Easy yet versatile security for all — Arlo Wire-Free Security System

Protecting your home or business with all the property inside can be distressing, having security is important for peace of mind. The easiest way to provide security and discourage potential thieves is by using security cameras.
Arlo Wire-Free wireless security unboxing
Arlo Smart Home Security System box with included cameras & base station.

There are two main types of security camera that you can buy: wired & wireless. Wired systems are generally cheaper than their wireless counterpart however they are less suitable for the home. Getting a wired system will mean a lot of cables, it involves a lot of work to hide the cables behind walls or running them under the carpet. Wireless systems on the other hand use batteries that make them much more versatile in where they can be placed, how often they can be moved and most importantly without ugly cables.

Press the images below for more product information & up to date pricing at Amazon.co.uk

When buying a wireless security system there is the concern that the cameras are connected to the internet and for that reason you should ensure you buy from a reputable manufacturer. Here I review one such security system by Netgear, the Arlo Wire-Free Security System. You can buy a starter bundle that includes a Base Station (essential) and then add as many as 10 wireless cameras to pair to one station. The cameras themselves are battery powered and wireless transfer the captured video to the Base Station to be uploaded onto your account. The cameras are designed for both indoor and outdoor use and so can brave the elements as well as operate day or night. The most optimal way to use the Arlo system is with it's built in Motion Detection. The cameras only records video when something moves in the cameras view. The 5-10 second clip is then instantly uploaded onto your Arlo Web Account and can be accessed from any device with a web browser such as a PC or Mac, or through the Arlo Companion Mobile app on iOS & Android.

So whether you need to make your home secure or want to check on your cat from work keep reading!

Unboxing & initial setup of the Arlo Base Station & Wireless Cameras

So here is what the Arlo Wireless Security System includes:
  • 1 x Arlo Base Station + power cable
  • 2 x Arlo Wireless Security Camera (Bundles from 1 camera —> 5 cameras, additional cameras can also be bought up to 10 per base)
  • Batteries for camera (4 x CR123 per camera)
  • Magnetic wall mounts + screws/wall plugs
  • 1 x Ethernet cable
  • 1 x Security zone window decal
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty information

The setup process for the Arlo Base Station & wireless cameras was extremely easy and quick. The included quick start guide effectively points you to the Arlo Website or iOS/Android app to follow the simple step by step guide. If you want to see how easy it is to set up the Arlo system check out the setup videos here. So first of all the Base Station has to be plugged into the mains with the power lead and plugged into your internet with the included ethernet cable. Then press the Power button to turn the Base Station on and wait a minute for the light to turn green.

Arlo Base Station frontArlo Base Station back
Arlo Base Station Front (L), Back (R).

Once the Arlo Base Station is ready insert four batteries into each Camera (which are included). To pair the cameras to the Base Station you can either use the Arlo Portal Website or use the free Arlo Companion App (iOS & Android). You will need to make an online account for logging in and keeping your content secure. The Arlo App is very sophisticated and has all the features that can be used on the website version which is great.

To pair press the Pair Button on the Base Station followed by the Pari Button on the camera. The camera will flash a blue light to show it has successfully paired and then you will be prompted to update the camera to the latest firmware. The whole process of pairing cameras to the Base Station takes just a few seconds.

Once the cameras are operational all you have to do is decide where to place them. The cameras come with a very useful Magnetic Mount that is a half-sphere that is used to freely attach and point the camera in any direction required. These can be easily be attached to the walls or ceiling and the strength of the magnetic is more than capable for holding the cameras in place upside down. An optional add-on are 360 magnetic mounts that are full-sphere shape. The Magnetic Mount allows you to test and quickly change camera angles when setting up.

Arlo Wire-Free camera mount mounted
Experiment with Camera Modes & set them to how you like.

The Arlo cameras work by capturing about 10 seconds of video when the motion sensor is activated. You can turn on Live streaming mode whenever you like but primarily these cameras are designed to only capture video when something is moving. If the cameras are set up correctly the number of videos captured should be quite low to helps conserve battery life. Having fewer also means less time browsing through videos and only checking the relevant ones when needed.

