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A flexible wire-free system with sleek design and occasional bugs
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Two things come to mind when you think about Arlo — their exceptional features and their easy setup. Each time we review Arlo equipment, both immediately stand out.
So when we were looking at our Arlo Pro 3 box, the company’s 2K wireless camera system released in 2019, we were wondering if we were going to have the same experience. Would it hold its own against its predecessors? Would we be able to recommend these cameras?
After all, these bad boys aren’t cheap. Currently the Arlo Pro 3 retails for $199.99. That means they really need to stand out if you’re going to drop serious cash to outfit your home with them.
Pro Tip: While the Arlo Pro 3 is a rock-solid security camera, it’s not the company’s latest iteration of this model. The new Arlo Pro 5 offers state-of-the-art features like 2K resolution, color night vision, 12x zoom, and a 160 degree field of vision. Be warned, though — each unit costs $249.99.
With that in mind, we will say that as a general rule of thumb, you get what you pay for with home security equipment. While Arlo’s price tag might be a little shocking at first, we became convinced through our battery of tests that these cameras were worth every penny. We’re going to get into the details to see if you agree, but let’s first take a look at the pros and cons that really stood out.
At first glance, Arlo’s packaging is what you’d expect from a camera of this quality. Once they’re out of the box, you’ll immediately notice a smooth finish encasing the camera as well as it’s base station, which Arlo calls its Smart Hub. There aren’t a bunch of wires to untangle or paperwork to mess with. Like we said above, Arlo’s equipment is impressive in its ease of setup and installation.
After you take everything out of the box, you’re going to find very little to tinker with – no putting anything together, really. The only thing you’re going to have to fiddle with is the magnetic mounting bracket.
One thing to note about that bracket, though. Be careful where you install your Arlo Pro 3. Thieves have been known to make off with them, so you want to make sure they’re out of reach.
Initially, Arlo reminded me of Reolink’s wireless cameras with their clean, round lines and glossy finishes. Both of these cams take on a softer aesthetic than the bulkier cameras of years past and look great anywhere you put them, that was clear in my hands-on review of Reolink cams.
We’re going to break down the costs a bit further down the page, but the long and short of it is this: Arlo is not a cheap brand. There are definitely more affordable cameras out there, but you’re going to be hard pressed to find one that offers the same features, functions, and reliability as Arlo. Just something to keep in mind. Back to the set up.
FYI: With so many cameras to choose from, it can be hard to make sense of pricing in this market. Check out our security camera cost guide to help simplify your search.
But before getting too deep into installation, a heads up: You’ll want to download Arlo’s mobile app right away, so you can pair the camera with your app before picking the device’s final destination.
With most Arlo camera systems, you’re given a SmartHub, which reminded me of a Wi-Fi router but with fewer lights. You’ll start bringing your system online here.
Keep in mind you’re going to have to connect your SmartHub to your Wi-Fi using the provided ethernet cable. This step is non-negotiable and required for your equipment to work properly. If you don’t have a router with an Ethernet port, you can look into purchasing an extender with one.
One more word of caution here: Don’t power on the SmartHub before you connect the Ethernet cable; otherwise, you might have trouble connecting. Plug first, power second!
Then, you can pick your plan. I took advantage of the three-month free trial and activated Arlo Smart right away (highly recommended). From there, you can unlock a world of Arlo advanced features.
FYI: Allow yourself at least 50 minutes to get Arlo Pro 3 up and running. This system is easy to install, but it still needs time to sync up with your phone, its network, and your home’s Wi-Fi. So patience is a virtue.
Now it’s time to go back to your hardware, and this is where the magnets come into play. After you mount the bracket where you want your camera to live, you’re then going to attach the camera itself. Once connected, you can make adjustments to the angle any way you want without the unit itself coming loose. This is a really smart design by Arlo, and one I think you’re going to appreciate, too.
Once everything was in place, it was time to watch Arlo work its magic. Next we’ll see what kind of tricks Arlo has up its sleeve.
But first, have a look at some quick stats on Arlo:
|No. of Cameras||6|
|Best Asset||Wire-Free Design|
|Video Resolution||Up to 4K|
You’re sure to love the flexibility this system offers. The Arlo Pro 3 paired easily with my smart home devices, like Google Home and Amazon Alexa.1 If you’re always on your phone, for example, you’ll like that the system immediately starts sending mobile notifications.
Here are a few more highlights:
Of course, there’s such a thing as too much information. To avoid being flooded with alerts from the Arlo cameras, I suggest going into the Smart Notifications tab under Settings to manage your individual cameras. Similar to other top cameras on the market, like the Google Nest Cam IQ cameras I tested last month, you can adjust Arlo’s settings to remove vehicles, people, animals, etc., and fine-tune your motion.
In Arlo’s settings, I picked up a few other ways to avoid those pesky unwanted alerts during testing. Do you want to receive notifications while you’re home, or just while you’re away? Do you want only one camera to detect motion at night, or all three? There’s lots of fine-tuning you can do in the Arlo app.
