When we found squatters taking up residence on an abandoned property behind our house, we wanted to keep an eye on what was going on when we weren’t home. An indoor/outdoor security camera was the answer, and we decided to give Netgear’s Arlo Pro a try.
Here’s a look at what you can expect when you receive your Arlo Pro security camera.
Wire-free HD camera with audio
Camera power adapter
Camera power cable
Magnetic wall mount
Wall mount screw set
Quick start guide
ORDERING NOTE: We ordered an add-on camera, which means it didn’t come with a base station—we had to order that separately. The base station came with an ethernet cable, a window sticker, and a power adapter. Netgear does offer a variety of packages that include anywhere from two to four cameras and the base station.
How We Evaluated the Arlo Camera
Because the Arlo camera is designed for indoor/outdoor use, we wanted to see how it performed in both conditions. We started out putting the camera on a ledge on the porch. The camera was pretty easy to spot, so we moved it back closer to the house to make it a little less obvious.
When it was time to move the camera inside, we wanted to be able to check in on what our dog and cat were getting up to when we weren’t home. We tried a few different locations and finally settled on a desk in the hallway that afforded us a view of the entire living room. We also tested the camera under different lighting scenarios and during some nasty weather.
We looked at the following criteria: features, design, ease of use, alerts, and cost.
We identified the important features that people look for in a wireless security camera and compared those to what the Arlo Pro has to offer. In addition, we evaluated how well the Arlo performed in each area.
To evaluate the design, we compared Arlo to other similar cameras in regard to both style and function.
Ease of Use
From the moment we received the box, we started evaluating how easy the Arlo camera was to use. We looked at everything from getting it out of the box, setting up the app, pairing the camera to the base station, and using the app once everything was good to go.
We evaluated how responsive the Arlo was to motion and how quickly we received alerts. We also considered how easy it was to customize alert settings.
We compared the cost to set up an Arlo security camera system with other security camera systems on the market. We also considered the features and performance to evaluate whether or not the Arlo camera is worth the sticker price.
Arlo Pro Security Camera Features
This camera includes everything you need from a wireless security camera. It’s tough enough to stand up to weather, includes two-way communication, and has an app that’s intuitive and easy to use. Because the Arlo uses both motion and sound detection, the camera doesn’t depend on movement to trigger a notification. This was helpful for seeing what was going on in the neighborhood as well as finding out if our animals were getting up to any mischief.
Broad Range of View
I was surprised by how much we could see—whether it was watching out for squatters behind our house, monitoring snow plow activity in the cul-de-sac, or spying on the pets while we enjoyed a dinner out. This little baby gave us a full overview of the cul-de-sac, which helped me catch our snow plow company trying to bill us for plowing after all the snow had melted.
We also got a full view of the backyard, but seeing over the fence into the abandoned property behind us would have required a different kind of mount. Inside, we could see the entirety of any room in which we placed the camera. Unfortunately for our pup, that means we caught him blatantly jumping up on the couch for a snooze after he made sure we were gone.
Another big surprise was the quality and range of the built-in microphone. It could pick up the clacking of the dog’s nails on the hardwood floors just as clearly as the footsteps of neighbors crossing the street to their cars in the morning. We also tried talking to the dog (and each other), and our messages were received loud and clear.
One thing we learned was that once you activate the two-way talk feature in the app, you have to manually turn it off. It doesn’t stop transmitting on its own, which left me echoing all over the house the first time we tried it out.
Excellent Night Vision
I didn’t expect a lot from the camera after dark, but the night vision images on this security camera were crisp and clear. Whether the camera was placed outside or in the house, it automatically adjusted to the light level to deliver the best-quality image. You can also use the app to manually adjust the camera for different lighting conditions.
The only thing I was confused about was inconsistency between black-and-white or color images in low-light situations. Sometimes video from the middle of the night was in color, but it was usually black and white, and I could never figure out what made the difference.
Hyper-Sensitive Motion Detection
There’s no question that the Arlo Pro picks up motion, but it’s so sensitive that my phone was blown up with alerts telling me that “motion is detected.” When the camera was out front, it picked up every person heading off to school or work in the morning and bombarded me again when everybody in the neighborhood got home.
I couldn’t find a way to change the alert or motion detection settings, but I did put the camera on a schedule. I was able to disarm the camera during hours that triggered a lot of alerts, but that meant that if something worrisome occurred during that time, the camera would miss it. I’d like to see a way to either limit alerts or change the motion detection settings to avoid constant bombardment.
Arlo Camera Design
The Arlo camera is sleek, simple, and small. It only comes in white, which can make it stand out on a porch or patio, or mounted on the side of the house. This, combined with the small size, raises concerns that someone who’s up to no good could scoop it up and slip it into their pocket.
While the bright white color may attract attention, the overall design and aesthetic of the Arlo security camera is sleek and attractive. I like it even more than the Nest Cams, particularly because it doesn’t look as obvious as either the Nest Cam Outdoor or Nest Cam Indoor. The Arlo Pro is also small enough that you could easily hide or camouflage it to keep your video monitoring activities under wraps.
