Disclaimer: I am a NETGEAR Ambassador and I received this product in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion and review.
The Arlo Security system consists of a base station which you attach to your router, wireless cameras, and a cloud based storage system. The cameras can record in HD quality, are battery operated, have night vision, motion detection and are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. The camera feed can be accessed via a SmartPhone app or via the Arlo website, and can be set to send you alerts by text and email when motion is detected. I first got to see the Arlo home security camera system at it’s launch press conference in San Francisco in November 2014, and liked what I saw, so I was excited to get the opportunity to check it out in my home. I tested the Arlo home Security System and 2 cameras using the iPhone app and the Arlo website (via my Mac.)
It was very easy to set up, after installing the camera batteries I plugged in the base unit and connected it to my router via an included ethernet cable. Then I created an online account which just took a few minutes, and as I also like to access my Arlo camera feed on the go I installed the free Arlo app on my iPhone and iPad. Then I synced the cameras to the base station. This was very easy: you just bring the cameras close to the base unit and press the sync button on both cameras and base station and lights on the camera let you know when they have successfully synced.
One of my favorite features of the Arlo system is how easy it is to mount and move the cameras. They are totally wireless and mount by a clever magnetic mounting system, which makes mounting and moving them a breeze. They come with 4 mounts which you can put up with 1 screw each, these look like a metal ball cut in half, the camera attaches to it via a strong magnet and the semi-circular mount makes it really easy to change the camera angle. The cameras run on 4 CR123A batteries, they come with disposable batteries but you can easily buy rechargeable versions with a charger if you prefer.
For each camera you can set up rules as to when to record – you can record when motion in sensed by that camera or by another camera, and you can adjust the sensitivity of the motion detection and how long to record- from 10 second clips up to 120 seconds. The motion sensor works best when the movement is occurring across the viewfinder of the camera rather than straight towards it, so it is good to bear that in mind when positioning the cameras. You can use “motion detection mode” during set up, which flashes lights to tell you when motion is detected, to adjust the sensitivity to the level you want. To get the best camera positioning there is a “position mode” which lets you view the camera feed in real time as you adjust its positioning. You can also change the video quality settings depending on whether you want to the best video quality or want to optimize battery life. The camera can record up to 720p quality, I set mine at the medium quality level, and I’m happy with the video quality and have seen no noticeable decrease in the battery level after a month’s usage.
The camera system is set up to allow “if,then” programming, at the moment the options for are limited to: when motion is detected record on your choice of cameras +/- sending alerts, but the system is set up to allow more options in future. I hope that in the near future that we will see more options available for integrating Arlo with other smart home products. NETGEAR have already announced a partnership with LIFX, so I’m looking forward to having the option to automatically turn on my LIFX bulbs when Arlo detects motion by the front door.
Once you have set up your various modes and rules for those modes you can switch between modes manually or set up a schedule. I love having the schedule option as it means I can set up for my regular day- having my “security” mode on during the times I am usually out so I can get notified if there is any activity, and my “home and awake” where I don’t get notified of any activity in the house but do get notified if someone is at the door, and then a sleeping mode for night time. I also have a vacation mode that I manually switch on when we are away. If my schedule changes from my pre-set routine I can just switch off the schedule from the Arlo app and manually pick the mode instead.
I was going out on vacation just after I installed the Arlo system so I set it up to monitor my front door and inside the house, this gave me great peace of mind from a security viewpoint, but also let me know when we had some packages delivered so I could contact a neighbor and ask her to look after them until we returned home. Now I am leaving one camera set up permanently near the front door, and as the camera is weather proof I don’t have to worry about it being affected by the fog or rain. The second camera I use indoors and move its position depending on what I am using it for at the time – sometimes it is a child monitor, other times a pet monitor or an indoor security camera. With the magnetic mounting system and no wires to worry about, I love how easily I can move the camera.
As well as recording with the Arlo you can look at your camera feed in real time via the app or website – I find this useful to check on my pets remotely when I’m not home and to watch what my children are up to when they are supposed to be going to sleep! When using it as a baby/ child monitor remember it does not have audio, just video, which can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on your viewpoint!
The first time I used Arlo I came back from vacation and got about 30 text messages and recordings due to motion being detected as we unpacked the car, before I worked out how to switch it off! So I would recommend taking a little time to get familiar with how the settings and modes work. It would be nice to see a detailed “how to guide” within the app, this information is available on the website and in YouTube videos, but it would be nice to have it right at your fingertips on your smartphone.
Video Storage and Pricing
Your video clips are stored in the cloud and can be accessed via the app or website. In the library there is a calendar, days you have clips stored from are marked in green, and you can view collections of clips by the day. You can mark clips as favorites (which won’t be automatically deleted), share them, delete or download them from the library.
There are 3 levels of service for the Arlo system – basic is free, supports 1 base station and up to 5 cameras and includes 7 days of cloud recording (up to 1GB cloud storage); Premium is $99/ year, supports up 10 cameras, 30 Days of Cloud Recording (Up to 10 GB Cloud Storage), Elite is $149.00/year, supports up to 15 cameras and 3 Base Stations, and includes 60 Days of Cloud Recording (Up to 100 GB Cloud Storage.) I do like that you have the option of having a free service as not all systems offer this, but with the basic service you do need to be quite “on top” of your storage-checking it regularly to see if there are any clips you wish to download or favorite so that you don’t miss them before they are deleted.
The Arlo Security system comes in a variety of packages I tested the 2 camera starter system which includes 2 cameras, 4 mounts and 1 base station its RRP is $349 it is available from Amazon and other retailers, additional cameras sold separately.
Overall, I find the Arlo security camera a really useful addition to my home. I really love the mounting system and that fact that the cameras are wireless -no need to worry about finding an electrical outlet, no wires to hide and really easy to reposition the cameras. I have been happy with the video quality, motion detection and night vision. I love that the cameras can be used inside and out, though it does make me a little nervous that it is so easy to remove the outside camera- although at least if a thief it take a camera I’d get a video of them doing so!
Arlo is the worldwide leader in Smart Home Security, and the creator of the world’s first ever 100% wire-free, weatherproof HD security camera.
Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).