Review: Arlo Pro 2 from Netgear
I use to be a huge Dropcam (currently Nest) fan, but I disliked the lack of control I had over my cameras. Because of that lack of control and being forced to pay for recording with no option to record to my own equipment. I swore never to use a wall-gardened security system again. So I switched to IP cameras and replaced my Nest system with Foscam. Foscam allowed me to take complete control of my cameras, and while they were at times a tad bit difficult to configure I liked the control they offered regardless if it meant spending extra time fiddling with them. So I didn’t really think the Arlo system would change my mind about how I felt about systems like it.
Since I really wasn’t expecting much out of Arlo and already had a huge bias against systems like it, and the fact that I am lazy I let my wife set up the system. When I heard her hammering I started to get scared, and when I heard her drop one of the cameras I thought she destroyed it, but the end result was pure beauty.
Setup was super easy, that is according to the wife. All she had to do was plug the hub into our router, install the app on her phone, press a button on the hub and connect 1 camera at a time. All the hammering was her installing the magnetic mounts for the cameras. Two nails and 5 minutes is what it took her to install the mounts. I would have used a drill and the included screws, but her way worked too. She did a pretty good job, check out the pictures of the cameras below.
The cameras are small and discreet. No Wires, you just have to charge them up. We did charge both cameras for 3 hours prior to installing them and since November 15th, 2017 (today December 28th, 2017) the batteries still have 58 and 65% charge. The camera that we access the most has the 58%.
You don’t really notice the cameras even though they are right in front of you. Which is good as it doesn’t make you feel like you are being watched. Nor does it mess with the ambiance. I had two Foscam cameras near these cameras and honestly, they stuck out like sore thumbs and became the topic of conversation when we had parties. At my last BBQ a week ago, no one even noticed them, a friend actually mentioned that I must trust my visitors now because I got rid of the cameras. After that comment, I kept a close eye on him!
Using the System:
The first thing we tested was this interesting button in the app that reads “Turn Siren on”. So obviously I pushed it. What a mistake, especially since I was sitting not even a foot away from the hub. The hub emits an ear piercing sound that literally made my wife fall to her knees. I know I know I am an ass-hole for doing that, but I didn’t expect it to be so loud and so uncomfortable as the warnings advertised. It will sure make someone run away.
We then went outside, turned it on and it was still loud enough to bother. We live on the 5th floor, when we walked down to ground level it was still audible and sounded like a distant tea kettle whistling. Our 4th-floor neighbors thought there was a fire alarm going off until they remembered we live in an old building with no fire alarm system.
You can also have motion detected by the cameras trigger the alarm, which comes in handy when you aren’t home. You can disable the alarm from your mobile device or a computer via the Arlo App or Arlo.com
Using the cameras is as easy as 1 2 3. Just open the App or Arlo.com and click “Live”. As you will notice from the screenshot to the right, it’s hard to miss the live button. The “15h ago” is an indicator of the last time you accessed the app, and what was seen. It also auto updates if you have motion detection enabled.
The cameras will detect motion and allow you to specify zones for where to look for motion, however, the zones do not work if the camera is being used wirelessly. Which kind of sucks, but understandable as it would require more power. You can only use zones if the camera is connected to an AC Adapter.
Motion detection works well, there are about 50 parrots that live near my home and they often hang out on my patio furniture. But not once has Arlo trigged an alert to my phone when they are flying by and hanging out on the furniture, so you won’t be alerted unnecessarily.
However, when the cable company somehow managed to make it up to my patio through a 4th-floor window (I still have no idea how and why he went that way) it alerted me quickly. I wasn’t home at the time, and I had assumed it was my wife watering the plants. Until she called me freaked out, saying she was scared and saw someone on the patio via the camera. We live on a top floor and are the only ones who have access to the roof and patio. I then connected to the camera via the app and spoke to the Altice cable guy who said he didn’t want to bother anyone so early in the morning. Turns out he was running fiber and apologized for the intrusion. Yes you can have a clear conversation using the app.
The picture quality and sound quality is awesome. I have some videos and pictures below to show exactly how great the quality is. The first video below is my wife’s little sister calling to me. I had whispered “I am Santa behave” she recognized my voice and started to say my name.
She could hear me clearly, even though I was 1500 miles away and as you can tell from the video you can clearly see her and hear her. Video quality is a bit degraded due to the way it was compressed but the original files are better quality and can provide those to anyone interested.
The next two videos are side by side shots of my two cameras, recording at the exact same time. Gives you an idea of what Night Vision enabled and disabled looks like at night.
Here is one more video that details the quality of the video, you can literally see the raindrops falling.
My Foscam camera, which is 1080 as well as the Arlo cameras never provided clear video quality like this where you could actually see the drops falling.
The cameras also take great stills during the day and at night, check out some samples below.
The cameras are great I love them.
For those curious, my internet connection speeds where the cameras are located are 15 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up. Even with such low speeds compared to my gigabit connection here in NY. The cameras used very little bandwidth and always delivered HD quality video. Something my Foscam Cameras didn’t deliver. I never tested my Nest cameras at this location.
After using the Nest App and Foscam app for over 3 years I honestly hate most apps that come with a system like this one. The reason being, they aren’t as intuitive as they should be, and if you aren’t Tech Savy you are bound to run into trouble.
I want something that I can give to my wife, or my 70-year-old mom and expect them to figure out how to use it with very little calls to me for help.
The Arlo app, while not perfect is 100% better than the Foscam App and about as good as the Nest App. My wife loves the Arlo app better than the Nest App because it’s easier to get to a camera and start the stream. Also, it allows her to record easier and download what she recorded.
You can also set up modes. Modes allow you to quickly enable and disable motion detection. Some of the modes even allow you to trigger the siren in case motion is detected. You can also set up geofencing with modes. It took me a bit to figure out how to set up the various modes, it’s one of the features Netgear needs to clean up a bit. Useful but hard to configure. They try to make it easy with a wizard but the wizard limits you.
What impressed me is the web app (website) and the app on all devices worked identically. It never seemed like I was in a different environment depending on the device I was using, which I think is a plus!
But it could use some work. For example, if my wife changes the brightness of a camera, I have to log in to her account to change it back, it won’t allow me to change any setting she changes from my account. I reported this bug to Netgear, hopefully, they get it fixed. I also dislike that I can’t be logged in from multiple devices at once. But I think I am nitpicking a bit, and the app is a good one.
While you don’t have to pay a monthly fee for Arlo, they do have plans that give you additional features such as DVR. I personally didn’t test it but even without the paid features you can record and take pictures to the cloud for easy download to your device.
The Arlo 2 Pro, in my opinion, is a great solution, it’s a lot easier to set up than dropcam, 100 times easier to set up than Foscam, and let us not get started or Lyric or Samsung cameras which in my opinion are harder to set up than they should be.
The picture quality is great, the ease of use is great the app is great the system is the best system available in 2017!
Arlo Pro 2 Gets 4 Stars!