Arlo Reviews – An Indoor Outdoor Security Camera

When users asked me to review Arlo I was dismissive. I feared it was a painted pig, VueZone with better marketing. (Arlo is a remake of VueZone which ranked last on our list of reviewed security cameras for almost 3 years.)

I also wasn’t convinced that the world needed another opinion about Arlo until I realized that I’m approaching this from a different place, a place of skepticism.

Am I wrong to feel skeptical? Let’s find out.

What’s Better Netgear VueZone or Arlo?

Like VueZone, Arlo is a completely cordless camera that works off of your home’s wireless connection and battery power. Battery power is extended by connecting to a base station that stays inside your home.

Arlo is clearly better than VueZone. In some ways it combines the multiple VueZone cameras and features into one device backed by better marketing and better cloud storage options. For example, all Arlo units have night vision and can work inside or outside where VueZone has one camera with night vision, one for indoor use, and one for outdoor.

Arlo is better, but is it good enough?

ImagearloVueZone Day
ModelArloVZSM2200
Purchase Price$199.99 on Amazon$229.90 on Amazon
Resolution720p480p
Cordless
iOS and Android Compatible
Live Streaming
Night Vision
Local Storage
Private or Public CloudPublicPublic
Basic Cloud Storage1GB Storage is Free250MB is $4.99/Month
Cameras Supported in Basic CVR Package55
Premium Cloud Storage10GB is $9.99/Month500MB is $9.99/Month
Cameras Supported in Premium1015
Elite Cloud Storage100GB is $14.99/Month
Cameras Supported in Elite15
Built-in Audio
PowerLithium CR123 PhotoLithium CR123 Photo
Digital Zoom
Motion Detection
Push Notifications
Pivot, Tilt, PanDigital PanDigitally Pan for $4.99 per month
Indoor/Outdoor
Additional $85.90
Requires a Base Station
Installation Skill LevelEasyEasy
Where to Buy
Image arlo
Model
Arlo
Purchase Price
$199.99 on Amazon
Resolution
720p
Cordless
iOS and Android Compatible
Live Streaming
Night Vision
Local Storage
Private or Public Cloud
Public
Basic Cloud Storage
1GB Storage is Free
Cameras Supported in Basic CVR Package
5
Premium Cloud Storage
10GB is $9.99/Month
Cameras Supported in Premium
10
Elite Cloud Storage
100GB is $14.99/Month
Cameras Supported in Elite
15
Built-in Audio
Power
Lithium CR123 Photo
Digital Zoom
Motion Detection
Push Notifications
Pivot, Tilt, Pan
Digital Pan
Indoor/Outdoor
Requires a Base Station
Installation Skill Level
Easy
Where to Buy
Image VueZone Day
Model
VZSM2200
Purchase Price
$229.90 on Amazon
Resolution
480p
Cordless
iOS and Android Compatible
Live Streaming
Night Vision
Local Storage
Private or Public Cloud
Public
Basic Cloud Storage
250MB is $4.99/Month
Cameras Supported in Basic CVR Package
5
Premium Cloud Storage
500MB is $9.99/Month
Cameras Supported in Premium
15
Elite Cloud Storage
Cameras Supported in Elite
Built-in Audio
Power
Lithium CR123 Photo
Digital Zoom
Motion Detection
Push Notifications
Pivot, Tilt, Pan
Digitally Pan for $4.99 per month
Indoor/Outdoor
Additional $85.90
Requires a Base Station
Installation Skill Level
Easy
Where to Buy

As a side note, Arlo is not compatible with VueZone.

Arlo Security Camera Reviews

Finding reputable reviews online can be tough. Even user reviews can sound fishy at times but I did manage to find two reputable reviews of the Netgear Arlo in addition to researching user reviews.

1: MEGAN WOLLERTON FOR CNET

Megan has a lot of hands-on experience with smart gear. She reviewed Arlo in February and gave it 3.5 stars.

In Megan’s opinion Arlo performs well inside and outside. On the flip side she acknowledges that the camera doesn’t have any audio. Cutting out audio might save some battery life but even cutting out features here and there CNET found that the battery life will fluctuate depending upon how you use it. For example, placing a camera near your Arlo hub and not using live streaming mode will provide a better battery experience than placing the unit outside and using live streaming.

Megan points out that installation is extremely simple, that she wishes the app was more intuitive, and also that the camera lacks third-party integration like an IFTTT channel.

Screenshot from CNET

Read Full Review Here

2: A SUMMARY OF THE 700+ REVIEWS ON AMAZON

Amazon reviews are like the T.J. Maxx of the review world. There’s a lot of junk in there but if you dig around you can find some gold.

I read the first 10 pages of the most recent reviews to take a baseline pulse of what people were saying. I threw out the highs and lows and stuck with the most repeated and reputable comments.

In general, Amazon reviews of Arlo are positive, with more 5 star reviews than anything else. However, there were clearly some repeating issues that were mentioned even in the 5 star reviews.

AMAZON REVIEWER CONS

ONE: Battery Life

There are many negative comments regarding battery life.

One user says that he loves the camera but that the outdoor camera battery must be changed every 6 days. Another reviewer states this his outdoor camera battery died after 2 days. Multiple reviews state that they received a low battery warning on the outdoor camera after 10-12 hours. On the other hand, the indoor camera battery life is significantly longer with one user stating his batteries lasted 2 months.

