Arlo Pro takes it up a notch. A big one.

by Volker Weber

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Arlo is one of those products I continue to recommended. It's a product I don't just review and put aside, I use it every single day. Just today I installed a three camera setup at a friend's house and her 90 y/o father decided to order another set on the spot. That's right, 90. But he doesn't look it and he is still very agile, both physically as well as mentally. I digress.

When I returned home, UPS showed up and brought a new Arlo Pro. That's the one on the right. It also came with a new base station.

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If you already have an Arlo system, you can just buy a camera and add it to your old base station. Arlo and Arlo Pro mix on either the new or the old base station.

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While both the old and the new base station have the same ports, the new one adds two features: it has an extremely loud (110 dB) and annoying siren and it lets you record video to local storage. If you plug storage into the old station's USB port, it gets completely ignored, while the new one offers the new storage option, in addition to the cloud storage. Why do Arlo cameras need a base station? They run on battery power and need to be isolated from the regular Wifi traffic.

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Battery power hasn't been a problem with the Arlo cameras so far. I need a new set of 4x CR123 about once every six month. CR123 are an odd size and you can't get them in a super market. When you buy ten at a time from Amazon, you pay roughly seven Euros for the set of four. The new Arlo Pro has a rechargeable battery. When it is running low, you will have to fetch the camera, connect it via MicroUSB to the included charger and then replace it to the original location. You can also buy additional packs and an external charger. I will see what causes more trouble over time.

One observation: the hole in front of the MicroUSB port is tiny. You will need to use the cable that Netgear supplies. If you don't need the camera to be waterproof, you can also keep it plugged in and don't need to worry about the battery.

Arlo Pro has a new motion sensor that works over longer distance and the camera starts up four times faster so it's more difficult to slip by before the camera starts recording. The lens also went from 110 to 130 degrees viewing angle. It now has a microphone and speaker so you can talk to the delivery man at the front door via your Arlo app.

All important question: do you need to replace your existing Arlo cameras with the Plus cameras? That is a definite no. I still recommend the original system, and it's also considerably cheaper. Only if you want to make use of the advanced features or if you are burning through too many batteries, upgrading to Pro would make sense.

I am going to use the new camera more aggressively than the old one to see how the battery holds up. This isn't going back. I will keep you posted.

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Comments

Volker,
just for the files, and especially to me: what is your use case for the Arlo?

Thanks

Torsten

Torsten Bloth, 2017-03-15 22:00

Arlo is a security camera system that is completely wire-free. I use it to record people that come on my property when I am away or asleep. I am very much aware of what is going on around the house and at what times.

But that is pretty obvious, so maybe I did not understand the question.

Volker Weber, 2017-03-15 22:17

In fact, the question wasn't well formulated.
Is it used within the property, meaning inside (and behind glas) or even outside?
Inside can be realized more easily as outside means you need to mount it properly and provide power to it (which isn't that much of an issue with Arlo, obviously).

Torsten Bloth, 2017-03-15 22:36

Outside. It's weather proof you don't need to provide power. That means you can place those cameras in less obvious places. It's difficult to use Arlo indoors because you would trip it yourself (or your dog) all the time. For indoor use I recommend Logi Circle. That wasn't designed as a security camera but later acquired some of the required features.

Volker Weber, 2017-03-15 22:48

Volker, another question, which might be difficult to answer this early. If the Arlo Pros record to the local storage, is there any way to access those recordings without removing the USB storage from the Arlo base station? Maybe the base station provides an easy way to access its attached storage device or something similar? And another one: Is there any way to access a snapshot only instead of a video? I would like to get a snapshot of the front door area immediately after someone enters this area. I would not like to wait until the sensed movement is over and the recording has stopped and uploaded. Is that possible?

Thanks
Henning

Henning Störk, 2017-03-16 09:58

Henning, the base station does not provide any network access to the local file storage. There is no snapshot facility. You do receive a push message and can jump into the app for a live view of the camera though.

