Reolink C2 Pro IP Camera Review

Does the Reolink C2 Pro NAS Compatible IP Camera Deserve Your Data?

One of the most popular reasons for many users to finally take the plunge and buy a NAS drive in 2019 is surveillance. Whether you are in an office that requires monitoring of your assets for insurance and security, or simply a home user that wants an extra pair of eyes watching over their home, surveillance is now incredibly straightforward and affordable. Big NAS brands such as Synology and QNAP are well aware of this and have included a comprehensive and impressively user-friendly surveillance camera software with their NAS devices. With so many users buying NAS drives as Plex media servers, backup devices, and ultimately centralized media devices, this is just another way that a network-attached storage drive can be used to protect you and your data. In order to take advantage of the NVR software included with your Synology or QNAP NAS, you will need to purchase compatible NAS cameras. These cameras, more commonly known as IP cameras (internet protocol), are available from many brands and each brand has its own unique selling point. Today I want to talk about, easily, one of my favourite brands for NAS compatible cameras, Reolink. With an already establish concise and understandable product range, the Reolink C2 Pro has been released at the beginning of 2019 and today I want to talk about why this could be the best NAS IP camera I have seen yet.

Reolink C2 Pro IP Camera Quick Review

As far as affordable, high spec NVR cameras for NAS goes, the Reolink C2 Pro is another solid camera release to join the existing line-up. It is a pinch more expensive than it’s predecessor, but aside from key features like optical zoom, improved nightvision and audio in/out, what makes this camera a worthy purchase is the build quality. This is a factor that is depressingly overlooked by many brands. Right from the moment you are removing the packaging and set up the unit, you do have a good, solid feeling about the device. The software, though very user-friendly, only partially makes up the price tag, so if you are not a NAS user, then you may feel this a little over-priced. But for Synology NAS drives, or QNAP NAS servers, you will struggle to find a better IP camera for your Surveillance setup.

That being said, there is a lot that this camera does well and the potential for what it could become with some new software updates may well be worth the price. If you’re looking for a fairly inexpensive way to add some peace of mind to your home and like the potential of what this thing could do, definitely go for it. There is a lot worse IP Camera right now in 2020, but do factor in how you are going to STORE your recordings, as cheap IP Cameras with subscription cloud services lurking in the background can sometimes be a pain down the line – so I cannot recommend combining one or more of the ReolInk C2 Pro in conjunction with Synology Surveillance Station and QNAP QVR Pro on a NAS enough.

Pros of the Reolink C2 Pro Cons of the Reolink C2 Pro
Unbeatable Value vs Hardware

Very Affordable Optical Zoom

128GB SD Card Support means you don’t need to rely on the Cloud/Subscription services

