Swann wire-free Smart Security Camera review: Head to head with Arlo the market leader

Head to head there's a clear winner, but which one suits your needs?

When Swann announced their Smart Security Camera as a 100% wire-free product it felt like an important product for one of the biggest names in security who have been swamped by the new upstart to the home security market – Netgear, with their Arlo cameras.

So, we’ve put them head to head to see which one is worth your money or which one suits your needs.

 

First and foremost I was keen to ensure I had the two cameras setup as close to side by side as possible, though that was where I hit a hurdle with the Swann.  It’s mounting system is similar to Arlo, with a magnetic ball joint, so I screwed it under the eve and hung the camera.

Swann’s mounting system is superior because it has an almost complete magnetic sphere, where the Arlo has a half dome – making it hard to get all possible angles covered. However, when I got inside to setup the app, I could not for the life of me find a way to rotate the view 180 degrees.

Because of this, I was forced to mount the Swann with the mounting bracket vertical on the side of the eve instead.  I think this does add some restrictions to placement and isn’t a great start.

I then setup each camera to record in their highest quality and highest sensitivity.  This means chewing through the battery faster no doubt, but it means an as close to head to head and apples v apples comparison as I could get.

On your smartphone the images look good, it’s not until you download them to your PC that you see a real difference.

Image Quality

The Swann is 1080, while Arlo pro is 720 (a 1080 HD version is coming early next year).

Swann’s Wire-Free camera also has a slightly wider field of view.  That’s a plus.

However, the 1080 vs 720 to me doesn’t factor in as highly when you consider the quality of some of the moving image.

Swann free-frame

In the first part of the video above, look at my son (in the Baseball uniform) walking to the car, he glances at the cameras and on the 1080 Swann his face is pixelated, while on the Arlo it’s not as defined but it is clearly obvious.

Arlo freeze-frame

Then there’s the issue of sensitivity, Swann’s camera is like a first generation Arlo camera.  The motion detection is at times slow, meaning you miss the action.  The video above again demonstrates this quite well.

If I was forced to pick, I would take the Swann’s video quality, though that’s it’s only saving grace in this example.

Battery

The point of a Wire-Free camera is to make life easy – installation is a breeze! However, it means battery on board which also means charging.  Both the Arlo Pro and Swann have a rechargeable battery inside – USB power and cable and you’re charging – normally takes an hour or so, but that’s a bother every month or three and often you forget.

I have an Arlo Solar Panel for this particular Arlo Pro, so for the duration of this test I disconnected that.

At the start of the test the Arlo was at 100%, the Swann at 96% battery power.

One day later, the Swann had dropped 6%, the Arlo had dropped 4.

It’s more remarkable after two weeks.  The Arlo is now at 75% while the Swann is at a low 25%.

Importantly, this is much higher drain than you should expect, if you correctly use schedules, as well as decreased to optimal sensitivity you should get a much longer life – however, it’s clear the Arlo’s battery performance compared to the Swann is exceptional.

Motion Detection

As I noted above, and you can see in the video there is a real lag on when the Swann begins recording any motion.  This is also evident in the cloud recording data.

In the past two days, the Arlo has captured 68 motion events, while the Swann has just 37 recorded.  This is on it’s highest sensitivity, and as someone who has these style cameras around the home, I err on the side of more is better.

The costs

Standing in the store, no doubt the Swann stands out here – at just $269.95 it’s a great entry price.  There is nothing but the camera in the box, where Arlo has a base-station included with all Arlo starter kits.  This base station on the Pro model has USB for video recording, as well as a siren to act as an intruder alarm.

Importantly also, if you’re looking to add additional cameras to an existing system the Arlo is just $80 more at $349.

Swann

Free: 7 Day local recording (on camera), 2 days cloud recordings

Optional Subscription: $7.49 – 30 day cloud recording 7 Day on device

  • 1 Camera: $269.95
  • 2 Cameras: $499.99

Netgear Arlo:

Free: 7 days cloud recordings, Unlimited local storage (USB hard drive into base station)

Optional Subscription: $12.99 – 30 day cloud recording – up to 10 cameras

  • 1 Camera starter kit: $499
  • 2 Camera starter kit: $799
  • Single add on camera: $349

Ovearll

Great result for Swann, but a version 1 style product.  They will have a huge brand advantage for starters, but the product needs effort to go into it to make it a genuine competitor.

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.

Like this post? Buy Trev a drink!

3 Comments on this post.
  • James
    30 November 2017 at 10:08 pm
    Leave a Reply

    Thanks for the write up, how does the Swann compare with the latest equivalent from Uniden ($229), thanks

    • Trevor Long
      1 December 2017 at 7:51 am
      Leave a Reply

      You’ll find out very soon:)

    • Trevor Long
      1 December 2017 at 7:51 am
      Leave a Reply

      You’ll find out very soon!

    Leave a Reply

    *

    *