Arlo is for every home and budget – the camera system explained
If you are looking for security cameras, Arlo is for every home and budget. Let’s explore the Arlo security ecosystem by using real experiences from long-term users.
In the early days, Arlo had a base station to connect its cameras, lights, Doorbell, Chime, and more. That is still the best, most reliable way because it a) extends the camera reach over Wi-Fi, b) keeps Arlo video traffic off the home Wi-Fi network, and c) allows for local video storage. We all know how unreliable, dodgy, cheap, home Wi-Fi routers are. The last thing you want is multiple 1080p, 2K, and 4K video streams overwhelming that precious distance and speed limited Wi-Fi bandwidth.
But Arlo’s less ethical competitors sacrificed reliability and quality for lower prices, and a tsunami of cheap Wi-Fi cameras flooded the market. Arlo’s response was measured and refused to accept the compromised image quality, reliability, and privacy compromises.
Arlo is for every home and budget – the camera and app system
Enter Arlo’s Essentials 1080p range
It has a Spotlight Wireless Security Camera ($199) and an Indoor Security Camera with a privacy shield (suitable for baby monitor $159). These use home 2.4GHz Wi-Fi via the Arlo App. You can mix these with Arlo’s base station cameras as well.
Our general store and café wanted camera security and looked at wired CCTV with initially a reasonable cost (about $1000). But add four Ethernet POE wiring ($800), and the software lacked the sophistication of things like animated mobile alerts, call a friend, scheduling, and a Doorbell camera.
They settled on an Arlo Essential Wireless Doorbell (which doubles as an internal camera when the front door is open), two Wireless security cameras and the Arlo Secure 2K Plan ($727 plus $14.99 a month – read the features later). DIY Installation was painless, and in 30 minutes, it was up and running.
- Lower cost and no need for a base station
- Use the fully-featured Arlo app with voice assistance/smart home integration/call a friend and package detection (good for early deliveries)
- 1080p (maximum), 130° FOV, 12x digital zoom, with a frame rate that scales according to available bandwidth
- Full-duplex 2-way audio (depends on available bandwidth)
- Spotlight LED allows for colour night video to about 5m.
- Can use a Base station if you have one
- Internal non-removable battery requires you to remove the camera to charge it
- Image and voice quality is directly related to Wi-Fi bandwidth and signal strength.
Arlo Pro 3, Pro 4 and Ultra 2 and base stations
This is a good, better, and best line-up, but you are better mixing the cameras depending on your need.
For example, the Pro 3 ($799 includes two cameras and a base station) has a 2K, 160°FOV and connects only to a base station. A floodlight version (<$300) is also superb for motion detection in large backyard areas or front doors. The Pro 4 ($369) is essentially the same camera with Wi-Fi or base station. The Ultra 2 is 4K, 180° FOV and connects only to a base station.
I use the Ultra 4K when I need colour and detail over distance (like 20-30 metres) like car number plates in a driveway or ‘jetty cam’ to see boat rego numbers if they pull up. The Pro 4 2K are terrific for general scenes where you want a good picture (duck cam) but not a lot of digital zoom.
And a note on the Ultra/Pro Solar panels ($119) – these work exceptionally well, and I have not had to charge batteries since I installed them (unlike most other solar panels).
- Base stations are more reliable, enable a longer distance between it and the camera, have local storage (in case of internet outage) and keep the traffic off the Wi-Fi home network to maximise video and audio speeds.
- All use removable, rechargeable batteries or solar panels
- Ultra adds dual motion sensors (single on Pro), and wind reduction (noise and echo cancellation on all)
None really except the initial cost may point you to the Essentials range
In keeping with the option of Wi-Fi (Essential) or wired and base station, there are two models
- Arlo Essential Wireless $329 is a 180° 1:1 image (head to toe) that operates over 2.4Ghz home Wi-Fi. But I have learned that a doorbell gets more activations than a security camera, and battery life may be shorter. I guess that is why it now has an optional rechargeable battery ($69), or you can attach it to an 8-24V AC transformer for permanent charging. My only concern is that image quality often drops from 1536×1536 to 1080×1080 to 720×720 (more usual and can pixelate), and full-duplex 2-way voice quality can be very laggy over Wi-Fi. Arlo is working on a firmware release to allow base station use.
- Arlo Wired Video Doorbell $289 has the same physical specs but connects to 16-24V AC and an Arlo Base station. This gives reliable 1536×1536 video, HDR, better digital zoom, and less laggy audio.
In any case, you may need a new transformer as Australian Freedland Ding-dong chimes use a different DC transformer. While you can reuse the wiring from the chime to the Doorbell, you will need an Arlo Chime 2 (Wi-Fi only but will recognise the Wired Doorbell $79).
- 180° 1:1 head to toe image is excellent to identify the person and what they are carrying
- Wire it in to avoid charging
- The Wired version produces better and consistent video results
- Wireless version needs frequent recharges (depends on activations)
- You will likely need an electrician for the wired version (as a new transformer connects to the mains power)
- Best at night if the door area is well lit.
- You will need a chime
Arlo Secure – the secret sauce
While you may object to paying a monthly subscription, it is worth it for the features it enables and the peace of mind. Arlo will never sell your data – it’s the safest camera security company on the planet. it is also Voice Assistant compatible.
Arlo cracks 1 million Arlo Secure paid subscriptions shows its value offers a free basic plan. The table below shows the features that the Arlo cloud unlocks for A$14.99 (2K) or $21.99 (4K).
Cybershack view – Arlo is for every home and budget
This article focuses on the real-world experiences of my general store, daughter’s install and my experience over the past five years.
For me it has been instrumental in preventing two break-ins, deterring several strangers from entering the property, identifying a graffiti felon, and the ‘jetty cam’ footage went to the water police to help solve a stolen boat.
The General store loves the system’s flexibility, and the Doorbell keeps an eye on early deliveries. The call a friend feature has stopped two attempted break-ins, and cameras (motion zones) have significantly reduced shoplifting.
For my daughter, it has prevented one front door break-in and deterred plant thieves from the back garden. She also uses one for a cat camera and one for a baby cam.
When criminals see ‘Protected by Arlo’, they tend to move to the next home that is not.
Arlo is sold either at its online store or major retailers like Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi or your local Bunnings. Quoted prices are retail, but you may bag a bargain if you shop around.
Arlo is for every home and budget