Home » Reviews » REVIEW: Reolink E1 Pro 2K Panning Security Camera

REVIEW: Reolink E1 Pro 2K Panning Security Camera

The editorial team at AlfredCamera has decided to give hands-on reviews of some of the best budget cameras on the market. After testing each camera for a period of two to three weeks, we’ll share the things that we love and the things we don’t. We strive to be as honest as possible during the process because we feel that this not only informs our readers about security products, but also helps us to make AlfredCamera a better product.

A solid indoor camera with 360-degree motorized panning that has its share of unique, much-wanted features—and wasted potential.

Main Features

  • 4MP/2K Super HD
  • 360-degree horizontal panning
  • 55-degree vertical tilting
  • 2.99 x 2.76 x 4.21 inches
  • 200g
  • Two-way audio
  • Motion detection
  • Continuous recording via microSD (up to 128GB)
  • Works with Google Voice Assistant 
The Reolink E1 Pro package
Pros Cons
🟢 Very high image quality
🟢 Push notifications are super fast
🟢 No login required during setup
🟢 Flexible detection zones greatly improve utility of motion detection
🟢 microSD support for continuous recording
🔴 No motion tracking greatly reduces the utility of the motorized panning
🔴 Latency issues on the livestream
🔴 Doesn’t use a USB cable
🔴 Possible security vulnerability during setup caused by the creation of a ‘default’ account
🔴 Some of the packaging isn’t recyclable

Packaging & What’s in the Box

At 2.99 x 2.76 x 4.21 inches, the camera is larger than most budget home security cameras, and it is very well protected.

Reolink E1 Pro with blue film covering the lens.

But it’s not entirely clear why opaque plastic was chosen over transparent plastic (which is widely recyclable) or, better yet, cardboard, which seems to have managed just fine with other devices we’ve tested.

The contents of the Reolink E1 Pro. The camera is kept in a white plastic shell.
The camera is kept in a white plastic shell (bottom right).

Other than that, the packaging is minimal. Inside you’ll find the camera, charger and cable, screws, wall plugs, mounting plate, mounting guide, quick start guide, and a ‘video surveillance’ sticker, which was a nice touch for believers in the power of warning signs. 

The quick start guide is a little meatier than the average one, with a useful mounting guide and some installation tips. It’s only printed in English for the US release.

Installation & Onboarding

Installing the camera was quick and painless, in part because the Reolink app doesn’t require an account to be made.

Otherwise, pairing the camera follows the usual process. Plug the device in and it will power on (shown by a blue status LED). 

On the app, users are prompted to scan a QR code found on the bottom of the camera. Soon after, the camera itself starts welcoming you in English, German, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Maybe the ‘Pro’ in its name refers to it being a bonafide polyglot. 

Following the onscreen instructions is simple enough, and users can choose to connect the camera to LAN or Wi-Fi. 

Annoyingly, the Wi-Fi router has to be manually entered. A QR code eventually appears on the phone, which is held up to the camera for it to be scanned. It beeps, and setup is complete.

Although an account with Reolink isn’t necessary to use the device, users do have to create a password for the individual camera device.

This might actually be a red flag, because it’s clear that by successfully pairing the device, a default device account is automatically created with the name ‘admin’ and, presumably, a default password used up until the point at which the user changes it. 

Reolink app screenshot showing a create a password menu
A default device ‘account’ is briefly created for users before they name it and create a password.

Users can then name the device if they wish to do so, before a final QR code pops up for other users that may want to connect to the same camera. This can be viewed at any time, and is a useful way to share access without compromising passwords.

After accepting terms of service, you can immediately start adding devices from the main menu, without having to login.
If another user wants to add the device, they can click the + button in the top right corner and scan the QR code generated on the main user’s device.

Mounting the camera is simple, and the quick start guide provides a detailed explanation on how to do it. 

Like other devices, there’s a mounting guide sticker that will ensure only the right spots are drilled into. Screws and wall plugs are included, and these attach to the mounting plate that slides into the bottom of the device.

The underside of the Reolink E1 Pro

It’s a 360-panning, spherical-shaped camera, so it’s much more suited to upside down mounting on a ceiling than it is to the side of a wall, where  This will allow users to get the most out of the motorized panning and the relatively wide angle lens.

Hardware – Durability, Aesthetics, Size, Weight

Reolink’s E1 Pro is 2.99 x 2.76 x 4.21 inches and weighs about 200g. It’s made of a durable, matte white plastic. The camera is attached to a base with motorized 360-degree panning. The lens can also tilt vertically 50-degrees.

The front of Reolink E1 Pro
Kasa Spot Pan Tilt (left) and Reolink E1 Pro (right)
Kasa Spot Pan Tilt (left) and Reolink E1 Pro (right). 

