Arlo Pro 2 impresses but at a price

More than three years ago, I tested the Arlo security camera. It had no wires as it was powered by batteries. This meant it could be used outside the house, as long as it was within range of the home Wi-Fi network.

That first Arlo camera and the ones that followed it were apparently successful enough that the brand, created by networking firm Netgear, was spun off last month to be an independent company.

Launched last year, the Arlo Pro 2 security camera retains the key features of the previous versions, such as being wire-free and weatherproof (IP65 certified against dust and rain). An indoor power adapter is included too.

The newer model improves the video resolution from 720p to 1,080p. In addition, it supports continuous video recording (CVR) with a paid monthly subscription of $13.99 a month a camera. You can also define an area in the Arlo Pro 2's field of view to monitor for activity, which was not possible withits predecessor.

The review set comes with two cameras and includes a base station that connects to the router via Ethernet cable. The base station has a siren that is more than 100 decibels loud and can be triggered automatically or manually.

Also found on the base station is a USB connection, which allows users to plug in a storage device and make a local copy of all the videos captured.

Short video snippets are recorded when motion is detected by the camera or when a user manually starts a recording.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: $899 (2-camera pack), $1,199 (3-camera pack), $1,399 (4-camera pack)

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

    VIDEO FORMAT: H.264

    FIELD OF VIEW: 130 degrees

    NIGHT VISION: Up to 7.62m

    MOTION DETECTION: Yes

    MOBILE APPS: iOS and Android

    WEIGHT: 136g

  • RATINGS

  • FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 4.5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4.5/5

Footage is automatically uploaded to the cloud - this motion-triggered video service is free for up to five cameras and the videos are stored for up to a week. Storage in the cloud is capped at 1GB.

You can upgrade this service by paying a monthly subscription conveniently through the Arlo mobile app.

Since Arlo mostly sells its cameras bundled with the base station, I was surprised that the cameras are not pre-paired with the base station out of the box.

I encountered a problem with adding a camera to the base station using the Arlo app. This syncing issue was resolved only when I changed the router.

Video quality is top-notch and its 8x digital zoom lets you focus closely on your point of interest. The cameras have night vision using infrared LEDs, as well as two-way audio through its microphone and speaker.

Besides manually enabling the cameras' motion-detection feature (arming the camera so to speak) using the app, you can also set a schedule for when the camera is active. Geofencing is also supported, so you can have the camera become active when you (and your smartphone) leave your home. Notifications are sent to your smartphone - or you could have them sent via e-mail.

All these features make Arlo cameras one of the best in the market. But the firm is not done yet - it recently introduced Arlo Smart, an add-on service which introduces more advanced features - powered by artificial intelligence - for an additional monthly fee (from $3.99 a camera a month).

Arlo Smart can distinguish humans, animals and vehicles from other motion triggers, like a ceiling fan, so you only receive real-time alerts for important happenings like a family member returning home.

Another useful Arlo Smart feature is package detection. Users will be alerted if an Arlo camera, located at the porch or doorway, spots what it thinks is a parcel. To improve this feature, which is in beta testing, Arlo is asking users to contribute videos showing parcels at the doorstep through the app.

With a polished app user interface, useful and comprehensive features and excellent performance, the Arlo Pro 2 is impressive. But it does not come cheap, with a basic two-camera pack priced at $899. A single add-on camera costs $399.

Also, Arlo offers three different types of monthly fees - CVR, motion-triggered cloud-based video recordings and the Arlo Smart add-on service. The fees for these services add up too.

• Verdict: A security camera that does it all, but at a price.

Vincent Chang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2019, with the headline 'Arlo Pro 2 impresses but at a price'. Print Edition | Subscribe