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Nifty home security camera stands up to competition

Arlo Q's camera does not pan or tilt, but this is made up for by its relatively wide 130-degree field of view.
Arlo Q's camera does not pan or tilt, but this is made up for by its relatively wide 130-degree field of view.PHOTO: NETGEAR

Arlo Q's video quality excellent despite latency; mobile app makes setting up easy

The Netgear Arlo Q is a home security camera that is easy to use, has features that compare well with its rivals and shines with a mobile app that makes setting up a breeze.

Unlike Netgear's previous Arlo Wire-Free camera, which is battery-powered and built for the outdoors, the Arlo Q is your typical home security camera that needs to be plugged into the wall outlet.

Its features - 1,080p video recording, night vision, motion and audio detection, and cloud storage - match the top home security cameras in the market.

Netgear offers free 1GB cloud storage for videos taken by up to five connected Arlo cameras. This basic plan can be upgraded to one that continuously records video for 14 or 30 days, although this option will not be ready at its launch.

The camera does not pan or tilt, but this is compensated for by its relatively wide 130-degree field of view.

The Arlo mobile app (iOS and Android) guides you through the setup, which should take around five to 10 minutes.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $339

  • VIDEO RESOLUTION: Up to 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

  • VIDEO FORMAT: H.264

  • FIELD OF VIEW: 130 degrees

  • NIGHT VISION: Yes

  • MOTION DETECTION: Yes

  • MOBILE APPS: iOS and Android

  • WEIGHT: 168g

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 4/5

  • DESIGN: 4/5

  • PERFORMANCE: 4/5

  • VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5

  • OVERALL: 4/5

To connect the camera to your home router, the app generates a QR code on your mobile device for the Arlo Q camera to scan.

This seems like a neat trick compared with a physical QR code printout that can be easily misplaced.

Clicking on the live view in the app streams real-time video from the Arlo Q camera.

There is a latency of around three to five seconds, even when my mobile device is on Wi-Fi, but the video quality, especially at 720p and above, is excellent.

The app's mode option lets you manage the behaviour of the camera. In the default armed mode, the Arlo Q will take a short video and send you both a push notification and an e-mail alert if it detects motion or audio.

I recommend changing this option immediately to the disarmed mode to avoid being inundated by messages from the camera in the midst of configuring it.

You can also schedule the days and times when these modes are active, or create your own custom modes using a basic If This Then That (IFTTT) template.

You can limit the camera to detect motion within a specific area in the camera's field of view, which is useful.

The sensitivity of the audio detection can also be tweaked.

Pressing the microphone button in the app lets you speak to others via the camera's built-in speaker.

However, it is difficult to hold a conversation because of the latency. The audio can sound muffled at times.

Netgear offers free 1GB cloud storage for videos taken by up to five connected Arlo cameras.

This basic plan can be upgraded to one that continuously records video for 14 or 30 days, although this option will not be ready at its launch.

Videos expire after seven days, though you can download or share them on Facebook or e-mail via the app before this happens.

However, there is no option to bypass Netgear's cloud servers and upload the videos directly to other cloud storage providers, such as Google Drive or Dropbox.

• The Arlo provides a polished user experience, but it comes at a price.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2016, with the headline 'Nifty home security camera stands up to competition'. Print Edition | Subscribe