In fact, aside from being a little smaller, the design is quite similar to the Kasa device, down to the MicroSD card slot being hidden beneath the outer casing. The reset button sits beside it, and revealing both requires tilting the camera lens upwards via the app. 

Reolink app screenshot showing rotation controls
In the bottom half of the screen, the rotation controls are shown. To access the SD card and reset button, the camera must be tilted up completely.

Unlike Kasa Spot Pan Tilt, the panning ability of the camera is much more fluid, free of the jerkiness of its panning-peer, and is significantly quieter. (check out the videos below)

This means it’s less likely to disturb sleeping babies or their equally as exhausted parents when it spins around. Still, owing to its size and look, it isn’t really suitable for covert surveillance. 

The device isn’t powered by a USB cable, which is a little disappointing if you intend to take it abroad or have it charge via a computer or other electronic device instead of using a conventional plug.

SizeWeightWeatherproof?CasingTilt/Pan?Local Storage?
2.99 x 2.76 x 4.21 inches200gWhite matte plastic outer shell✅ 360 degrees horizontal,50 degrees vertical✅  microSD up to 128GB

Software – App Usability, Features, Third Party Compatibility

I found the streamlined settings menus very user-friendly compared with other security camera apps.

Rarely was I required to go through more than one menu to access a particular setting, making it easy to pick up and start making adjustments right away.

The app supports Google Voice Assistant integration.

There are far fewer features than the Kasa app, which is built for smart home integration, but users looking for fuss free surveillance will appreciate the ease of it.

That being said, the app boasted some features that really excelled in comparison to other security camera apps.

Firstly, the app clearly allows you to tap record as if using an ordinary camera. You can also take screenshots with a single tap. It seems obvious, but this interface goes a long way in giving users more control. 

This encourages livestream watching more than it encourages camera use based solely on push notifications. Indeed, the initial set up has no prompts to activate motion detection or push notifications. 

It feels ‘old school’ in that regard, and it can be used in an ‘old school’ way so long as the user inserts a microSD card (no, it isn’t included).

The ‘clip’ feature is really useful. This is a digital zoom tool that allows you to single out small spaces in the frame in real time.

Two separate live feeds are displayed: one has the full frame, where you can drag a zooming box around, and the other, displayed above, shows the zoomed in area. 

Clip feature in the Reolink app
The clip feature is an enhanced digital zooming tool that makes zooming far more useful than most security camera apps, but it is subject to significant delay between the two feeds, as seen here (the bottom feed lags significantly behind the zoomed one above. Below, the hand has yet to appear in frame).

It’s excellent for getting a clearer look at moving faces and objects. There is significant delay between the ‘clipped’ screen and the full frame screen beneath it that’s indicative of the broader latency issue (more on that later), but it doesn’t hinder usability too drastically. 

Motion detection/sensitivity features are also really intuitively designed. Rather than having a plain rectangular detection zone, a ‘paint’ tool allows for substantially more flexibility in deciding the detection zone than on other camera apps.

Motion detection alert zones determined using 'paint' tool in Reolink app.
The paint feature is a flexible and intuitive way to determine motion detection zones. The gray section on the right of the frame, where there is a doorway, has been ‘painted’ to prevent motion detection alerts in that area.

Users can ‘paint’ the areas they want to be excluded from the detection zone, meaning backgrounds can be easily blocked out even if they are unusual or narrow shapes. This makes push notifications much more intelligent and useful.

Sensitivity is expressed out of 50 points, with 50 being the highest and 1 being the lowest. Sensitivity can be scheduled, which is a surprisingly handy way to more effectively monitor areas that experience high traffic at certain times and low traffic at others.

Scheduling motion detection sensitivity in the Reolink app.
Sensitivity can be scheduled, which helps with areas that are subject to high traffic at certain times and low traffic at others.

Similar to the motion detection ‘paint’ tool, the ‘privacy mask’ is a clever tool that can be used to black out specific parts of the frame. 

Much like the detection zones, this provides a greater degree of freedom in determining the size of the area that is excluded from the footage than in other security camera apps.

Privacy masks can be used to black out a specific part of the frame.

This feature, alongside the motion detection tools, point to the camera being mounted in one specific location. They’re great features, but using them does beg the question, ‘why is there 360 degree panning?’. 

The usefulness of these features inadvertently discourages using panning because they work only if the camera is kept static. I think most people will find these features so advantageous that it’ll discourage the use of panning entirely.

Wi-Fi?LTE Data (3G, 4G, 5G)?Bluetooth?Wired?

Camera

The camera’s most impressive feature is the image quality, which, at 2K, is the highest I’ve seen among devices in the $35-$50 price range.

