Arlo Wireless Security Camera Review
Who wants to deal with wires anymore? Literally no one. They’re ugly, the cats chew on them, and they dictate where you can put whatever it is they’re connected to.
Arlo has five wireless cameras that you can stick anywhere you want—the boring old corner of the room trick, or in a tree to keep an eye on those suspicious squirrels.
These cameras aren’t perfect (we’ll get into that), nor do they offer comprehensive home security, but they perform consistently and the features justify the price, which is why they consistently rank high on our security camera best-of lists.
What Arlo cameras do
Ranging from pretty basic (Arlo) to super fancy (Arlo Ultra), they’re good for anyone from beginners to smart-device nerds.
Other than their rechargeable batteries, weather-resistance, and 25 feet of night vision, each Arlo camera does something different. Here’s how the rest of their features compare:
|Model||Arlo||Arlo Pro||Arlo Pro 2||Arlo Ultra||Arlo Go|
|Field of view||110°||110°||130°||180°||110°|
|Night vision||25 feet||25 feet||25 feet||25 feet + color||25 feet|
|Alerts||Motion||Motion and audio||Motion and audio||Motion and audio||Motion and audio|
|Power source||Batteries||Solar panel, batteries, wall plug||Solar panel, batteries, wall plug||Solar panel, batteries, wall plug||Solar panel, batteries, wall plug|
|Details||View on Amazon||View on Amazon||View on Amazon||View on Amazon||View on Amazon|
Which Arlo camera is right for you?
You should get Arlo if . . .
- You want a budget-friendly video monitoring system
- You don’t need a lot of bells and whistles
You should get Arlo Pro if . . .
- You want alerts for audio detection as well as motion detection
- You find it at an amazing price (otherwise, just upgrade to Arlo Pro 2)
You should get Arlo Pro 2 if . . .
- You want the option to continuously record
- You want a wider field of view (20° wider than Arlo Pro)
You should get Arlo Ultra if . . .
- You want higher-quality video and audio
- You want extra security features like a spotlight and siren
- You plan on subscribing to a security plan
- You want to use it with your Apple Watch
You should get Arlo Go if . . .
- You want to take your camera with you when you travel
- You want to use your camera without Wi-Fi
As far as specs go, there’s some real differences here. However, the Arlo Go is almost identical to the Arlo Pro—with one huge difference. The Go is the only Arlo wireless camera that also has a data plan (which is required), so it’s good for places that don’t have Wi-Fi (like a barn or shed) or even to use while traveling.
Arlo cameras pros and cons
Arlo’s cameras have their ups and downs, so weigh your options before you buy.
Sorting through all of Arlo’s camera features online can be tricky, so we’ve called out our favorite and least favorite features to make your life easier.
What we like about Arlo cameras
Free cloud storage (plus more options)
Every Arlo wireless camera comes with seven days of free cloud storage. That’s more than Blink cameras, which only give you two hours of free cloud storage, but it still means you’ll need to review your clips every few days so you can save anything important.
The original Arlo is the only camera that doesn’t let you store footage locally. Every camera from the Arlo Pro and above lets you connect either a USB or a MicroSD so you have a backup copy and don’t have to rely on the cloud.
Monthly monitoring packages
Arlo Smart, the monthly subscription monitoring packages, offers more than just additional cloud storage—it also gives you access to certain advanced features, like the ability to call 911 right from the camera itself.
Arlo Ultra comes with a free year of Arlo Smart Premier, which means you get all this stuff:
- 30-day video history
- Advanced zoom and tracking
- Custom activity zones
- Lock screen notifications
- 911 emergency call service
- $119.88 value
If you want only the original Arlo cameras, you’re probably fine with one of the lower-tier monitoring plans or even the free option. However, if you’re going to be paying more for a fancier camera, you’ll need a fancier monitoring plan in order to get the most out of your camera.
The fact that none of these cameras have to be plugged in to work is one of the best things about Arlo cameras. Even better, though, is that Arlo Pro, Arlo Pro 2, and Arlo Ultra can be plugged in if you want.
Why would you want to plug in your camera?
