The Netgear Arlo is that once in a century product, that totally revolutionizes the industry by making taking something niche into the mainstream. As I noted in my recent Reolink Argus wire-free camera review, I was initially against battery-powered cameras. But my experience with the Argus blew me away. It forced me to take a fresh look at how a good wire-free camera can help fill out and complete a good DIY security camera system.
So in the spirit of discovery, I am looking at the Arlo family today. Starting with the Arlo and the Arlo Pro, I will take you through the different features, and talk about which camera is best for which situations.
The basic idea of the Arlo is this: small 100% wire-free battery-powered cameras that connect to a hub. The hub is then connected to your Wi-Fi network. The Netgear Arlo is lovingly called the Arlo HD by customers, even though Netgear prefers just Arlo. The Arlo Pro is a beefed up version of the Arlo HD and is sort of the big brother of the Arlo HD. Calling the Arlo, the lowest member of the Arlo family ‘HD’ makes sense because it has 720p resolution which is popularly known as HD resolution.
Arlo HD vs. Arlo Pro – Comparison Table
Here’s a quick comparison table between the Arlo Pro and the Arlo HD:
|Feature||Arlo HD (Arlo Wirefree)||Arlo Pro|
|Power source||4 x CR123 batteries, good for 4 to 6 months||2440mAh Rechargeable battery (with plug-in option)|
|Resolution / Video Format||720p HD (1280 x 720) / H.264||720p HD (1280 x 720) / H.264|
|Audio support||No||2-way audio with speaker and microphone|
|Imaging||Full color CMOS Auto-adaptive white/black balance and exposure||Full color CMOS Auto-adaptive white/black balance and exposure|
|Angle of view||110°||130°|
|Wi-Fi||2.4GHz dedicated 802.11n||2.4GHz dedicated 802.11n|
|Night Vision||Yes 850 nm LEDs with 25 feet range IR cut-off filter||Yes, IR LEDs|
|Motion Detection method||PIR sensor, 15 feet range||Software-based|
|Alerts||Motion only||Motion + Audio|
|Smart Siren||No||Yes, in base station|
|Power adaptor cable||None||USB to Micro USB|
|Local Storage||No||Yes, USB drive can be connected to the base station|
|Operating temperature||14° to 122° F (-10° C to 50° C)||-4° to 113° F (-20° C to 45° C)|
|Dimensions||72 x 44 x 66 mm, 123g||79.3 x 48.6 x 70.5 mm, 136g|
Now let’s look at the main features of these battery-powered cameras head-to-head.
Both the Arlo HD and the Arlo Pro have the same 720p sensor and therefore have similar image quality. 720p is on the lower side and if you need 1080p, you need to go up to the Arlo Q or the Arlo Q Plus which also sports Power over Ethernet.
Both cameras also feature auto-adaptive white/black balance and exposure adjustment.
Well the Arlo HD doesn’t have a microphone, and so cannot compete with the Arlo Pro which does have one. Having a microphone is a major advantage because it lets you listen in on the camera from your mobile phone, and also can record incriminating conversations if needed!
The Arlo Pro is capable of 2-way audio because it has both a speaker and a microphone built-in. It can also send you audio alerts so it can alert you to unwanted visitors who may manage to avoid the camera but still get caught on audio.
The Arlo, Arlo Pro and Arlo Go all have a real PIR sensor which is far better than software-based motion detection that most cameras use. This is because a PIR sensor detects motion using Infrared rays which reduces the number of false alerts that you will invariably get with non-PIR cameras. There is a weakness though, PIR sensors are weak at detecting motion that’s perpendicular to it, side-to-side motion is where it excels.
The image above illustrates this problem very well. The solution is to have more than one camera covering the same scene.
The Arlo and Arlo Pro now both have a very good IP65 rating and so should be absolutely fine braving the elements. This is a recent development though, as only the Pro had IP65 rating when I checked last year.
This is where the cameras start drifting apart. The Arlo HD uses four off-the-shelf CR123A batteries. This means the camera operation time depends on the mAh rating of the batteries you choose. You could use rechargeable batteries also, the batteries recommended by Netgear are the Tenergy rechargeable batteries.
The Arlo Pro makes use of a built-in rechargeable battery that you cannot replace yourself. It has a capacity of 2440 mAh and it needs this extra juice for the extra features such as the built-in speaker and microphone.
Which Arlo is better for the outdoors?
Since both the Arlo Pro and the Arlo are now rated IP65 for water and dust resistance, you can put either one outdoors. Although as always its preferable to put them under the eaves or in a sheltered area to minimise the risk of damage.