Reolink C1 Pro – 4MP Super HD security camera (review)

Reolink has bucked the trend of using barely capable 2MP cameras in its new C1 Pro – a 4MP, 2560 x 1440, Wi-Fi AC dual band, pan and tilt, two-way audio, indoor security camera.

Over the past few months, I have reviewed several security cameras – all produce a reasonable image in good daylight conditions and an acceptable IR night time, low-light image. The excuse for using low megapixels and resolution was poor Wi-Fi and, slow internet speeds demand low bandwidth cameras.

Fortunately, Reolink said “Screw that” referring to the tendency of households to buy Wi-Fi AC dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) and the prevalence of high speed, unlimited data, broadband, like Australia’s ever-increasing NBN coverage (even the middle tier is sufficient for 4MP transmission).

Enter the Reolink C1 Pro

Let’s look at the specifications first – I usually tack these on last, but they tell most of the story. Any relevant comments are in the right column.

ModelReolink C1 Pro
Image Sensor1/3″ CMOS Sensor (this is a large sensor)
Display Resolution2560×1440 (4.0 Megapixels – two to three times 1080/720p cameras)
Lens4.0mm fixed, f/2.0, with IR Cut (better for low light)
Angle of ViewHorizontal: 80° (at first look this looks quite small until you realise it has motorised pan and tilt)
Vertical: 42°
Pan/Tilt AngleHorizontal: 355° (You can set multiple pre-sets to change P/T and, it can almost rotate 360° although it is not designed to take stitched panorama images)
Vertical: 105°
Minimum Illumination0 Lux (With IR Illuminator)
IR Distance12 Meters (This is about two times many IR cameras)
Dimension103×95×117 mm x 300g
Power Input5.0V/2A, <6W (lacks battery backup but this can be done by inline power bank)
EthernetEthernet 10M/100Mbps RJ45 (This direct connection to the router is also used for express setup or you can go through Wi-Fi setup – takes a few more steps)
Wi-FiWi-Fi AC 2.4 GHz (for long distance to 100m) and 5GHz MIMO (for 50m)
ChargeMicro-USB power Interface (USB-C is irrelevant as the additional power delivery is not needed)
micro-SDBuilt-in Micro SD Card Slot (tested with 64GB – suspect it could use 128GB as well)
Microphone and speakerBuilt-in Microphone and Speaker for two-way audio (sound quality is quite good – enough to scare someone
ResetReset Button
Protocols & StandardsHTTPS, SSL, TCP/IP, UDP, UPNP, RTSP, SMTP, NTP, DHCP, DNS, DDNS, FTP, ONVIF, P2P
Image CompressionH.264
Maximal Frame RatePAL: 25fps, NTSC: 30fps (True video is 30fps – there is no judder at 25fps)
Code Rate1024Kbps~8192Kbps
Max. User Access20 Users (1 admin account & 19 user accounts); Support up to 12 simultaneous video streams (10 sub-stream & 2 main-stream).
BrowsersIE, Edge, Chrome, Firefox, Safari (Adobe Player needs to be installed)
OS SupportedPC: Windows, Mac OS; Smartphone: iOS, Android
Record ModeMotion Record/Schedule Record (Default: Motion Record)
WaterproofNo

Out of the box

  • Reolink CP1 Pro camera
  • 240V to 5V/2A charger (make sure you specify Australian plug if ordering online)
  • Various fixing bolts and a ¼” tripod mount bracket (very handy if you want to put it on a wall instead of a desk or ledge)
  • Documentation

First impression is a little R2-D2 like – a cute little robot head like device that won’t scare kids!

Setup

Plug the camera to a power point. Download the iOS or Android app.

You can plug it into an Ethernet cable and skip much of the setup (like securing the camera to the router – if you do this by Wi-Fi you use a 3D barcode). Once done you can simply add the Wi-Fi SSID and Password.

