"The Reolink E1 Zoom does not offer the image quality that its zoom function implies."

  • Zoom provides more details

  • Excellent night vision performance

  • Slow zooming and focusing

  • Can't auto track

  • Weak internal microphone

Over the past few months, we've seen a steady stream of smart security cameras that can be articulated to provide 360-degree coverage. They're certainly useful, as the Eufy Security Indoor Cam 2K Pan & Tilt showed us – and it's still the camera to beat right now.

The Reolink E1 Zoom wants to dethrone it. The Reolink has a similar articulation camera with a special feature that you don't see too often in an indoor camera: a zoom lens. It's a rare extra, but is it a useful addition to a smart home security camera?

Full coverage with a helpful zoom

The Reolink E1 Zoom has a 5 megapixel Super HD camera with night vision, two-way audio, dual-band WiFi and a 3x optical zoom. At its widest, it covers a horizontal field of view of 98 degrees, which is much narrower than its contemporaries. Ring's indoor camera, for example, has a wide field of view of 140 degrees. This is usually a problem for other cameras, but the E1 zoom can pan on its base to cover 355 degrees horizontally.

The main feature of the Reolink E1 zoom is the 3x optical zoom.

Moving the camera gives users a degree of flexibility to look around a room. However, this is a manual process. Unlike the Eufy Indoor Cam 2K Pan and Tilt, the E1 Zoom stays stationary so it doesn't automatically move to track movement, people or pets.

However, the 3x optical zoom has the added benefit of sharper details rather than just relying on a digital zoom. The difference is noticeable as some details can be better seen with the optical zoom. On the other hand, zooming is often slow and delayed, as is focusing.

Relink E1 enlarge tableJohn Velasco / Digital Trends

This is a problem compounded by the fact that everything has to be operated manually. It would have been far more useful if the E1 zoom could rotate, zoom, and focus on its own every time motion was detected.

Video performance

This camera records video at 2560 x 1920 resolution and the resulting quality is average at best. A clear video is produced with sufficient lighting. However, the highlights often suffer from overexposure and washout. Incorrect exposure can obscure details, which is never a good quality on a security camera.

However, night vision works well enough and can easily illuminate the full range of my living room of 25 feet (rated for a range of 40 feet). Even when it is completely dark, the black and white night vision material is crisp and clear.

The black and white night vision material is crisp and clear.

The internal speaker is powerful and at times a bit harsh and shrill tone. Unfortunately, the internal microphone does a terrible job of recording audio and makes talking to one another a chore. If you speak in a normal tone about 10 feet away, it will be difficult for the person using the camera to see the conversation.

Much management required

The Reolink E1 Zoom seems like a competent paper security camera, but it lacks the advanced security and tracking features of its peers, such as B. Person recognition or automatic tracking. You can create motion zones and adjust the sensitivity of motion detection, but there is still a lot of management involved.

Notifications are received through the app and triggered events are arranged in the app in a linear timeline view. After you've set the motion sensitivity to the medium setting, the Reolink E1 zoom picks up almost every movement in its view. And you know what? It becomes a little redundant every time your cat or dog strolls by in the background.

If you prefer continuous recording, you will need to use a microSD card to store the footage or one of Reolink's NVRs (Network Video Recorders). There is an option to subscribe to Reolink's cloud storage service, which is free for the basic plan and covers 7 days of video log (1 GB cloud storage) for one camera. If you need more, the standard plan starts at $ 3.49 per month and includes 30 days of video log (30 GB cloud storage) for up to five cameras.

You can create motion zones and adjust the sensitivity of motion detection, but a lot of management is required.

The Reolink E1 Zoom could be a fantastic security camera, but frequent triggers and its inability to tell potential threats from false ones make it less useful for protecting your home. And finally, there isn't that much privacy focus either, as there is no 2-factor authentication with the app login and there is no privacy mode at all to disable the camera.

Our opinion

There is potential in this camera, but it lacks the smart features and performance that other smart surveillance cameras offer. The $ 72 price tag is tempting, but we've seen better cameras for roughly the same price.

How long it will take?

Compared to other cameras, the Reolink E1 Zoom is bulky. The all-plastic construction makes it feel brittle and hollow, so we're not too sure it will hold up after a nasty fall. If you are concerned about defects, we have a 2 year limited warranty.

Is there a better alternative?

You bet. The Eufy Security Indoor 2K Pan and Tilt remains the better buy because of its automatic tracking, impressive video quality, people detection, and lower cost of $ 52.

Should you buy it?

No, there are better options at a lower price.

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