It wasn’t all roses and rainbows, though. You might get occasional delays from alert to playback, and in some cases the playback fails or is distorted. Initially, I thought the problem was the Wi-Fi connection; that’s usually the reason in wireless devices like this. But long story short, the issue was fixed the next day.
Generally, you’ll get much faster performance, both from the motion detection notifications and the full recordings, if you have a strong internet connection. Do remember, though, that missing a few critter appearances in your yard now and then is common with any wireless camera.
FYI: Arlo Pro 3 cameras record in up to 1080p resolution. If video perfection is what you’re after, you might want to spring for the Arlo Ultra for 4K video recordings, where you’ll see industry-leading sharpness.
For what it’s worth, I’ve seen this before in a full analysis of Ring’s cameras; with multiple devices running simultaneously, you’re generating a ton of data from these cameras and, likely, putting a strain on your Wi-Fi connection.
My advice? If you’re really concerned about lag times, perhaps a fully monitored home security system like Alder Home Security is the way to go, as this issue generally does not happen there. Visit our full Alder security system review to learn more.
Speed issues aside, you’re still alerted to the activity immediately as long as you’ve got notifications turned on; you just can’t always see the activity right away in the app. In my experience, the real-time notifications are enough time to spring into action once an alert comes through, so you can make clear-headed decisions about what to do next.
Another thing I appreciated with Arlo were the crisp, clear pictures these three 2K HDR outdoor cams produce; it’s that high-level detail that would be extremely valuable in the event of a break-in. Note that the resolution was sharp, but it wasn’t quite on-par with Arlo Ultra or a tough-as-nails Night Owl camera system I tested (but then you have to fuss with wires!).
After getting a good feel for the cameras’ performance, it was time to do some more tinkering around the Arlo app. You can download it to more than one phone, but note that only one account can act as the administrator and has the full selection of customizable features, like the ability to remove/ignore vehicles from the motion sensor. The other can act as a shared device, but the shared user is limited in what they can control. For instance, a shared user can arm and disarm any or all cameras, but not much else. Again, this is another thing to remember with Arlo.
If you’re like me, whenever you install electronic equipment outdoors, you’re inevitably worried about damage from the elements. What if it gets too wet and stops working? What if it falls down on hard concrete after a windstorm? What if it’s vandalized?
Here’s at least one nugget of reassurance: These cameras hold up really well in a storm. In the midst of a strong Midwest howler, I watched the raging winds and sideways rain go toe-to-toe with the Arlo cam for the better part of an hour. The camera was thoroughly drenched in the storm, but the Pro 3 took it like a champ. That’s due in part to the IP-65 waterproof rating,2 which is incredibly important for outdoor cameras to have.
Weatherproofing? They’ve got that down.
Two-way communication is something that few camera manufacturers get perfect, but we have to say Arlo get’s darn close. If your Wi-Fi connection is stable, you can have real-time conversations with the Amazon delivery guy through the app from anywhere. Just open the live feed, tap the microphone option, and speak. Although there is a little latency, it’s not nearly as bad as we’ve seen in some cameras.
Night vision runs the gamut in this business, but it’s overall, it’s pretty strong across Arlo’s cameras. Like its slightly pricier sister Arlo Ultra, Arlo Pro 3 offers color night vision, whereas the Arlo Pro 2 and Arlo Pro provide night vision in black and white.
Whether or not you need color depends on how much you want to see at night, as well as what kind of activity you’re looking to capture. Another approach to night vision is to use a built-in light. Visit my hands-on Ring Floodlight Cam review for an in-depth look at a really strong outdoor setup, but to sum it up, Arlo cameras are excellent at active deterrence3 — that is, actively scaring away potential intruders.
In keeping with Arlo’s theme of simplicity, you’ll notice that it’s easy to pop out the battery chamber in the camera and ease the included rechargeable battery right in, then pop everything right back into place. No screwdrivers, no sweat, and no fighting with inanimate objects.
Once your cameras are armed, you can see how much battery life each camera has left. Here, you might notice that the cameras located in higher-activity areas lose battery life faster than the others. The front door camera, for example, had to be recharged after about 48 hours, while the others have lasted three days and counting.
So just keep in mind that you’ll have to change the battery more often for cameras in high-traffic areas. If you’d rather not have to do that, Arlo has a solar panel battery charger for $59.99 that you can install (in a sunny place, of course) for a consistent power source.
FYI: Arlo’s solar panel, in our view, is priced a bit steep. You can get a Reolink solar panel for less than $30, and a Ring solar panel for $50.
While Arlo security cameras don’t have too many of their own home automation features, the good news is that they play well with third-party devices. I tested them with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and each option allows for voice control over the cameras. The system is also supported by IFTTT4 (If This Then That), allowing you to connect your cameras to many other devices and platforms, like Apple Homekit, SmartThings, Telguard, Stringify, and Wink.
For more info, visit our complete Arlo home automation guide.