The app has lots of flexibility

  • Set camera name
  • Runs multiple Reolink cameras (important to select cameras from the same brand otherwise you must use multiple apps)
  • A simple QR code to enable others to access the camera via the app on their smartphone
  • Push notifications and/or email
  • Wi-Fi Network setup
  • Display setup (can turn on and move around text labels as well as flip or mirror the picture (handy if you mount it upside down or sideways)
  • Anti-flickering adjustment (depends on type of lighting)
  • A range of camera controls – exposure, white balance, backlight, quality etc – leave these on Auto
  • A setting for balanced (best possible quality), fluent (mid-range) or clear (lowers resolution to match lower internet speeds maximum resolution)
  • Notification (email via pre-sets Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or custom)
  • Web addressable on network if your browser has Flash Player enabled
  • QNAP ONVIF compatible for QNAP surveillance station
  • Remote view over internet including full PTZ control

You can use email instead of push notifications to a paired smartphone. Email allows for copies to be sent to multiple recipients, but notifications are convenient as you don’t always read emails immediately.

Picture quality

I have the Reolink Argus 2MP outdoor/IR camera. It has a 1080p, 2MP, f/2.2 lens. In theory, it produces images to similarly specified NETGEAR Arlo, Swann and D-Link cameras. But in reviewing reference shots, it is ahead of these in colour and clarity. While the comparison is fair a lot really depends on Wi-Fi speed – all produce good shots under ideal conditions.

The CP1 Pro produces excellent shots under variable conditions – the difference between the 2MP Argus and the 4MP CP1 on the same shot is clear.

Remote view depends on internet quality, but you can switch to a clear or fluent stream if needed.

You can view recorded footage via the app, a web interface or remove the microSD card and play it on any H.264 player.

PTZ – pan, tilt and (no) zoom

You can set up to six PTZ markers which is handy if you want to cover a room. There is no ‘follow-me” motion detection but, I suspect that could be an easy app software upgrade. There is an auto setting that will pan around a room.

Motion detection

Records a few seconds prior and post motion detection – look for this feature. Sensitivity is adjustable to stop pets and flapping curtains setting it off.

It would be perfect if it also had sound detection.

Audio quality

Supports full duplex audio (two-way conversations) although its usefulness depends on Wi-Fi/internet speeds – you may experience lag and feedback.

GadgetGuy’s take

There are hundreds of brands and models of security cameras to choose from. I have tested D-Link/OMNA, Swann, NETGEAR Arlo and you cannot go wrong with these.

But Reolink seems to have the edge in hardware, the app, and in a company that is solely focused on home security.

Who will buy it?

Well for starters I would if only for the 2860 x 1440 clarity. It is a no-risk purchase.

Buy it as part of the security camera setup. Buy one brand as you don’t want to have an app for each camera.

At a minimum, you need a Reolink Argus or Argus 2 for external use and one or two CP1 Pro for an internal monitor or a baby monitor.

And if you want to go overboard there are 4/5MP Dome and surveillance cameras, and full NVR surveillance systems.

Pros

  • 4MP produces superior colour and quality images if you have Wi-Fi AC and at least the middle tier NBN
  • Great flexibility in pan and tilt
  • ¼” wall mount supplied
  • Easy setup if Ethernet connection is first used
  • Desktop app for Windows and macOS
  • No monthly cloud hosting fees – uses microSD

Cons

  • No microSD card supplied (universal complaint on all brands)
  • Not yet a smart home hub connected device but will connect to QNAP security platform

Price

It costs US$84.99. eBay has it at A$107.99 including postage. Amazon Australia list it without a price.

Ratings

  • Overall: 4.4 out of 5
  • Features: 4 out of 5 – does what it promises but, I would love to see follow-me motion detection and sound detection
  • Value for Money: 5 out of 5
  • Performance: 5 out of 5 – 4K camera, what is not to like?
  • Ease of Use: 4 out of 5 – Very easy to set up
  • Design: 4 out of 5 – very R2-D2 like

 

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