Netgear Arlo Smart Home Security Camera Kit Review

Jump To:

Netgear Arlo Home Security Camera System Review

Having an indoor/outdoor high-definition home security system was once something reserved for rich people that had more money than they knew what to do with. In recent years the price on home security cameras and systems has greatly dropped and the average Joe can now afford and get the peace of mind that a security system brings. Even though you can afford to purchase a home security system do you really want to get up on a ladder and run all the data and power lines across your house? That has been one of the major road blocks for home security systems as they’ve been a pain in the butt to install and people have been avoiding them altogether.

Netgear Arlo Security Camera

Netgear hopes to change all that with a new entirely wireless self-monitored home security system called Arlo (product website). The full name of the solution is the Arlo Smart Home Security Camera and it is the first fully wireless HD security camera solution. The indoor/outdoor cameras can be used during the day and at night with nightvision to record 1280×720 (720p HD) video content in the H.264 format. The HD camera is waterproof so it can stand up to four seasons of outdoor use, can detect motion up to 15 feet away and features a fairly wide 130-degree field of view. The wireless base station that comes with the kit uses 802.11n 2.4GHz wireless and has a range of 150 feet, so most homes in metropolitan areas can be fully covered. This means you just mount the cameras where you want them and after some wireless setup you are done minus the fact you’ll have to change the batteries about every 4-6 months.

How much will all this cost you? The Netgear Arlo Smart Home Security kit comes with two cameras and everything to get them up and running for $349.99. If you wanted a Netger Arlo home security kit with just one camera that is also offered for $199.99. Additional cameras can be added onto the kit and run $159.99 each.  Not necessarily an impulse buy, but for a fully wireless kit the price is not that bad.

ARLO Plans

On top of the kit and camera costs there are also some subscription plans that you have the option of buying into. All of the Netgear Arlo kits come with a free Basic subscription plan that includes 7 days of cloud recordings and 1 GB of cloud storage. When a video reaches its 7-day expiration date, it is automatically deleted. Once you hit the 1 GB storage limit, no more videos are stored in your account until you manually delete older videos. There is no way to locally store your recorded video, so you have to rely on Netgear to store additional information. If you need to increase your cloud account limits you may do so by paying for optional premium plans. These plans also removes the 5 camera limit on Arlo as well as enables new features like scheduler and camera sharing for friends and family. You can move up to the Premier plan for $9.99 a month (or a one time fee of $99 per year) that offers 30 days of cloud recordings and 10 GB of cloud storage. If you still need more storage you can move to the Elite Plan at $14.99 per month ($149.99 per year if paying in advance) which includes 60 days of cloud recordings and 100 GB of cloud storage. The Elite plan allows customers to connect up to 15 camera and three base stations, which is odd. The base plan gives you five cameras for a single base station and the Elite Plan gives you the ability to run three base stations with five cameras each under each base station. We would have expected to have the ability to run more per base station as you could with the lesser plan. When you initially set up your Arlo account you get 30-day access to these premium features in an attempt to get you hooked on the service features so you’ll want to subscribe. We highly suggest trying out some of the premium features the first month to really find out if you want to pay for them or not.

While we are on the topic of money we should probably let you know that each Arlo Camera (VMC3030) uses four Lithium CR123 3-Volt Photo batteries and they should last 4-6 months in a typical usage scenario. We looked around locally and they only store in our immediate area that carries this battery is Walmart and they run about $5 each. In a worst case scenario where the batteries die every four months that means you are spending $120 a year in batteries to keep the Netgear Arlo Smart Home Security kit up and running. The good news is that you can buy CR123 batteries online at major online retailers like Amazon for about half that price. Netgear also let us know that the Arlo cameras do support rechargeable versions of the CR123 batteries, which can be purchased from a number of retailers.

So, if you buy the Arlo Smart Home Security Camera Kit with two cameras for $349.99, along with the premier plan ($99 per year) and batteries three times a year ($120) you are looking at upwards of $569 for the initial year and then just over $200 a year thereafter. Going wireless with cloud storage capabilities is nice, but you need to factor in the batteries and additional storage space and features unlocked by the premium plans if that is something you need.

