Arlo Smart Home Security Camera Review

Hardware Criteria5.7
Software Criteria8.3
Video Storage8.1
IP Rating / Weatherproofing10
Hands-on Authority and User Reviews7
7.8
Reader Rating: (14 Rates)4.2

Arlo calls itself the "ONLY 100% wire-free, HD, Indoor/Outdoor video camera for home monitoring". There are other 100% wire-free home monitoring cameras, but Arlo is able to make this claim because it is an indoor/outdoor hybrid, meaning that it can work inside or outside. The claim is a technicality, but it is technically true and utterly awesome.

 

GOOD

  • Indoor/Outdoor Cameras
  • Quality Night Vision
  • Free Cloud Storage

BAD

  • No Audio
  • Base Station Required
  • Sleeps until motion is detected. Slow to wake.

Image and Video Quality with Arlo

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The Arlo Smart Home Security Camera system is made by Netgear. The system starts with a "starter kit" The starter kit comes with a smart home base station with a power adapter. I want to call that out right away because the cameras are 100% cordless, but the system is NOT 100% cordless. The cameras require the base station, and the base station requires power and internet.

There are a couple of different starter kits. There is a kit that comes with the base and one indoor/outdoor camera and another that comes with a base and two indoor/outdoor cameras. With the free monthly plan, you can add up to 5 cameras to your Arlo base.

The Arlo indoor/outdoor cameras record in HD 1280x720p resolution. This is backed by decent night vision. The cameras use an IR cut-off filter, 850nm LEDs, and a potential night vision range of up to 25 feet. The camera offers digital pan and zoom within the field of view, which is 130°. This works a lot like Dropcam if you are familiar. Essentially, the camera can "see" a pretty large area. It takes a picture of that large area and within that area you can zoom or pan. The camera itself does not move but rather you are able to get a closer look at details within the FOV. In fact, from a performance perspective, Arlo is extremely similar to Dropcam with a similar field of view, night vision approach, and a similar resolution.

Arlo to Enhance Home Security

arloBy their very nature, all security cameras are going to enhance your home's security, though some might add more value than other. And the fact that you can move the Arlo cameras around and use them inside or outside is a huge security advantage. Also, the cameras use a wide-angle lens to protect a greater area.

However, Arlo also has some security challenges. The biggest problem is that it lacks security zones. Zones allow you to ignore motion within the camera's field of view. Instead, Arlo monitors everything it sees equally. For indoor cameras, this is important but not a deal breaker, but on outdoor cameras, this can be problematic. The camera might pick up a swaying branch, a bird, traffic, and all of a sudden, alerts become a nuisance. Arlo's solution to the lack of smart zones is to use modes. Modes allow you to schedule the camera to turn on or off or behave a certain way. And recently, Arlo added geofencing. This allows the camera to automatically arm or disarm itself based upon your smartphone's presence and it is a huge boost for the camera's ability to protect homes.

The final security challenge Arlo faces is that it's slow to wake up. Arlo sleeps until motion is detected, this is necessary to save battery life, but the camera doesn't always wake up fast enough to record events. Many user reviews complain that Arlo wakes up too late to be effective.

On the bright side, Arlo allows you to add multiple users to help you monitor things. There can only be one master account, but you can add multiple friends. Friends have limited access. They can view live video, record video clips, view, share, favorite, and delete clips from your library as well as take snapshots. You can somewhat customize friend access by allowing them to only see certain cameras or have certain rights. This is all done within the Arlo app.

Privacy Risks

There is also a potential privacy risk associated with using Arlo. Though an unlikely risk, it's something to be aware of. As one user found out, if you return an Arlo, that doesn't necessarily mean that you are no longer in control of the camera. Just ask this Kentucky Arlo owner who found herself able to check-in live on another family after returning her Arlo camera to Sam's Club. According to Netgear, this shouldn’t happen if retailers do the right thing and ship the returned cameras back to Netgear to be reset. However, the fact that this is possible is scary. So if you’re shopping for an Arlo camera, avoid buying returned or used cameras. I would also suggest buying the camera online as an added precaution.

