This is not my first IP camera rodeo, so I have a frame of reference and I know what features would make me happy. Oh boy, Reolink delivers. Their Reolink E1 Pro Super HD 4MP IP camera (can we please have nice product names for SEO sake??) landed at my doorstep a few days ago, and at roughly $50 my expectations were set reasonably high.
Reolink E1 Pro
Frankly speaking, I’m surprised Reolink reached out to me about this camera as it already has stellar reviews on the Amazon page, and should really sell like hot buns! Regardless, I will take a very close look at this camera and nit-pick everything that they could improve in v.2. I’m sure they won’t mind!
Inside the box, there is a camera, mounting bracket and a power brick. Unfortunately, Reolink E1 Pro comes with proprietary DC jack, which means you are stuck with the cord regardless of your needs. It’s long enough for most cases, I personally like the option of picking a USB cable of the tailored length.
Setting up is mostly hassle-free, however, I got confused at first as camera beeps, while app insists on telling you that you should hear a voice prompt. The voice prompts kicks in later to let you know that you are connected to the internet. On that note, there is a very clever and confusing way of hiding SD card slot/reset button. If you are not able to see it, just force the camera lens to look up to expose the panel. They got me there and for a moment I thought I received a different model!
It’s 2.4/5.0 GHz WiFi! More power to you.
There are 3 ways of interacting with the camera: Reolink app, PC software or RSTP protocol. All that and the fact that you can link Reolink E1 Pro with smart displays like Amazon Show (review) and you have an impressive array of devices that you can use to spy on pets or whatever creepy things you are into!
If RTSP isn’t your thing, and SD card support is not enough, encrypted cloud storage is available through Reolink plan. It comes in 3 tiers (3.49/6.99/10.49) and by default, the camera comes with a 7-day free backup plan as well. Just note that severs are subject to country availability and the service was not available to me in the UK. (the US are fine!).
To get the most of the usage, put the card inside. One minute of footage at full resolution and decent bitrate will “cost” you about 25MB of storage. A 64 GB card (max) will get filled in about 40h. There are options to override the old footage, so you will have to make your own concessions for 24/7 recordings. Thankfully, surveillance can be customized, there are options to trigger by motion, record on a schedule and limit the areas in the feed that trigger the motion-sensing alarm (and recordings).
The timeline features handy thumbnails generated at the time of the alarm and bars showing the time when the alarm was triggered. Searching the archives should be easy enough if you are using the app. Unfortunately, thumbnails are not visible in the Windows software, but the timeline highlights are there, and each clip can be previewed and downloaded to the PC.
This is where Reolink E1 Pro shines. 4MP sensor delivers really nice 1440p stream. On top of that, 3 quality options can be customised to your preference! Extra resolution helps to bring out the details of the stream.
It looks great on phone screens, tablets and computer screens. Even zoomed in, there are enough details from a distance to recognize the faces and car plates. Framerates hoover around 20FPS which is reasonable. After all the video stream is optimised for storage and some compromises have to be made to store the footage.
Nighttime performance is good. We are used to infrared cameras by now, so B&W footage isn’t going to surprise anyone. The sensor does a decent job at showing the room in an absolute darkness thanks to the array of IR LEDs.
Despite the speaker located at the back, the volume is pretty decent. It’s not a HiFi sound by any stretch of this definition, but it’s serviceable and people listening to you shouldn’t have issues making out what you say.
The built-in microphone has a clean pickup, but anything further from the camera than a meter, and you will need to crank up the mobile volume to max to be able to hear the responses. A little more sensitive mic would go a long way. On the other hand, servos are very quiet and the sound of the camera panning across is barely registered.
Some features of the Reolink app are worth mentioning. Motion triggers can be customized. The app lets you select motion-sensitive sectors of the feed to trigger the alert and automate the sensitivity options based on time conditions.
There are privacy filters, which let you block off certain areas of the feed. Interesting options if you don’t want certain things to end up in the archive (neighbours windows for example!).
I think the biggest omission is the lack of object following. Reolink E1 Pro has motors controlling 2 axes. Adding the ability to track a face or a movement would be great. Missing are also patrol options in the mobile app. Reolink E1 Pro can’t be programmed to look around on its own via the app but this option is available in the Windows software.
Despite having a microphone, it can’t be used as trigger for recordings.
As I said, this is a very good, fully-featured product at a very attractive price point. I nit-picked a lot of small things that could be worked on, but overall I feel that Reolink E1 Pro is a very good product. If the budget feels right for you, I doubt you’d be disappointed. I only wish there was a faster protocol to connect my Amazon Show 8″ with Reolink E1 Pro. 15 seconds is a bit long if you want to place the camera to monitor the front door. Other than this, you have my full blessing! Questions? Let me know in this Reddit thread.