The default 80% motion-sensitivity has worked perfectly so far in my home picking up all human movement. There is the option to fine tune the motion-sensitivity if desired. Having pets or the security camera overlooking a road may require more careful placement and tuning of the motion-sensitivity.

I personally schedule my Arlo cameras to be on only when the house is supposed to be empty (All motion on), so during the working day (Mon-Fri, 7am - 4pm) and at night whilst in bed (12am - 6 am).

Arlo Wire-Free App iOS iPhone SchedulingArlo Wire-Free App iOS iPhone Colour footage
Arlo iOS app Scheduling (L), Video capture library (R).

It is very easy to override programmed modes to turn on 24-7 surveillance or to turn motion detection back off. This is incredibly useful for when you are away for the weekend or go on holiday. The great thing is that you do not need to be at home to reprogram the cameras, as long as you have access to the internet you can always sign in and change your settings.

If you get home early from work for example you can easily rack up 20 notifications & emails in just a few minutes before remembering to turn off the security for the day. It does show how effective the cameras are at detection but it means that indoor cameras realistically shouldn't be on all the time. Obviously you can turn off notifications if you wish, the security notifications are a very powerful feature of the camera system, if motion has been detected when it shouldn't you can check that 10 seconds of coverage and act straight away. Once my scheduling was refined after the first few days the cameras didn't make a capture for 5 days straight which is perfect!

An added benefit of the Wireless cameras are that you can turn on Live View at any time. If you want to keep an eye on your cat or catch workmen in your house clocking off early then you can.

Arlo Wire-Free App iOS iPhone IR footageArlo Wire-Free App iOS iPhone Alert Nottification Email
Arlo Infrared video capture (L), Motion-detection notifications (R).

Arlo camera performance

The video quality of the security camera is obviously an important factor to consider when choosing a security camera. Arlo cameras are HD (720p) with both colour & night time video capture modes. During the day the camera captures video in colour and the cameras switches automatically when it does not have sufficient light to IR for night vision.

The night view is impressive in pitch black you can easily distinguish and identify facial features. Every time I have walked past or into a room with the Arlo cameras they have been triggered with the default motion detection. The cameras have a slight fish-eye lens which means they have a much wider field of view of a room than you would first expect. I have been very impressed with the motion detection & videos captured so far.

The batteries are supposed to last a few months depending on Motion-Settings. To save money in the long run it may be worth getting rechargeable CR123 batteries instead of buying new ones each time.

Arlo Wire-Free moden creative
Arlo Wirefree Cameras are discrete & modern. Be creative!

How much security do you actually get?

When investing in a security system it is worth your time to understand what it can and cannot do. Cameras obviously can only capture video of the area that they are pointing towards. Having multiple cameras set up correctly in locations that covers break in zones are necessary, an intruder approaching a camera on the blind side for example could remove the camera very easily, if in doubt carefully plan which zones require cover and order multiple cameras accordingly.

A more serious limitation is the dependency of the wireless cameras on the Arlo Base Station. Despite the cameras being battery powered, they do not capture or upload video if the Base Station is not working. If a power-cut occurs or your internet service provider is down then the cameras will not function. This is an issue that plagues all security systems, receiving a push Notification when the Arlo Security is down would be incredibly useful however. The good news is that the cameras do reconnect to the Base Station in a matter of seconds once the power/internet is restored so a short power cut will not disrupt the whole day of coverage.
Arlo Wire-Free lost connection
When cameras are in operation in the privacy of your home, they may capture videos of a sensitive nature. You will be pleased to know it is very easy to delete videos when logged in on the Arlo Portal or through the app. I have confirmed with Arlo Support that after deleting videos they are also removed from the server.

With the Alro system you get the free Cloud storage tier included which is ideal for most home users. This means you have free Cloud Storage for 5 cameras and one base station with the videos stored online for seven days or when the 1GB of storage is full. There is an option to have the oldest videos replaced with new videos when the storage is full or the video capture is stopped entirely. If you would like to keep an important video you can save it locally and keep it permanently before it is automatically deleted from the cloud, each video is approximately 500kb which is tiny.
Arlo Wire-Free portal footage
Overall Arlo Wire-Free is a great all-in-one security system that is incredibly easy to setup and is a very good tool for anyone who has a smart phone to view captures & change modes on the fly.

blog comments powered by Disqus