones which works well.
The main job of this camera is to pan and tilt which it does really well. It has a pan angle of 355° which is just 5° short of a full circle. It has an impressive tilt angle of 140° – most cameras only tilt 90°.
While there is no optical zoom (again not a surprise at this camera's price point), there is a 16x digital zoom. Not perfect with a low-ish resolution – digital zoom is generally poor so no major surprise.
Traditional PTZ cameras are ridiculously heavy. Not so with the new-age wireless PT cameras. The Argus PT weighs only 470 grams and is suitable for outdoors with its IP64 weatherproof rating.
The camera isn’t vandal-proof as it's made from plastic however it is pretty stylish, and the panning and tilting actions are very smooth.
Having used a number of security camera brands' mobile apps, the Reolink app is definitely one of my favorites. It’s feature-rich, has a nice easy-to-use layout, is easy to set up new cameras and the cameras load very fast (assuming you’re on a good data connection).
Reolink is also one of the only brands that have a PC and Mac application for battery cameras. The client is used for PoE and Wi-Fi cameras so you can have all cameras in one place which is a really nice feature.
Overall, it's hard not to like the Argus PT 2K. Easy to install, nice panning and tilting action, onboard storage so you don’t have to pan any pesky monthly fees, a nice level of integration into other smart home devices, and a fast, responsive app.
I’d highly recommend getting the solar panel to avoid having to recharge it every couple of months. The lack of a spotlight for full-color night vision and higher resolution are the main drawbacks however at the price point, I think those trade-offs are fair.
If you’ve used the Argus PT 2K, let us know your experience in the comments below.
The Reolink Outdoor Wi-Fi PT security camera is great if you need coverage of a wide open area.
- 355 degree pan and 140 degree tilt
- Onboard storage with no monthly subscription fees
- Simple installation with zero wiring