Two of NETGEAR’s home security cameras have made our lists this year—the Arlo is number seven in our overall best home security cameras list and the Arlo Pro ranks number two in our best outdoor cameras list. Because they’re wireless and waterproof, these are incredibly versatile devices, adaptable for any number of uses and environments. They’re supported by a highly rated mobile app that receives alerts from the cameras so you can monitor your cameras on the go. The Arlo and the Arlo Pro are the two most similar cameras from this line—and as the name indicates, the Arlo Pro delivers some new features and updates to the original Arlo. Before we get into comparing the cameras, let’s start with some general features they have in common.
- Automatic night vision
- Easy DIY installation and setup
- Waterproof IR65 rating for outdoor use
- Free cloud storage (up to 1GB) for up to 7 days
- Mobile monitoring with Arlo app (iOS, Android)
- No continuous recording
- Some reported lag in motion-sensitive recording and alerts
- False low-battery reports when temperature drops below freezing
How Arlo compares to other wireless cameras
The Arlo cameras have a lot in common with other wireless, app-monitored cameras. These cameras—most of them priced between $150 and $200—are all wireless, app monitored, motion activated, and easy to install and set up, and they all include some kind of free cloud storage. Most wireless cameras, including Arlo and Arlo Pro, record in only 720p quality. This is technically HD and will be a high enough resolution for most people, but it won’t deliver the same kind of detail you’re used to seeing on your full HD TV.
One thing that sets Arlo apart from its competitors is its seven days of free cloud storage. With similar products, you only get between two and 24 hours of cloud storage.
The Arlo Pro, the newer of the two cameras, can be used in both indoor and outdoor settings and has rechargeable batteries, night vision, and two-way audio. All Arlo cameras require connection to a hub, which is your camera system’s network point and local storage system. If you’re operating several cameras at once, a hub system like Arlo’s is worth it because it gives you local storage and a faster internet connection. If you need only a couple of cameras, you might not want to deal with a hub. In this case, you may want to check out the Canary Flex, which shares many of the Arlo Pro’s features, but connects directly to your Wi-Fi (though it means you’d give up local storage).
Here’s what you get with the Arlo:
- A wire-free setup that allows you to place the camera wherever you need to without running wires
- A weatherproof casing with IP65 rating for outdoor use
- 720p HD video quality
- 850nm LED night vision that illuminates up to 25 feet in the dark
- Push notifications to your Arlo mobile app when motion or sound is detected
- Free cloud storage of video clips for up to seven days
Arlo Pro Features
In addition to the above features from the Arlo, the Arlo Pro includes these upgrades:
- A rechargeable battery that saves you money on purchasing new batteries
- Wired and wireless options so you can keep it plugged in (but be aware that the cord is NOT rated for outdoor use and should only be used inside
- Local backup storage when you plug a USB drive into the hub
- A 130° field of view and motion detection (20° wider than Arlo)
- Two-way audio so you can speak remotely through your camera via the app
- Livestreaming capabilities for 30 minutes at a time to preserve the battery
- A smart siren that can be turned on remotely via the app or set to go off when motion or sound is detected
To me, the most important improvements in the Arlo Pro are the rechargeable battery and the local backup storage. I’ll get into this a little more later, but one of the most common complaints about the original Arlo is its expensive and short-lived batteries. Particularly for users whose cameras catch a lot of activity (and who probably need the most battery power), the device chews through batteries, meaning they have to purchase these either frequently or in bulk. Recording video takes a lot of power, so it makes the most sense for a video device to be rechargeable or at least powered in a more sustainable manner.
The Arlo Pro’s local storage via USB is also huge because it gives you a semi-physical copy of your footage, just in case. I haven’t seen any complaints about Arlo’s cloud, but I always like having a backup.
