A winning solution for home security that I love
The Arlo Pro 2 is the only system I trust with my family. I have used and have many different cameras around my home but the Arlo Smart Security System is the one — the only one — that has been rock solid. It’s the go-to system for home security. I know this sort of tells you right from the top of the post how much I love the Arlo but it’s really just that good.
This past year (2017) was an eye-opener for me. I gained custody of my 15-year-old daughter and helped her fight through the trauma caused by years of abuse from her step-father. In order to keep her feeling safe at home, we wanted to install a video surveillance system that we could depend on. That’s when we turned to the Arlo Pro 2 system.
The Arlo Pro 2 system is a 100% wireless security camera setup. With the system in place, you can monitor your home, work, or other property with the aid of the Arlo app. One of the main features of this system is that it comes with FREE cloud recording for your videos. There are no commitments or contracts to pay. You simply install the system and you have access to the Arlo Basic plan, which gives you access to motion and audio triggered recordings for 7 days. This plan never expires and you have the ability to download videos as needed (as long as they were recorded in the past 7 days). The Arlo Basic plan is included with every camera (up to 5 cameras). Netgear does offer other plans, but I’ve found that the Basic plan is enough for a standard user.
In addition to the cloud recording feature, the Arlo Pro 2 system comes with a lot of smart features including:
- 1080p HD Video Recording: Each camera records in HD video for crisp, clear detail and has a 130-degree field of view.
- Sound and Motion Detection: The app will notify you immediately if sound or motion detection is tripped on a camera.
- Activity Zones: You have the option to highlight areas in your cameras’ view for motion/sound detection. This is great if you want to avoid high traffic areas like cars driving down the road. This is only available if your camera is being used indoors and plugged into power.
- Optional 24/7 CVR: Even though the Basic Arlo cloud service is available to all users, you can upgrade to this feature and keep nonstop recordings in the cloud when the camera is plugged in.
- 3-second Look Back: Always see what happened 3 seconds before a triggered event. This is available when a camera is plugged in and used indoors. This uses pre-buffering technology that is similar to the Vivant Door Bell camera.
- Flexible Powering Options: The Arlo system is designed to be wire-free, but you can plug the camera into power if desired. Having the camera plugged directly into a power source does unlock advanced features like the 3-second Look Back.
- Weather Resistant: The cameras are IP65-certified to withstand the elements.
- 2-way Audio: You can use the Arlo cameras as an intercom if you wish. You can listen in and talk back through the app.
- Night Vision: When recording in low-light situations, the Arlo cameras enable night vision automatically. You can see up to 25 feet with night vision.
- Local Backup Storage: Even though you have 7 days of recordings stored in the cloud, you can connect a USB backup drive to the Arlo Pro 2 base station for optional backup storage.
- Smart Security Siren: The cameras have a 100+ decibel siren that is controlled remotely or triggered by motion or sound.
- Amazon Alexa Enabled: The Arlo Pro 2 system works with Amazon Alexa, IFTTT, and Stringify.
The Arlo camera system arrives in a Netgear/Arlo branded box. The Netgear brand colors — green and white covered the box that also featured some information about the product. From the box, you can see one of the cameras as there is a clear window in place for you to observe the product inside. There are two packaging options for the Arlo Pro 2 — a 4-camera setup or a 2-camera setup. You can also add a single camera if you wish.
We had the 2 camera setup for our home so our box came with the following:
- (2) Wire-free HD cameras with audio
- (2) Rechargeable batteries
- (1) Camera power adapter
- (1) Camera power cable
- (1) Base Station with a built-in siren
- (2) Wall mounts
- (1) Wall mount screw set
- (1) Quick Start Guide
- (1) Window Decal
Once you pull everything out of the box it’s time to start the setup process.
Setup of the Arlo system is relatively easy. It really depends on how you decide to place your cameras. For example, each Arlo camera has a heavy-duty, powerful battery built into the back. This means you can literally stick them up anywhere there is metal. So, if you already have a bracket in place from a previous camera or metal trim on your house, you can simply place it on the metal and it will stay in place until you pull it off of its base. I would recommend that you decide on the placement of your cameras before you start the rest of the setup. This way you can make sure your mounts are in place and ready to go. The mounts that are included in this package are essentially a metal ball with a covering on it. They install easily with the provided mounting kit that consists of one screw per mount and a drywall anchor (optional).
The charging brick and Micro USB cable that are included with the package can easily be interchanged with a different wall charger (if you have one). The AC Adapter outputs 5V/1.8A — so as long as you have a wall adapter that outputs that much power, you should be able to use it to recharge the cameras. I chose to keep the power adapter, charging cable, and wall mounts in the product box so that I would be able to find them easily if I needed them.
