Netgear Arlo HD COMPLETELY Wireless Indoor/Outdoor Security Camera Review and Comments Thread
January 19 2014
Early December Netgear introduced the new brand Arlo which is Netgear’s platform for its IoT and Smarthome efforts. Having experience in the security camera space already it made sense that the first products on this new platform would be a security camera system. Netgear a few years ago acquired VueZone which made the industry’s only completely wireless security camera. I used the VueZone for about 2+ years and was happy with it although its features were limited. VueZone lacked HD quality, had a smallish view angle, did not have IR to record in the dark and had a fairly limited service plan. Learning from VueZone Netgear took a hard look at what the user base wanted and delivered all of it in the new Arlo Security camera platform.
Arlo retained the best of VueZone’s features like battery powered operation which allows it to operate completely wirelessly, easy setup and flexible mounting. What Arlo added is most significant though;
HD resolution with a wide 130 degree lens
. This means one camera can adequately cover the view area of most rooms. In my home a camera in the corner completely covers all the view area I need. And it’s a large room.
Outdoor and indoor placement.
The Arlo’s are all weather proof. The same camera can be used out in the rain as it can be used in the home. No additional mount or enclosure needed.
Nighttime viewing and recording.
With the addition of infrared lighting the Arlo now sees equally well in all lighting conditions. Vibrant color during the day and gray scale in the dark. Everything is easy visible regardless.
Cloud based storage and connection
. The Arlo’s communicate through a hub connected to your network. This hub ties into the Arlo cloud which makes the setup and communication with cameras a 1 step process. The Arlo cloud also stores event recordings that are made by motion detect, schedule or manual recording. The Arlo web site and mobile apps work beautifully well. Easy to understand and navigate. I have been using the apps on my iPhone and iPad.
Cloud subscription service is free!
For up to 5 cameras (which I believe will cover most users) the Arlo service is free (VueZone was limited to 2 cameras for free service). In addition to the camera control the free service includes 1gigabytes of cloud based recording storage which can store 7 full days of recordings. This is more than adequate for event based recordings. And should you need more you can buy more as needed.
The setup of Arlo couldn’t be easier. You plug in the Arlo hub to your router. Download the Arlo app to your phone or tablet. Create a user account which is a user name and password. Once done the Arlo system will take a minute or so and will automatically identify your hub. No ip address info or anything else is required. Its all automatically done. My experience was just like this. No hickups at all and this was in week one of the service being live. Lastly you pair your cameras to the hub. Its also a simple process but pushing a Pair button on the hub and then the camera. They need to be within a foot of one another and takes a minute. Then you are done. Place the cameras where you want and you are good to go.
Best Camera Mounts EVER!
I love the Arlo mounts. The mounts themselves look like half a silver ball with a mounting plate. The cameras have a circular indentation on the back. Mount the ball with either a screw or the included sticky tape and then just touch the camera to the ball and adjust. Done. These mounts are extremely versatile. I have one on my outdoor wall looking out and one on a tree looking toward the house. Indoors I use two at opposite ends of the house. The mounts and cameras are small so visibly they do not stand out. And because of the wide view angle adjustment is minimal. Plus the system has a mode to give you immediate video response to adjust placement. Very nicely done.
Performance and Operation
My Arlo system has been running for about 3 weeks now. It is located at a vacation home I have. I have 2 cameras outdoors and 2 indoors. During this time I check the cameras usually 2-3 times a week. When you log into the system (again I use either an iPhone or iPad app. Android apps are also available) you see the last snap shot taken when you last logged on. You select which camera you wish to view. Arlo activates that camera and you see live video. Id suspect its probably 10-15 fps although I am not sure.
You have the ability to record video or take a snapshot when you are in the active camera. While in the app you also have the ability to turn motion sensing on/off, create rules (such as record motion on deck and email me an alert. You also can set the recording duration and a schedule for when these events should be active. It’s pretty granular and easy to understand and configure.
The video quality of the Arlo is quite good. It is a 720p resolution which is more than adequate for this type of camera. You can easily see detail in a large room. The light requirements are now a non-issue. Regardless of the light source or level you can see detail in any room. Even outdoors which has a much greater view area I can see what’s on my deck in nothing but moonlight.
Battery life is projected at 4-6 months. What impacts battery life is how often the live video is activated. When not in use the camera sits in a standby and sips power. Recording is when the battery is heavily used. The batteries are CR123 which looking at Amazon will cost me about $4 per camera to replace. Each camera takes 4 batteries.
The cameras themselves are quite beautiful. In fact I felt guilt putting them outside since they are so pretty. They are white and black and frankly look like an Apple product.
In addition to the ball mount the cameras also have a screw hole on the bottom for other fixed mounting options. I found the balls to be fine both in and outdoors.
The Arlo is one of the nicest products to come along in a while. It is beautiful to look at, hold and performs equally as well. After the simple setup the system has worked perfectly. The cameras are always online and work as expected.
Netgear provides a very generous plan with Arlo. The 5 camera 1gig free plan will be more than adequate for most home owners. It certainly will work for me.
As a user of wifi cameras, POE cameras and Arlo this is by far the best camera experience you will find. My wifi and POE cameras all required setup and port forwarding to work. I have 3 different clients and apps to do what I can do with Arlo. Plus I still have the occasional camera drop off which requires a camera reboot to get it working again. Arlo eliminates all that hassle.
Arlo is security cameras done right. And in the future Netgear will be adding to its capabilities with other IoT and smart home capabilities as well as new hardware options. Compared to the competition (like Dropcam) Arlo beats it in performance and price. Particularly in that there are no subscription fees for 5 cameras or less.
Arlo really is a great result of listening to customers. Its product marketing and engineering working as it should. If you are in the market for a camera based security system check out Arlo. You won’t be disappointed.
I am an independent AV networking consultant who writes for various user forums and publications. Everything I write about I have firsthand user knowledge of. I am an avid user of all types of home media and specialize in convergence of media, computers and networking. I am employed by Netgear to provide feedback on user trends and issues. The reviews I write are my opinions from my first hand experiences using the products I review.
Netgear Networking Consultant