Advertisement
Advertisement

Netgear Arlo review: Dated, but still strong

Jonathan Bray Tom Morgan
17 Jul 2019
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
280
inc VAT

Incredibly flexible camera placement and great image quality, but the Arlo system is expensive

Advertisement

Update: The original 720p Arlo is still a solid security system, but considering when it first released, it's practically ancient by modern security standards.

The first alternative to consider is its modern equivalents, the 1080p Arlo Pro 2 and the 4K Arlo Ultra. These are brilliant, but expensive cameras, starting at £290 and £450 respectively, although that price does include the same generous cloud storage options as outlined below.

If that sounds too rich for your blood, there are alternatives that won't break the bank. For us, the best balance between price and performance is the £150 Blink XT, which works outdoor, lasts for two years on its included battery and has generous cloud storage options. If you want to spend even less and only want to monitor what goes on inside your house, then it's hard to go wrong with the £20 Neos Smart Cam

Tom's original review continues below.

Netgear's latest internet security camera system completely cuts the cord, letting you put cameras virtually anywhere you like. Arlo's cameras have built-in wireless networking and run on batteries, which the company claims should last up to six months before needing replacements – a small price to pay for such flexibility. The kit consists of two cameras and a base station that plugs into your router and uploads your recordings to the cloud.

The white plastic cameras are no larger than a tin of tuna, so it's easy to hide them out of sight. Each one is weatherproof, built to survive a temperature range of 50 degrees down to -10 degrees Celsius. The kit includes four magnetic ball mounts, so you can attach them to magnetic surfaces without having to drill any holes, move the cameras easily between rooms without moving the mounts, and angle them for the best view.

With a very wide 130-degree field of view and 850nm-wavelength LEDs for night vision, a single camera can cover most of a room. The battery compartment in the bottom of each camera holds four CR123 batteries, which are most often used in digital cameras; these batteries are around £8 each, although you could buy a rechargeable set of four for around £20. We didn't manage to drain them during our testing, even after several weeks of use. Because each camera only alerts and records when it detects motion, battery power isn't wasted on pointless footage. You can also set up schedules, so the cameras are automatically disabled during the evenings when you're home, but activate when you leave for work in the morning.

The one downside to Arlo's wire-free approach is the need for a base station in order to upload recorded footage to the cloud – the cameras don't have any local storage. All the wired IP cameras we've looked at could connect directly to a router via Wi-Fi, but that's not the case here. You'll need to connect the base station to your router and use the smartphone companion app to set it up, create an Arlo account and pair your cameras. It's a relatively straightforward process, taking just a few minutes to get everything connected.

Once you're set up, you can control the system entirely through the smartphone and tablet apps, or through the Arlo web portal. You can access a live feed from each connected camera, with around two or three seconds of delay between capture and playback, watch any previous recordings, save clips to prevent them from being deleted after a set period of time, and customize your schedules using a comprehensive 7-day planner. Notifications can be sent to your phone or to a designated email address whenever motion is captured.

Arlo isn't the smartest security system we've seen, as you can't set recording zones; whenever the cameras are scheduled to record motion, any movement across the entire field of vision will trigger an alert. We prefer Y-Cam's HomeMonitor HD, which lets you select a small part of the camera's view (a window or door, for example) rather than the entire room. With no microphone, your recorded footage will be silent and the cameras can't be triggered by sound. You can at least lower the cameras' sensitivity to prevent pets from triggering a recording.

Image quality

Image quality in our tests was very good in daylight, with details and contrast on a par with our current favourite wired camera, the Y-Cam HomeMonitor HD. The Arlo did struggle with direct sunlight, crushing whites and losing detail around windows when it's bright outside, but the rest of the image was correctly exposed. Night-time performance was reasonable too, although the 8m average viewing distance isn't the best. Distant objects appeared slightly blurry, but motion looked smooth and the video was clear enough for us to pick out facial features from the footage.