Volker Weber, 2017-03-16 10:03

If you don't go into live view, the app also shows you a still image of the last event.

Volker Weber, 2017-03-16 10:04

Thanks for the answer, Volker!

Henning Störk, 2017-03-16 10:04

Still image of the last event seems good enough for my use case.

To access the recordings would be a nice feature. It could be implemented easily by Netgear for the local storage, I guess. An API to access the own recordings from the cloud would be even better, but I guess that's not even in sight for the far future. Even access to the recordings via the already existing IFTTT integration seems possible and would be enough for my needs.

Once again a product, which might find it's way into my home after being reviewed by Vowe.net. :)

Henning Störk, 2017-03-16 10:12

The thing is that Arlo does not try to be as open as possible. These recordings need to be protected well. So for now, it is keeping them in a safe place. It's very easy for you to download the video you are viewing right in the app. It goes to your camera roll.

Volker Weber, 2017-03-16 10:18

Just as was thinking about buying the arlo pro you start to review them. Great coincidence. :-)
My use case is a bit different: We have a rental home in Florida and we want to monitor the surroundings. I have read a lot of post in forums about the battery life of the standard arlos and they vary a lot. With 6 month you seem to be on the upper level regarding battery life of the cameras. As I cannot exchange the batteries as they run out of power I was taking a closer look at the arlo pro, which should
a. run longer and
b. are supposed to have an optional solar powered energy source that would charge the camera during the day.
Sunshine isnt a problem in Florida but Netgear announced the solar panel for "early 2017" and has not delivered so far. Did you hear anything about this option?
Second thing I am worried about is that the camera might be stolen easily if you mount them on the magnetic holders (Which in other use cases is a great way to install them.). But I am not sure if the non magnetic holders give you more security from theft. Have you tried both?
Thanks a lot in advance.

Torsten Armbruster, 2017-03-16 10:52

My experience with battery life on two Arlo "basic" cameras, bought in 2016:
1st battery set: about 5-6 months.
2nd set: nearly down after 4-5 weeks!
Exactly same camera positions / same use.
My guess: as the batteries CR123 seem to be rather rare (my 2nd had to ordered at the shop) you might get batteries which were on stock somewhere else for months, or years ... Maybe I will reclaim my 2nd set. And maybe Amazon ships fresh batteries ... ?
Anyway: this Arlo stuff works very well. Another "Thank you Volker".

Stephan Perthes, 2017-03-16 11:12

Volker, you are right with the assumption that it's better to have a closed but secure system than an open but insecure one for this kind of data. At the moment, we use wired (PoE) IP cameras which record to a Synology Surveillance Station. And then I do stuff with those recordings (send snapshots or short clips to "our" Telegram channel for example).

If the Arlo iOS app is good enough, this might all be unnecessary.

Henning Störk, 2017-03-16 11:27

Torsten, battery life depends on how often the camera is "on". That is why the default is 10 seconds and the longest is 120. If you want to know what is going on around the house, a wired solution is probably better.

Arlo cameras are not protected at all against theft. You can use the screw mount you see in the photo above but that is also easily defeated. So far I haven't lost one.

Stephan, yes, if those batteries died in two weeks they were indeed old.

Henning, if you have something that works, stick with it.

Volker Weber, 2017-03-16 11:43

Volker, is it possible to use the cameras without their cloud service? As in: save the footage to my own storage? It would not bother me, if I loose features like push service and so on..?

If not, does anybody recomend a system or camera that is not cloud enabled but operates on battery?

Christian Gut, 2017-03-16 12:04

No, wrong product for you.

Volker Weber, 2017-03-16 12:09

Thank you for the information. Did you hear anything about the solar panel option? Thanks!

Torsten Armbruster, 2017-03-16 12:48

No, just heard it from you. With Arlo Pro you have a connector so this might be an opportunity.

