Price (RRP): $799 (for two camera system)
Netgear’s Arlo Pro Smart Security System is an out of the box, do it yourself, true wireless home security system. “True” wireless? Indeed. Not only do the cameras communicate wirelessly, they run on rechargeable batteries.
The essence of the system is a base station connected to your network (by cable), and one more more cameras connected wirelessly to the base station. The cameras record automatically when motion is detected, or can be triggered to record or take photographs remotely. They don’t record to memory card. They record to the cloud. (Which is to say, remote storage maintained by Netgear.)
You can also monitor remotely. You can hear what the cameras hear. You can talk through the speaker in the cameras. And you can remotely have the base station scream out a nasty, ear-piercing siren if you wish.
The prices depend on how many cameras you want. The basic kit comes with the base station and a single camera ($499). The review unit with two cameras is $799. Then there are three and four camera versions ($1099 and $1399). You can add single cameras ($349 each) to an existing system.
The basic cloud service is free. This supports the use of up to five cameras, one gigabyte of storage and seven days retention of recordings. You can upgrade the Premier level (30 days, ten gigabytes, ten cameras) for a $129 per year subscription, or to Elite (60 days, 100GB, 14 cameras) for $189 annually.
As you can see from the pictures herewith, the cameras are neat little things, not at all intimidating in appearance. Mounting them is very easy because each has a hemispherical depression in the back with a strong magnet around it. With each camera is supplied a 55mm wide plate with a matching half-sphere on it. The plate is easily mountable to a wall, and the camera then just snaps on, held in place magnetically. They can be pointed in just about any direction from that mount.
There are limits to battery life, of course. Each camera has a Micro-B USB port on the back under a rubber cover which keeps out the water. You can power each continuously using a standard USB adaptor – one is provided along with a two metre USB cable. There are also two USB connectors on the base station, so one of those could be used if a camera is nearby.
The camera resolution is 1280 by 720 pixels and they work in colour, but they also have infrared LEDs so they can work in the dark – and the presented picture then is of course in black and white. The IR is rated to work at up to eight metres. The camera have a field of view of 130 degrees and have a fixed focus which covers from 60cm to infinity.
As far as I could work out, even though WiFi conventions are used (2.4GHz, 802.11n), the wireless connection between the cameras and the bases station does not use the home network. Apart from anything else, there is no logging on. Instead they talk only to the base station. The range is specified as “300+ feet line of sight”. There is no provision for making a wired connection to the cameras.
Each camera only weighs 136 grams, and is 80mm long. They are rated to work from a temperature of -20 to 45 degrees Celsius.
There is a very wide range of accessories, including skins and hoods for the camera, a solar panel for charging, spare batteries and a charging station.
Setting up was straight forward and hassle free. The base station must be plugged in to the router. It only takes a couple of minutes to fire up properly. The cameras are not pre-paired – “synced” is the terminology the system uses. You have to do that yourself, one by one. But that also is easy. Press a button on the base station for a couple of seconds, then a button on one of the cameras. When that’s completed, after a minute or so, do the next one.
The cameras come out of the box pre-charged, so you can do that first thing before putting them into place.