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Netgear Arlo: Smart and Unique with a Little Edge

Published: Apr 03, 2016 at 08:00 UTC
Netgear Arlo security camera

Since we love reviewing DIY home security cameras, we had to give the Netgear Arlo a spin. The sleek, futuristic design almost immediately caught our eyes. It’s very stylish with a glossy white finish for those of you who enjoy that sort of thing. The kit includes 2 HD cameras, 8 CR123 lithium batteries in total, four for each camera, a hub that connects to a router and 4 magnetic mounts with the included hardware.

The fact that this Netgear Arlo is a battery-powdered model is a little bit surprising since it is pretty rare for do-it-yourself security cameras. Why is this? Usually when a camera is battery-powered, you have to let go of some important features such as HD video quality and live streaming.

On the other hand, you still get to keep some pretty awesome features while having a camera with a battery.

 

How is the Set-up?

We’re glad that you asked that question because we have a one-word answer: easy.

Here’s what you do:

• Connect the base station to your router with the provided Ethernet cable.
• Press the sync button on the base station.
• Install the batteries into the camera.
• Press the sync button on each camera.
• Download the free iOS or Android app.
• Place the cameras wherever needed.

See, there’s nothing to it. Now that we’re all set-up, we can examine the features a little more closely.

What are Some of the Top Features?

Netgear Arlo wanted to still give you everything you need with a home security camera even while making it battery-operated.

You still get:

• 720 pixel resolution
• Indoor/Outdoor Capable
• Motion-sensing
• Night-vision
• 130 degree field of view
• 4-6 month battery life
• Up to 300 feet operating range

Let’s check out these features a little closer and see how they really hold up when put into action, shall we? Okay, let’s go.

Netgear Arlo security cameraThe 720 pixels provide a clear, crisp picture that appears to be extremely detailed. It appears to work well in a variety of settings as well as in daytime or nighttime. Whether the camera is inside your home or out among shrubs, you still get the same crystal-clear picture.

One advantage of this camera over other comparable security cameras is that this one isn’t just for the indoors. No, no, you can use this beauty outside as well. Whether you are trying to check out who’s drinking the milk out of the carton or if your jealous neighbor is stomping on your award-winning petunias, this camera can capture the video with ease.

This is a must when it comes to total home security, so you can make sure that every angle of your home is covered.

One thing to keep in mind is the temperature when you take these cameras outside. You should avoid placing them in extreme heat or extreme cold. The Netgear Arlo has an impressive range of 14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. There have been user complaints where the battery life appears to be lower than what it actually is due to cold weather. Netgear has confirmed this is a valid issue and they are working on a fix.

What is a home security camera without motion-sensing? It’s like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with no jelly — it just doesn’t work the same. This camera’s motion sense doesn’t appear to be as super-sensitive as some others on the market which can be a real plus. The Netgear has the ability to send you email notifications and mobile alerts when motion is detected. How convenient is that?

Do you plan to only worry about security in the daytime or only when there’s sunlight? Of course not, you know better than that. That’s why you’ll appreciate the night-vision capability. You will be able to capture high-quality video even in the dead of night. It even automatically adjusts for you. The video is still just as crisp as ever so you always have a clear view of what’s going on.

The 130 degree field of view gives you a wide, expanded view of the area you are looking at. This will give you confidence that you are seeing everything there is to see within the camera’s view.

Since this is a battery-operated camera, batteries are probably pretty important and yes, they really are. Even though this kit comes equipped with 4 batteries for each camera, you really only need two batteries per camera. Just like any other product, battery life depends on how much you use the camera and how close it is or is not to the Netgear hub.
We’ve only had the unit for about a bit but even after using, we found the battery to stay amply charged so the batteries might last well up to 6 months.

One of the defining features of this camera is the 300 feet operating range. This is really dependent upon the conditions. When they are optimal, it is possible to reach up to 300 feet.

In less favorable environments, this doesn’t seem to ring true.

How About Some Drawbacks?

Of course nothing is perfect, not even camera so let’s go over some of the major drawbacks of this particular model.

• No audio capabilities
• Battery usage varies depending on location
• 300 foot range is conditional

Some other comparable models of DIY home security cameras have audio capabilities with some even having two-way communication. The Netgear Arlo has no audio of any kind.

Hearing as well as seeing is the ultimate when it comes to total home security. Our advice to the makers would be to install a microphone and a speaker in the next model. This will make it even more attractive to potential buyers.

Netgear Arlo security cameraAs we’ve discussed before, the battery usage can vary depending on the environmental conditions. If you take it outside into colder, sub-freezing conditions, the battery life appears to go down to almost no battery life.