Here’s how the Arlo and Arlo Pro compare on a technical level:
|View product||View on Amazon||View on Amazon|
|Night vision||850nm LEDs (25 feet)||850nm LEDs (25 feet)|
|Field of view||110°||130°|
|Battery||4 lithium CR 123 photo (included)||2440mAh rechargeable battery (included)|
|Operating temperature||14° to 122° F||-4° to 113° F|
|Size||H: 2.8 inches|
W: 1.7 inches
D: 2.6 inches
|H: 3.1 inches |
W: 1.9 inches
D: 2.8 inches
|Weight||4.3 ounces||4.8 ounces|
|View on Amazon||View on Amazon|
|850nm LEDs (25 feet)||850nm LEDs (25 feet)|
|4 lithium CR 123 photo (included)||2440mAh rechargeable battery (included)|
|14° to 122° F||-4° to 113° F|
H: 2.8 inches
W: 1.7 inches
D: 2.6 inches
H: 3.1 inches
W: 1.9 inches
D: 2.8 inches
|4.3 ounces||4.8 ounces|
How Arlo works
Arlo cameras can be connected to any Arlo hub, so you can mix and match your Arlo cameras. You can purchase these cameras individually, in multipacks, or bundled with a hub.
|1 camera add-on (no hub)||$159.99 on Amazon||$189.99 on Amazon|
|1-camera kit (hub included)||$219.99 on Amazon||$249.73 on Amazon|
|2-camera kit (hub included)||$299.99 on Amazon||$419.63 on Amazon|
Setup is exceptionally easy—many customers report the entire process takes under 15 minutes. Simply plug the hub into your router using the supplied cable, download the app or go to the Arlo website to create your account, put the batteries in the camera(s), and use the app to pair each camera to the base station.
From the Arlo app, which is available for iOS and Android mobile devices, you can set arming schedules, adjust motion-sensor sensitivity, receive alerts, save and share video clips, and more. Clips are recorded whenever motion or sound is detected, and you’ll get a notification on your device so you can check it out. From the app, you can adjust the clip length (up to 120 seconds) for each camera. These clips are stored in the cloud for free for up to seven days, but Arlo offers two other service plans if you’d like to have longer access to your videos.
|Days of cloud recordings||7||30||60|
|Max GB of cloud storage||1||10||100|
|Number of cameras||5||10||15|
|Support||Limited for 3 months*||Unlimited||Unlimited|
NETGEAR offers a fairly comprehensive community-driven support website where Arlo customers answer questions and help each other troubleshoot their devices. If the website can’t answer all your questions, you can contact NETGEAR’s customer service directly via phone, email, or live chat. I’ve interacted with NETGEAR a handful of times in regard to other Arlo cameras and found that the representatives are always courteous and eager to help.
For the most part, they are knowledgeable about products and services. However, I’ve come up with some stumpers that were only answered after quite a bit of back and forth. It is a little disappointing that free phone support is only available for the 90 days following your purchase. After that, unless you’re paying for a support plan, you’ll have to pay a “small fee” for help over the phone.
*NETGEAR’s standard technical support for its products is three months from date of purchase.
What customers think of Arlo and Arlo Pro
Arlo customers tend to love these cameras’ user friendliness, ease of setup, app, and video quality. The Arlo Pro’s addition of a rechargeable battery shows NETGEAR’s responsiveness to customer concerns surrounding the Arlo’s expensive and short-lived batteries. A common complaint for both devices is their tendency to lag when motion is detected, meaning that they don’t always catch the action—so it’ll be interesting to watch future developments in the brand to see if it can tackle this issue. Here’s what customers have to say, in their own words:
This kit is simply genius. Sets up in minutes and works flawlessly. I’ve delayed installing a security camera system because of the need for running cable and having an adjacent power source, as well as wanting cameras covering different locations at different times, indoors and out. Doing that means a lot of cabling. The magnetic ball/cup mounting allows for simply pulling the cameras off the base and moving to a different base (2 extra bases come with the kit) in seconds. Can also pull one off and just set on a shelf anywhere in the house to serve as a nannycam when needed. We use both iPhone/tablets and Android phone/tablets in our household and the Arlo App works perfectly on all of them as well as on our desktops.This set is idiot-proof. The only thing I do not yet know is what kind of battery life we will achieve, but when set to record only in the motion-detect mode I expect that to be no issue.