One feature of Arlo Pro 3 that’s a nice improvement over previous Arlo models is the built-in siren. You can activate it manually or set it to activate when motion or sound is detected. Simply open your app and click the shield button at the upper right of the screen. From there, you’ll be able to activate the siren, and deactivate it later if you choose. This, like the integrated spotlight, is another crucial active deterrent feature.
As mentioned above, Arlo cameras are not cheap. The Pro 3 costs $199.99, and the latest iteration, the Pro 5, will run you $249.99. Sure, there are more budget-friendly camera options out there, but keep in mind that you’ll lose out on picture quality and features if you go with the cheaper models.
Though Brinks Home Security systems and other whole-home packages are among the best ways to secure your home, having a few no-fuss cameras can still give you a clear and thorough picture of anything and everything going on around your home. Arlo presents this option in a clean, stylish package that I think you’ll be really pleased with.
With that, see below for a camera-by-camera breakdown, and visit my complete Arlo camera pricing guide for an even closer look.
|Arlo Pro 3||2K Resolution||$119.99|
|Arlo Ultra 2||4K Resolution||$249.99|
|Arlo Pro 4||Connects Directly to WiFi||$199.99|
|Arlo Pro 5||Color Night Vision||$249.99|
|Arlo Essential Wireless||Compact Design||$129.99|
|Arlo Essential Indoor||Automated Privacy Shield||$99.99|
Arlo’s subscription plans cover all of their home security products, so it’s important to take a look at the perks of each tier to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need. Let’s take a look at the breakdown
|Feature||Secure||Secure||Safe and Secure Pro|
|Number of Cameras||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Video Recording||Up to 4K||Up to 4K||Up to 4K|
|Cloud Storage||30 Days||30 Days||30 Days|
|24/7 Emergency Response||No||Yes||Yes|
|Video Verification and Escalation||No||No||Yes|
|24/7 Professional Monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|Price||$12.99 per month.*||$17.99 per month||$24.99 per month|
*$4.99 for a single camera
Now we will say these plans are a little pricey. If you’re looking for a security subscription that’s a little cheaper, you might consider a Ring Protect monitoring plan.
Like night vision quality and other features, the customer service component of a security camera brand can be all over the map. Your experience will depend on what kind of help you’re looking for, but in most cases, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting in touch with someone at Arlo customer service.
Of course, circumstances will vary. The COVID-19 pandemic made getting in touch with someone in customer service challenging for lots of camera users. But now that that’s (hopefully) behind us, you shouldn’t experience any trouble contacting help.
In some cases, you might have better luck seeking help from Arlo’s 88,000-strong community of users; they also offer a live chat and a support page packed with videos, articles, and FAQs. Those avenues have worked pretty well in the past.
Arlo’s equipment excels in many regards, from the smart design to the long list of features, they’re tough to beat. The Arlo Pro 3 is no exception in this sense.
FYI: Arlo cameras are known for having the same uniform design. If you’re interested in a brand with a little more variety, take a look at my thorough review of Lorex cameras.
That said, there were some intermittent trouble spots with Arlo’s two-way audio as well as the speed between alert and playback. Wireless technology is unpredictable in this way; it’s certainly not unique to Arlo. With that said, recording delays of even a few seconds can be detrimental in a real emergency, so I’d like to see this improved eventually.
All things considered, these stylish cams still impress, and I recommend Arlo Pro 3 as a reliable yet low-maintenance option that packs plenty of power and peace of mind.
No, you’re not required to sign up for a monthly subscription plan with Arlo. But if you want to expand your coverage, the Arlo Smart plan is $2.99 per month (a three-month free trial is included with purchase), the Premier plan is $9.99 per month, and the Elite plan costs $14.99 per month.
Yes, Arlo Pro 3 cameras are wireless and run on batteries. However, you do have to connect the SmartHub to your home’s Wi-Fi network via an Ethernet cord.
According to Arlo, normal usage is about five minutes of recording each day. Under this usage, you should get four to six months of battery life. In high-activity areas with all alerts turned on, battery life will be shorter.
Arlo Pro 3 can connect to Amazon Alexa devices such as the Echo, Echo Show, and Fire TV. The Google Home Hub also works with Arlo, and you can connect to many other third-party devices such as Bose, Sonos, or Phillips Hue.
To function at their best, Arlo Pro 3 cameras should remain at a maximum of 300 feet from the SmartHub system.
You can buy Arlo Pro 3 cameras in a 2-, 3-, or 4-camera pack, starting at $499.99. You can also buy individual (or add-on) cameras for $199.99.
Apple App Store: Arlo Technologies, Inc. (2020).
Shulevitz, J. (2018 November). Alexa, Should We Trust You? The Atlantic.
DSMT.com. (2020). IP Rating Chart. https://www.dsmt.com/resources/ip-rating-chart/
Martin, J; et. al. (2019, January 31). What is IFTTT: How to use If This, Then That services. Computerworld.com. https://www.computerworld.com/article/3239304/what-is-ifttt-how-to-use-if-this-then-that-services.html
Arlo.com. (2020). Welcome to Arlo Support. https://www.arlo.com/en-us/support/