Best of all, the Arlo Pro didn’t stick out like a sore thumb in the middle of my living room, kitchen, or front porch. The simple design let the camera fade into the background or blend with the décor, which makes it a good choice if you don’t want your home to look like the inside of an undercover surveillance van.
Holds Up Outside
One of my favorite things about this wireless security camera is that it’s designed for both indoor and outdoor use. This is perfect if you want to record activity inside and outside but don’t want to buy two cameras. Of course, you can’t use it inside and outside simultaneously, but all we had to do to switch from watching the front door to watching our dog inside was pick up the camera and move it.
We also got to see how the Arlo worked in rainy, windy, and snowy conditions. One of the worst storms of the winter season hit while we were testing this camera outside, and it stood up without any problems. Granted, I did have the camera under a covered porch, but it wasn’t secured in any way. All my lanterns and various porch décor were blown over, but this sturdy little camera stayed put.
Needs a More Secure Wall Mount
A magnetic wall mount is included in the box with the Arlo Pro camera, but it’s not the most secure mount I’ve seen. If you want to permanently install this camera outside, I recommend buying a more durable mount that is specifically designed for outdoor use.
The magnetic mount is small, and it didn’t inspire confidence that it would be able to withstand the type of winds we saw during our test of this camera. There’s also no locking function to prevent someone from taking the camera off the mount. For inside use it could work, but I wouldn’t trust it outside.
Glitchy Zoom and Pan Function
The Arlo Pro advertises 8x zooming capability, but I couldn’t get the app to show me more than 3x zoom—and most of the time it stopped at 2x. For my purposes, that was good enough, but if you bought this camera expecting high-quality 8x zoom, you’d be disappointed. I’m not ruling out the possibility that user error was involved in my zooming struggles, but there was no simple way to find out how to access the advertised 8x zoom.
This camera is also designed with a digital pan function, which is sort of misleading. There is no actual way to pan with the Arlo Pro. All you can do is expand and inspect different areas of a recording or still photo the same way you would with any photo on your phone. Again, maybe there is some trick I couldn’t figure out, but saying that this camera has panning functionality is a stretch.
Arlo Pro Ease of Use
Although I was a little intimidated about setting up the camera on my own, I was happily surprised by how simple it was. Miraculously, there were no slip-ups, and I got the base connected, the camera paired, and the app set up in under ten minutes.
I’m one of those people who is easily confused by instructions, especially if they’re for furniture from IKEA. Fortunately, there is no assembly required with the Arlo Pro camera.
When I first saw the enclosed instruction booklet, I was skeptical. It had more pictures than words, which is a problem for me. But it turned out to be the perfect ratio of words to illustrations, and I only had to go through the instructions once to find success.
Like everything else about the Arlo security camera, the mobile app is easy to set up and use. There are no extra bells and whistles to confuse you, and both the menu and functions are intuitive enough to figure out without any kind of tutorial.
After struggling with the zoom and pan functions, I went on the hunt for any secret, hidden areas in the app that might hold the keys to these features. I didn’t find any. While that didn’t help me pan or zoom, it did keep my opinion of the Arlo app intact. It’s simple, and even the tech-adverse could figure it out pretty easily.
My biggest victory in this whole security camera test was how fast I got the camera up and running. I’m not too shy to boast that everything was working and the camera was recording video within ten minutes of opening the box. And I didn’t need to ask my boyfriend for any help along the way.
The base is a simple plug and play, and once you put the battery in the camera and turn it on, it’s ready to go. I didn’t need to enter any IP addresses or router passwords. To pair the camera and the base, all I had to do was press two buttons and hold the camera within three feet of the base station. In a matter of minutes, the components were paired and we were in surveillance mode.
Limited Settings for Alerts
As I noted earlier, the Arlo Pro does a great job of picking up motion and sending alerts. However, the sheer number and frequency of alerts can become annoying. I couldn’t find any way to change the number of alerts without completely disarming the camera.
There is a geo-fencing option, which might work for some people, but I wanted the camera to pick up things all the way across my cul-de-sac, so limiting the distance for alerts wouldn’t work. I hope Arlo adds some more options to customize the type and frequency of alerts.
Too Much Motion Sensitivity
In the same vein, it would be nice to be able to make the motion detection less sensitive. I’d like to be able to limit alerts when I’m walking in and out of the house in the morning or after a trip to the store. If I stood on the porch with a cup of coffee, the camera recorded and sent an alert every time I moved. If I kept moving after triggering the motion sensor, it continually recorded until I stopped.
Some more control over this function would be helpful when it comes to distinguishing false alarms from a real emergency.
Arlo Camera Alerts
I got my first alert before I realized the setup was complete. It was a video of me sitting in front of the camera and talking myself through the app. From there, my boyfriend and I ran the camera through its paces to see how good it was at detecting different types of motion and sound from varying distances and under an array of conditions.
