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TheArlo Smart Security Cam is unique. It’s a battery powered indoor/outdoor camera that records in HD and has an impressive 300 foot range between camera and hub.
The fact that it’s cordless allows it to be set up in the backyard, perhaps attached to the branch of a tree, and in only a couple of minutes.
There are usually tradeoffs for such wonderful flexibility, tradeoffs such as the absence of HD video or a severely shortened range. Not so for the Arlo, this little camera promises to do it all. The question is: Does it?
In this review I’m going to cover the key features of the Arlo Smart Security Camera and then go on to highlight its pros and cons. I’ll look at alternatives to the Arlo and discuss whether you might be able to find a better bang for your security camera buck.
Finally, I’ll talk about which product I would buy and why.
Contents (Jump to)
- 1 Key Features of the Arlo Smart Security Camera
- 2 Pros—What The Arlo Did Well
- 3 Cons—Things I’d Like To See A Bit More Work On
- 4 What’s the Difference Between the Arlo Smart Security Cam vs the Nest Cam vs the Arlo Q 1080p HD?
- 5 Arlo Smart Security Cam Alternatives
- 6 Final thoughts—Is the Arlo Smart Security Camera a Good Value?
Key Features of the Arlo Smart Security Camera
- HD Cameras: Even though the Arlo is battery powered it hasn’t given up HD video. To save battery life, there are three modes: one for highest camera quality, one for maximizing battery life and one that compromises between the two.
- HD Night Vision: Monitor your home at night with HD night vision. The Arlo automatically switches from day to night mode giving you clear high definition video even on the darkest nights.
- Live Stream or Record Video Feed: Video feed is streamed to Arlo’s app. Watch it live or record it.
- Put the Cameras Anywhere: No wires! Magnetic mounts allow you to place cameras where burglars would least suspect them.
- Motion Activated: Arlo’s Smart Security Camera is motion activated and can be configured to send real-time email or app notifications.
- Indoor/Outdoor: You aren’t confined to monitoring just the indoors. Arlo’s cameras can be mounted anywhere, even on a tree in your backyard! No muss, no fuss. The camera has a range of 300 feet, is weatherproof and detects motion.
Pros—What The Arlo Did Well
- Good Quality HD (720p) video: Since the Arlo is battery powered I was surprised that it had HD at all and wasn’t expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. In most of my testing I left the Arlo in “Best Video” mode. I thought this might noticeably drain the Arlo’s battery since I tested it continuously for almost a week, but I didn’t notice any sort of drop. (Though some users have complained that, in very cold weather, the Arlo misreports the amount of charge available. I talk about this more, below.)
- HD Night Vision: I hadn’t experimented much with night vision before this and was pleasantly surprised. The night footage was much clearer than I thought it would be. As advertised, the camera automatically switched between day and night modes.
- Wide Range (300 feet): This holds only if there are no obstacles between the camera and hub, obstacles such as walls, doors, pianos, trees and miscellaneous wildlife. I found the range to be a bit less, perhaps 250 feet, but this was fine. It did the job.
- Battery Life: The battery is supposed to last four to six months, but that’s under ideal conditions and will obviously go down with intense use. As I mentioned, above, to help stretch the battery life, there are three settings: Best Video, Optimized, Best Battery Life. I used the “Best Video” setting but the battery level didn’t waver. Obviously, if battery life is of paramount importance, then “Best Battery Life” can be selected.
- Easy Setup: I’ll be honest, I’m not the best handyman, but setting up the Arlo was effortless.
- Seven Days of Free Storage: I was pleasantly surprised that the Arlo provides seven days of cloud storage free of charge for up to five cameras. If you find a video you don’t want deleted, just use the app to save it to your computer.
- Works with IFTTT: I love IFTTT! I use it all the time with my Amazon Echo and appreciate the convenience of being able to use geofencing. For example, I set the Arlo to automatically arm itself when I left for work in the morning and then disarm when I came home. I could have also set up an alarm for when the Arlo’s battery ran low. A very nice feature.