TWO: MOTION DETECTION

The Amazon reviews shed some light on one of my biggest concerns, quality of motion detection. Arlo lacks software to make motion detection more accurate and this is critical in an outdoor security camera. The customer service team behind Arlo claims that the camera uses a heat based motion sensor which should ignore inanimate objects like trees or things blowing in the wind. In theory… But this wasn’t consistent with the reviews. Both positive and negative reviews complained about motion detection.

One reviewer shares, “now it activates every time the wind blows a branch of a small tree” and yet another sharing that her camera took at least 28 clips of a cockroach. There is even a video shared by a proud Arlo owner who “caught his first intruder”, a gnarly looking insect climbing over the lens.

Michael, a verified purchase reviewer, states that he has over 300 notifications on his phone from Arlo motion alerts. In his words,

It makes the notification feature useless (boy who cried wolf problem).

THREE: SLEEPY CAMERA

Probably the most talked about issue was the sleepy camera syndrome. Basically to save battery life the camera “sleeps” until it senses motion. The problem with this is that it takes a minute to wake up. It is hardware after all. Think about how long it takes your computer to wake up from sleep… This is problematic as a thief may be long gone before Arlo wakes up and decides to record. According to SoCal Larry,

I’m lucky if it gets the mail carrier walking up my front steps to put the mail in my box.

FOUR: NOT A BABY MONITOR

Several of the negative reviews were from mothers who bought into the marketing hype that Arlo is a baby monitor. It’s nice that the camera is cordless which is a great safety feature for a baby room but it’s missing one critical feature: sound. Multiple mothers pointed out that sound is critical for a baby monitor and I agree. Another mom called them out on normal use which Arlo states is 4 minutes of viewing per day. She poses a great question,

Who monitors their baby for four minutes per day?

Using the camera for more than four minutes per day will have a negative impact on the battery. Keep that in mind moms and dads.

AMAZON REVIEWER PROS

There are four things that most users seems to love about Arlo.

ONE: THE MAGNETIC BASE

Users love the magnetic base. Users state that the magnetic base not only allows them to get creative when placing camera but allows some fickleness too as it’s easy to take the camera down and move it to a new location when you’re ready.

TWO: VIDEO QUALITY

Multiple users say the video quality is non-HD but workable. In general users can appreciate the quality of video and it is impressive for a camera that runs off of battery power. After all, there is so much more that goes into a camera’s image than resolution and Arlo looks to be on-par with other 720p cameras.

According to Deal Hunter,

The quality of the video is quite good and I really like that I can see the cars driving by 2 blocks away in the distance

Falldog shares this picture. Ironically he was not as happy with the picture quality but I would argue that it’s good. This placement would be tough for any camera as it’s in a shaded area looking out over a sunny area. It might be better to place the camera with the light on the backside where it is facing the door to the house.

via Amazon

THREE: AUTOMATED NIGHT VISION

While automated night vision is a feature found in most home security cameras, it seems to be an impressive feature for Amazon reviewers.

Arlo senses low light conditions and will swap from full color mode to night vision when needed.

Many users described Arlo’s night vision as clear and sharp though multiple reviewers warn that it works well for about 15 feet.

FOUR: EASY SETUP

For the most part, Arlo owners found setup to be true plug and play. Part of this process was using the mobile app which users say is easy to use and performs well. This seems to jive with the 4 star rating currently held on iTunes and Google Play

Smartwalrus says, “My installation experience was 100% flawless.”

3: JOHN R. DELANEY FOR PCMAG

John has reviewed a few home security cameras recently including Withings Home, Samsung Smartcam, and Guardzilla. He tested Arlo in May and gave it a 4/5 or an excellent. Keep in mind that John focuses mainly on TVs and monitors and does not have as much hands-on experience with security cameras as other reviewers but he is an industry veteran non-the less.

John’s review focuses on his approval of the cordless design and the high quality video during the day and at night. Adding that, “They are IP65 waterproof rated and can operate in temperatures ranging from 14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Screenshot from PCMag

pcmag.com

Arlo Q – The Latest Addition

Arlo has announced the addition of an indoor camera called the Arlo Q. This indoor camera plays with the Arlo system or alone. It offers night vision, two-way audio, a magnetic base, motion detection, activity zones (only on Arlo Q), event alerts, access to the Arlo app, and a 1080p resolution. Unlike its big brother, the Q is battery free and does not require the Arlo base station. Though a battery would be nice, it has advantages over the original Arlo system including the fact that you can record continuously or based upon event. You can also set a schedule for your daily routines or use your phone’s GPS to arm and disarm the camera.

Arlo Q includes 7 days of free rolling cloud storage which is a better deal than competitors like Nest Cam though the hardware is slightly more pricey at $220.

The Q will start shipping in the US this December and expand to other countries early 2016. You can order it on Amazon here.

Final Thoughts on Arlo’s Security Camera

It’s nice that Arlo offers free cloud storage but some complain that the cost savings is outweighed by the cost of replacement batteries. The camera does support rechargeable batteries which should be an economical option in the long run. However, there is one major problem besides price. You must decide if you will be available to swap out batteries in order to maintain home security. What if you go on a two-week vacation? Arlo won’t last that long.

There are some gotchas that I wanted to point out.

1. The camera system will not record 24/7. Rather it records based upon event.
2. There is no way to automated arming and disarming. You must manually swap modes.

Of course the biggest positives are that the camera can be used inside or outside and that it’s battery powered which may allow you to monitor areas you couldn’t monitor before.

If you want to buy Arlo you will need a starter kit which comes with the base station. You can start with the one camera starter kit or the two camera. The one camera is $199.99 and the two camera is $349.99 on Amazon. You can add on additional cameras for $159.99 per camera.