Netgear Arlo Security Camera

Now that we’ve covered what the Netgear Arlo is and how much everything costs we can take a closer look at the Arlo Smart Home Security Camera Kit that we’ll be going over with you today. This is the dual camera kit that retails under part number VMS3230 for $349.99 shipped.

 

Netgear Arlo Bundle

The Arlo Smart Home Security Camera Kit (VMS3230) includes:

  • Two HD outdoor cameras equipped with motion sensors and night vision capability
  • Smart home base station that can also “talk” to other connected devices (includes AC to DC power adapter & LAN cable)
  • Four magnetic dome mounts with mounting screws – two for securing each camera wherever you need it, and two extra mounts to make moving the camera around the home super easy
  • 200 MB of free cloud storage for videos
  • Free apps for displaying and managing the cameras and video from iOS or Android smartphones and tablets
  • Access via popular browsers on Mac computers and PCs

The security system requires the use of an 802.11n base station that has been optimized to use as little power as necessary for the WiFi cameras as Netgear wants the batteries to last as long as possible. How secure is your video feed that is going to the cloud? Netgear told Legit Reviews that all video is sent to the cloud using the https (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) protocol, which is the same as your credit card or banking info. The netgear hub has a pair of USB 2.0 ports on it that aren’t used with the Arlo system, but are there for future devices. Netgear told Legit Reviews that the USB ports will be used in the future to add USB adapters that support other smart home standards. This will allow the Arlo platform to support other smart home devices including lights, sensors and more. So, hopefully you’ll be able to connect other smart home devices like Zigbee and Z-Wave antennas to the two USB ports located on the back. Netgear is also part of the AllSeen Alliance open source project, a group of companies working on interoperability between Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Arlo HD Camera

The Netgear Arlo cameras look good and depending on your decor, they should be able to blend into the surroundings. If they don’t blend in to where you want to place them we suggest getting something to scuff up the housing and then taping off the front and spray painting them to best match the surroundings where they will be placed. We were told that the cameras use video compression algorithms and  the video feed per camera is just 1.5Mbps.  This is well below what most home broadband speeds support, so there should not be any issues watching the video stream on the cloud. Keep in mind that you will be able to view the cameras live video streams, watch recorded clips and change the camera settings from anywhere in the world! The Arlo cameras are also waterproof and should be able to stand up to use in all four seasons. We haven’t had the time needed to see how the cameras stand up to rain, humidity, dust, sand and extreme heat, but we do know what happens to them when they are placed in extreme cold and we’ll get to that in on the next page.

arlo-camera-base

Each Arlo camera in the kit comes with two magnetized bases that allow you to pivot the camera to ensure you are recording what you need to be. You can use 6lb double sided tape (not provided) or a single screw to mount it to an object. This means that you just need a screwdriver or drill to install the mounts, which makes things super simple. The Arlo camera also has no ports on them whatsoever for power, so you must rely on batteries at all times as there is nothing to plug anything into.

Keep in mind when you are installing the bases that the Arlo camera is just held on by a magnet to the base, so they can be easily stolen when placed outside. At $159 a camera that adds up! We highly advise placing them higher than arms reach to keep someone from taking the camera. The Arlo camera also has a standard female 1/4 inch adapter on the bottom that allows it to be mounted on pretty much any camera or tripod mount. Camera placement is critical, so be sure to spend some time making sure the angle and motion detection works like you need it to!

Arlo CR123 Batteries

By opening the lock you can pop the cover on the camera and see where the four CR123A batteries are placed. Netgear claims the Arlo camera batteries can last for approximately 4-6 months.  They based this claim off the assumption that an Arlo owner will only view each camera for four minutes per day. If you use the camera for longer than four minutes a day the battery life will obviously be less than what Netgear advised. The Netgear Arlo is not designed for 24/7 recording, so if you have significant video surveillance needs this camera system is not the solution for you. This system is designed to record when motion is detected for up to two minutes at a time.

Now that we have the basics covered let’s get into the setup and look at the image quality of the Arlo kit!

