Netgear Arlo Wireless Security Camera Review

4.7
Expert Rating

Until very recently wireless security cameras have been a complete falsehood.  A misnomer if you will. Put otherwise, all wireless security cameras require a wire to power them.  Until now.  Enter the Arlo smart home wireless security cameras from Netgear.

The Arlo is 100% wireless.  It runs off a battery, albeit an awkward one; the CR123A.  They were, and perhaps are, still largely used in photography, so they’re available on a some what ubiquitous level, though you probably won’t find them in your grocer’s aisle.

Setup is simple.  As is operation.  Keep reading for my full Arlo Wireless Security Camera Review one of many smart home security cameras on the market today.

Overview

Summary: Super fast and easy installation and they’re 100% wireless unlike any other security camera on the market.

Price: $159+ on Amazon
Available: Now

What I Liked:

  • Fast and easy installation
  • Zero Wires + Waterproof
  • Easy to use app with customizable notifications

What I Didn’t:

  • Powered by batteries that will have to be changed
  • No color night vision
  • Camera only secured to mount by magnets making them easy to steal

Installation

For me, installing the Arlo wasn’t more than a 15 minute process.

First, just drop in the included batteries.  The battery door can be bit finicky, but rightfully so as it ensures a strong seal from the elements (yes, you can place the Arlo outside).

Lastly, the base station needs to be powered on and plugged into your home’s top wireless router via the included ethernet cord.

Lastly, you’ll need to download the app to your Android or iOS device.  There, the app will walk you through the pairing process of each camera you’d like to add (up to 15).

How to Add a New Arlo Smart Home Security Camera

  1. Just select “add a new device”
  2. Then the device you’re adding (Arlo, Arlo Q, etc) – in this case it’s “Arlo”
  3. Then, and almost lastly, how you’ll be connecting your new Arlo.  In this instance you’ll be picking the “base station,” which should be included in your Arlo setup (provided you didn’t just buy a camera by itself).  And yes, you’ll need the base station, unless you purchase a Netgear router that includes this functionality, which may or may not be available at the time of this review.
  4.  And then finally hit the sync button on the base station and then the camera.
  5. If all does done right the two should pair and you should be able to access your new Arlo camera.

Arlo Battery Life

Now, for full disclosures sake I’ve only been using my Arlo for the better part of a few months.  And because the Arlo’s battery is designed to last any where from 4-6 months it’s impossible for me to say what the outcome will be.  That in mind, my battery indicator’s level has dropped about 40%.  So safe to say I’ll probably get about 4-5 months of use.  However, I haven’t followed all the steps to maximize my Arlo’s battery life, which are as follows:

  1. Head to Power Management Settings
  2. Select “Best Battery Life”.  The caveat here is that you’ll trade video quality in favor of an extended battery.
  3. Alternatively, you can pick “Optimized” and this will strike a balance between video quality and battery life.

Note: Netgear specs the Arlo’s battery at 4-6 months.  But keep in mind that’s based on  “normal usage”, which is defined as 4 minutes of viewing or recording per day in the Optimized setting.

Arlo vs Dropcam

How does the Arlo compare to the Dropcam? They’re not wildly different.  Save for the fact that the Dropcam is not 100% wireless. In fact, the Dropcam (now the Nestcam) is best compared to Netgear’s Arlo Q, a wired security camera as both are full HD (the Arlo wireless is just 720p, which is still HD).

Also, Dropcam charges for cloud storage of your recorded footage; it starts at $9.95 per month per camera for 7-days of storage.  Ouch.  Where as Netgear’s same offering is 100% free (7-days or 1GB of storage).

Arlo Subscription Plans and Cloud Storage

With the above in mind, Netgear does offer some paid plans, which include Premier or Elite.  Premier provides up to 30 days of storage or 10GBs.  The Elite plan bumps things to 60-days or 100GB of storage.

However, if you exceed 5 cameras on the base station, you’ll have to upgrade to the Premier plan, which will cost you $9.99/month or $99/year.  Need to support more than 10 cameras?  Then Elite it is, which supports up to 15 cameras for $14.99/month or $149/year.

Using the Arlo

If you’ve gotten this far reading my Arlo review, you’re probably interested in how easy it is to use and operate the Arlo camera.  In short, the Arlo or Arlos are designed to be a “set it and forget it” scenario.  Once installed and paired, any Arlo that detects motion will begin to record video.  Unfortunately, the Arlos, save for the Arlo Q, don’t record audio, which is probably the biggest caveat of these wireless cameras.  That and the fact you’ll have to replace the batteries at some point with no option to convert them to a wired power source.