Cons—Things I’d Like To See A Bit More Work On
- No Audio: This was disappointing. It’s certainly not a deal breaker for me, but it would be nice. Two-way audio would have been nicer. It’s one thing to receive an alert and be able to see someone breaking into your home and quite another to be able to use your camera to speak to him. Perhaps something along the lines of, “I see you in my backyard and I’ve called the police.”
- Motion Detection Lag: I found there was a bit of lag between when motion occurs in front of the camera and when the recording began. If the event was fleeting—say an animal running in front of the camera—it will turn on and record, but too late to capture useful video.
- Battery Problems In Cold Weather: There is a bug that causes the battery to indicate a loss of power in cold weather. An Arlo representative has said that this is solely an issue with reporting the battery strength. The battery itself doesn’t lose charge in cold weather, but for some reason the charge level is incorrectly reported. If you plan to use the Arlo in cold weather keep this in mind.
- No Windows App: I have a feeling this isn’t going to be a negative that affects many people. One of the phones I use for testing is a Windows phone, but I couldn’t use it with the Arlo because there’s no app for Windows (at least, not at the time of writing).
What’s the Difference Between the Arlo Smart Security Cam vs the Nest Cam vs the Arlo Q 1080p HD?
|Arlo Smart Security Cam||Nest Cam||Arlo Q|
|Weight||2.93 pounds||1.8 pounds||0.37 pounds|
|High Definition||720p HD||1080p HD||1080p HD|
|Price||$219.99 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here)||$199.00 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here)||$149.99 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here)|
Arlo Smart Security Cam Alternatives
The Arlo Smart Cam is an appealing product, but it never hurts to see what else you could buy for about the same amount of money.
Samsung SmartCam HD Pro 1080p Full-HD: For the same price as the Arlo ($159.00) you can get full 1080p video as well as built-in two-way talk and advanced motion and audio detection. Unfortunately, the Samsung SmartCam is indoor only.
A great camera, but for anyone wanting to use the SmartCam to monitor their yard, this would be a deal breaker.
Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera: At the time of writing, this camera is on pre-order, but if you’re looking for an outdoor camera, it might be something to consider. A big difference from the Arlo is that the Nest Cam Outdoor doesn’t run off batteries.
This means it isn’t portable, but it also means that the camera records continuously, something a battery powered camera can’t do. As a result, even if someone were to run in front of the camera, they would be caught on tape.
A battery powered camera like the Arlo, though, might not wake up and start recording in time to catch the movement. The Nest Cam can also tell the difference between a person and a thing, making it easier to receive informative alerts.
After all, you probably are much more interested in being notified when a person walks into your backyard rather than when a neighbourhood cat does.
And let’s not forget about two-way audio. Being able to speak to an intruder and ask them what they’re doing in your backyard might just be enough to drive them away. On the downside, the Nest Cam Outdoor is also about 40 dollars more.
Arlo Q 1080p Security Camera
The Arlo Q streams live video and enables you to watch recordings in 1080p HD resolution, and has free cloud storage. You can view, share, and download video for the past seven days at no charge.
Like other security cameras, the Arlo Q can be set up to alert you if it senses either motion or sound. It also has two-way audio so you can let an intruder know you’ve seen them and that the police are on their way.
Great camera! On the downside it is indoor only and costs 219.99, 60 dollars more.
Final thoughts—Is the Arlo Smart Security Camera a Good Value?
The Arlo Smart Security Camera is unique in providing both the flexibility and portability of a battery powered camera in combination with high definition (720p) and a decent range.
And it does this even when it is as far away as 300 meters from the hub, although this partly depends on the number of obstacles between the camera and hub.
Speaking personally, the Arlo surprised me.
I’ve never been eager to put up cameras to monitor my house or yard, but Arlo’s ease of setup combined with its ability to monitor the very back of my yard made it possible for me to catch the critter using my garbage can as his own personal take-out: the largest raccoon I’d ever seen!
I’ve taken steps to better secure my garbage can against raccoons but having the security camera gave me information about my home I never would have had otherwise.
If you’re looking for an indoor/outdoor home security system, the Arlo is definitely worth a look.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!