Like most other cameras, quality settings are split into three—a high, medium, and low setting—but further exploration in the settings reveals these are in fact just presets.

Reolink E1 Pro image quality set to highest
Reolink E1 Pro image quality set to medium
Reolink E1 Pro image quality set to lowest
The three default quality settings, with the highest at the top and the lowest at the bottom. Color is noticeably well-balanced in all three, and the lens is wide.

In reality, it’s possible to combine dozens of different settings, which includes different resolutions, different frame rates, and different bitrates, to find the perfect sweet spot for your needs as determined by your internet connection. 

Resolution Frame RateBit Rate
Resolution is the number of pixels displayed in the frame, vertically and horizontally. The higher the number, the more clear the image looks.

Resolution is commonly represented by terms like ‘720p’, ‘1080p’ and ‘4K’. 4K is an exceptionally high resolution, while 720p is considered the lowest ‘high definition’ standard.
Frame rate is the number of individual frames displayed per second. Think of any moving image as multiple images displayed in quick succession, like drawing in a flip note.

A frame rate of 15 means that 15 individual frames are displayed per second. The higher the frame rate, the smoother the video looks.
Bit rate has little to do with the camera’s capabilities. Instead, it refers to how much bandwidth is consumed by it, represented in kbps (kilobits per second).

A high bit rate means better quality and faster responses. However, if the camera consumes high amounts of bandwidth, it will significantly slow your internet down on other connected devices.
Detailed quality settings in Reolink app.
Quality settings in Reolink go beyond high, medium, and low options to allow extensive customization. 

Speaking of which, the E1 Pro suffered significant latency issues, with delays on the livestream sometimes clocking in at 4 seconds on the highest preset quality setting. 

Latency issues are far from unusual with IP security cameras, but there’s no denying that these were noticeably long delays at times, probably owing to the high image quality.

Admittedly, this may be the result of poor Wi-Fi, and at one point when the stream was completely frozen, a message displayed suggesting the quality should be switched from 4MP (the highest, 2K setting) to ‘balanced’ (the middle setting) to mitigate the issue. 

AlfredCam on a glass table
AlfredCam

The night vision works well, making great use of the camera’s excellent image quality to produce clear images in the dark through infrared.

As with the Kasa Spot Pan Tilt, fast moving objects that appear too close to the lens cause the camera to struggle with white balance, but I found it rectified this much faster. 

Screenshot of night vision enabled footage.

Infrared lights can be turned off or set to turn or automatically when the image becomes too dark.

What surprised me most is that, despite the obvious latency problems on the livestream, the motion detection push notifications were remarkably fast. They were virtually instant, in fact. 

Screenshot of lock screen with a motion detection push notification.
Push notifications were virtually instant despite obvious latency issues elsewhere.

I’ve been quiet on the camera’s main selling point—the ability to pan via the app’s controls—so far, and that might be because I found myself barely using it. 

For whatever reason, Reolink decided to omit motion tracking, which gives competitor models like the Kasa Spot Pan Tilt a firm advantage over the E1 Pro.

Motion tracking refers to the ability for the camera to move by itself when a person comes into the frame, following the object through AI as it moves across the space.

Simply put, the panning ability is not very useful without it. It’s a shame, because the panning is clearly better—it’s much smoother and quieter. 

With the absence of motion tracking, the inclusion of an already rather wide lens, and all the nifty features designed for static surveillance, there’s really not a lot of reason to pan. Kids will probably find it fun, though!

Audio 

Two-way audio allows for app users to communicate with those on the other side of the camera. It worked without a hitch and the quality was perfectly fine. 

Users tap on a microphone icon, which allows them to speak through the phone’s mic and have their voice projected by the speaker on the back of the camera. Despite latency issues elsewhere, ordinary conversations can be held.

The back of the Reolink E1 Pro, with the speaker visible

Audio recording can be enabled or disabled through the settings, which is recommended if unsure about the relevant audio recording laws. It also helps to reduce file size should the user intend to use a microSD card for continuous recording. 

A siren sample can also be activated from the app, and is loud enough to scare off would-be intruders and whoever else should turn up uninvited. 

Unlike the Kasa Spot Pan Tilt, there’s no audio-based detection settings here, which come in handy for baby monitoring.

Cost

Final Thoughts

Reolink’s E1 Pro is a great indoor camera marred ever so slightly by the wasted potential of its panning ability. 

The camera’s best features all point to it being mounted in a long-term static position. It’s in this way that it really shines, which leaves the panning to seem slightly gimmicky without motion tracking. It’s an unusual decision to omit it, particularly as the outdoor counterpart, the E1 Outdoor, does support motion tracking. 

But for a super high quality ceiling surveyor available at a great price, the E1 Pro might just be the pick of the litter.