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Arlo Pro 2: Netgear's wireless 1080p security camera system

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I've been meaning to put up security cameras for awhile but the thought of crawling around my attic pulling cables and trying to get everything talking to each other, in addition to the high cost of the hardware, was an easy excuse for me to just keep procrastinating.

About a year ago my wife was raving about a coworker's Ring Doorbell camera and wanted to know why we didn't have one, which is totally out of character for my wife, who tends to lean far-luddite.  So I bought a kit from Amazon that included the main doorbell camera that is powered off the existing wiring, a siren/speaker thingy, and a second camera that could be mounted elsewhere around the house and runs off an internal battery.  I spent a whole day trying to get it to connect to either of my two WiFi networks and failed spectacularly, even with a WiFi base station 6 feet from the front door.  Back it went to Amazon, and it took a few weeks before they refunded my $700, the longest it's taken in my experience.

I'm not sure where I first heard about the Arlo cameras, but a sale email caught my eye and, after perusing some YouTube reviews, I decided to take the plunge.  The kit was $900-ish and comes with 5 cameras, 8 mounts, a base station, and some silicone skins that can be used to camouflage the white camera housing.  Amazon lists single Arlo Pro 2 cameras at $206, so it seemed like a pretty good deal and you can't beat Costco when it comes to returns.

Setup was much, much, easier than I was expecting after the Ring fiasco.  After plugging the base station into power and ethernet, I popped the lithium ion batteries into each camera and paired them with a couple button pushes.  Since the Arlo base station runs Netgear's own proprietary WiFi there was no hassling with trying to connect to my existing WiFi and entering passwords.  The other benefit is that the base station acts a wireless router allows the cameras to over their own network, separate from the networks and WiFi my computers and phones live on, which theoretically makes it more difficult for someone to hack into my computers and network attached storage via my cameras.  Hopefully, anyways.

After pairing, the cameras and the base station are controlled through software running on a web browser or phone app.  Once I set up an online Arlo account, which is required to use the camera system, record video, and send alerts, it was a simple process to download the Arlo apps to my iphone and ipad.  Mounting the cameras is pretty easy with the three options designed into the camera bodies.  The easiest is to use the flat rubberized bottom to just set the camera on a table or shelf and point it in the right direction.  The next option is to mount a disc with a protruding hemisphere to the wall that then magnetically holds the camera in place via a matching concavity in the back of the camera.  This allows easy adjustment through a range of directions while still being easy to remove the camera for battery changes.  The downside is that these mounts are not rated for outdoor use.  That brings us to the last and most secure mounting option, which is via a traditional threaded camera mount on the back of the camera and these are rated for mounting the cameras outdoors.

Since I put four of the cameras up a couple days ago (two cameras have been mounted under the eaves at the front and back doors, one has been sitting unsheltered on the back patio table, and the other is mounted in the garage) the cameras outside having been working fine despite two days of rainy weather.  The camera at the back door is at the limits of the range of communication for this system, positioned about 75 feet and an outside wall away from the base station, but is still able to reliably connecting and transmitting video more than 90% of the time. 

The default mode for these cameras is to sit in standby mode until motion is detected, when it then starts recording video and transmitting it to the base station for upload to Netgear and then out to your connected phone app or web browser.  The power consumption appears to be quite frugal when used this way, as all four cameras that are connected still show a full battery after 4 days of use, the same as the one that's been offline.  I believe that the wireless system connecting the base station and the cameras has been optimized for low battery consumption, which is a huge plus.  Although I haven't tried it yet, the cameras can be plugged into an external USB power source and then will run continuously, which gives it more options in terms of video collection and more specific motion detection.  The basic online subscription service is free and includes a few days of video storage for up to 5 cameras.  There are several paid subscription levels above that for more online storage space.  The system also defaults to notifying the user via email and/or push notification to the Arlo app every time a camera detects motion and starts recording.  This can get annoying when someone else is home while you're away and you get 38 emails recording their movements, but the software gives you the ability to not alert you during certain times of day, or you can just turn the camera off.  There's also the ability for audio communication between the cameras and a remote user, but I haven't played with that feature much.

Anyway, overall I'm much more impressed with this system than I was expecting.  It's easy to set up and provides more flexibility than most, plus I think it's less susceptible to the usual internet-of-things security problems.  It has good video quality and the motion detection and night vision are more than adequate for the task.  Time will tell what the longevity is with the outdoor cameras, and how long the cameras go between battery charges.  I'm going to experiment with some external USB power packs and solar options to see how much longer I can go between charges, as well as plugging the inside cameras into the included USB wall wart.  I may also get a second base station to extend the range a bit on the other side of the house, too.

Mr. Bill:
Good info -- thanks.  I've been pondering setting up some cameras.

I should’ve mentioned that you don’t have to buy that many cameras to get started.  Amazon is selling a kit with the base station and one Arlo Pro (not the Pro 2) camera for $212. You can add additional cameras as needed, even the better Pro 2.

The wife and I were just talking about getting a video system this week while traveling. Will need to explore this option. I like that it has it's own router.

Wow, it’s a miracle.  My wife got back from Boston today and was so impressed with the cameras she even put the Arlo app on her phone.  That’s never happened before.  Ever.  It’s always been kicking and screaming with new tech from her.


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