One thing that frustrates a lot of people about home security systems is the fact that many still need to be plugged into a physical outlet in order to actually work, at all times. This could be troublesome if you don’t have a furniture to hide the cables, or if you’re outlets are already full.
So when Netgear sent me over their Netgear Arlo Wire-Free Home Security System , I was pretty stoked to finally get rid of the cords of the past.
It’s only been about a year since Netgear ventured out into the world of home security, and with expectations to meet, on top of competition to beat such as the Canary and the Nest, the Arlo Wire-Free had some pretty huge shoes to fill when it came down to it.
A completely wireless home security system, the Arlo Wire-Free cameras come in sets of up to five (5) small white HD cameras that are not only easy on the eye, as well as leaving a small footprint, but they can honestly be placed anywhere in your home to give you a complete wide angled view of your home, without error. Each camera can record in high-definition 720p video which gives you a crisp color every single time. Here are a few specs of the Arlo Wire-Free Home Security System:
- Video resolution
- Configurable up to 1280 x 720
- Video format
- Full Color
- Auto-adaptive white/black balance and exposure
- Motion detection
- Adjustable sensitivity
- Automatic email alerts and push notifications
- Digital pan and zoom
- Night vision
- 850 nm LEDs: illuminates up to 25 feet
- IR cut-off filter
- Four (4) Lithium CR123 Photo
- Battery level indication
- Battery life
- 4 to 6 months
- Field of view
- Field of view: 110°
- Focus range (ST)
- Fixed focus (2 ft. to infinity)
- Operating temperature
- 14° to 122° F (-10° C to 50° C)
- 2.8 x 1.7 x 2.6 in (72 x 44 x 66 mm)
- 4.3 oz. (123g)
Powered by batteries, each HD camera takes two of these batteries in order to successfully work without wires. I received two cameras and each has their own magnetic mount and mounting screws which make it easy to nail to a wall and leave there.
Or if you decide that you don’t want to pay to have the holes patched up if you live in an apartment, you can go the DIY route like I did and actually just use a bit of wall tape in order to mount it that way. I suggest making sure you get wall tape that would hold larger items like paintings. I attempted to go the cheap route with my 3M mounting tape and the camera ended up falling off since most of the weight of the camera eventually boggled down on it and the camera fell onto the couch below. So take that into account once and you’ll be fine.
The Netgear Wire-Free camera comes with its own companion app that is pretty seamless in setting up, and even more simple to use, and will give you access to all of the cameras that you have set up.
The cameras themselves are 100% indoor/outdoor waterproof will not only to give you a wide angled view, but night vision as well. In my prior review of the Smanos camera, I stated the ONE thing I needed was night vision, and luckily Netgear made this possible, and I love it. Having a security camera that doesn’t necessarily capture at night is rendered useless for me, which is why night vision should be a must for all users, and a standard in ALL home security cameras.
All of the cameras connect to your home network courtesy of Wi-Fi and a Netgear router that will connect to your home router via Ethernet cable. On the bottom of the Netgear base station are five LED indicators for power, internet, camera, smart home, and USB.
Since I live in an apartment, there was no true way to test the abilities of the outdoor functionality so what I did do is tested this out on the balcony of my building for a total of three days by simply sitting it on the countertop and allowing it to record for 72 hours. What I did learn about this however is the sensitivity of the camera will need to be tweaked just a little bit. While outdoors at night, the night sensors do work as you would expect them to, however, since the Arlo cameras do not record 24/7 (I will get into that later) you will receive alerts when there is motion to your smart device via companion app. I did notice a significant amount of my battery dying being outside on the balcony as well. We’ve had fourteen consecutive days of rain here in this area which means that the Arlo has been virtually running nonstop trying to decipher what’s actual motion, versus what’s just simply weather activity.
Night vision in the home is bit more different since a room that is not illuminated tends to not need as much focus for the camera to get sharp details on it as it would use the outdoor where there’s still slight illumination.
The sensors in the Arlo flash blue every time it recognizes motion so I sat a few feet away behind a glass door to monitor the Arlo in action to see if it noticed movement about 10 feet away, and it certainly turned blue every single time the wind blew. So one negative here is that the Arlo can’t truly distinguish the movement of a human/pet versus weather, but this could be a completely isolated case. Nevertheless after about 72 hours, I ended up with about 50% battery life on my Arlo, which I then wiped off and returned to my living room for mounting.
Update: I got in touch with Netgear in regards to the sensitivity of the Arlo, and was told that the camera itself needed to be adjusted. Here is a video showing you exactly how to do so (which actually worked for me after doing)
What I originally intended to use the Arlo Wire-Free for was to actually get surveillance on my puppy, Sparky when I am not home. Since he is in his crate majority of the day while we are at work, from time to time I would like to check up on him just to see if he’s doing okay. The motion detectors in the camera can be tweaked via mobile app so if there is someone or something in the house that’s supposed to be there you will only receive a notification in a heightened situation. When he’s in his crate, I do not get any notifications at all. However, if my girlfriend does manage to come home for a midday walk with him, I will receive an alert that motion has been detected in the camera, and I can open the app to see what’s happened. Here’s where things get interesting.
Since the camera does not record 24/7, it opts for recording when there’s actual motion is detected. What does this mean? Well outside of obviously not getting video prior to motion, this means once you actually open the app you will not see anything prior to the moment there is footage for the Arlo Wire-Wire to actually capture. So those of you with small children who want to capture the moment of your child, you will actually have to physically sit and watch the camera in order to witness anything going on, as long as their motion.
In regards to video output, every time I used the app, the camera would have a 2.7 second delay (timed) from what I did versus what displayed on the camera. So for those of you into the paranormal, if you thought you caught a ghost on camera, what you saw, you’re close to three seconds late to the party and there’s honestly nothing that you can do to fix this. Luckily the Arlo comes with seven free days of cloud recordings, with the ability to get more storage, of course, at a price ($9.99 a month or $99 per year for up to 10GB of recording). Another thing to mention is that there is no ability to zoom in on the camera, or move the camera directly from the app, other than rotating your phone into portrait mode so you can see things a bit more closer.
One other thing I wish that the Arlo Wire-Free has is the ability for two-way audio. For me, it’s a huge deal to be able to calm down my puppy when I’m away from the home, so we can avoid him getting to be a bit unruly. This would be excellent to have the ability to have him hear my voice to calm him down when he misbehaves and I’m not there to calm him down.
Other than that, and the outdoor weather issue I had (which again could be an isolated experience), I enjoy the Arlo Wire-Free and believe if you are a fan of not having to install things, and if you just want a straight out of the box solution that won’t leave endless holes in your walls, or if you don’t want to take up another outlet in your home, the Netgear Arlo Wire-Free is the best bet you’ll have in regards to home security. Just beware of the dreaded 2.7 second delay.
For $329.99, you can have Arlo’s Wire-Free Security System with two HD cameras, and the price goes up with each camera that you add on for up to five cameras.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit
What I like: Night vision, the ability to add on cameras in case you need more.
What Needs Improvement: the Camera to app lag is significant at 2.7 seconds lag, and the battery while outdoors issue could be problematic over the course of time.