However, you know this isn’t the case since it could just show a full battery when you were indoors. Then, once you go back inside, the battery life pops back up to normal. This could be frustrating and lead to confusion.

One user said:

“Seem to be very practical and versatile, only concern is the issue with the battery life. Living in a colder climate as I do, I’d be swapping batteries on a daily basis if not more.”

Some other factors that can affect the battery are how close the camera is to hub. It seems like the closer the better. The camera should be set to certain modes such as: optimized, best battery life or video.

We’ve also touched on the 300 foot range claim a little bit but let’s expound upon that a little bit more. In the best of clearest conditions, yes, it is possible to get a 300 foot range with your Netgear Arlo camera. But come on, how common is it to have perfect conditions? There can’t be any obstacles in the way that could cause any type of interference with the signal.

Of course, we haven’t had this camera for more than a month so there could be some more downfalls we are overlooking so this is in no way all-inclusive. But on the other hand, we don’t like to be Debbie Downer, so we feel as if these are the biggest downfalls on the camera.

What’s Up with the App?

Once you have downloaded the app, you can set up your account which will streamline everything and put everything at your fingertips. The home screen will show all of the cameras connected to your account.

The whole app and portal are pretty user-friendly so you shouldn’t really have any issues accessing or working with it. There are also several recording options available.

These include:

• The 7-day recording option is free and allows you to sync up to 5 cameras.
• The 30-day recording option costs $10 per month and allows you to sync up to 10 cameras.
• The 60-day recording option costs $15 per month and allows you to sync up to 15 cameras.
• Each additional camera will run you $160 per camera.

Keep in mind that you will need additional hubs to accommodate more than 10 cameras.

Netgear Arlo interfaceNetgear Arlo’s interface features play and pause buttons which some find to be slightly inconvenient. On the upside, you can either watch one camera on a full-screen or view multiple live streams at one time. While watching live, you can record, capture a photo or adjust the brightness. Netgear gives you options.

A calendar features allows you to choose a particular day to access your saved clips. Through the settings, you are able to truly customize your cameras for your particular needs. For example, you can set a schedule for when you want your motion sensor to be shut off. In addition, you can use the schedule to manage notifications, video quality, cloud storage and pretty much anything else that has to do with your unit.

But as they say, all good things must come to an end. At the end of the 30-day trial, no more free scheduling. Yes, a real bummer. However, there’s a little Netgear birdie out there saying that they are reconsidering the cancellation of scheduling after 30 days. Too many users don’t like to have to manually control their motion sensors.

Did I Hear Something About Web-Based?

Yes, you did hear that. That’s one of the coolest features of this particular camera. One thing that’s so unique about the Arlo is the fact that even though it is wireless, it isn’t compatible with just any old Wi-Fi router. This unit comes with a Wi-Fi base station that you can attach to your current router through an Ethernet cable.

Guess how many cameras this base station can handle? Give up? 15 cameras, if you have the right service plan, of course. With this base station, you get a wireless network that is completely dedicated to your camera or cameras. It is easy to set and it helps to take up some of the slack from some of the more battery-draining operations that the camera performs.

Any downsides? Yes, there is one that’s worth mentioning. One is the fact that it’s a closed system. All of the clips that your Netgear Arlo captures is stored online, which can be viewed remotely through the free app or the web portal. This means that if something were to go wrong like a crash, then all of your video could be destroyed.

How Much Does the Netgear Arlo Cost?

The two-camera kit retails for around $350. There’s a single camera kit that’s available for $200 and you can add on cameras for $160 each. This seems to be a pretty good deal when you think about everything that you’re getting and you can install it yourself.

netgear-arlo-stand-top-Should I Buy One?

Let’s go over the Pros and Cons one last time to decide if the Netgear Arlo is really worth your time and money:

Pros:
• Stylish and sleek cameras that are mountable
• Indoor/Outdoor compatible
• Easy to set-up
• Relatively small video lag time
• Ability to send alerts
• Up to 300 foot range
• Night vision

Cons:
• Battery life dependent upon elements
• No audio
• Some features of app expires after 30-day trial
• Video kept on closed system

What’s the Final Verdict?

Considering all of the benefits and all of the less appealing aspects, we give this unit a 3.5 out of 5. Users are pretty much on the same page. This unit may be great for some, not so fantastic for others.

While we find the Netgear Arlo to be unique and refreshing, this may not be the case for everybody. As usual, we suggest that you research, research, research. Home security is something that you do not want to take lightly.

 
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