The housing development where we live has a Facebook page where residents can discuss community events, etc. Recently we’ve taken notice of residents sharing about thefts, vandalism, and other small crimes taking place with increasing frequency. We’ve had safety concerns due to other past events but the thefts and vandalism helped us firmly decide to purchase an outdoor security camera system. While we know it won’t prevent or deter crimes, it gives us a small bit of comfort in knowing that we can possibly gather evidence to help the local police find and charge the responsible parties. Ultimately, we purchased an Arlo Pro wireless security camera system.
There were several reasons we chose the Arlo pro system. The biggest reason we chose the Arlo Pro was its extensive list of features and its affordability. It hit on all the features we wanted!
The keys we were looking for in a camera included:
I’ve personally seen too many crimes that were captured on film but lacked the resolution to provide any sort of “smoking gun” evidence for the police to use to find or prosecute the offenders. It shocks me that many businesses don’t use HD cameras. In this day and age, standard definition shouldn’t even be considered in most cases.
I didn’t really feel like drilling holes in my walls to feed wires through to the camera security hub included with most security camera systems, however, I would do it if required. When we first decided to get a camera system, I wasn’t certain that a truly wireless option would actually be available. This would be something we could technically live without.
I didn’t actually want constant recording. While constant recording is nice in some ways, it would be a chore to scrub through hours of footage to find what I was looking for if an incident occurred and I wasn’t sure of the exact time. With motion activation, the camera only records when something is in its field of view. This allows for greater efficiency when searching for a particular incident and less cloud storage being used.
Again, this feature wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for a particular system if it wasn’t included. However, sound activation is a great fall-back during the evening hours. Night vision LEDs on most cameras can only go so far. A person or animal might not step directly into the field of view enough to actually trigger the motion activation and, once they do, they may only remain there for a few seconds. However, with sound activation, chances are increased that the camera will start recording before the person or animal makes it into the field of view which will provide the maximum amount of footage with them once they do enter the field of view.
This was a definite requirement for any security system we’d consider. Much of our property isn’t illuminated at all so a camera without night vision would be useless. Thankfully, most respectable camera systems naturally include this.
Maybe I shouldn’t even include this on the list as it should be a given for an outdoor camera. I still checked each camera system I was interested in just to be sure that the cameras were in fact weatherproof before adding them to the list of possible purchase. Every system I looked at had this feature.
Easy to Install
Again, I didn’t really want to drill holes in my walls unless it was necessary. We don’t have a lot of extra time so a complicated installation and setup would be a deal-breaker for a camera system. Luckily, I think most security camera system are relatively easy to install these days.
This was an important feature for me. Our neighbors in our prior housing development had a Google Nest outdoor camera with cloud storage. After a particular incident, because of the location of their camera, they were able to help us identify some folks who stopped by unannounced while our home was on the market. It turned out to be a miscommunication with our realtor but knowing who was there and when was invaluable information.
All these features in mind, I headed to our local Best Buy to check out what they had in stock. My initial thought was to go with a Google Nest but I was open to looking at other systems as well. Once I arrived, there were several systems I looked at including the Google Nest, the Swann Pro Series, and the Netgear Arlo Pro.
After deliberation and talking with the knowledgeable sales personnel, I ended up selecting the Arlo Pro system. There were several features that really sold me on this particular unit. First, the system is truly wireless with the cameras featuring a rechargeable battery. Second, the mount for the camera is a very strong magnet. This allows you to position the camera exactly how you’d like it. Installing the magnetic base is done with a single screw, however, if you don’t want to use a screw, a 3M Command Strip cut to size would probably do the trick. Thirdly, the basic cloud storage offered with the Arlo was free while other makers charged roughly $10 per month and up! The Arlo will store the past seven days (up to a certain amount of data) totally free.
The Arlo Pro fit the bill of every feature I was looking for. It’s weatherproof, it’s completely wireless, has night vision, is motion and sound activated, has HD resolution, and cloud storage on top of being super easy to install. The basic pro kit includes the base station with power cable, one rechargeable wireless HD camera with charger, and one magnetic camera mount. You can add additional cameras (which can be purchased individually) to your existing system at your leisure. If you have the money up front, you can purchase a pro kit with up to six cameras already included. We couldn’t afford to get a multi-pack, so we got the basic Pro package with one camera. Eventually we will add more cameras.
Total installation and setup time was less than 30 minutes. This included unboxing, signing up for an account with Arlo, and installing the magnetic base near our front door. The camera comes fully charged so we were ready to start using it right away. If having a battery-powered camera makes you uneasy, you can purchase an Arlo solar panel that keeps your camera fully charged. The battery has significant life, even in high-traffic areas such as our neighborhood. As of this writing, the battery on our camera lasted almost a month before needing a recharge. If the camera wasn’t activated so many times throughout the day, I can easily see how a single charge could last nearly three months. Once I plugged the camera in for charging, it reached 100% in roughly two hours. Two hours of down time per month is not bad at all!
The base station included in the pro kit features a USB slot where you can plug in a drive so you can have a “hard copy” backup of your security footage. It’s a great additional feature to have available for those times your internet might be down and you want to review what was recorded. However, this is the Achilles heal of wireless camera systems. If your internet is down, your system isn’t working either. Everything has its trade-offs and this is what you’ll have to deal with if you want a truly wireless system like the Arlo Pro. For us, this trade off was well worth it. Our internet is very rarely down (usually during inclement weather which isn’t common) so we aren’t concerned.
If you live in a rental unit, the Arlo is a fantastic choice for you since you typically can’t start drilling holes in your walls. Being truly wireless and having the ability to mount it without damage to the structure makes it one of the very few security camera systems viable for apartments and other rental units. However, do remember that you need a good internet connection and wireless router!
Using the Arlo app or website, you can adjust the various features of the camera including how close movement or how loud sounds need to be to trigger the camera’s activation. Being able to fine tune the triggers gives you complete control over how often your camera will actually activate. This can mean the difference between having dozens of clips per day or just a few. Be patient, though, because it can take some time to get your settings just right for your situation. It’s a bit of repetition through trial and fine-tune until you get it perfected. I have all the motion and audio triggers set to their highest sensitivity along with the highest video quality. Video quality can be set at “best quality”, “optimized”, or “best battery life” settings.
In addition to the live video and audio feed, you can actually speak to anyone who comes to your door through the speaker built in to the camera. I personally love this feature. When I’m not home, Janessa doesn’t need to answer the door to talk to anyone who might come around. She can see who is there and talk to them before ever physically coming to the door.
We’ve had our Arlo Pro for a little over a month and it’s been everything we were looking for. HD video quality, motion detection, audio detection, night vision, weatherproof, and completely wireless! We hope to expand our current system with additional cameras, adding some solar chargers, and maybe some camera skins if we want them to be slightly less noticeable. It’s a fantastic solution for a huge variety of applications!