The Arlo cloud service includes 1GB or seven days of rolling cloud storage for free, with your old footage deleted automatically to make room for new clips. You can save specific clips to stop them from being deleted, but if you run out of storage you'll need to invest in one of the two available subscription plans. The Premier service bumps your capacity up to 10GB, with up to 30 days of rolling storage for £6.49 a month or £64 per year, while the Elite service gives you up to 100GB of storage and 60 days of rolling backups for £9.99 a month or £99 a year.

The basic plan supports a maximum of five cameras, so if you want to add more you'll need to pay for a Premier plan (which supports up to 10 cameras) or Elite subscription (which supports up to 15 cameras, along with three base stations). Because the cameras communicate with the base station on a proprietary wireless frequency, the range is significantly better than most home Wi-Fi networks, meaning you're unlikely to need multiple base stations for indoor use. There was no spot in a two-bedroom flat where the cameras couldn't maintain a connection, and in our test labs we saw a stable connection at over 30m and through several walls.

Conclusion

We were impressed with the video quality and wireless freedom Arlo provides, which are a major selling point over traditional wired IP cameras. Netgear has been forced to make a few sacrifices to prioritise battery life, meaning no sound or 1080p recording, and the system is expensive; you could buy two D-Link DCS-5222L cameras for the same price as the two-camera Arlo kit. Those cameras might need power cables, and back up video locally rather than to the cloud, but their remote pan and tilt and sensitive microphones make them slightly more versatile than the Arlo system. For sheer simplicity, though, Arlo is a winner.

Hardware
Available appsAndroid, iOS
SensorCMOS, size not stated
Viewing angleHorizontal 130 degrees
Lens typeNot stated
Video recording formatH.264
Video recording resolutions720p
Video recording frame rates720p (24fps)
Cloud recordingYes
Video recording media (card supplied)N/A
SoundNone
Maximum still image resolutionN/A
Network connectionsProprietary wireless
AV connectionsNone
Night vision modeInfrared LEDs
Outdoor modeWeatherproof
Power type4x CR123 batteries
Size (HxWxD)71x40x63mm
Weight110g
Hardware
Available appsAndroid, iOS
SensorCMOS, size not stated
Viewing angleHorizontal 130 degrees
Lens typeNot stated
Video recording formatH.264
Video recording resolutions720p
Video recording frame rates720p (24fps)
Cloud recordingYes
Video recording media (card supplied)N/A
SoundNone
Maximum still image resolutionN/A
Network connectionsProprietary wireless
AV connectionsNone
Night vision modeInfrared LEDs
Outdoor modeWeatherproof
Power type4x CR123 batteries
Size (HxWxD)71x40x63mm
Weight110g
Hardware
Available appsAndroid, iOS
SensorCMOS, size not stated
Viewing angleHorizontal 130 degrees
Lens typeNot stated
Video recording formatH.264
Video recording resolutions720p
Video recording frame rates720p (24fps)
Cloud recordingYes
Video recording media (card supplied)N/A
SoundNone
Maximum still image resolutionN/A
Network connectionsProprietary wireless
AV connectionsNone
Night vision modeInfrared LEDs
Outdoor modeWeatherproof
Power type4x CR123 batteries
Size (HxWxD)71x40x63mm
Weight110g
Hardware
Available appsAndroid, iOS
SensorCMOS, size not stated
Viewing angleHorizontal 130 degrees
Lens typeNot stated
Video recording formatH.264
Video recording resolutions720p
Video recording frame rates720p (24fps)
Cloud recordingYes
Video recording media (card supplied)N/A
SoundNone
Maximum still image resolutionN/A
Network connectionsProprietary wireless
AV connectionsNone
Night vision modeInfrared LEDs
Outdoor modeWeatherproof
Power type4x CR123 batteries
Size (HxWxD)71x40x63mm
Weight110g

Read more

Reviews