Print
Jump To:
  • Amber clark

    Love love love it
    I’ve had mine for a year and we’re on the road quite a bit play music and I can always watch my home. I think the system works great I enjoy that they have an app on my phone that’s easy to use and sends me a picture anytime any motion is involved. Also you can set the motion from sensitive to a certain point. I really love it it works great for me

  • Stacy Bell-Singh

    I have 4 wireless Arlo’s, an Arlo Q that has a 2-way communication feature, a drop cam that has a 2-way communication feature and 2 ADT cameras. I don’t have any complaints about any of them. Yes the battery issue is kind of annoying if you don’t like to buy/change batteries… however because I can place the cameras in much better hidden spaces outdoors, and I use the silicone sleeves you can buy off of Amazon to blend into those hidden spots, I think the battery issue is worth it. I put stickers on a couple of windows that come with the cameras that gives notice to the potential perp(s) that they are being recorded (some state laws require this otherwise you can’t use the video in court). The stickers are small enough they don’t look tacky. It works great for small, or home based businesses. Keep an eye on the elderly, pets or kiddos at a reasonable price. No, it’s not your hi-tech wired system, but it’s sure worth the buy in my opinion for basic monitoring needs.

  • Red

    Question concerning this – you say there is no way to locally store the video. If I need a video recording for a court case, how do I get that recording to give to the officers?

    • Cristina Costa Vale David

      It records motion video if the camera is on motion set up.I just downloaded a motion video to my samsung phone and it worked!

  • dave troutman

    just purchased one .This requires a hookup from the modem to the base unit , then goes to an operation on a user pc using male to male usb cables ? Or what . Not very informative … No usb cables were provided …

    • Nathan Kirsch

      Once you hook it up the base unit to the network you should be good to go! After that just install the app on your mobile devices for use.

  • Xena S

    The system is crap. Purchased at Best Buy, within 2 weeks had problems with motion detection errors which could not be resolved. Adjust sensitivity low, 70-78 no motion detected, high, 79-90 and a fly gets recorded. The sunlight also counts as motion detection which at certain times of the day, means recording all day long.
    Contacted tech support and that stated 2 of 4 cameras needed to be replaced but they did not have any cameras at the warehouse. Netgear not only does not stand behind their product they cannot even replace defective cameras. Stay away from this product unless you want to throw $500 away. Thank God, Best Buy issued a full refund after trying to get resolution from Netgear for two months.

  • kevin

    What happens when the power goes off or the Internet is down, even briefly, and is then restored? Does the system automatically re start itself or is a manual re start required?

    If a manual re start is required this system won’t be very useful for a vacation property which is left unattended for months at a time.

    • Nathan Kirsch

      It automatically restarts. I’ve had the power fail at my house several times and the base unit always comes back to life!

  • angstwad

    It sucks that Arlo doesn’t support text messages out of the gate, but there’s a service that allows you to Arlo motions alerts with pictures to any MMS-enabled phone, which is basically any phone made in the last 15 years. Free alerts, too. https://textmeplz.com/

    • DebbieDowner

      This thing looks great though. The size is absolutely wonderful and will help to keep the item stored and hidden out of view. I would definitely buy it, if I didn’t already have a Y-Cam. Now, I just need a new smart lock.

  • Caleb Hart

    I think that everybody wants to know that they are safe. Nobody wants to have an intruder come and rob them blind. Maybe I should find someone in my area that can teach me about security systems. My wife has mentioned that she feels a little unsafe in our neighborhood. http://www.horizontel.com/security_monitoring

  • peteb

    What are people doing to solve the no audio problem? I want to be able to talk to the person at the door after they’ve knocked or rang the doorbell. Also, how can I contact the Arlo team?

  • cumekyad

    Great idea – and when it works is a nice system. However it tends to hang up most the times and will not allow streaming when accessed from remote 50% +. Tends to Get stuck on Getting Status or Please Wait. After talking to some other owners sounds like this is common. It’s a real pain when you only have a min. to Check in on the home but can’t get the connection remotely and have the keep trying to get it to connect. This is a Arlo issue and not network. Hope they get if fixed.

  • Leoborec

    Arlo camera does not have a microphone. Realy?

