Netgear Arlo Pro Review: How do you improve something so good?

Some seemingly simple tweaks makes the good great

It’s been two years since I first installed Arlo cameras at my home.  These wire-free security cameras were a revolution – I’d always wanted surveillance video but there was no way I was running wires for power and connectivity.

To have a weather proof, 100% wireless camera meant anything was possible.  Recording all the motion they detect to the cloud I could watch my cameras live from anywhere, and could download clips remotely – even have them emailed to me.

I’ve seen a lot of couriers come and go, I’ve seen a lot of people walk past my cameras – and now I’ve upgraded two of them to the latest from Netgear, the Arlo Pro.

There’s a heck of a lot different about these new cameras, but what’s most important is they are compatible with existing Arlo systems.  You can add a single camera to an existing Arlo system, or you can use the new base station with the Arlo pro and move your existing cameras over.

I’d recommend the latter.  In my initial testing I used my original Arlo base station and simply added the Arlo Pro cameras.  They worked right out of the box, but I noticed the video would glitch – a small pause in the early third of the video.  It happened consistently, so I installed the Arlo Pro base station and things are working fine with all my cameras (2 x Arlo Pro, 3 x Original Arlo, 1 X Arlo Q).

So – what’s new?

Rechargeable Batteries

In two years, I’ve probably purchased 80 batteries or so for my four Arlo Cameras. At Bunnings, that’s breaking the bank. Fortunately, I found an online bulk buy to make it a bit more palatable. Listening to their owners, Netgear did the obvious, and scrapped the niche 123 batteries and installed their own rechargeable battery in the back of the Arlo Pro.

In time there will be spares you can buy, so you can have charged batteries ready to go, until then, out of the box you can charge with MicroUSB.  But don’t do what I did.  Don’t throw away the included charger – because those power bricks you have lying around won’t cut it.  I found one charger, one that was doing 12.0V at 2.1A as its maximum output.  Seems that or there abouts is required.  Again – do not dispose of the included charger thinking “that’s fine, I’ve got plenty of those”.

Likewise the cable, your existing cables will struggle to fit into the housing around the MicroUSB socket.  I found one – in about 30.

The Camera

With a 130 degree viewing angle, you’re capturing a good area of view in almost any placement.  And they’ve upgraded the night vision too – making it better by any measure.

Motion Detection

Perhaps one of my key feedback about Arlo was I felt it was recording a touch too late.

Not so with the Arlo Pro.  Short of having some predictive capabilities, you’re going to capture everything you need.  The motion detection is loads better, meaning you see people in the side of the screen just after the enter view, instead of half way through.

Just as it was with the original Arlo, you have to take the time to manipulate the settings.  Test the motion sensitivity.  At 100% you’ll get too many false positives and will drain your batteries faster.

Two way audio

A feature on the Arlo Q wired member of the Arlo family was two-way audio, meaning you could talk back to people who were in front of the camera.

That feature has been added to the Arlo Pro – you talk back via your Arlo app.

Now I can’t really say how well this works, other than to say I never needed it.  I have got a lot of gear around my home – including the Ring Doorbell, so I’d say for most who don’t have a video doorbell, the two way audio would be a great way to chat to someone at your front door.

Alarm sounding

The new base station has a couple of handy features.  The first is the Siren. Yep, Siren.  This puppy will emit a piercing 100 decibel sound – not a good sound, an alert sound.  Trigger this on motion at times, or trigger it manually via the app.

Silencing the alarm occurs using the app or a button on top of the Base Station.

USB Recording

Your standard Arlo account gives you 7 days free recording. An annual subscription can lift that to 30 days, but with a USB plugged into your new base station you can extend that right out.

I plugged a 256GB drive in, and set the device to overwrite the oldest recordings when it fills.  This means I’m getting almost limitless recordings

Size

One other thing – they are bigger – bulkier than the original Arlos.  No real issue there, but just FYI – if you’re popping them onto the included magnetic mounts they won’t quite twist onto the same angle you may be familiar with – but this is compensated by the wide viewing angle so you shouldn’t miss a thing.

Worth it?

Hell yeah. No, they’re not cheap.  $349 gets you a single Arlo Pro camera – add this to your existing Arlo setup.  But $499 gets you the starter kit with 1 cam and the new base station.  2 Cam Kit is $799, 3 Cam Kit at $1,099 and a 4 Camera kit will set you back $1,399.

If you’ve got an existing Arlo system, start the upgrade camera by camera if you can.  If you don’t have any video monitoring at home – now’s the time to get started.

Netgear ARLO Pro
Date Published: 04/11/2017
Wireless home security cameras, now with removable/rechargeable battery, two way audio and better motion detection
5 / 5 stars
Categories
Tech

Trev produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He hosts a nightly radio show on Talking Lifestyle, 8pm Monday to Friday in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.

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