A year ago, if I read the term “IoT” I would have simply thought it was yet another text message abbreviation. Turns out the “Internet of Things” has come so far even I’m now a devotee of such connectivity. In fact, I’ve literally gone mad with smart home devices, even my garage door will shortly be controlled via Wi-Fi.
I count myself as one of the lucky ones, I have NBN fibre to the home, the original Rolls Royce plan. So, my speeds are impressive and make running a Wi-Fi plagued house, easy. The single most useful device I use has now been up and running for five months. As a bonus, even my wife is besotted by it. This is my review of Netgear’s Baby Arlo, the holy grail of baby monitors.
Funnily enough when my son was born back in May we became the first family in the country to use one. So, I thought I’d better finally tell you how this product is unlike anything else before it. The camera itself is disguised as a kid’s toy, in our case we have a removable set of green bunny ears and feet. There’s a couple of other attachable feet and ears to mimic other styles of characters. So, it’s a perfect fit for any nursery.
Essentially this is a camera with 1080p HD video, music / lullaby player, night light, air quality and temperature sensor. Syncing to the camera is easy via the Arlo app, the same app I use for the Arlo wireless security cameras I have. You simply add the device, connect to your Wi-Fi network and away you go. Day or night you can stream live, almost crystal-clear footage of what your bub is up to. A simple pinch on the screen zooms in and out, allowing you to examine things a little more closely.
There’s two-way audio, so you can listen in or even activate the microphone and talk to your infant. The latter is largely useless for my 5-month-old, I’m tipping it will come into play when he starts chatting. From your smartphone, tablet or PC you can turn on an inbuilt multi-coloured nightlight and even set it on a timer, pump some calming lullabies into the room, check the temperature and check the humidity and air quality. In terms of “very abnormal” a simple spray of Glenn 20 in the room for example would send it into the red. I’m sure the very abnormal range doesn’t mean your baby is in any great danger, but it may be handy info to be across for asthmatics, for example.
Then there’s a long list of notifications that can be sent to your device. Anything from motion to sound can set it off, it knows the difference between crying and loud birds out the window. Cleverly, a motion zone can be set up only around the area your baby sleeps in, so walking into the room doesn’t inadvertently activate it.
If motion or audio is detected you can choose to record video or even take a picture. I’m sure just like most new parents we were a tad nervous when we moved him to his own digs. Sometimes you take a quick squiz to see how things are and all you see is a still, sleeping baby. It’s very comforting to look back and see hands flailing around in the air or a little cry just a couple of minutes prior. It puts an end to peeking through the door and potentially, God forbid, waking him up.
The camera is mains powered but can be used untethered, but only for a couple of hours at best before the battery carks it. But to be honest I can’t see why you’d use it away from a power point anyway.
In the early days we even steamed the video straight to a 65’’ TV via Apple TV, although that novelty quickly wears off! The recorded video is archived free for 7 days via a cloud service, anything live or recorded is encrypted to the highest possible standard. Sure, people may have some concerns in this area, personally we are just not that paranoid.
Prices seem to vary for the Baby Arlo but expect to pay $399 at most major outlets. It’s a hefty price tag, but having been the first family to use it I can guarantee it’s worth every single cent.