–steamboatwilly, Best Buy customer, 4/30/15
Poor battery life and odd battery size: I have the model that takes 4 replaceable batteries that are a size I’ve never seen or needed so I had to by special batteries for this guy. The other problem is the camera didn’t even last a week on 1 set of batteries so it would cost me a small fortune to power this guy for months or years. –CO, Amazon customer, 1/9/17
Added this to my 1st gen base and it was active in seconds. Picture quality is exceptional and the built in battery lasts 3-4 times longer than the 1st gen cameras. The sound quality is also flawless. We have it working on the iPhone and iPad and the conversation is crystal clear in both directions. –DanC54, Best Buy customer, 12/10/16
Recording delay – there is a 1-2 second delay before the camera starts recording. This a big deal. If you miss half the approach, you are very likely to miss important information like a car’s license plate, an intruder’s face, etc. Then, once it triggers, it only records for 10 seconds. If it detects sufficient continuous movement, only then does it spin up a new 10s clip, leaving more gaps in your recording. Now look, I understand these are battery powered but I would rather charge these once a week and get great responsiveness than have them be mildly useful and have a battery that lasts months –Carl, Amazon customer, 12/30/16
Things to consider when shopping for wireless cameras
The wireless camera or cameras that you choose will of course depend on a number of variables unique to your needs, but here are five key factors to consider while you shop:
- Indoor or outdoor capabilities: Your first consideration is where your cameras will be located. An outdoor camera can be used inside, but an indoor camera won’t hold up to temperature extremes or moisture outdoors, even if you think you have it well-protected.
- Battery life: A longer battery life means the camera will require less attention and upkeep for you—plus, batteries can get expensive. Even if you buy a camera with rechargeable batteries, you don’t want something that’ll die after just a few hours of recording.
- Motion detection: Motion-activated recording and alerts are pretty standard with wireless cameras for the sake of conserving the batteries. But watch out for cameras with significant delays between the time they detect motion and the time they start recording, as your subject could exit the frame in a matter of seconds. Some brands, including Arlo, allow you to adjust the recorded clip length per camera, so you can set some to record for only 10 seconds after motion is detected and others to record for a full two minutes.
- Storage: Many wireless cameras include some sort of free cloud storage, though the length of time you’ll have access to what’s been stored ranges from 12 hours to seven days. Like checking the batteries, think about how often you’ll want to review your video clips—I’d much rather have a full week to do this than have to check in twice a day. I also prefer cameras that have a local storage option so that there’s some sort of hard backup in case of cloud failure.
- Connection type: Cellular connections are far more reliable than a Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection, because if the power goes out, so does the internet. A cellular connection will ensure you still have remote access to your cameras even when other systems fail.
Arlo Pro leads the pack
For areas where you don’t expect a lot of activity but want some added surveillance, the Arlo will do the job. For most other situations, however, you might as well go with the Arlo Pro for its rechargeable battery, local storage, wider field of view, and generally more-updated technology.
There’s a reason the Arlo and Arlo Pro are leaders in wireless cameras. Whereas security cameras of the past required extensive installation and networking setup, these require minimal time and effort and have the support of a strong app. Their motion detection delay is frustrating, however, so I’d suggest running several of your own tests of the motion detection while you’re still in the return period of whichever distributor from which you purchased the device.
Though complaints about the delay are frequent, they’re not universal, so it may depend on the specific device and where it’s located. My hope is that as other companies develop more sophisticated motion detection, NETGEAR/Arlo will follow suit and update their technology as well, which would make these palm-sized cameras must-haves for every home.