  • N22TANGO

    I originally had the VueZone cameras that NetGear made and they were GARBAGE. I returned them for a refund. I rolled the dice again on NetGear and bought the Arlo system and have had them operational for three weeks. This was a “Doctor Jekyl – Mr. Hyde experience and I’m pretty happy with the Arlo system. The “after the sale” support (oddly enough, the same company) is much better with the Arlo group.

    Yes, the cameras are easy to place in difficult locations. I have three of them on a ranch that is 44 miles from where I live on another ranch here in Texas where I elected to go with the Canary security system.

    Two of my Arlo cameras are placed outside and luckily for me, I own a bucket truck and I placed them where only Navy Seals could gain access to them. Although I defeated the ability of these two cameras to detect motion (seems that they have to be REALLY close to something that moves!) they are located where I can see if one of my buildings, or vehicles has been compromised. The third is placed inside the building on a “busy” bookshelf containing spray cans, many other odds and end that a typical crook would not bother with as they were looking for expensive tools and other items in my barn/shop. This camera can detect motion and since it is inside, the battery seems to hold its “juice” better than the cameras that are outside (it has been bitter cold here…)

    I was concerned about the outside cameras maintaining an magnetic attachment to the mounts. We have terrible winds here and no way these cameras could stay attached to the mounts as they are designed. I added a silver foil tape to the cameras to help hold them in place and to keep water from seeping inside.

    Tonight as I write my review, I got an email message from my Arlo system advising one camera was getting low on “juice” and I’m impressed that I was able to not only get the email, but be able to get online and see the status of they batteries on all three cameras.

    The clarity is remarkable especially in daylight. Nighttime, with the outdoor cameras is a little difficult to see, but I knew and suspected that when I installed them where I did.

    Although I don’t really need audio for what I am monitoring, I do have that capability with my Canary system in my house, as well as temperature info, humidity info, and very effective motion monitoring.

    The Arlo system as stated in the review is “right-on” in regard to the “hidden cost”of the Arlo system, It “ain’t cheap” in the long run because of the expensive batteries and NetGear’s rather expensive “service plans” but for now it works OK for my needs. BUT, I’m confident someone else will build a better “mouse trap” and hopefully come out with a system that does NOT drain a customers wallet each month (batteries and service plan) and when they do make that “better mouse trap” I’ll be jumping ship very fast.

    • cumekyad

      Great idea – and when it works is a nice system. However it tends to hang up most the times and will not allow streaming when accessed from remote 50% +. Tends to Get stuck on Getting Status or Please Wait. After talking to some other owners sounds like this is common. It’s a real pain when you only have a min. to Check in on the home but can’t get the connection remotely and have the keep trying to get it to connect. This is a Arlo issue and not network.

      • N22TANGO

        My system of three Arlo cameras continues to work flawlessly. Changing batteries is easy and not a single failure yet.

  • Ant

    Is there another home security camera system that can do wireless, store locally (remote upload as an option), etc.?

  • GWC

    I have the original vuezone system and you can’t walk around my house without me knowing about it. The old system was almost useless at night, I am hoping the Arlo fixes that issue. Battery life on the old system, 3-6 months depending on how active that camera is. I get emails and text messages within seconds of activation, I’m just disappointed on how long they have taken to help old customers upgrade to this new technology.

  • dpeagle

    i have the system. works great. the cameras have a 300ft range not 15ft. the batteries are claimed to last 4 to 6 months. after 1 week they still show full charge. you can also use rechargeable batteries. 1gb cloud storage for free. after 1 week i still have 70% remaining. you can also download any or all videos to your computer or phone. the netgear servers have been a bit flaky since launch (a few outages). also without the netgear servers this system is useless, but that being said. it’s the best option available at the moment if you want a true wireless system.

  • Mark

    Battery changes sound painful. Storage in the cloud also of concern as 7 days worth for free is definitely not enough. Wireless range is too short. Long way to go yet to match proper hard wired and powered systems with on site storage I’m afraid.

  • Without the ability to record locally to my NAS, I will pass. I just dont have the bandwidth out here in the country to be able to do cloud storage at this level.

    I am also a little worried about the 15 foot range as it seems a little close. Someone running to bash into your door would be well into the house before the camera would have time to take a picture probably…??

    Love the wireless idea though as running all those wires is a true PITA!!!