IFTTT and Stringify

For a long time, one of Arlo's biggest issues was that it would not work with other home automation or home security devices. Now, they have their own IFTTT channel. Through IFTTT, you can create recipes using Arlo as both a trigger and a reaction. For example, if my iSmartAlarm system detects motion, trigger Arlo to record. Or, if Arlo detects motion, turn on my Hue lights. The ability to connect Arlo to other sensors and systems definitely improves its home security value.

Stringify works similarly to IFTTT but allows for more complex rule creation. For example, you can say, "If my front door opens, trigger an Arlo recording, but only if it's after 6 pm, and only if I'm not home".

SmartThings

Arlo Wire-Free also works with SmartThings Hub v1 and v2. If you’re a SmartThings user, you can add Arlo as a ‘Thing’. Doing so will allow you to watch live videos from the camera using the SmartThings app for Android, iOS, and Windows. You can also record videos to your SmartThing’s cloud, but it requires a monthly subscription ($4.99/month). The cloud service will allow you to store an unlimited number of 2-minute clips to the cloud. Each clip will remain in the cloud for 30 days before expiring.

Arlo can also integrate with your SmartThings Smart Home Monitor. It is a feature that lets you create rules that activate when a device is triggered. You can use Arlo’s motion detector to trigger routines. For example, you can set it to trigger a custom routine that turns all lights on, sounds the siren, and notifies you when it detects motion.

Arlo Software Behavior

Arlo supports iOS (which should be downloaded from iTunes) and Android (which should only be downloaded from Google Play or Amazon). They also support a Web app and a Kindle app. The apps are used to control and customize the camera's behavior. Through the app, you can set up email alerts or push notifications when motion is detected. You can also setup modes.

Video Storage in the Cloud

Be aware that Arlo has both a Basic and Premium Service Plan. Basic is free, but they include Premium features for free for the first 30 days. You may get your camera, get attached to the features, assume they are free, lose them, and then it's too late to return.

All Arlo cameras come with 7 days of free cloud recording and 1 GB of cloud storage. Other cameras will automatically delete older footage, and Arlo kind of does that too. When a video reaches the 7-day expiration date, it is automatically deleted. On the other hand, you can save and store video using the included 1GB of storage. If you reach your 1GB storage limit, you must manually delete older videos to create space.

If you want more storage, you better be prepared to pay.

Basic Plan Premier Plan Elite Plan
$0
per month
$9.99
per month
$14.99
per month
$0 per year
$99 per year
$149 per year
7 Days Cloud Recording 30 Days Cloud Recording60 Days Cloud Recording
Up to 1GB Cloud StorageUp to 10GB Cloud StorageUp to 100GB Cloud Storage
30 Day Premium TrialUnlimited Premium AccessUnlimited Premium Access
Supports 5 CamerasSupports 10 CamerasSupports 15 Cameras
1 Base Station1 Base Station3 Base Station
Standard SupportUnlimited SupportUnlimited Support

The Elite and Premier plans have the option to pay yearly as well. Elite is $149.00 per year, and Premier is $99.99 per year. All cameras include motion detection, email and push alerts, smart modes, rules, downloadable clips, clip share, and free apps.

Keep in mind that though Arlo is cordless, it is still dependent upon power and internet with no built-in redundancy. If you lose power and internet, you lose Arlo. There is some redundancy in separating the base from the camera. If an intruder finds and smashes one camera, the base will still run and connect to other cameras. Plus, your footage will be safe in the cloud.

A Quick Summary

If this was all overkill for you, let me wrap it up in one paragraph. Arlo is an indoor/outdoor cordless camera that works off of a base station. You get a generous amount of cloud storage for free. It also has a built-in motion sensor that can detect motion and send alerts via email or push notification as it supports iOS, Android, and Kindle devices. It can also connect to other devices and services through IFTTT, Stringify, and SmartThings. It can't detect sound nor does it record sound, it can also be a little slow to wake up, causing it to miss important events.

You can purchase an Arlo kit with 1 camera or a multi-camera bundle here. Prices start at $159.99.