Good to know: Optimal camera placement is 7 feet above the floor, aimed slightly down.

You’ll of course need an Android or iOS device to truly use the Arlo cameras, as the app can send you push notifications to your phone or tablet, or by way of email when it detects motion.  You can set up a schedule as to when you’d like to receive these notifications.  For instance, you may not want to receive notifications while you’re sleeping.  Or perhaps the complete opposite; only when you’re sleeping.

Good to know: The best area for motion detection is five feet to 20 feet (1.5 to 6 meters) from camera position.

That in mind, it is easy to turn the Arlo on and off, along with the ability to schedule when the camera leverages its motion detection capabilities to record footage.   There is also a motion sensitivity option, allowing you to reduce false alerts, such as a blowing tree branch, though you’ll need to test it to see what is right for you.

Because I’ve got my Arlo setup on my front door, which looks out onto a narrow path way with out a direct line of sight, there are times when there recording turns on a bit too late to garner a view of the person.  But nevertheless, it’s still impressive, at least in my case, that it is able to record something with such short notice to hit the proverbial “record” button.

Night vision is available, though you can’t toggle it on and off; it’s automatic.  It’s not full color, so you’ll have to settle with what is generally referred to as black and white.  But it will probably suffice in most use cases.

When I first installed my front door Arlo, the signal seemed a bit spotty, especially when trying to access a live feed of the camera – yes, you can view a live feed, but be mindful of the battery implications.  But after a few days of use, it some how became a non-issue.

With that in mind, the Arlo camera will need to be 300-feet or less from the Arlo base station (effectively where your router is) to maintain a connection.    Your range will very depending on what is in between the camera and the base station.  In my instance, I had one flight of stairs and for all intents and purposes a floor in between the two pieces of hardware.  That and total distance of about 35 feet.  And yes, it worked just fine, unlike some other wireless boxes I’ve tried to setup in my place, which sometimes seem to act like a giant faraday cage.

Final Thoughts

I’m astounded by how easy and simple it is to setup a Arlo wireless security camera.  Just two screws and you’re done.  However, because the cameras adhere to the mount using a magnet, you’ll want to ensure they’re out of reach of those passing by or can’t be seen by onlookers.  Conversely, this makes swapping out the Arlo security cameras for another painless.  And the same applies when it comes to installing new batteries when they die after 4-6 months of use.

Save for the fact that you might own a Nest thermostat – in which case it makes more sense to get a Nest/Dropcam – the Arlo Wireless security cameras should take priority on your shopping list over any other camera.  And if you do seek a setup more analogous to that of the Nestcam, just look to the Arlo Q, which can fill any gaps (audio recording and no batteries) that the wireless Arlos can’t.

Read Next: Best Home Security System

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Reader Rating15 Votes1.95
4.7
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Christen Costa

Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."

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19 Comments

  1. 3
    Absolutely horrible customer service

    Absolutely horrible customer service. The company was spun out of Netgear late 2018 and they haven’t figured out how to make money yet looking at their SEC filings so they are cutting costs on customer service, though likely in other departments also. You reach someone in the Philippines whose English is fine but ability to help you is limited. There is no phone number anywhere on the web or their own site for you to call to reach someone in the U.S. I have a small business with a 3-camera Arlo q+ system. They are *mostly* good and actually it’s helpful that I have 3 cameras because there are times when motion isn’t captured by 1, but it’s usually captured by an overlapping camera. I am not sure why. My request was simple, in my mind: send me notifications when the camera senses motion outside of business hours and do not send me notifications when the camera senses motion during business hours. This was so complicated to customer service. I spent 3-4 hours on the phone with them as they tried to figure this out. At one point my camera thought it was 3am not 9am so I was getting hundreds of notifications. Again, customer service has no idea. Also, due to a conflicting netgear account I’ve had to change my password about 15 times and customer service has no way to clear my old ones. I would post these direct to Arlo, though they likely don’t want to know about their product flaws because there is no way to post them directly. Decent product, but the company is a bit of a joke operationally.

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  2. ARLO Pro 2 ( three cams + base station system).

    This is anything but security. Quirky, keeps dropping off the wifi, intermittent streaming with frequent failures and all they are after is your money. Night mode is useless. Do not waste your money on this product ( Cost me 1000 $ + in Australia. ) There is no local support.
    To be precise, ” this is rubbish” !

