Security cameras have been around for a long time, but there has been a shift from traditional DVR/NVR recording units to storing video content directly in the cloud. Netgear's Arlo Pro is a unique design that it offers users a truly wireless alternative when installing these cameras. This means that the cameras run from batteries and link wirelessly to the main base station. Early generations of the Arlo design relied on batteries that were not rechargeable, and customer soon realized that this was a significant cost to the operation of the cameras. The latest Arlo Pro design now uses rechargeable (2440mAH) lithium-ion batteries. Netgear sent us the Arlo Pro (VMS4230), which includes 2 cameras and the base station.
Setup and Configuration
The Arlo Pro is simple to setup and can be used right out of the box. To be honest, I never had to read the instructions on how to configure this product. It was that easy. I simply charged both of the cameras for a few hours and connected the base station to my network switch. I then ran the app from my phone and it walked me through the setup process by first identifying the base station. Once the base station was identified, each camera was added by simply pressing the buttons on both the base unit and the camera being linked. Once configured, the cameras showed up as a connected device. Three indicators on the front of the base station show the power, network link, and camera link status of the device. The Arlo Pro Base Station features a built-in siren (over 100dB) that can be activated with motion or manually. An external hard drive can also be connected via USB on the back of the base station to store video content (in addition to the cloud).
Arlo Pro offers a weatherproof design with a 130° viewing angle. Users can listen and talk through the built-in speaker and mic using a smartphone. This amazingly portable design operates as a truly wireless camera, allowing it to be placed in locations otherwise difficult for traditional wired cameras. Users also have the option of wiring it for power if recharging is undesirable. The magnetic mount makes it easy to remove for battery replacement and to make optimal video angle adjustments. The cameras are surprisingly compact, measuring approximately 2.75 x 2.0 x 3.25 (H x W x D). The camera features high definition video, but is limited to 1280x720 resolution. While this is the lower side of HD video, the resolution still looks good and even has night vision capability up to 25 feet using the built-in IR illuminators for areas that lack adequate lighting.
Each Arlo Pro camera can be accessed from the website or the app (iPhone or Android) and provides the user with the ability to control all of the settings as well as access the current status of the camera. Battery life is normally very good, but largely depends on the amount of motion detected and how often the user accesses the camera from the app. I installed the camera to monitor my recent HVAC installation, and for about seven hours there was lots of activity in front of the camera. The battery level noticeably decreased during the day due to this activity. However, under normal circumstances, the camera battery holds very well and should last for up to 3 or so months. In another test, I placed the camera where there was very little activity and the power level stayed the same for several days. Again, battery life will depend on the amount of activity it sees as well as how often the night vision activates. Of course, if you decide to wire power to the camera it doesn't matter. Users can be notified when motion occurs in front of the camera allowing for a two-way conversation with the subject.
Netgear offers several accessories for the Arlo cameras including the Arlo Pro UV and water-resistant skins (set of 3) with built-in shade for sun glare protection. They are ideal for both outdoor and indoor use. The black, lightweight, and durable silicon material conveniently slip-on or slip-off and make it simple to disguise or add more personality to your cameras.
Rather than charging your camera every time the batteries run low, Arlo Charging Station can precharge a set of batteries, making it easy and convenient to do a quick swap with the batteries and keeps your cameras up and running. The Arlo Charging Station includes fast charging technology, so you can get your batteries charged back up in a short amount of time.
|Arlo Pro Skins (VMA4200B)
||Arlo Charging Station (VMA4400C)
The Arlo Pro camera system provides excellent performance and is a very easy system to setup and configure. Its performance was flawless during our review and the features were unique in showing that true portability is possible. I could literally mount the camera in a tree without any connected wires and it would work just fine. The downside is the batteries will eventually run down and will require recharging. Regardless of whether you decide to go completely wireless or not, the Arlo Pro provides that option to the user. Users can also add additional cameras if needed. Factor in the excellent performance of the Arlo Pro, and you have a great system.
- Kevin Nakano