If you've been following us lately, you probably know how much we love Arlo's battery-powered security cameras. We've met the original Arlo at trade shows, we've tested Arlo Pro, and we're looking forward to meeting Arlo Pro 2 soon. One thing that makes Arlo attractive is its ability to integrate with a wide variety of smart home and security systems. The cameras work with Amazon's Alexa-enabled Echo Show and Echo Spot devices, hundreds of devices and services through IFTTT and Stringify, and smart home hubs such as Wink and SmartThings.
But what if you're already invested in a more traditional, ONVIF-compliant IP-based security system? While you can't use Arlo, Netgear, Arlo's parent company, has a solution: an ONVIF-compliant security camera. Enter Netgear FlexPower.
Hardware-wise, FlexPower is everything Arlo is. It's battery-powered, it works indoors and outdoors, it wirelessly connects to your network via Wi-Fi, and it requires a base station to work. In fact, it even looks like Arlo.
The camera offers flexible installation options. It comes with two types of mounts: a threaded mount for secure installation outdoors and a magnetic wall mount for quick placement indoors. Although it's battery-powered, you can purchase a solar panel from Netgear or plug it into AC power for continuous use.
Keep in mind that it requires a base station to work, which is sold separately. Each base station can support up to four FlexPower cameras. Unlike the camera, the base station requires power from an outlet. That said, placing it can be tricky as you can also mount the base station. Fortunately, it comes with two types of mounts: a back-plate wall mount and a ceiling mount for T-bar ceilings.
Image & Video Quality
FlexPower isn't only similar to Arlo in looks, but also in video quality. It offers a resolution of 720p HD, the same as Arlo Pro, with a 130° viewing angle and a night vision range of up to 25 feet. An interesting thing about the camera's night vision is that it doesn't have an IR-cut filter. The IR-cut filter's job is to filter out infrared light during the day to avoid color distortion. Does this mean that FlexPower suffers distorted colors during the day? No, because it uses an advanced RGB-IR image sensor. There are two benefits to this feature. First, the clicking sound when the IR-cut filter turns on and off is eliminated, which means the camera is more discreet. Second, swapping from day to night vision is made quicker.
FlexPower To Enhance Home & Business Security
FlexPower is designed to secure your home or business or anywhere that you're running an ONVIF-compliant security system. That said, it can't work alone. It needs an ONVIF-compliant VMS (Video Monitoring System). Netgear recommends their own VMS products, but you can use any VMS so long as it's ONVIF-compliant. In fact, choosing the right VMS is the key to making FlexPower an asset to your security, and here's why.
Each VMS has unique features. In general, its job is to store videos recorded by FlexPower. If FlexPower detects motion using its built-in PIR motion sensor, the camera will stream to your VMS. In turn, the VMS will record the streamed footage for later viewing. The downside is that your videos are stored on-site and must be connected to the same network as your camera. If your system or your home is destroyed, your stored videos are at risk of being destroyed too.
Some VMSs have added features, such as the ability to connect to alarm sensors (motion sensor, door/window sensor, glass break sensors) that can trigger your camera to take action if an event is detected. For example, you can program some VMSs to trigger a video stream if a connected third-party motion sensor detects movement. Other VMSs offer intelligent video monitoring software that prioritizes motion events that include people or occur within a defined zone.
Can you still use FlexPower without a VMS? Absolutely, but I don't advise it. For one, FlexPower doesn't have a mobile app. Instead, Netgear offers a web interface. You can watch a live video stream of your FlexPower camera using the interface but only if your device is connected to the same network as the camera.
Should You Buy FlexPower?
Although we love Arlo and Arlo Pro, we can't share the same enthusiasm for FlexPower. For one, it shares Arlo's price ($229.99 for cameras and $99.99 for base stations) but doesn't offer as many benefits including the ability to monitor the system remotely. Frankly, its only advantage over other ONVIF-compliant cameras is its ability to run on battery power. If you're looking for a battery-powered indoor/outdoor camera that can work with your ONVIF system, FlexPower is your only choice for now.
To learn more about FlexPower, check out Netgear's website.