The you install the Arlo app. I used the Android version, although I gather the iOS version is the same. Once started, the app connects to the base station and tells you its status. Which, as it turned out, was that both it and the two cameras needed firmware updates. Applying those was just a matter of tapping relevant button in the app and waiting. The various devices had complicated names with letters and numbers, but you can rename them through the app to something easily understandable.
The first thing I simply had to do – I couldn’t resist the urge – was to give the siren a go. Even though there was a warning and a claim of 100dB of loudness. They weren’t kidding It is a nasty piece of work, which is precisely what it ought to be. I was stabbing the button to switch it off instantly. Any intruders near to the base station are going to get a well-deserved start, and it’s loud enough so that if it goes off inside a house, anyone nearby will hear it well enough to know that an alarm has been tripped.
The range is also going to depend on your local conditions. For what it’s worth, I put the base station on the desk in my office in a standalone building at the back of my home – it has foil insulation, which reduces the range of radio signals – and the camera still worked when at the front of the house, some twenty metres away, with almost all the house in the signal path. A few metres in front of the house, it would no longer work.
It seems likely that no matter where you are – even if, as I am right now – sitting thirty centimetres away from the base station, when you access a camera feed using the app, you’re getting it from the cloud. That is, the video feed is digitised, sent to the cloud, and then sent back to you. That makes for a quite a delay. I typically measured values in the 15 to 20 second range. You’re not going to see what’s happening at home quite in real time.
The automatically triggered video recordings were ten seconds in length.
None of the video was in super high quality. The automatic and manually triggered video recordings used a screen resolution of 640 by 352 pixels. You can adjust the balance between “battery life” and video quality – the default setting, and the one I used, was about half way between the extremes. While it no doubt impacts on battery life, higher resolution is also difficult for reasons of communications speed. My home upload speed tops out at under 0.8Mbps on a good day. That’s not really suitable for high resolution video feeds.
Even though you can hear the noises from the cameras when they’re selected to feed video, and even though you can talk back through the camera, it’s no good for two way conversations. Too much lag on the camera-to-you end of communications, along with a much shorter lag the other way.
I put one of the cameras in my equipment cupboard to see how it went in total darkness. It went perfectly well, its LEDs thoroughly illuminating the cupboard with invisible IR so that it was able to capture a usable image.
Snapped photos were all 1280 by 720 pixels.
Battery life? Netgear doesn’t give a specification, correctly pointing out that it all depends on a host of factors, including how often video recording is triggered, how far away the cameras are from the base station and so on. For what it’s worth, both cameras are sitting on 97% charge according to the app, and that’s after about seven hours of use. Power management seems to be very effective. Remember, video isn’t feeding the whole time, just when you tell the app to connect, or when the motion sensor triggers it.
Despite this, in permanent installations you are going to want to provide permanent power.
Is the battery functionality a waste then? No. You might want to place the cameras temporarily for some event. Also, it’s great when you want to work out where to put the camera. There’s even a low latency camera position setup section of the app which shows you what the camera is seeing with a significantly reduced delay so that you can try different angles and positions relatively easily.
The Netgear Arlo Pro Wireless Security Camera System is a clever, neat and easy to set up solution to one’s home security needs. And the good thing is, you can monitor remotely from anywhere in the world, so long as you have an Internet connection.