Very Good NAS Support in Synology & QNAP

Dual antenna design

Low Power Consumption

3 Modes of Storage

Tracking could be better

Lack of a Desktop Application

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This was the main thing that drew me to their products back when I bought my first cameras several years ago and a similar product attitude to companies like Apple and Synology which rely on simplicity throughout their design and marketing. The Reolink C2 Pro is designed for the home-to-SMB user who needs a full pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) camera for fast, easy deployment and is not looking for big corporate business utility. Alternatively, numerous other cameras in their range are suited for external 360-degree dome-based business use, discreet internal setup and even battery-powered wireless use. With the majority of their Range compatible with NAS drives and each unit fitting certain requirements, I have always favoured the Reolink brand of IP cameras for NAS.
The retail packaging for the Reolink C2 Pro camera is definitely a step up from its predecessor. The box is far more graphical, highlighting many of the software and hardware capabilities of this camera. I was also impressed by the level of detail and commercially professional design of the package. Because IP cameras are rather a niche item, typically find that they arrive in the simple brown box packaging, therefore I am pleased to see that Reolink has made this look as accessible as most commercial home electronics. This is, of course, a very minor detail, but worth mentioning nevertheless.
Upon opening the retail box, you are met with both the IP camera and a collection of accessories. The full list of content in this retail kit are:
Little touches, such as the inclusion of the mounting bracket and wall mount designs that I find particularly nice and I am confident that everything you will need to set up this camera with your NAS is included, saving you a lot of mucking around.
Another area I want to briefly highlight is the cables included with this IP camera kit. Both the LAN cable that is included (despite the camera being both Wi-Fi and LAN enabled) and the USB power cable are of particularly high quality and thickness. These are typically areas where many hardware manufacturers can make serious economies that, although small, can be detrimental to the overall user experience. I just wanted to touch on that I really stood out for me during the unboxing of this device. The USE cable especially is around 3 metres long at least.
This camera is not a power over ethernet (PoE) supported device and requires mains power during operation. This is supplied with a USB-A power adaptor for your mains outlet and the unit arrived with both clips for UK 3-pin plugs and the rest of Europe’s 2 pin outlet.
I am sorry to continue to labour on the subject of accessories, but it is also worth noting that the instruction manual for this camera is both, well designed and in multiple languages. All too often further economies are made by some brands (I am looking at you D-Link) with poorly translated photocopies of instructions. I am pleased to confirm that the Reolink C2 Pro NAS compatible camera arrived with very clear and user-friendly instructions, covering both using it with compatible NAS drives and using the 1st party software included with the camera.
It is also worth highlighting that you can use the Reolink C2 camera for more than just NAS based surveillance and it arrives with both an impressive desktop and mobile client application for use with your IP camera purchase. However, I wish to focus as much as possible on the subject of NAS compatibility. I do recommend that you visit Reolink links on their website to find out more about their own proprietary software.
Finally, the unit arrived with screws and an adjustable bracket for mounting the reolink C2 Pro on a wall or irregular surface. Its design heavily favours general desktop and home use, but it is still nice to know that it can be used in multiple environments.
Now we can focus on the reolink C2 Pro camera itself. Featuring a similar external chassis as found on the reolink C1 Pro and C2 regular, this new camera features a much lighter (at just under 300g) assembly and is white in design. Aside from that, you would be hard pushed to tell the difference between this camera and its previous releases, as it’s what on the inside that counts.
The camera is quite discreet and the main pan, tilt and zoom operations though not silent, are fairly low noise. In fact, this camera is somehow quieter than it’s predecessor, however that could just be because it is a new unit compared with one used for most of the last year.
The main camera lens of the C2 Pro includes 2 cool features fact really push this device from the home to business user. The main lens is a 5-megapixel resolution (upto 2560 x 1920) capture and also features 3 x optical zoom (f=2.8-8mm Autofocus, F=1.6, with IR Cut). Anyone that has used IP cameras for legal reasons, will know that an optical zoom vastly beats a digital zoom when it comes to identifying evidence such as faces, licence plates and identifying marks. Digital zoom simply makes an image bigger and therefore more pixelated the higher you go, Whereas, an optical zoom will sharpen the focus and maintain the picture quality while still increasing the size of what get can see.
zoom
Around that lens is 8 infrared LEDs that assist this device in night vision mode. The camera will automatically switch to nightvision mode once the light in the ambient area is reduced and upon doing this will enable the 8 infrared LEDs to vastly improve the visual quality at night. This provides up to 40 feet of night vision from the camera’s point of view and this combined with the optical zoom make this exceptionally useful camera for NAS NVR users looking for a 24×7 solution.