- So you don’t have to worry about batteries dying (good for rental properties)
- So you can record continuously
- So you can use the 3-second look back
Netgear also offers a solar panel on Amazon compatible with every camera except the original Arlo, so you won’t have to worry about wires or batteries (just cloudy days).
Every Arlo wireless camera is rated IP65 for outdoor use, so you can move your cameras from inside to outside without thinking about it.
You can also get silicone skins on Amazon to protect against scratches and to help the cameras either blend in with their surroundings or better match your decor.
What we don’t like about Arlo cameras
The number one complaint you’ll hear about the Arlo cameras is its 3–5 second recording lag time after a motion or audio event triggers a sensor.
If someone is breaking into your back door, they probably won’t be able to do it in under 5 seconds, but 5 seconds is plenty of time for a package thief to spot the camera and hide their face while they snatch your stuff.
Arlo Pro 2 attempts to address the infamous lag with a feature that allows you to look at the three seconds before a triggered event . . . buuuuut it’s only available when it’s plugged in.
We’re glad Netgear has tried to improve this, but it’s still frustrating that this known bug hasn’t been fixed across all camera models.
Some models are not backwards compatible
If you already have some older model Arlo cameras but want to add a few Arlo Ultras to the mix, you’ll have to get a new base station. It’s a weird quirk, but your older Arlo cameras will work with the new SmartHub that comes with the Arlo Ultra . . . and your Arlo Ultra won’t work with your older base station.
All Arlo cameras are easy to set up and use, plus they play nice with just about every smart home integration system.
We can comfortably recommend Arlo cameras to just about anyone because they’re easy to set up and the app is user-friendly. If you’re a renter who, like me, moves every year, Arlo is easy to install . . . and then reinstall in your next place.
Arlo cameras integrate with most modern smart device networks, so no matter where your loyalties lie, there’s an Arlo camera for you.
|Model||Arlo||Arlo Pro||Arlo Pro 2||Arlo Ultra||Arlo Go|
|View on Amazon||View on Amazon||View on Amazon||View on Amazon||View on Amazon||View on Amazon|
Note that the newest Arlo Ultra is not IFFFT- or Smartthings-enabled, but hopefully this upgrade will be available in the future.
A smart device is only as good as its app—and the Arlo app, which has four stars on both Google Play and iTunes, is pretty good. You’ll see the usual complaints about issues after upgrades, but Netgear (Arlo’s original parent company) has historically been good about fixing bugs.
The app is where you’ll get alerts, review clips, and change settings. With Family Sharing enabled in the app, up to six users can monitor the same system, so you can hit up the roommate group chat when there’s a stranger poking around the backyard or when the cat is doing that weird thing again.
If you’re looking for a different combination of features and a slightly lower price, there are some decent alternatives.
If you want something similar to the original basic Arlo camera but don’t want to deal with a hub or a higher price, the Canary might be a better option for you.
It’s not wireless, but has slightly better specs, is compatible with your Apple Watch, and has sensors for temperature and air quality. The Canary is indoor-only, making it an ideal low-cost option for a small apartment.
Fits these needs:
- Low price
- Higher resolution (1080p)
- Apple Watch compatible
- Home health sensors
Nest Cam IQ
The outdoor Nest Cam IQ falls somewhere between Arlo Pro 2 and Arlo Ultra. It has a 4K image sensor but no spotlight or siren. It’s also not wireless, so you’ll have to figure out what to do with the cord, and that’s a bit of a drawback.
It does have one great feature that none of the Arlo cameras have, though: familiar face recognition. If your camera’s guarding the front door, that’s a really useful feature.
Fits these needs:
- Familiar face recognition
- Lower price
- Standalone (doesn’t require a hub)
The bottom line
With a free storage option, wireless setup, and broad compatibility, you really can’t go wrong with any Arlo camera.
All the Arlos we’ve mentioned are great—but that being said, some are better deals than others.
The original Arlo isn’t super expensive for a basic camera, but Canary is cheaper. Unless you find an amazing deal on Arlo Pro, you might as well just upgrade and go for Arlo Pro 2. Arlo Ultra has a lot of unique, cool features, but its price point makes it only worth it for someone who is really going to use all it has to offer.
Have you used any of the Arlo wireless cameras? Tell us how it worked out for you in the comments.