Catches All the Action
You’re not going to miss a thing with the Arlo Pro on the job. As I’ve stated, the camera’s motion detection is sensitive and it didn’t fail even once during the weeks I tested it. Whether it was the dog and cat lounging on our furniture or a parade of neighborhood activity outside, this security camera caught every move.
Live or Recorded View
When the motion sensor is activated, the Arlo automatically starts recording and sends an alert. You can then go into the app and either watch the recording or check in on what’s happening live. I liked having the option. Most of the time I just looked at the recording to see what triggered the camera, but there were a couple times when the live view was exactly what I needed.
I was at work when I got an alert that showed a truck plowing non-existent snow. I went into the live feed to see exactly what was going on. Then I hit record, downloaded the video, and sent it in to the rest of the HOA board so we could have a record to dispute payment if the company billed us.
This is the only option I could find to limit when the camera sends alerts. You can customize the schedule for each day of the week or repeat one schedule over multiple days. After two mornings of nonstop alerts starting around 5:30 a.m., I scheduled the camera to disarm on weekdays between 1:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. This let me catch all the action during the busiest times outside my house but let me sleep in peace.
Obviously, if you’re worried about something happening under cover of night, this solution would not work—but it was just right for me during the week. On the weekends, I kept the camera armed all night long to try to detect any movement from the squatters we’d been keeping an eye on.
The camera seems to send an alert the instant that motion is detected, but when you check the recording you always miss the beginning of the movement. It takes a few seconds for the recording to kick in, which can leave you missing crucial info if those seconds were the only glimpse of a face or license plate.
The delay wasn’t a problem for my purposes, but it would be better if the Arlo Pro started recording instantly.
It wasn’t unusual to get anywhere from nine to eighteen alerts within one hour. Many of these were just minutes apart and often captured the same person or animal walking by.
This high volume of alerts is disruptive, but it also desensitizes you to the urgency of a motion alert. Some way to limit or categorize alerts would help users avoid ignoring alerts out of frustration.
Arlo Pro Cost
The Arlo camera and base station we tried cost about $300. You can find less expensive wireless security cameras, but I doubt you’ll end up with the same quality. Arlo’s price is comparable to cameras by Nest, and you get nearly all the same features including integration with home automation products and hubs.
Free Cloud Storage This is hands-down the best freebie Arlo could provide. You get full function and free cloud storage of videos and photos for seven days without any extra monthly fees. It’s a rolling seven days, so video is only stored for one week at a time. But you can download videos to your phone, and then you’ve got them forever.
High-Priced Individual Components Although Arlo isn’t the most expensive wireless security camera out there, it is on the spendy side. Depending on how many cameras you need, the best way to buy an Arlo system is in a bundle with anywhere from two to five cameras. But for someone like me who only needs one camera, the price tag is steep. I’d like to see Netgear offer stand-alone cameras for a price that’s closer to the cost if you buy in bulk.
Arlo Security Camera FAQs
Is the Arlo Pro a wireless security camera?
The Arlo Pro is 100% wireless. The camera uses a rechargeable battery and doesn’t come with any wires, which lets you use the Arlo Pro in any location—as long as it’s within range (about 300 feet) of the base station. The base station, however, is not wireless. It uses a wired power adapter and an ethernet cable to connect to a router for internet access.
How do you use the Arlo app?
All you have to do is download the app to your smartphone (Android or iOS). Once the Arlo app is installed, you enter your email address and set up a password. Arlo sends a verification email to your inbox, and once you click the included link, you’re ready to go. From the app you can access recordings and live video, conduct two-way communication, change settings, and zoom or digitally pan the camera.
Can multiple users access the Arlo camera at one time?
Arlo makes it easy to add users. Go into the Arlo app, access Settings, and select Grant Access. Next, select Add and enter the name and email address of the person you want to add. After the person activates their verification link, they can use the Arlo app to access the camera. You can decide what kind of rights each user has, and if you have more than one camera you can select which users have access to which cameras.
Is the Arlo Pro camera compatible with previous generation Arlo components?
Arlo Pro wireless cameras should work with older versions of the Arlo camera and the Arlo base station. But if Netgear stops supporting firmware updates for previous generations of equipment, that compatibility may end. That means you may need to upgrade your base station if you’re using an older one with a newer version of the cameras.
Will this wireless security camera work if the internet goes down?
The Arlo Pro has a built-in USB backup that will continue to record video and capture movement if the camera or base station loses internet connectivity. But you will still need access to the cloud to view any recordings that occurred while the internet was down. The Arlo camera doesn’t offer external storage.
Additional Equipment for Your Arlo Camera
The Arlo camera comes with everything you need to get started, but we think these extras could come in handy—especially if you want to mount the camera outside.
The Arlo Pro wireless security camera is a great choice whether you want to keep an eye on package deliveries, check in with your pet, or welcome the kids home after school. I found it hard to give the camera up after the testing period ended. It was the perfect tool to help me watch out for shady characters in the neighborhood, keep HOA contractors honest, and touch base with the pets when they were home alone. The fact that I could simply pick it up and move it from the porch to the living room made the Arlo Pro the perfect multi-use security camera.
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more