Net­gear’s Arlo 2 is an ex­pen­sive, but ca­pa­ble home cam­era sys­tem

Sun.Star Pampanga - - TECHNEWS! -

Here’s the thing about home se­cu­rity sys­tems: they are ex­pen­sive, usu­ally re­quire ex­perts to in­stall them, and for the good ones you’ll need to pay a monthly fee starting at $30 to have a com­pany mon­i­tor them. While they won’t pro­vide the same level of se­cu­rity as a pro­fes­sion­ally in­stalled sys­tem from ADT or Slomin, the cur­rent wave of smart home cam­eras re­leased by com­pa­nies such as Nest, Log­itech, and even Ama­zon have made se­cu­rity sys­tems cheaper and eas­ier to in­stall and mon­i­tor from your smart­phone. And the cam­era that still leads the pack in terms of ease of use is Net­gear’s Arlo.

The new­est ad­di­tion to the lineup is the Arlo 2, its lat­est wire­less cam­era that works both in­doors and out­doors. Be­fore we even get into the de­tails, the Arlo 2 al­ready checks the three main boxes — no wires, 1080p HD stream, and weath­er­proof — that you’d be hard-pressed to find in any other se­cu­rity cam­era. It also fea­tures free cloud stor­age for a week, two-way au­dio, a recharge­able bat­tery that lasts six months, and a 130-de­gree field of view.

Set­ting up the Arlo 2 sys­tem is sim­ple. The cam­era sys­tem is sold with two cam­eras and a base sta­tion that plugs into your router to man­age the con­nec­tions. (You can plug in an ex­ter­nal hard drive to the base sta­tion to back up your record­ings lo­cally.) Once you sync the cam­era with the base sta­tion, you can eas­ily mount the cam­era on any wall with a screw­driver and the in­cluded mag­ne­tized mount in about five min­utes. The in­cluded mounts keep the cam­era close to the wall, but you can buy ex­tended mounts (great for mount­ing it on the side of your house or on a tree out­doors) for $19.

THE ARLO 2 CHECKS NEARLY EV­ERY BOX

You can man­age the cam­era through Arlo’s app, which al­lows you to sched­ule times for the cam­eras to run, or set it up to ac­ti­vate once you leave your house. If mo­tion or sound is de­tected, Arlo will send you a push no­ti­fi­ca­tion to alert you, and you can view the footage within the app.

Video qual­ity is ex­cel­lent dur­ing the day and when night vi­sion is in use, and the au­dio play­back through the cam­era — while a bit crunchy if you’re try­ing to scare off in­trud­ers or get your dog off the couch — is per­fectly de­ci­pher­able. There is lag dur­ing live play­back, av­er­ag­ing around three sec­onds for me with video qual­ity turned all the way up, but it’s noth­ing too se­ri­ous.

Net­gear says the bat­tery will last for six months in the Arlo 2 un­der nor­mal use, and can be quickly recharged when it goes out. Af­ter a week of test­ing and a hand­ful of alerts, both of my cam­eras are still at 100 per­cent, which bodes well for that claim. The com­pany also sells a so­lar charger for $79 that can keep the cam­era run­ning in­def­i­nitely.

Arlo will keep your cloud record­ings from up to five cam­eras for free for seven days, but it of­fers a sub­scrip­tion ser­vice to keep footage from 10 cam­eras for 30 days for $10 a month. You can also set up 24/7 con­tin­u­ous cloud record­ing starting at $10 a month per cam­era, but this only works when the cam­eras are plugged in.

THE ARLO 2 WILL COST YOU NEARLY $500 The Arlo 2 has some other fea­tures that only work when the cam­era is in­doors and plugged in. There’s a look-back fea­ture that cap­tures ac­tiv­ity a few sec­onds be­fore mo­tion or sound is de­tected, and Ac­tiv­ity Zones al­low you to high­light ar­eas in the cam­era’s field of view to fo­cus on for alerts.

De­spite check­ing nearly ev­ery box, there are two no­table, and pretty sig­nif­i­cant down­sides to the Arlo 2. If you want it to op­er­ate as a full-fledged se­cu­rity sys­tem that records every­thing all the time, it’s go­ing to cost you a lot. The Arlo 2 base kit starts at $479, and ex­tra cam­eras are $220, which is ex­pen­sive to say the least. Then you’ll need to add in con­tin­u­ous cloud record­ing at $120 a cam­era per year, which puts you at a min­i­mum of $720 in the first year and $240 ev­ery sub­se­quent year with­out any ad­di­tional cam­eras.

The sec­ond is­sue — and un­doubt­edly more im­por­tant one if you want to use Arlo as a real se­cu­rity sys­tem — is re­li­a­bil­ity. Last Fri­day af­ter­noon, cus­tomers with Arlo se­cu­rity sys­tems were un­able to ac­cess the app or any footage for 15 hours un­til early Satur­day morn­ing af­ter the com­pany had a “ma­jor ser­vice dis­rup­tion.” In a state­ment to The Verge, Net­gear apol­o­gized to its cus­tomers for the out­age. “We sin­cerely apol­o­gize for this ser­vice in­ter­rup­tion and it cer­tainly does not re­flect our stan­dards of ser­vice avail­abil­ity. Our tech­ni­cal teams con­tinue to work dili­gently to en­sure ser­vices re­main avail­able and we are re­view­ing our in­ter­nal pro­cesses and sys­tems in or­der to pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing in the fu­ture.”

This isn’t a smart speaker go­ing down or your lighting sys­tem not be­ing able to con­nect to Wi-Fi for a few hours. Arlo is de­signed to be a se­cu­rity sys­tem for when you’re not home and it went down on one of the busiest travel week­ends of the year. Not to men­tion Arlo didn’t tweet or email users about it un­til 6PM on Fri­day, four hours af­ter the ser­vice went down.

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