  3. The Arlo Q system is 4 months old. One camera does not work, even though it is connected to a functioning internet. Reset after reset after reset then connection but the camera is not detected by the Arlo program. Reset after reset and back to the same thing. Beware that a burglar can unplug the camera and proceed to rob you. Or unplug the router and have his way. With the mediocre night vision, you just see a shapeless shadow reaching for the plug. Be prepared to spend several hours a month trying to get it working and then discover that you have been robbed anyway.

  4. 2.5
    poor customer service

    worse customer service ive ever dealt with…. bought a 3 camera system and right from the beginning one camera wont not work, called tech support said to give it a few days that the base needed a new update. well it never worked now after 5 calls to customer service still have not recieved new camera….about to send whole system back!

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  5. I just received the Arlo package. I had difficulty keeping the bay unit online with the internet. It was evidently defective, but when I called tech support, I was told that I need to call my ISP and request that http port be enabled. For some reason I could not see how the internet port was not enabled when I surf the internet routinely. Because support could not figure out what was wrong, they wanted to use the excuse that my internet port was not enabled. I guess they assumed that I did not know that port 80 is http port was definitely enabled. So, I would not expect much help from support if you need it. I felt the guy was a complete idiot.

  6. We purchased the Arlo system & have 4 cameras & the arlo q for inside by doorway. Purchase was 4/2017. I don’t find an issue w/ battery life as others have stated ours lasts at 2-3 months before needing a recharge. The one draw back in my opinion about this system, is that I think the shutter or camera coming on for motion is too slow. I think it takes 4-5 sec to click on to record movement & then recording time clicks off in like 3 sec. The record time should just be continuous when there is movement. It’s useless for identifying theft issues if it won’t continue filming. Also the delay is too long before coming on– so if car comes in fast down st for example won’t catch it. I hope they fix these issues & just allow for an update as I do not want to spend another $800+ for a newer system. But camera clarity is pretty good

    1. Hey Janet, I can empathize with your scenario. A few suggestions to test:
      1. Increase the sensitivity of the motion detector. This might allow the recording to engage faster. This is an option with in the app.
      2. Make sure the sound detection is on.
      3. Increase the recording time of the videos.
      4. Perhaps see if you can position the camera such that it sees the perpetrators sooner than later.

  7. Horrible cameras. Batteries only lasted a month and now they will not hold a charge. Do not record like they say they do. Arlo support will do nothing to resolve the issue. Big waste of $750!!

    1. Hey Anthony, did you use the include batteries? There are a few types. I was getting 3-4 months of use but it all depends on your settings and how busy of an area you’re recording. That said, I would have preferred to have rechargeables given their cost.

  8. Great cameras but hate hate hate that you have to keep replacing the batteries. Even when you change the settings. I even bought rechargeable batteries. I have to charge them every two days. Its such a hassle for the price I paid them. Clarity is awesome. Four cameras that rarely catch anything. Scares me to know that the cameras don’t get much footage.

    1. LaKeysha, agreed. I’ve discovered that the batteries that come with it are much better than the knockoffs or off brand ones. Rechargeables are always a slippery slope in terms of charge, but far more affordable. They have since released a new version as well as a hardline version. Haven’t tested the new ones so I can’t say if the new ones are more efficient.

  9. Nice unit, but it didn’t do as I’d hoped it would. I tried three different positions on the front of my house within the week I had it. I also adjusted the sensitivity several times. It would record cars coming up and down my street, but due to the delay, it didn’t record the Mail Truck delivering my mail ! GO FIGURE !!! I also was hoping to capture delivery men bringing packages to my doors, but it missed them too. This just didn’t do the trick for me…..,

    1. Agreed. It can be a bit slow to enable the recording. It’s the caveat of the tech, which is to record only when it detects motion. Perhaps the new models are faster and have better battery life.

  10. The green logo on the box caught my attention i thought green .cool environment frendly.wow what a great disguise arlo you non save the planet along with shoving us consumers. With this ridiculous over priced battires purchasing.double. dipping ha arlo? I do admit great video. But i refuse to continue spending my hard earned money on disposable batteries. i did a lil rechearch and spent another 100 plus one rechargeable tenergy batteries. Still having to change and charge these lil bastards too.system is set to record from 8p to 6a when most needed ..had i not mistaken the cute green bird or the sales person had some honesty or a tad bit of moral and advised me of this battery eatting system i sure would have purchased some green environmentally friendly even if it ment installing a wire system .with that said if any out there is considering a 4 camera system ..ill gladly sell you mine …..

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