Nowadays, setting up an IP (Internet Protocol) camera at home to monitor pets, elderly people or young children is a breeze.
With Netgear's new Arlo Security System, it gets even easier. It all starts with the Arlo app (iOS and Android). Download it to your mobile device and choose the New System Setup option.
The app will walk you through the process of syncing your Arlo cameras (my starter kit has two) with the base station and configuring the settings.
Video resolution: Up to 1,280 x 720 pixel
Video format: H.264
Field of view: 110 degrees
Night vision: Yes (up to 8m)
Motion detection: Yes
Value for money 3/5
What makes the Arlo different from other home IP cameras is that it has no wires. It is powered by four CR123 lithium batteries (commonly used in cameras). Netgear estimates battery life at between four and six months.
This wire-free feature lets Netgear build a small and lightweight camera (230g with batteries) that attaches magnetically to a camera mount. You can simply hang the mount on the wall using a nail or hook.
The camera captures high-definition videos (1,280 x 720 pixels) in full colour and can shoot in the dark using infrared LEDs. You can configure it to start recording when its built-in motion sensor detects movement. It does not capture audio and it lacks a microphone. Unlike with larger IP cameras, it has no motor to tilt or pan the camera. While the cameras do not look rugged, Netgear says they can be used outdoors. The base station has a range of 300 ft (about 90m) and, as with all wireless devices, the signal strength may deteriorate if there are obstacles in the way.
You can view live footage from the camera or browse recorded videos from its library (sorted by date). In my tests, the live video is usually a few seconds behind. Quality is decent.
The app can send notifications or e-mail alerts when the camera detects motion. You can also create a schedule to enable or disable the motion-detection feature.
Recorded videos are automatically uploaded to Netgear's servers in the cloud. The free basic plan provides up to 1GB of cloud storage and supports up to five cameras (each camera costs $229).
By default, Netgear will delete the videos after seven days. You can save the videos to your mobile device or PC, but only one video at a time. The alternative is to pony up US$99 (S$133) a year to save data from as many as 10 cameras and 10GB of storage; or US$149 (S$200) a year for data from as many as 15 cameras and 100GB of storage.
They can be placed almost anywhere in the house and are easy to set up.