Netgear Arlo review: The best home-monitoring system around
The ultimate remote camera system, Arlo, takes the fight to Google's Nest Cam
Here’s a statement I thought I’d never read (or have to write): IP cameras are becoming cool.
Yep, that’s right. Now Google has put its weight behind the security-cam sector with the new Nest Cam, many more people are going to want one in their home. Excited though you may be, before you stump up the £159 asking price for Google’s new product, I recommend you take a look at Netgear’s Arlo system instead.
Why? Because Arlo may well be the smart home-monitoring system the search giant should have launched all along.
What is Arlo? Features and capabilities
Arlo is the successor to the Netgear VueZone system the company released last year. Just like the VueZone - and Google’s forthcoming Nest Cam - Arlo is an easy-to-setup and use home-monitoring system. Its cameras can record motion-triggered video clips to the cloud where they can be viewed at your leisure, and they can also stream live footage direct to your tablet, smartphone or laptop.
In this sense, Arlo is no different from the thousands of other IP cameras on the market. However, Arlo has a killer feature: its cameras are battery powered.
This means you can place the cameras anywhere you like, without having to find a nearby mains socket to power it – or drill holes in your walls to run cables. It also means you can pick up the cameras and move them around whenever you fancy: you can pop a camera on a shelf to monitor baby when you put them to bed; then move it to the kitchen to keep an eye on the cat when you go away. (In fact, Netgear positively encourages this, supplying two magnetic hemispherical mounts per camera.)
The cameras are even weatherproofed (rated to IP65), so there’s no need to purchase a separate case if you want to point a camera at your front door or keep tabs on the comings and goings in your garden.
The downside of this is that you’ll have to replace the batteries fairly regularly. Each camera takes four CR123 batteries, and a set will last you between four and six months, depending on the quality of video you’re recording and how often the camera is triggered.
It’s also worth noting that these figures relate to “recommended settings and typical usage”; point the camera at your fish tank, the cat flap or a busy bird table while leaving motion detection on 24/7 and the batteries will likely run out much sooner.
Still, this isn’t bad for a camera that records video at a resolution of 720p, and the Arlo cameras have a host of other advanced features I'd normally only expect to see on mains-powered IP cameras.
For starters, each camera is equipped with eight infrared LEDs so it can see in the dark to a distance of 4.5m. And each one has a passive infrared sensor (PIR) of the kind used in burglar alarms, so it can capture motion-triggered footage while using very little power.