I am a NETGEAR Ambassador and I received this product in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion and review.
There are a lot of webcams on the market and most of them are now sold as part of home security packages. The trouble is that even if the camera connects to your WiFi, many times you want to put it where there isn’t good access to a power plug. Arlo from Netgear solves the power plug problem with small battery powered cameras.
About Arlo Hardware
The Arlo bundle consists of two attractive wireless cameras ($349.99 from Amazon) that fit in the palm of your hand and a base station to connect to your existing home network. The base station stands up and at glance it looks like a WiFi picture frame without the screen.
The camera units are white with a black face surrounding the lens. They’re small and seem pretty sturdy. Opening the battery pack, they take four lithium CR123 batteries. While these batteries aren’t an everyday household item, they are included to get you started and can be purchased online or from brick and mortar stores like CVS.
Arlo has a flat base and can sit on anything or it comes with a magnetic mounting system. The mounting bracket can be attached to whatever surface you want and then the camera sticks to the mounting bracket via internal high-powered magnets. This is a nice feature but if you’re planning to use your indoor-outdoor cameras outdoors, make sure it’s placed where nobody can reach it so it doesn’t disappear.
Setting up Arlo
I setup an account and picked a plan. There are several different service plans but don’t fear, one of them is FREE.
This is a BIG deal.
Many professional or DIY home security systems lose money on selling you the hardware because they make it up by charging you a monthly service fee. We’ve tested other cloud-based home security systems that charge a monthly fee to store your recorded videos. Arlo has several subscription plans available (Elite, Premier, and Basic) depending on how many cameras and base stations you have as part of your system, storage capacity (ranges from 1-100 GB), and days your cloud recordings will be kept (7-60 days) but the free Basic plan that includes 7 days of cloud recordings and up to 1 GB of cloud storage will be adequate for most.
I paired the cameras easily and was up and running in only a few minutes but if you do get stuck, the YouTube installation video, Support Center, and online community are easily accessible and helpful.
Setting Rules for Arlo Using the iOS or Android App
The Arlo mobile app works on both iOS and Android. It allows you to setup rules for the cameras and then apply the rules to different modes like “sleeping,” “home,” or “at-work.” You can manually select a mode from the app, or setup a pre-defined schedule. Some home monitoring systems don’t have schedules, or don’t have 7-day schedules, so it’s nice to see a full weekly calendar on the Arlo app for automatically setting rules.
After getting the cameras paired with the hub, I renamed the cameras and figured out where I wanted to put them. As a test, I put one in the guest bedroom. I set a rule to alert me anytime someone went into the room and to record video.
Every time motion was detected in the room, my smartphone phone got an alert. It didn’t matter if the lights were on or off, Arlo alerted almost immediately and produced shockingly good quality video for a tiny, battery-powered device.
From the mobile app, you can view cameras in real time, watch recorded videos, and manage your saved recordings. It’s easy to automatically purge old recordings with the “Select All” menu option. There is also a configurable option about what to do if your storage space is full. You have the choice to automatically delete the oldest recordings or stop taking new recordings. These may not seem like really important features, but they are missing from some other products on the market.
Arlo cameras record 720p high definition video, much better than older webcams. It’s not 1080p video, but you’re not recording wedding videos or footage for National Geographic/Discovery Channel with these devices. This is a surveillance camera. The images are high quality and quite clear. The camera has a 130° wide-angle lens to see large spaces.
I took the second camera and pointed it out a front window for the “front porch test.” This is the third camera I have tried to setup to watch the front door and the porch. My goal is to capture all visitors to the front door, whether it’s the mail carrier, neighbor, FedEx leaving a package, or anyone else. I know for sure of one situation where a package has been stolen from my front porch and it seems as though it would be easy to use a product like Arlo to record this video.
Previous cameras assigned to this task have failed because they wouldn’t auto-alert based on movement or because their motion sensors captured passing headlights, wild birds, lightning strikes, and everything BUT the mail carrier and our FedEx guy. I had high hopes for Arlo on this task.
Without any wires, it was easy to place the Arlo camera on the top of the window sash and point it onto the front porch out the window. Arlo couldn’t record through the glass window at night because the camera’s infrared lights were bouncing off the window and completely ruining the picture. Daytime recordings worked bur for some reason, I couldn’t get it to detect motion through the window.
No worries though, because the Arlo is also weatherproof. Having a truly wireless weatherproof camera sets up all sorts of possibilities for where the camera can be placed. I could mount the camera outside on my front porch without having to worry about how to power it. I could even put the camera in the yard to spy on…. whatever it is that our dog, Oliver, constantly barks at each night. Maybe we’ll figure out what’s really out there whether it’s deer or Bigfoot.
Arlo in Extreme Temperatures and Weather
It’s winter in DC and last night we had record cold temperatures of 4°F outside. As I placed Arlo on the front porch, I pulled up the camera specifications just to see its temperature. The camera is rated for 14°F to 122°F. It’s currently 9° F outside and Arlo seems to be working.
If you live in Minneapolis or North Dakota, I’m not sure if you will want to put Arlo outdoors. In the Mid-Atlantic area, it only rarely gets this cold, so it should survive just fine.
Arlo’s tiny wireless indoor/outdoor cameras with night vision produce high quality videos for your home monitoring needs. A starter kit with a base station and 1 camera has a list price of $199.99. An Arlo kit with two cameras costs $349.99. Additional cameras are $159.99 via Amazon.
The pricing may seem steep for a webcam system, but you really do get what you pay for. The video quality, weatherproof packaging, and small design justify Arlo’s price.
In comparison, the single camera kit is cheaper than the Piper camera home security system. Piper has temperature and humidity sensors, two-way voice, and a Z-wave hub, so it does more at a higher price. Despite that, Piper’s camera is tethered to a 6-foot DC wall power supply and can’t be placed outdoors. (More details about Piper can be found in my previous post, My Family’s Experiences with Piper as a Tool for Home Automation and Security)
Overall, Arlo is a good value for the money and provides a high-quality video monitoring solution.
I received the Arlo system through my involvement as a Netgear Ambassador. All opinions are my own. Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. Images courtesy of Netgear.