Volker Weber, 2017-03-16 13:05

I have two of the original cameras and they work great. I can confirm ~5-6 mos battery life too. The start up delay is noticeable though and misses events at times so I may try one of these new ones. Thanks for the info Vowe.

Ken Bisconti, 2017-03-16 19:24

Thanks Volker for always showing us what is out there. Unfortunately for me it didn't work well.

I purchased three of them with the base station and regret the purchase.

One of them looks out to the main gate of my house. A car passes about every other minute and Arlo records. It is not possible to have motion sensors only on a specific area. It is for the entire pic. With that much motion the battery lasts maximum 10 days.

Other issue on the second cam. The camera records after it detects motion. Somtimes there is a big enough lag that you don't actually see what happened. You see afterwards that someone entered the house because he is leaving again but Arlo failed to record when that person entered.

Previously and I will set it up again I had some dome cameras connected to my Synology. The Movement detection works great because it passes all images through the server, if the server detects movement he can add 10 seconds "before" the movment and then save the video. The downside is that you need cables and it is more configuration work.

Andre Hausberger, 2017-03-16 20:51

Yes, your setup isn't quite right for Arlo. Two problems:

Motion detection works by comparing I/R images. If you walk towards the camera or away from it, it is very difficult to detect the motion. This is why you always place the camera so that people walk through the picture. Arlo has no problem detecting those.

You should always point Arlo to a solid background. Cars in the background will trigger the sensor.

There is a great video explaining where to put the cameras: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-7mkPxQ8EQ

Volker Weber, 2017-03-16 21:00

@Andre, as I wrote, I'm currently thinking about moving from IP cams and a Synology NAS to the Arlo. I trigger the Synology cams via motion sensors of my Homematic installation, which was more configuration work than I wanted, but works. What makes me want to switch: All in all, it's just too much configuration and programming for basic use cases and each new camera needs a new hole in the house just for the cable. My NAS is reaching its capacity and processing limits as well.

About your second problem: Did you buy the "Arlo Pro" or the "Arlo"? Because the "Pro" should trigger recordings faster, if I got that right.

@Volker, sorry to bother you again, but there is one more question, which you might be able to answer. If the Arlo recording is triggered via the IFTTT action, will it notify the iOS app as if the recording was triggered by the integrated motion sensors?

If I make the switch, I will most probably remember your "if you have something that works, stick with it" at some point. :)

Henning Störk, 2017-03-16 22:52

Henning, I would think it doesn't. Never used IFTTT with Arlo.

Volker Weber, 2017-03-16 23:05

Thanks again.

Henning Störk, 2017-03-16 23:07

Start up delay was better (less) when I turned sensitivity up to max. Love my arlos and batteries are not a concern. I used the ones supplied and will replace with same. Four months and most are 80 to 90 percent yet. Also ordered backup batteries amazon 12 pack Panasonic (same as ones provided at purchase)23.98. Deal!

Linda Komejan, 2017-03-16 23:25

Start up time from "motion detected" to "camera rolling" is of course the same. When you crank up sensitivity, it just detects earlier. :-)

If you have no false alarms there is no penalty in maxing out sensitivity.

Volker Weber, 2017-03-17 08:12

As you are livining in Germany there are serveral rules to consider:

- protect recordings against unauthorized access
This is the promise of Netgear, but who will be the one to blame if Netgears Service get hacked? Any promise about that by Netgear?

- do not store recordings longer than needed to fulfill their purpose
This is estimated as 2 business days. Can this be achieved? Are you able to mark recordings to be kept longer?

No question: cameras are quite a good solution in order to keep an eye on your belongings.

Dirk Stelloh, 2017-03-17 10:37

Well, we have taken recordings of suspects rummaging around bicycles and other stuff to the police, and there hasn't been a single question about the issues you raise.

Are you sure these apply to private persons and recordings on their own property? May I keep my iPhone videos longer?

Volker Weber, 2017-03-17 10:42

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