Reolink’s PoE-enabled home security camera is a great value
at a glance
Excellent video quality
Person and vehicle detection
Multiple video storage options
Requires a separate PoE switch to operate
Must be mounted to a wall
Currently no voice control option
The PoE-enabled RLC-1212A offers advanced features at an affordable price.
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Reolink continues to expand its stable of home security cameras at a rapid clip. The manufacturer’s innovative dual-lens camera recently left us with concerns about its connectivity issues, but the RLC-1212A, a powerful 12MP indoor/outdoor camera, is a straightforward solid performer and a great value at just $100.
The 1212A has a utilitarian design with a metal aluminum bullet-style casing. Boasting a robust IP66 rating, meaning it should be resistant to dust ingress as well as powerful jets of water, the camera runs on Power over Ethernet (PoE), a technology that uses a single ethernet cable to carry both data and the necessary electrical current to power the device. This requires a special type of ethernet switch to work; I used a TP-Link JetStream 8-Port Gigabit Smart PoE+ switch. With this or any other PoE switch setup, you plug an ethernet cable from the camera into the switch and then plug the switch into your router with a separate ethernet cable.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best home security cameras, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.
After you connect the camera to your network but before you install it, you’ll need to download the Reolink app and add the 1212A. This involves scanning a QR code on the camera’s casing, which automatically adds the correct model to the app’s list of connected devices. From there, you can proceed to mount the camera. Reolink supplies the necessary hardware to attach the wall mount, but if you want to thread the wiring through an exterior wall into your home, you’ll need some extra tools on hand.
The 1212A has impressive specs, including 4096 x 2784 (12 megapixels) resolution and a 107 x 66-degree field of view. It includes both infrared black-and-white night vision and a 700-lumens spotlight to capture color video in low light. A built-in mic and speaker enable two-way communication, allowing you to chat with visitors. Alternately, intruders can be warned away with the camera’s built-in siren or customized voice alarm.
The video I captured during the day was tack-sharp, allowing me to easily make out small details, like license plate numbers, that could be critical in the event of a crime. Infrared night vision provided excellent contrast and clarity. Color night vision was a bit muted compared to daytime video, but more than good enough to see details like people’s clothing and hair color.
The camera’s smart detection includes person and vehicle alerts, and you can set both a minimum and maximum size for objects. You can schedule when you want alerts active and configure activity zones to mask out areas you don’t want to receive alerts about. You can also set an “alarm delay” to alert you only when a person or vehicle has stayed within a detection zone longer than the set time (the max delay is 8 seconds).
The maximum video clip length is configurable up to 60 seconds post motion. That’s recommended to get the greatest amount of usable footage, and it’s worth adjusting at the outset because the default clip length is a patry 15 seconds.
As with most of its other cameras, Reolink offers three storage options with the 1212A: microSD card (up to 256GB), FTP upload, and Reolink’s NVR units, the latter being DVR-like devices that the manufacturer sells separately. An important note: Opting for an NVR would remove the need for a separate ethernet switch, as Reolink’s NVRs provide their own PoE.
The Reolink app maintains the straightforward, intuitive interface I’ve used with the company’s other cameras. The live feed has a toolbar with controls for playback, audio, video recording, and taking screenshots. You can also activate the camera’s microphone, onboard siren, and spotlight, and easily access saved video clips from the main screen. Customization options for the camera’s smart detection, siren, notifications, and other features are simple to manage from the settings menu.
The only noticeable omission is hands-free voice control, but Reolink says that’s coming soon for both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. With that feature on the horizon, it’s easy to declare the RLC-1212A another winner from a company that has consistently delivered easy-to-use, budget-friendly home security cameras.