It’s billed as “the worlds first and only 100% wire free weatherproof, rechargeable HD smart security camera with audio and a 130° viewing angle.” With that kind of marketing mouthful, you better hope the Arlo Pro home surveillance cameras can deliver. Many industry experts apparently seem to think it does, since it was given an innovation award at CES 2017.
I recently received and Arlo Pro home security camera kit to test and review.
Arlo Pro camera review
The kit I received comes with two HD video cameras that are probably about the size of hockey pucks. They are definitely slim and narrow and blend unobtrusively into most areas. Arlo says the cameras are 100% wire free; no cords or wiring to worry about, and that’s definitely true. The cameras mount to your wall or window frame or even outdoors using a strong magnetic bracket that can be clipped on a screw or a nail and they are made for indoors or out.
The cameras are fully weatherproof can stand the rain, snow, heat, or cold since they are IP65 rated.
Rechargeable home security cameras
The cameras are powered using supposedly long-lasting rechargeable batteries. A two way audio feature lets you listen into what’s going on and even talk back using the built-in speaker/microphone. The Arlo Pro kit works using a free smartphone app that allows you to access the cameras’ feed, past events, and motion detection.
Free cloud storage
A great feature that I think is a must in home security cameras today is that it comes with free cloud storage and will hold onto seven days of motion or audio triggered events at no charge. Of course you can also connect a USB drive to the Arlo Pro base station and back up your videos locally.
Arlo Pro cameras set up
Set up was quite easy. Everything worked the first time when I followed the instructions in the booklet.
Getting the base station set up was simple, and the wireless cameras paired with ease. I needed to do a firmware update on both the base station and the camera, so they didn’t seem to be functioning when I first tried to access the app. Fortunately I got an error message for the firmware update and it was resolved in quick order.
Time delay on Live View
There is about a 17 second delay on access to the live camera. From the time movement happens on camera it is almost 17 seconds before you will see it on the live view inside the app. That’s not ideal, but since the camera is recording events anyway, you can always go back and look them up.
The cameras are super compact, very smooth, and would blend into any decor easily. They come with an easy one screw magnetic ball installation mounts, that allow you to attach them to any wall or piece of furniture and aim them as you need to. The magnetic mounts are super powerful, even an earthquake could probably not shake these babies free.
Video quality of Arlo Pro
The camera video quality is excellent. These are HD cameras that provide sharp videos, and the integrated night vision automatically switches on at night to shed light on whatever’s happening. I was quite pleased with the quality. The night time video is also quite good and faces are easily discernible even in the dark.
Arlo App and connection
You can connect to your cameras with a tablet, computer, or your smartphone. The software is available for iOS, Android, and even Apple TV and most web browsers.
Live or taped
At any given time you can log into a live feed of your camera and see what’s going on. There is that aforementioned delay, but the feed is easily accessible using the app. You can also set up instant email or mobile alerts whenever motion or audio is detected. The system is also fully expandable and you can get up to six cameras in one pack if you need more coverage. While the kit comes in glossy white, there are jet black skins available also if that’s what you need for it to blend in.
Your “events” or video recordings are accessed through the app using a Calendar-style interface, that makes it really easy to go back and check incidents.
Battery life on Arlo Pro cameras
The battery life on Arlo Pro cameras is outstanding. After about two months of usage on one of the cameras, the device still had about 75% of its battery.
UPDATE: June, 2018
After just a few months of use, the battery on one of the two cameras appears to have died permanently. I got a warning on the battery that said it needs to be “replaced”. After trying to recharge it, it will just not take a charge and is completely dead, meaning I’ll need to buy another new Arlo Replacement battery at a staggering $50USD! This is extremely disappointing. Also disappointing, when I asked for help from Arlo-Netgear on Twitter in terms of what the expected lifespan is, my question was ignored.
UPDATE: October, 2018
The second camera’s battery has also now died and will not hold a charge.
Arlo Pro: too many notifications
Email notifications are set by default to send you an email every time motion is detected. Annoyingly, I got about 30 or 40 emails before I could finally figure out how to turn it off. Here are the instructions.
I live in a busy area and want to monitor the front of my home, but what was happening was that every time someone passed by I was getting either an email or a push notification. That was sometimes sending me a dozen notifications every minute during busy times like rush hour and it was too much, so I turned it off.
No notifications, no recording
Except that created a problem: with notifications off, the camera won’t record events.
I asked Arlo whether I was understanding this correctly: if I decline to be notified, the cameras don’t record?
Arlo’s spokesperson tells me, “We suggest that you do not turn off motion alerts, since this is what triggers recordings in general. The main issue is where you’re placing the camera itself, and what direction it is facing. If you have it pointed toward the street, it will send you lots of notifications and will drain the battery significantly. If you want to see people at your front door, she can aim it toward the door, rather than at the door, facing outwards.”
That’s a big problem for me and possibly my biggest ‘con’ when it comes to using them. I need the camera pointed in a certain direction to capture events, but the camera works, in essence, too well. So it’s either get buzzed absolutely maddeningly often, or cease recording, though I can still access the live view.
NETGEAR, Arlo’s parent company say it’s getting ready to announce some enhanced services for Arlo products that can help address these issues, so I’ll be interested in seeing what happens.
For now, I’ve had to reposition the camera to see less.
All weather usage, but can it handle Canadian temps?
A common issue with outdoor cameras is that they can have trouble operating in Canadian winters. I tested Arlo Pro out during zero-degree temps, the bottom range of functionality, according to Arlo’s website. The operating temperature, according to Arlo runs 32° to 122° F (0° to 50° C). So this would not be ideal for outdoor use in many sports in Canada. I will say, however, that I was using it outside up to about -6C degrees, and it was still functioning just fine. Once temperatures dropped below that, the camera became disconnected and was unable to function.
Overall review of Arlo Pro
Overall there’s a lot to love about these home security cameras. They’re super easy to set up and use, the video quality is amazeng and the two-way voice communication is handy.
My biggest complaint is the constant emails and push notifications, and the lack of recording when they’re turned off. But if Arlo is going to make some adjustments to that I’m happy to check it out again.
Overall I recommend the Arlo Pro wireless cameras for your home security needs.
UPDATE: June, 2018
After just a few months of use, the battery on the camera appears to have died permanently. I got a warning on the battery that said it needs to be “replaced”. After trying to recharge it, it will just not take a charge and is completely dead, meaning I’ll need to buy another new Arlo Replacement battery at a staggering $50USD! This is extremely disappointing. Also disappointing, when I asked for help from Arlo-Netgear on Twitter in terms of what the expected lifespan is, my question was ignored. While I like many things about the camera, the short lifespan on the rechargeable batteries, and their high replacement cost now has me rethinking that. Buy at your own risk.
Arlo Pro sells for about $340CAD and up for two cameras and the base station. It’s available from places like Best Buy and Amazon, below.
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