As mentioned, this camera arrives with pan tilt and zoom functionality and can cover 355 degrees on the horizontal axis as well as further coverage up and down upto 105 degrees. This motion can be set automatically within your NAS NVR software for a preset control panel or manually via the respective NAS user interface if your drive software supports this functionality, such as facial tracking, then the C2 Pro may support it, however, it is hard to confirm this functionality at this time, as coverage of this on NAS is a little spotty at the moment. There is plenty of Surveillance supported NAS in the market right now, but finding the balance of smart IP Cameras, such as the SimCam S1 with AI-enabled recognition, or a NAS with this functionality, such as the Synology DVA3219 and QNAP QVR FaceTiger software is a tough buyer decision for many reasons.
The sides of the Reolink C2 pro feature dual speakers that can be used to directly output audio via the camera to intruders or viewed individuals. Indeed, the Synology surveillance station software even includes functionality for custom alerts that will playback when pre-setup alerts based on movement or light has been triggered, such as dog barking or an alarm.
That is not all, the front of the IP camera also features a particularly sensitive microphone that will pick up audio paired with the video, a feature that is surprisingly less supported by IP cameras than you would think. Whether using this camera in live view, using an SD Card or recording to an archive of NAS storage, the audio will be kept. It can even be recorded to a separate track by some surveillance software.
If we turn the Reolink C2 IP camera around, we can take a look at a couple of hardware connection features. The C2 pro includes dual wireless aerials that support MIMO support, for greater coverage, as well as dual-band 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency support over 802.11a/b/g/n wireless standards. This means that they will work in pretty much any network environment, regardless of the age of your setup. Needless to say, the cameras also arrive with their own security and login credentials, using WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK wireless security.
If you would prefer a wired LAN setup, I am pleased to confirm that this camera also features a 1Gbe LAN port that, once connected, will make the camera network accessible (still using the same login credentials) from any NAS on the network. This is another area where I have seen other IP camera brands make savings, refusing to make cameras either wired or wireless and choosing one or the other, not spending a little extra to make it support both network environments. Aside from the ease of setup, many users will want a LAN connection for much higher quality recordings, but still want a wireless access option at the same time so the camera can be accessed by local DVR/NVR systems with as few wires as possible.
Also, don’t forget the versatility of using an IP Camera like this in conjunction with a Powerline adapter in your home/office, as it will give you the greater bandwidth of LAN, but with much more liberal deployment options. Also, this device features an SD card slot, for adding local storage to the camera. This is more designed for users who want to use the Reolink own-brand software, rather than those wanting to use a NAS and is a nice extra feature for those users. Though you will never see the benefits of them in a NAS.
The base of the camera, although rather understated, features excellent ventilation, which is useful for cameras that are in 24/7 use with the PTZ functionality in a patrol pattern.
Once you have set up your Synology NAS for surveillance and NVR use, you simply need to power up the Reolink C2 pro camera and connected to your LAN or wireless network. By searching your local area network, the camera will be found quickly and you can simply add it. Both the QNAP and Synology surveillance software (surveillance station and QVR Pro) both listed this camera as a generic ONVIF camera, rather than identify it by Reolink brand name, however, I think this is more to do with Synology and QNAP keeping up with compatible devices, than the camera brand themselves.
As far as affordable, high spec NVR cameras for NAS goes, the Reolink C2 Pro is another solid camera release to join the existing line-up. It is a pinch more expensive than it’s predecessor, but aside from key features like optical zoom, improved nightvision and audio in/out, what makes this camera a worthy purchase is the build quality. This is a factor that is depressingly overlooked by many brands. Right from the moment you are removing the packaging and set up the unit, you do have a good, solid feeling about the device. The software, though very user-friendly, only partially makes up the price tag, so if you are not a NAS user, then you may feel this a little over-priced. But for Synology NAS drives, or QNAP NAS servers, you will struggle to find a better IP camera for your Surveillance setup.
Pros of the Reolink C2 Pro
  • Unbeatable Value vs Hardware
  • Very Affordable Optical Zoom
  • 128GB SD Card Support means you don’t need to rely on the Cloud/Subscription services
  • Very Good NAS Support in Synology & QNAP
  • Dual antenna design
  • Low Power Consumption
  • 3 Modes of Storage

Cons of the Reolink C2 Pro

  • Tracking could be better
  • Lack of a Desktop Application

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Reolink C2 Pro IP Surveillance Camera Review
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