Another piece of the package that I want to touch on is the Arlo sticker. It says “Video Monitoring in Progress.” This is an important notice that you should have displayed somewhere on your property. Arlo has included this to legitimize the legality of your recordings. Laws can vary state to state, but if you have this sticker posted then that means you were making all persons who came on your property that they might be recorded and there are no chances that if you had a trespasser that they could try to have the video thrown out for that reason.
So, once you have the homes for your cameras planned out and the sticker in its place, you can continue with the setup of the base unit. Insert the rechargeable batteries into the Arlo Cameras and close them up. According to Netgear, the batteries can last up to 6 months on a full charge. Then, make sure you have the Arlo app downloaded as you will need it for setup. Next, connect the base station to the internet by plugging in the provided Ethernet cable into the LAN port. After that cable is in place, you should plug the power cable into the base unit and then into a power outlet. Next, press the on/off button to provide power to the base station. The Power LED and Internet LED will light up and eventually turn green (after about 2 minutes).
The next part of the setup requires the app. You will set up an Arlo account (email/password required). Once you log in, you will follow the onscreen instructions to finalize the setup. Part of this process is to sync the cameras with the base station. It’s an easy process that only requires that the cameras be placed 1 to 3 feet away from the base station when you press the Sync button on the base station. Cameras must be synced one at a time. After everything is setup, you can place your cameras.
I’ve had our Arlo cameras in place now for a couple of weeks. They have been sturdy and I’ve not had to adjust their placement. The magnets hold them in place very, very well. For a short period of time, I had them placed inside our house (one still resides there while the other is outside). The motion detection works very well. I actually caught myself wanting to disable the notifications at one point because the cameras were capturing ALL movements and it was becoming a bit annoying. I was getting both email and push notifications (see email below). I finally changed the settings in the app so that the motion detection was set to 80% and that the ‘Armed’ status was changed to ‘Disarmed,’ which means that motion and audio detection is turned off. When we leave the house, I switch it back to ‘Armed’. You can also set up a schedule through the app to arm and disarm the system depending on when you will be home or away. This is great if you have a set schedule.
Other features that can be utilized to combat the motion detection overload are the geofencing and activity zone options. The Geofencing feature gives the user the ability to automatically arm your system once you are outside a geographical area. The Activity Zone option is great, but can only be used with cameras indoors that are plugged into power. You can set up to three activity zones and this will limit the number of notifications you will get as it narrows down the area for motion detection.
In addition to the mobile app, you can also access your recorded events through Arlo’s web interface. You log into it with the same credentials as the app and then you can have just about the same control over the system as you can with the mobile app. I rather like that this is an option because there are times that I prefer to do things with my computer. It’s great for my fiance who will check in on the house from work sometimes.
Inside the house, the cameras had a very solid connection to our home WiFi. In fact, I was able to set up the cameras to record the installation of a piece of furniture and the video clips recorded with absolutely no problems. And, on that note, I was able to pull those video clips from the Arlo cloud easily as well. I believe that a lot of people might wonder about how far you can actually place the cameras from the Base Unit and WiFi router. I did a series of tests for this purpose. First, I placed one of the cameras just outside our front door. This would make the camera about 10 feet away from our router and base unit. The camera had a solid connection at this distance.
Next, I took the camera around the side of our house to a fence gate that leads into our backyard. While this position was about 50 feet away from our front door and had several walls between the router/base unit and the camera, it still had a decent connection. I believe that part of the reason for this is because we have a satellite router in our living room, which is only about 15 feet away from this particular placement.
Lastly, I walked the camera out to our mailbox. This position was about 30 feet away from our front door and while the WiFi signal was showing about 75% strength, the signal, I believe, was muddied because of the open air between the house and the mailbox. I was still able to connect, but it was very spotty.
In 2015, I had the opportunity to test out the first generation Arlo HD Security cameras. The biggest difference between the original Arlo cameras and the Arlo Pro 2 is the ability to record in 1080p. The original Arlo system only recorded 720p HD video. I was infinitely impressed with them and because of our particular situation this past year, I knew that they were the company to turn to for an upgrade and peace of mind. Netgear delivered once again with the Arlo Pro 2 Smart Security System. It’s very easy to set up and get started with — I believe it only took me about 10 minutes from start to finish. The Arlo system is completely wire-free (aside from the base unit connections to power and the Internet) and is, therefore, a big winner with me. Not everyone needs video security for their home, but when you do, you want something reliable and powerful. The Arlo Pro 2 Smart Security System is the way to go in my book, It’s just the best wireless camera system around.
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